The extract derived from the indigo plant has been used to dye wools, cottons, and silks for over 6000 years. The powdered indigo leaf is also an effective hair dye which has been used in Africa, China, India and throughout the Arab world. King Darius (520 BCE) is thought to have used it, as did Bluebeard. Indigo will give dark hair a blue-black sheen and can be combined with henna–to give deep auburn browns and blacks to hair.
For dyeing hair it is best to use the dried leaves directly (not the dark-blue extract powder). The leaves are available as a finely ground, lightgreen powder.
Indigo Recipe for Hair
To give black hair additional depth and sheen.
Indigo paste must be used within 15 minutes of mixing.
▶ Mix indigo powder with warm water (do not add any lemon juice to indigo or the colour will not develop) until it is the consistency of thick yogurt. Add one tsp of salt if you are going for deep black colour over a henna base.
▶ Follow the procedure for henna, but only leave the indigo on the hair for 1 hour. When washing just use warm water (no shampoo or conditioner). This mixture needs a day or two to oxidze before a neutral shampoo and conditioner may be used.
Combining Henna an Indigo
For rich black shades apply indigo paste over henna dyed hair -
You can make separate pastes and combine them or you can do two separate hair treatments. For brown, auburn, or chestnut shades combine indigo paste with henna paste. Equal parts will give a mid-browns, more indigo will yield darker browns, less indigo will give softer reddish browns. Experiment to find the colour you want. For rich black shades apply indigo paste over henna dyed hair.
▶ If combining indigo and henna paste, only leave on hair for 1-2 hours. When washing just use warm water (no shampoo or conditioner). This mixture needs a day or two to oxidize before a neutral shampoo and conditioner may be used.
▶ If applying henna and then indigo, you can apply indigo immediately after the henna process is done, or you can wait a few days before doing an indigo treatment.
▶ Remember that the indigo paste needs to be used within 15 minutes of mixing, but henna paste needs to sit for 2-4 hours before use.