So how do you turn those packets of plant powder into fabulous organic hair dye?
Here's what you'll need:
acidic liquid of choice
*optional ginger powder for those who don't like the scent of freshly henna'ed hair.
First, a few reminders:
Every person will have a slightly different result based on their starting hair color.
If your hair is very light, dye resistant or damaged from chemicals, you may need more than one application. You can dye over chemically dyed and processed hair, but the results may be unpredictable. Always do a test first. Bleaching highlights into hair that has been dyed with henna and indigo gives unpredictable results. Test first.
This dye is permanent if you use henna. Cassia alone will wash out after a month, but if you have henna in your mix, it should not gradually wash out. Every time you dye with henna and indigo, your hair will take up more color. If your hair doesn't come out as dark as you want, just dye it again. If your hair is as dark as you want, you can prevent gradual darkening by just doing the roots. If your henna does wash out over time, then the hair is too damaged for the henna to bind or something in the mixing / applicaiton went wrong.
Test before you begin:
Harvest some of your hair from your hairbrush and use a little of your henna and indigo according to instructions below. Smear the hair thickly with the paste, wrap it in plastic, and let it sit for 4 hours. Rinse and pat dry. The colour you see right away isn't the final colour! it takes 2 - 3 days to oxidize, then you’ll see the final colour.
How to dye release Cassia:
Open the package and put the Cassia powder in a glass, plastic or ceramic bowl. Mix in just enough lemon juice (or apple juice if citrus allergy) to make the henna paste like thick yogourt. (it shouldn't run off the spoon). Cover it airtight with plastic wrap (plastic against the paste) and let it sit in a dark spot (or cover bowl with a towel) for 12 hours at room temperature (70F). Left over cassia can be stored in the freezer in an airtight ziplock bag.
How to dye release Henna:
Open the package of Henna and empty powder into a glass, plastic or ceramic bowl. Mix in just enough lemon juice (or apple juice if citrus allergy) to make the henna paste like thick yogourt. (it shouldn't run off the spoon).Cover it airtight with plastic wrap (plastic against the paste) let it sit in a dark spot (or cover bowl with a towel) for 12 hours at warm room temperature (24 C). Place a paper towel over the plastic – if there is no orange on the paper towel, the henna has not reached dye release. In colder seasons or depending on the henna crop, it can take up to 24+ hours to dye release, so check it often after the 12 hour mark. Left over henna can be stored in the freezer in an airtight ziplock bag.
How to dye release Indigo:
Mix with the hottest tap water RIGHT BEFORE using it. Indigo paste must be applied within 15 minutes of mixing it.
Left over indigo CANNOT be frozen, it's completely demised (useless) within an hour of mixing with water.
When applying the paste to your hair:
Make sure your hair is clean & free of all oils. Your hair can be damn or dry, just make sure it's clean.
Section your hair to make it easier for you to apply the paste. If it's your first time and you have long hair, maybe try a few different methods of sectioning your hair to make sure you won't miss any spots before you jump into applying the paste - it can be messy your first go!
Before applying the paste, make sure it's a good consistency to work with. You'll have to add a little more acidic liquid or water to thin the paste a little from its 'mashed potato' consistency. Runny paste is a horror, so be careful to add very small amounts of liquid & stir constantly. What you're looking for is a thick icing consistency - coats the hair easily but won't drip or run.
Apply the paste with a spatula, with a piping bag, or with your fingers and apply the paste THICK, as if you're frosting a cake. Coat every hair thickly by smooshing the paste into the hair with your fingers.
When finished, wipe any paste that's made its way onto your face/ neck and then cover your head with plastic wrap or a plastic bag. The idea here is both to keep the paste moist & warm. If you're cold, adding a towel or knit hat over the plastic will help.
Keep paste in your hair for 2 - 4 hours. Grey hair can be a little harder to stain, so 4 hours is best.
Rinse out your hair and in 2-3 days you'll see the final colour!
So let's apply all of the methodology to the colour mixes:
Dye release 100% cassia, apply as above.
Strawberry blonde / copper / light reds:
You'll be missing cassia & henna in different ratios. Henna easily over powders cassia, so start with only 10% henna in your cassia mix if you have white / very light blond hair; if after 3 days the colour isn't as red as you'd like, mix a little more henna into your cassia.
For first timers, you can dye release your henna & cassia in separate bowls (making sure to use the exact same amount of powder & liquid for each), then freeze measured amounts of the dye released paste (ex: using an ice cube tray). This way you can do many ratio tests with section of hair to find the right ratio for you (without using up too much powder in the meantime).
If you know the ratio that is right for you, you can dye release your henna & cassia in the same bowl. Follow hair application as above.
This is using a 80% cassia : 10% henna : 10% indigo mix.
So you can dye release your cassia & henna in the same bowl. Right before you're about to apply the paste (you have everything else ready to go), that's when you dye release the 10% indigo in a separate bowl with hot tap water. Make sure you don't add too much water & make the indigo runny. As soon as the water in blended with the powder, add the indigo paste to the henna paste, stir madly fast to completely blend, then apply to your hair right away! Follow application method as above.
If your hair is not white, start with using 100% henna. Wait 2 - 3 days to see if the final colour is read enough. If you have white hair, 100% henna paste will make your hair a very bright orange. If that's not what you're going for (hey, who knows? I'm not judging), you'll want to mix a little indigo into your henna. Same if the red isn't rich enough - mix a little indigo into the paste. Start with only 10% indigo powder to the henna powder ratio. Again, wait 2 - 3 days, if it's still not as dark a red as you'd like, add 20% indigo powder to your henna powder ratio.
How to do that: dye release your henna. Right before you're about to apply the paste (you have everything else ready to go), that's when you dye release the proper amount of indigo in a separate bowl with hot tap water with hot tap water. Make sure you don't add too much water or make the indigo runny. As soon as the water in blended with the powder, add the indigo paste to the henna paste, stir madly fast to completely blend, then apply to your hair right away! Follow application method as above.
Dye release the proper amount of henna. If you want a cool brown tone, add 25% amla to the henna paste after dye release. (if you dye released 100g henna powder, add 25g amla powder).
Right before you're about to apply the paste (you have everything else ready to go), that's when you dye release the proper amount of indigo in a separate bowl with hot tap water with hot tap water. Make sure you don't add too much water or make the indigo runny. As soon as the water in blended with the powder, add the indigo paste to the henna paste, stir madly fast to completely blend, then apply to your hair right away! Follow application method as above
Dye release 100% henna. Apply as directed above & let sit 2 - 4 hours. Rinse henna completely out of your hair.
Towel dry your hair so that it's just damp & easy to section again.
Dye release your indigo with hot tap water & apply 100% indigo to your hair. As with the henna, wrap your hair up in plastic again and let the indigo sit for 1 hour. Rinse.
So what was with the ginger powder? If you don't like the scent of henna'ed hair, * and you know that you are not allergic or sensitive to ginger*, adding a teaspoon of ginger powder to the henna paste before application will help with the scent. Do not use ginger essential oil or extract. Only use plain powdered ginger .
Or, really, things not to do...
- don't use boiling water in your henna paste
-don't add essential oils to 'terp' your hair paste as a henna body artist would. It doesn't change the colour & will cause a headache.
- don't use coffee or tea in your paste. You probably don't need the extra caffeine buzz and it doesn't change the colour.
- don't use vinegars as your acidic liquid. It will smell VERY bad. (even if you like using ACV as a rinse by itself, it doesn't smell good with henna)
- don't use egg, yogourt or oil in your paste - they just block the dyes from binding with your hair.