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How to Color Curly Hair with Henna and Indigo

I performed my henna treatment last weekend with henna and indigo followed by deep conditioning.

During the week, I applied the mustard seed oil and henna mix recipe to my hair and scalp 3 times.

I have been dyeing my hair with henna and indigo for years with great success. It’s a natural and safe way to color your hair without damage. In this article, I will share:-

  • My henna and indigo process
  • Before and after pictures of henna and indigo
  • Benefits of henna and indigo
  • Answers to common questions asked about henna and indigo
  • Side effects of henna
  • Side effects of indigo
  • How long henna and indigo dye lasts
  • The best henna and indigo hair dye 

How to Color Curly Hair with Henna and Indigo

Henna for Hair

Henna is a dye that comes from the plant  Lawsonia inermisThe henna leaves are dried, milled into a fine powder, and then sifted.

Afterward, it is packaged and sold as a henna powder. Henna powder can be mixed with a variety of other ingredients depending on the tradition to achieve desired results. 

Traditionally, henna was used to dye hair, skin, nails, textiles, and leather in parts of the Middle East, Africa, Asia & Europe.

When the compounds in henna are activated and applied to the hair, they bind to the protein molecules in the hair and darken as they are absorbed deeper into the hair. 

Indigo Powder for Hair

Indigo is a plant with blue dye in it. In some parts of the world, indigo powder is sold as black henna but the indigo powder isn’t henna.

Indigo leaves are processed the same way as henna leaves and the end result is used to dye fabrics and hair. Like henna, is a natural dye and can be used to dye hair safely.

6 Benefits of Henna and Indigo for Hair

1. Henna and Indigo Strengthens Hair

Henna and indigo strengthen and condition the hair shaft as an immediate effect but in the long term, it also thickens hair and promotes elasticity leading to better retention.

If your hair is dry, breaking, or feels crunchy on the ends, henna, and indigo over time will help rectify these issues.

2. Henna and Indigo Loosens Curly Hair

A henna and indigo session will loosen the curls slightly so it’s easier to detangle and style your hair afterward.

The loosening of curls is only temporary and eventually, your hair will revert to its true state. 

3. Reduces Frizz

Henna and indigo reduce frizz in hair. Application smoothens your locks. Followed by a good deep conditioning session, frizz will be greatly reduced.

4. Detoxifies the Follicles

Henna and indigo detoxify the follicles. If you’ve ever tried bentonite clay, you will know that feeling of rejuvenation and cleanliness without stripping hair. Henna and indigo have the same effects on hair. 

5. Safe and Natural Way to Color Hair

Henna and indigo are natural ingredients that come from plants. You can safely use both henna and indigo on your hair every few weeks.

Frequent use will not cause damage or breakage as long as deep conditioning follows it. You cannot do this with chemical hair dyes. 

6. Budget Friendly

Henna and indigo is a budget-friendly way to color your hair at home. Premium commercial hair dyes can go as high as $30.

If you go into the salon to get your hair professionally dyed, expect the cost to go up as high as $200.  

Henna and Indigo Recipe


Directions – Henna

  • 24 – 48 hours before dyeing your hair, pour the henna into a big bowl and mix with enough lemon juice to form a paste. Cover with cling film and set aside in a cool area. This process releases the dye in the henna so it can adhere to your hair successfully. 
  • On treatment day, uncover the henna and mix with enough lemon juice to form a consistency similar to runny yogurt.
  • Section your hair and apply the henna mix generously to your hair and scalp.
  • Take your time and ensure every section of your hair and scalp are covered.
  • Wrap cling film around your head. Leave in for 8 hours.
  • You can also apply in the evening and leave overnight.
  • Wash out the henna with a cheap conditioner and water.

Merlin Naturals Organic Henna Leaves Powder

Merlion Naturals Organic Henna Leaves Powder

Directions – Indigo

  • Mix the indigo powder only when you are ready to use it.
  • Pour the indigo powder into a bowl and add in the salt and CMC powder. The CMC powder will make the mix smoother so it’s easier to apply to your hair.
  • Mix all the ingredients with plain water until it’s the same consistency as yogurt.
  • Apply the indigo immediately after washing out the henna. 
  • Wrap your head with cling film and leave the indigo paste in for at least an hour but you can leave it in for up to 3 hours if you prefer. 
  • Rinse out the indigo with lukewarm water.
  • Apply a moisturizing deep conditioner and sit under a hair steamer for 30 minutes.
  • Rinse out the deep conditioner, apply your leave in and style your hair.  

