Yesterday I dyed my hair with henna for the second time. The first time was over 9 months ago. Back then I used a henna/cassia mix because I wasn’t sure how red I wanted the results. This time I used a henna/indigo mix because I wanted to darken my hair a bit. I sort of messed up and didn’t take a before picture… sorry :P… my hair was sort of a warm, slightly red, light brown, but with ashy-brown roots.
In high school I had a few crazy colors in my hair, and then started using boxed grocery-store hair dye… but in college I eventually developed a sensitive scalp and had to find a new way to dye my hair. I actually let my hair grow out for about 1 year, then last summer I decided to try henna…. (it wasn’t the first time I had tried henna.. but the really-first time was such a messy disaster without any results what so ever – That was the bought-at-co-op type henna that is all twiggy and leafy when you open it up)
After searching the web I found a great site about dying your hair with henna, called: Henna for Hair. That site links to one where they sell the pure henna, cassia, and indigo that you might want to dye your hair with. Its much higher quality henna than what you might buy even at the whole foods store. Its also extremely well powdered and certified by an independent pharmacy to be safe. The pricing isn’t too bad – its more expensive than the grocery store boxed dyes, of course… but it isn’t as expensive as a trip to Aveda. I bought about 200g of henna, and 100g indigo, for $36, and it turned out to be twice the amount I needed.
Steps for dying your hair:
1) (Optional) Do a test swatch by harvesting hair from your brush and preparing a small amount henna to dye it in. (I’ll admit, I always skip this step – but if you area really picky about what color your hair turns, then you should go ahead and do this) Try different strengths of solution and different lengths of time until you get what you want. Henna for Hair sells small sample amounts that you can use to find your ideal color.
2) Buy enough henna to cover your hair – if you haven’t already. The Henna for Hair website claims you need about 100g per 3inches of hair, but in my case that wasn’t true. I have really fine hair, so although its long, it just doesn’t need a full 500g of dye (the amount that I bought the first time ). Even 300g was too much. BUT I think you’re best getting the full recommended amount the first time, so that you don’t run out. – Luckily henna can be frozen and stays good for a few months that way (so you can save left overs – just don’t forget about it!). Unfortunately I don’t think indigo can be saved.
3) Mix up your henna the night before, using something acidic like lemon juice. Let the henna develop for 12 hours.
4) The next day, section your hair carefully and wind the sections up into mini buns all over your head. The more sections, the better – it’ll be easier and faster to apply the henna. MAKE SURE to use plastic accessories / pins, because metal can react with henna and ruin it.
5) Clear the area where you’re going to work. If you want to, you can put down plastic or wear a garbage bag if you are worried about getting stuff on you or the floor. Definitely wear latex / rubber gloves – or else by the time you finish dying your hair, your hands will be dyed too.
6) If you are using any indigo… now is the time to mix it up with some water, then add it in with the henna and stir well. Don’t let it sit around, or it will loose its potency.
7) Apply henna to head. The instructions that came with my order said to “pack it on like a child making mud pies” lol… I used a salon highlighting brush to apply my mixture… you can easily buy one on amazon. It took me forever to apply the mixture… about 1.5 hours. But I am slow and have a hard time with the back of my head … plus my hair is long. The easiest (and fastest) way to dye your hair, of course, is to get someone else to apply the mixture to your hair – like your mom, sibling, girl/boyfriend or friend.
8) After you’ve gotten all of your hair covered in dye, wear a shower cap. You’ll need to leave the dye in for a long time…. at least 2 hours. You can blow dry your hair a little bit to speed up the process.
9) Rinse all of the dye out. Shampoo and condition if you want to. Henna darkens a little bit over the next 2 days.
Above the instructions, you may have noticed I mentioned both Cassia and Indigo. Cassia is sometimes called “blonde henna”… but its a different plant. Its a very lightly colored dye and wont show up much (or at all) if you have darker hair. But it makes a good “spacer” and a conditioner. That’s why I used it to dilute the henna for my attempt 9 months ago. Indigo is a plant which can dye your hair black. It only takes about 2-3 hours to become useless, so that’s why you don’t mix it up ahead of time like you would the henna or cassia.
Natural hair dyes can’t get you blue, green, or purple hair…but you can achieve dark auburn, red, or black hair… which are all good Goth hair colors in my book. 🙂 By mixing different amounts of henna, cassia, and indigo, as well as a adding a few herbs, you can really tweak your hair color to exactly what you want. For instance…. mixing henna and cassia together, and using it on light hair, can result in strawberry blonde hair. Pure henna will usually result in red or auburn hair. Henna mixed with indigo can result in auburn, dark auburn, or brown hair. And indigo, applied after rinsing out henna, can create a beautiful midnight / jet black.