How to Dye Your Hair with Henna & Indigo....Natural, Chemical Free, Inexpensive, and Beautiful!
Note: This article is about how to color your hair naturally using henna and indigo. Henna is also a wonderful conditioner. This article has been edited from its original.
I work outside the home in addition to working on the homestead, and in my outside work world, I have to look and dress professionally. Admittedly, I have had my hair chemically high-lighted and dyed for years.
(Updated note: I now work from home, as the original article was written over a year ago, but I still use henna to give my hair some natural color.)
Using chemical dyes and stripping my hair to highlight it has actually been something that has been bothering me a LOT for a REALLY long time. I really wanted to color my hair in a more nontoxic and natural way.
I already drink a wonderful herbal tea that helps condition my hair and provide nutrition for my skin, but going to a natural color was a big step for me.
In my journey toward natural living, my hair has been one of my last hold outs. So far, I have reduced the number of times I wash my hair per week to between two and three, and have transitioned to a "Low Poo" shampoo (mostly natural ingredients, very little lather). I make my own hair rinses, though! :-)
(Eventually, I'll get there with the hair cleansing.) But I have to do something with my hair color---a darkish mousy dirty-blonde-brown. Ick! Right? :-)
The time finally came when I could put it off no longer---I HAD to get my hair done. It had been 9 weeks! I'm not graying yet, and my roots blend pretty well---but still---it was definitely time. So...I called my hair dresser to make that chemical appointment.
Wouldn't you know? Serendipity smiled upon me! I texted my hair dresser (twice), and she didn't get back to me! I figured she was busy. So in desperation, I decided to give henna a try! I had been researching henna for quite a while, but I hadn't been brave enough to just DO IT.
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What are the Botanicals in Henna for Hair Dye?
When being referred as a hair dye, as opposed to the Henna that is used to tattoo the skin, there are actually three main botanicals that are used. The first, (Henna--Lawsonia inermis) is what is used as the skin dye as well.
Here are the three main plant dyes for hair:
Henna (Lawsonia inermis) is the "real" henna. It's a plant that grows in regions of Africa and Asia, and is now grown wherever there is a warmer climate. Henna creates a long-lasting color that is primarily red.
The other main type of natural botanical hair dye is Indigo (Indigofera tinctoria), which is also called "black henna." This is because pure indigo will dye your hair black!
Blending indigo in varying amounts with red henna gives a variety of different color choices!
Finally, one more botanical may be used, and this is Cassia auriculata, a more neutral shade. If there are any other ingredients in your "henna" mixture besides these three, then beware! You may have some unnatural, non-botanicals going on.
If you artistically mix the two to three, you can create various shades ranging from pure red to bronze, to red-brown, mahogany, dark brown, to black. You can get these amazing plant dye powders at Starwest Botanicals.....OR go to Amazon and find Light Mountain brand, which is already pre-mixed for you.
What if you feel uncomfortable mixing your own combos of henna, indigo and cassia? Like ME? Well, you find a GREAT brand that's been doing this for years, has a pretty accurate color chart, complete directions, plastic gloves & cap, and just go for it!
I decided to go with Light Mountain brand after checking out many choices, but there are other good companies out there too. The important thing is to make sure it’s all natural.
How Do You Dye Your Hair Using Henna Powder?
Do a strand test. This means that you'll need to take a small bunch of your hair and just do a test run! This gives you an idea how the color will turn out. Who wants a bad surprise, right?
I actually didn’t bother with this. I just decided to go for it because I was just desperate to get it done. However, I do recommend you do this, especially if you have very light blond or gray hair.
Now you must mix the henna powder with boiled water in a non-metal container. You actually have to boil the water in a nonmetal container too---which probably means to microwave it.
I don't have and don't use a microwave, and I didn't want to test the results of boiling water in a metal saucepan....So, I just used distilled water at room temperature.
Mix super well to get out all the lumps. Then let it sit for awhile.
It needs to set up for anywhere between 30 minutes and 3 hours, depending on the mix of powders. I let mine sit for about 2 hours.
While it was just sitting, I washed my hair. You want to apply it to clean, towel-dried hair.
Apply the mixture to hair. But first, rub a bit of salve or ointment around your hairline and ears, since this stuff will color your skin too!
Now, USING PLASTIC GLOVES (otherwise, expect some nasty dyed fingernails & skin), slather and mold the botanical mixture all over your head, covering each strand of hair. I've never done anything like this with my hair before, and I was pretty nervous. I was pretty OCD about smushing and twisting everything to be sure all the hair was covered.
Now COVER WITH A PLASTIC CAP. This helps the heat from your body to help set the color. The directions said you can blow dry, too, but we are on solar power, so blow drying for extended periods is a no-no in our house.
Let sit in your hair for anywhere between an hour and 4 hours, depending on how bright or colored you want it. When you do your strand test, you can estimate the time, then. I left mine in for about two hours. This feels like mud in your hair, and it gets really heavy. I just sat in a sunny window so the heat could intensify the results.
Rinse out the henna mud. Don't use shampoo or soap! Just use some conditioner or cream rinse to help get it out. You actually don't want to wash your hair for at least 24 hours so it will completely set into your hair.
My final opinion of Henna Dye for hair is..... YES!!!
Here are my reasons for just loving henna to color hair as opposed to chemical dyes:
Only about $6.00! I figure I'm going to save about $900 a year by using Henna powder to color and deeply condition my hair. I am SO glad I gave this a try!
NOTE: Since I wrote this article, I use henna about four times a year since I no longer work outside the home. Total cost: $24 per year!
I don't have to drive to town, and I can get things done around the house while my hair is processing. Now, if you live in a city or near your hair salon, this is probably not an issue, but for me it was. And now that I live in a very rural area, far from a salon….DIY’ing is a necessity.
So far, about two weeks after my hair was dyed, it still looks great! It's faded a little, but that is to be expected, since the time it is supposed to last is 4 to 6 weeks.
NOTE: Right after a do a new application of henna, my hair is thicker, shinier, and just looks so good. I love it. As the henna wears off over the weeks, your hair will return to its normal state.
Safety & Concerns Using Henna in Your Hair
Are you wondering if coloring your hair with henna may be dangerous?
I know I sure gave this some thought. What if the color doesn’t turn out right? What if something weird goes wrong? And I didn’t even know that I was limiting my future hair coloring choices.
But still. I would have made the same decision to use henna. With that said, here are some things you should consider:
I’ve heard that using henna on gray hair can cause shocking shades of orange, but that if it is done right, can be a lovely bright blond color. Since I do not have gray hair yet, I can’t really speak to this.
Also, if you have colored hair, the henna may interact with the pigments in the color. I’ve heard it’s recommended to wait at least two months after chemically coloring your hair to try henna. Do a little additional research for more information on this.
The good companies, like Light Mountain, that sell henna products usually have a phone number you can call to ask questions.
Final Thoughts on Using Henna to Naturally Color Hair
After I dyed my hair using henna, my hairdresser freaked out when I told her. She did let me know that she could not use a chemical color on my hair until it was completely grown out.
So….I came to grips with the fact that I had made a fairly irreversible choice. But I was ok with that. Between the money savings, the extra healthy hair, and a much improved color experience….it was all fine and good for me.
Now, I do know that others have had different experiences. Do you research, and try to talk with others who have and do use henna for hair dye. Then you can make the best decision for you!
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And there are lots more over on the website! Head on over and browse around for articles on healthy, natural, self-reliant living! :-)
Have you ever used henna, or even thought about it? I'd love to hear what you think!
Love, Hugs, & Self-Reliance!
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