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Guide to colour hair with natural dyes

September 19, 2017

Applying plant powders such as Henna, Indigo & Senna as natural hair dyes takes a bit of time, but it is not difficult. Once you have used it you will never want to use the chemical dyes again!

 Everybody’s hair is different & as these are natural plant dyes, a "one recipe suits all" doesn't quite work. Also, some hair are more resistant to dyes, even the chemical ones, so a number of applications may be required to get the desired colour.

 Mixing henna for coppery red hair:

  • Mix henna powder with warm lemon juice or black tea, and allow paste to sit for about at least 5 hours.
  • Apply the henna paste evenly to your hair by sections. Using a hair dye brush will ensure an even application. Wrap hair with cling wrap.
  • Allow it to sit for about 2 hours or until the paste dries. The longer you leave the henna in, the more dye will penetrate your hair. Rinse hair. Hair color will settle over the next 2 days.

Mixing henna-indigo for mid brown to dark brown hair (one-step process):

  • Follow the instructions above on how to mix the henna paste.
  • In a separate bowl mix indigo powder with warm water. Prepare indigo only when you are ready to apply on your hair. It should not be made & kept to rest, as indigo oxidises & looses its efficacy.
  • Mix the indigo and henna paste together. As a rule of thumb, the more indigo you add in the henna-indigo mix, the darker brown the colour. The more henna in the henna-indigo mix the lighter brown the colour.
  • Apply the paste to your hair in sections. Using a hair dye brush will ensure an even application.
  • Wrap your hair with cling wrap and allow it to sit for about 2 hours. Rinse hair. Hair color settles over the next 2 days.
If your hair is more resistant to dye, your hair may not achieve a dark brown color with the one-step process. If the roots are stubbornly reddish, apply just indigo paste on the red hair to make it more brown. This will be considered a two-step process (detailed below), but some hair may not absorb dye as well as others and so will need that extra application.

    Mixing henna-indigo for black hair (two-step process):

    • Follow the instructions above on "Mixing henna for coppery-red hair"
    • After the hennaed hair is rinsed, apply the indigo paste. 
    • Mix the indigo powder with warm water and use almost immediately. Add salt (1 tsp per 100 grams of indigo powder) to help indigo adhere better to the hair strand.
    • Apply the indigo paste to your hair in sections. Using a hair dye brush will ensure an even application. Wrap your hair with cling wrap, allowing it to sit for about 2 hours. Rinse hair. Over the next 2 days, your hair color will settle.

    Mixing Senna for golden highlights:

    • Mix Senna powder with warm water, and use almost immediately.
    • Apply the senna paste evenly to your hair by sections. Using a hair dye brush will ensure an even application. Wrap hair with cling wrap.
    • Allow it to sit for about 2 hours or until the paste dries. Rinse hair. Hair color will settle over the next 2 days.

    Senna will only colour grey hair with light golden highlights. It will not lighten dark hair. 

    Combine Senna with Henna powder to tone down the brightness of red in Henna.  The henna-senna ratio can be varied to get different shades of red. 

    Prepare the henna and senna as detailed above. 

     Tips in mixing the colours:

    • Add 25g of Amla to 100g of henna or senna paste. The acid in amla lends ash tones to senna, henna, and to henna/indigo mixes. 
    • If you combine henna & senna, you can create a range of blonde to copper red. Henna dye dominates senna - bright copper red is half henna, half senna. 
    • If you mix a very small amount of henna-indigo mix with senna, then you will get ash brown tones. More senna the colour will be ash blonde & the more the henna-indigo paste the colour will be brown. 

    Colour Testing: Apply the natural dye on some hair harvested from your hairbrush before use. Everyone's hair is different in texture and dye absorption and results vary. 

    Hair care: Being natural plant dyes, using commercial shampoos will strip the hair dye very quickly. Use a mild or organic shampoo or Nature Shop’s natural handcrafted Shampoo Bar for a longer lasting effect of organic dyes. Using a vinegar rinse after using a shampoo bar will give your hair shine and make it silky soft.

    General guide for quantities: The amount of powder used depends on the length and thickness of your hair. This guide is a general measurement based on medium thickness of hair. Adjust as needed.

    Very short: 75gms.

    Shoulder length: 100 grams.

    Below Shoulder: 200 grams.

    Waist length: 500gms

    Share with us your experiences on how you mixed your colours – did you try anything different – or what worked best for you.

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