• "The Girltron"--Alternative Indigo/Henna Application Method

    Originally published by Girltron, 01/31/2009
    The Inverted Two-Step Indigo/Henna for Warm Colored Highlights

    (Disclaimer: please strand and patch test any new ingredients before use. People can and do have nasty allergic reactions to natural coloring agents.)

    I developed an inverted two-step natural coloring method for my hair because my skin tone clashes badly with cool colors. I wanted to darken my hair to nearly black, but I had to keep the color warm. I also wanted to keep the henna "flame" that happens in bright sun, but in a standard two-step process the indigo largely covers up the "flaming".

    A regular henndigo does not provide the color I needed. Henndigo makes deep browns in the cool range of colors, which wasn't suitable for my skin. Also Henndigo is less fine-tuneable because you're only doing one step and can't adjust the darkness to taste.

    The inverted two-step is designed to provide the level of darkness I wanted AND still have the luscious henna highlights in a brighter, warmer color.

    The first step is to get your hair as DARK as you want it. The second step adds HIGHLIGHTS in the hue of your choice.

    1) Treat your hair to an indigo treatment. Hairball test to determine how long to leave it on with your brand of indigo. If you want medium browns, you're going to want to do the indigo in gloss form for short applications. For almost-black finished colors, like mine, you can leave the indigo on for an hour or so.

    I usually just apply the indigo to my roots and comb it through my damp hair so the darkness feathers out toward the tips of my hair. I see that naturally dark hair often bleaches out a bit at the tips, and I want to mimic that natural quality. It's a very subtle difference.

    2) Allow the indigo to develop on your hair for about 24 hours after treatment. This DOES mean that you'll be going around town for a day with black hair, or dark bluish brownish hair. You can skip this step if you wish, but I find that Indigo stays put better if you give it some time to settle before taking the next step.

    3) Determine your henna mix. This will give you the color of highlights you are looking for. People who are okay with cool colors can use straight henna, but for those of us who need to keep the golden warm colors in our henna, cassia mixes are called for.

    I use a mix that is 3/4 cassia and 1/4 henna. While your indigo is settling in your hair for that 24 hours, you can mix up your henna and let it dye release.

    Apply your henna all over the areas of your hair that were treated with indigo. Dye times will vary, between two hours and overnight are usual. The longer the treatment, the deeper and cooler the colors will be.

    The end result will be hair that is exactly the level of darkness you wanted, with exactly the hue of highlights you wanted! See my avatar for an image in the sun.

    ***Variation for people with salt and pepper hair: if you're trying to cover gray hair and your normal henna mix causes you to have orange streaks where your white hairs are, you can pre-treat with indigo just on the white hairs, effectively doing a miniature inverted two-step. Use a paintbrush to treat the whites with indigo, then after rinsing do your normal henna. They will blend better with the rest of your hair.***
    Comments 1 Comment
    1. lapushka's Avatar
      lapushka -
      I dread the blondes that first do indigo, then henna.

      Because blonde *first* needs that red "filler" to settle into dark hair.

      Indigo on blonde will turn green, and then red after might mitigate that, but... damage done, IMO.

      So I very much doubt this method is for blondes, especially light blondes (that don't have a hint of orange/red in their natural strands).
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