View Full Version : How to darken henna?

October 23rd, 2008, 10:39 AM
OK, I've been using soapnuts to wash my hair which I love!!! BUT, they are totally pulling out my indigo, even when I added salt. However, it doesn't pull out the henna. Sooooooo, how much can I darken henna on its own? I've heard of:

-mixing it in an iron skillet
-adding different spices or teas
-darkening with multiple applications

Do any of these work? I really want nice super dark brown verging on black ideally, which I know I can really only get with indigo... But, if I can come close with henna alone, I guess that will have to do!

October 23rd, 2008, 10:43 AM
I do iron pan,clove,black tea also mix coffee powder it helps to make it close to brownish and not so much orangey.

October 23rd, 2008, 10:46 AM
Thank you, your hair is so beautiful so I know that it will look great! :-)

Do you use the same iron pan that you use for cooking? If so, does it make your food taste like henna?

October 23rd, 2008, 10:47 AM
No no dont do in cooking one or you will never get the henna out you have to have one just for henna trust me I know:rolleyes:

October 23rd, 2008, 10:48 AM
Oh and leave the mix overnight in this pan

October 23rd, 2008, 10:48 AM
P.S. Where do you find coffee powder? Is it just fine ground regular drinking coffee?

October 23rd, 2008, 10:49 AM
yeah regular instant folgers .

October 23rd, 2008, 10:57 AM
Oh, so simple!! Big hug! Thank you I can't wait to try this!

So, I need to buy another iron skillet, haha! What size is the one that you use?

October 23rd, 2008, 10:58 AM
Mellie - If you figure out how to get brown with just henna, I cannot wait to hear about it. I didn't think it was possible. I've used the cast iron pot idea with henna (not overnight though) and maybe, it pushed the henna more auburn (reddish-brown) but still distinctly reddish.

Aisha - do you use anything other than henna and coffee? (i.e. indigo or buxus)

October 23rd, 2008, 11:01 AM
I use a medium size one,now it wont be like dark brown but itll be browner than orangey get what im sayin':wink:
No wintersun I dont use those

October 23rd, 2008, 11:02 AM
Aisha25, also, how long do you leave it on your hair?

October 23rd, 2008, 11:03 AM
I wonder if you use the mehandi indigo instead of the Rainbow if it will stick more for you. When I used the mehandi indigo it got dark as heck and I couldnt budge it with anything.

October 23rd, 2008, 11:04 AM
I only do 2 hours.

October 23rd, 2008, 11:04 AM
Aisha - good to know, thank you! :)

October 23rd, 2008, 11:10 AM
mellie, this is a great thread. What did you use to wash your hair before changing to soapnuts? Only regular shampoo?

Edit: Oh, I see in your blog. Shampoo and Dairy whip. Hmmmmmmmmmmm. So soapnuts pulls indigo out more than a regular shampoo?

October 23rd, 2008, 11:43 AM
Akiko, yes, the soapnuts (also soapwort, BTW!), pull out indigo and katam like crazy. My regular shampoo didn't do that.

LaurelSpring, unfortunately, I cannot use mehandi.com's indigo as it is too fine and causes my DH to have frightful sneezing attacks (me to a much lesser extent too). Also, I seem to remember back when I did use it, that soapwort (which I was using then) still pulled it out too.
There is just something about soapwort and soapnuts that loves to pull out indigo and katam!

Aisha, thank you so much! I will try it your way!

October 23rd, 2008, 11:54 AM
Thank you for the answer, mellie. Surprised to hear soapnuts pulls indigo out more than regular shampoo. And soapwort... I was thinking about using a bit of aritha powder in my herbal shampoo/rinse since my scalp is oily sometimes. Maybe it is not good for an indigo head.

October 23rd, 2008, 11:59 AM
Your welcome dear ill be thinking of more ways to get it darker,hey how about Bringhraj powder with the henna it says it darkens right.

October 23rd, 2008, 12:04 PM

If you were using soapwort when you were using your tea recipes to cover your gray hair, it may be that saponins strip unmordanted colours. I know that soapwort and aritha can be used to launder clothes but the the dyes used on fabrics are mordanted to make them last longer and be colourfast. Hair dyes and stains are not.

Saponins are a natural detergent.

It is not necessarily the pH factor either. I used a mild shampoo from Aveda, a while back, called Scalp Benefits. The pH was fine but it is considered a deep cleansing shampoo even though it is specifically designed to be mild on the scalp. It stripped my catnip stain pretty badly.