I apply henna and indigo on my hair every 10 – 12 weeks but when I’m feeling lazy, I stretch it to every 16 weeks.

Do not shampoo your hair for at least a week after applying henna and indigo so the treatment has time to adhere to your hair. 

Henna and Indigo Results

Below are my results. I was going for some kind of angle with these pictures because I wanted to capture the highlights but it came out looking a bit off, unfortunately.

hair after henna treatment

hair after henna treatment

Hair Style After Henna and Indigo

I styled my hair with Curlformers afterward, sat under a hood dryer for an hour, and stretched out the curls afterward into a bun.

I’m not very good at styling after a Curlformers set but it stretches out the hair real nice making it easier to work it without causing damage. Check out the great shine!

curlformers set

Henna and Indigo One-Step Treatment

Sometimes, you just don’t have the time available to go through the whole process of applying henna first followed by indigo.

In this limited-time scenario, you can use the below-modified recipe for a henna and indigo one-step treatment:-

  • Mix 2 packets of henna using the same method as above 48 hours before you dye your hair.
  • On treatment day, mix 1 packet of indigo with plain water separately. 
  • Pour the indigo paste into the henna paste and mix together thoroughly. 
  • Apply the same way as the above recipes.
  • You can leave in for up to 8 hours.
  • Rinse and deep condition.

This recipe will not provide the rich blue-black color that using henna and indigo separately would. Instead, your hair will end up a deep brown auburn. 

The Henna Guys Indigo Powder

The Henna Guys Indigo Powder

FAQs About Henna and Indigo

How Long Does Henna and Indigo Dye Last in Your Hair?

My henna and indigo applications last for at least 3.5 months before I need to reapply but results may vary.

This depends on how long you left the paste in your hair, your hair color plus how often you shampoo your hair. I shampoo infrequently so this may also have helped it last that long. 

Is Henna and Indigo Hair Dye Permanent?

No, henna and indigo hair dye isn’t permanent and will eventually fade away naturally over time as you shampoo and condition your hair but done correctly, it should last for at least 10 weeks.

Can I Leave Henna in My Hair Overnight?

Yes, you can. This is how I do it most of the time as I simply don’t have enough time to apply henna during the day then wait for 8 hours before applying the indigo.

Side Effects of Henna Powder on Hair

Though most people are fine with using henna for hair, there have been instances of allergic reactions such as itching, inflammation, contact dermatitis, or breakouts.

It’s also unsafe for use if you have a glucose 6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency. Always do a patch test before applying henna to your hair. 

Side Effects of Indigo Powder on Hair 

There are no serious side effects with indigo powder but there have been cases of itchiness. As with henna powder, conduct a patch test before application. 

Best Henna Hair Dye

Best Indigo Hair Dye

If you’re new to henna, you will probably find this very messy and it might take you forever the first time.

However, as you practice more, you will eventually learn to manage the amount of time you spend on it and fine-tune your processes.

Below articles also provide helpful tips and information on dyeing hair with henna and indigo:-

Have you tried henna and indigo before? Have you tried another method apart from the above? Let us know in the comments section.

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[…] of arguments for and against both methods. Personally, I prefer henna and indigo and usually do a treatment every 4 – 6 months when the henna begins to wear off. If I’m protective styling, I do it in-between styles. It’s […]

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[…] 3 days and the full regimen every weekend. I alternated the Cherry Lola caramel treatment with my henna & indigo treatment every 8 – 12 weeks. There is a lot of anti-MHM sentiment out there but I would just ignore it and […]

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[…] in your hair from 15 minutes to overnight and should be applied from root to tip like you would henna. Pure clay powder is recommended for this step and there are many different brands of this out […]


Sunday 28th of December 2014

I love your results! I've never tried indigo before though. I just do henna and keep it moving? How big of a difference does the indigo make?

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Tuesday 30th of December 2014

The indigo gives it a lovely dark blue-black hue which I believe helps the colour to last longer as well.