October 23rd, 2008, 01:59 PM
I use the iron pot mixing method, but only for henna that I apply just to my eyebrows and my hairline. They're lighter than the rest of my head of hair, so they took my regular henna mix differently. Using the iron pot mix on them made a tremendous difference.

I did some research on it before I started; here are some tips to get good results:

1. Don't use a seasoned iron pot, or buy a new one that's pre-seasoned. It must be uncoated rough iron, old and rusty is perfect. I found mine in a second-hand shop for a buck.

2. Mix the henna in the pot with an acidic liquid (strong brewed coffee or black tea are often recommended); the iron interacts with the acidity of the mix and this it what darkens and browns.

3. As your mix is soaking in the pot stir it up periodically. You'll notice when you stir that the portions of the mix that have been in direct contact with the iron are turning blackish. You want all of the mix to get like this, and the stirring makes sure that all of it gets the direct contact .

Some more thoughts......I've never tried overnight dye release. I always just used it as soon as it was black through and through. But you may get even darker results if you do, although I think the stirring is even more important and you obviously can't stir it in your sleep.

If you have instant coffee powder and want to try it, fine, but most of the iron pot methods I've read about just use strong brewed coffee as the mix liquid, so if you already have that there's no need to purchase anything.

Amla and clove powder are often mentioned in conjuction with iron pot mixing.

I don't think it'll be possible to eliminate the red entirely, but I think all of this should yield a very dark reddish-brown. A long application time should help, too.

October 23rd, 2008, 02:06 PM
Great, these are fabulous tips!!! Thank you!!

November 15th, 2008, 06:06 AM
Mellie your hair is my inspiration! I would love to have your color in the picture. Do you have listed somewhere how you got that color? And what your original color is? I have medium brown hair and have never henna/indiogoed, but I'm growing very tired of the increasing grays in my hair.

I recently got stupid and tried semi-permanent hair color and had an allergic reaction that has now turned into, of all things, chicken pox (long story).... and for now, I've concluded that chemicals are evil and will henna/indigo next time. Oh and yes, I did do a check first, the allergy showed up 5 days later. Too weird! But learned my lesson the hard way.

In all my lurking and reading on TLHC I've never heard of such a reaction, so when I'm healed up and brave enough, I want to try the henna/indigo route. I'm hoping for your color!!! :)

Oh and thanks for all the great questions and stuff you've put on the forums! :)

November 15th, 2008, 06:16 AM
Oh my! So sorry to hear about your reaction!! I agree, chemicals are evil! :-)

I use Rainbow Dark Brown henna. It's been working great to cover my grays!

November 28th, 2008, 06:36 PM
I've only just seen this thread as well.

Well, anybody else tried this for their head hair yet?

November 29th, 2008, 05:03 AM
No, I haven't yet. I've gone back to using the Rainbow Dark Brown.

November 30th, 2008, 08:29 AM
I love my rainbow dark brown (thanks mellie) and it totally blends but on the previously highlighted areas I get an AWESOME red cast, especially in the sun! :D

November 30th, 2008, 08:40 AM
You're welcome! Glad you like it! I just re-did mine yesterday and it looks so nice and naturally dark chocolatey!! :-)

November 30th, 2008, 07:44 PM
I have read and been reccomended to add some alma to my two step henna process in order to achieve darker results... I do a two step henna/indigo process for black and they said to add alma to the henna step (and some even reccomended adding a smaller amount to the indigo to) they said that this helps to keep the dye from fading as well as to make it darker... they also said that for a brown "hendigo" dye (i.e. all in one step) you could add alma to the whole mix for the same reasons. Alma makes cooler browns when added to a hendigo mix and also is acidic and therefore helps with dye release in the henna. I don't know why it helps indigo "stick" better... but it is reported to... I read about this on the hennaforhair forum by typing alma and indigo into the search bar in the bottom. I'm going to try adding alma to my two step process next time and see how it goes.

November 30th, 2008, 08:08 PM
hrm.. I wonder if this would make a difference for me in the long run, I know one of my goals is to keep from going natural until after I am settled in a new job post graduation (so at least 2-3 years, probably 5).. but as I get whiter that means more red.. and too red takes

December 1st, 2008, 06:23 AM
I tried amla but it didn't seem to help make the color darker. Here's some pics:

Natural grays before:


Rainbow Dark Brown:


Hennaforhair.com Henna, Indigo and Amla:


The color with amla (especially on the grays) still seemed more red/orange with amla than with the Rainbow Dark Brown.

December 4th, 2008, 12:48 PM
the pictures aren't showing up for me. In any case, I've ordered the alma, so I will write about how it goes this time versus without upon my next application