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Apply Henna and Indigo More Effectively with these Tips

Henna and indigo is a safe, natural, and healthy way to color all hair types from type 1 – 4C and you can make sure to do it the right way with these tips.

You can achieve various shades by coloring hair with henna and indigo such as jet black, blue-black, rich auburn, and flaming orange.

However, depending on the application method, it doesn’t always end well, especially for first-timers to henna and indigo.

Learn how to apply henna and indigo more effectively with these four tips, which I’ve collated from coloring my hair with henna and indigo for the last 9 years.

Get More Out of Your Henna and Indigo Session with These Tips

Henna and Indigo

I usually carry out henna and indigo treatments every 8 – 12 weeks depending on if I’m wearing my hair out or in a protective style.

Towards the end of 2015, I decided I was overdue for a henna and indigo treatment.

However, I did a few things differently, which made the experience easier and less cumbersome than usual.

I use Nupur Henna and The Henna Guys Indigo for my treatments.

I assign one day of the weekend for it because this takes all damn day on my shoulder-length hair. 

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Apply Henna and Indigo More Effectively with these Tips

1. Slightly Heat the Henna Mix

I placed the mixed henna in a warm water bath for a few minutes before application.

Once it was warm, I whisked for about 5 minutes before I applied it to every strand of hair. I found heating it up helped the henna spread through more evenly.

It also gave me a relaxing feeling as I applied and helped me enjoy a great nap while I left it in for 8 hours.

henna mix for natural hair

The first pic is the initial mix 36 hours before application, pic 2 is after dye release and pic 3 is the final mixture when I was ready to use it. 

2. Wash Hair 48 – 72 Hours Before Henna and Indigo Application

I washed my hair with diluted Giovanni SAS Moisture Shampoo. I wanted clean hair without stripping it and this was perfect.

Another option is CON Argan Oil Moisture Shampoo. You can also try any of the shampoos suggested in this article

On henna day, I sectioned my hair into 2 parts for the application. I then wrapped it up in cling film afterward. 

henna after applicaiton on natural hair

3. Add CMC Powder to Indigo Mix

When the time came to apply the indigo, I mixed in a packet of CMC powder. This helped make the mix creamier and easier to spread.

Indigo is grainy and very annoying to get through the hair. The CMC powder made all the difference and helped control how much I applied without wasting it.

The CMC powder brand I currently use is Cake S.O.S CMC Powder. You can see more on this brand HERE.

henna and indigo application on natural hair

3. Leave the Henna and Indigo in for an Appropriate Time

For best results and to ensure the color lasts as long as possible, you should leave the henna and indigo in for an appropriate amount of time.

For henna to take properly, it should be left on for 4 – 8 hours. The longer the better. I apply in the evening and leave overnight.

For indigo to take properly, it should be left on for at least 4 hours especially if you have lighter hair.

You can leave the henna and indigo in for less time but the color will not last very long.

4. Deep Condition After Henna and Indigo Application

Deep condition after rinsing out the henna and indigo. I deep conditioned with Trader Joe’s Tea Tree Tingle Conditioner.

Any favorite deep conditioner would work. Before I rinsed out the deep conditioner, I co-washed my hair. Not sure why the second pic is blurry. 

henna and indigo for natural hair

The results of doing all of the above were a very deep blue-black hair color, big bouncy curls, and hair that felt very strong when stretched.

I braided it while it was damp with a mix of the following hair care products:-

5. Wait a Week to Shampoo

Do not shampoo your hair immediately after applying henna and indigo or for at least a week afterward.

The color needs time to settle and if you shampoo too soon afterward, you’re basically washing out the effects of the henna and indigo.

Shop Henna and Indigo Recommendations

Below is a compilation of the products recommended in this post.

Godrej Nupur Henna

Nupur Henna

The Henna Guys Indigo Powder

The Henna Guys Indigo

kinky curly knot today for braid spray

Kinky Curly Knot Today


Trader Joe’s Tea Tree Tingle Conditioner

giovanni smooth as silk moisture shampoo

Giovanni Smooth As Silk Moisture Shampoo

Cake S.O.S CMC Powder

Cake S.O.S CMC Powder


Castor Oil


Sweet Almond Oil


Vitamin E Oil

Have you tried to color your hair with henna and indigo? Do you have any questions about using henna and indigo? Ask in the comments section. 

Abi is a curly hair expert who delved into the world of natural oils after severe hair loss issues. Through her research, study, and testing, she was able to regrow her bald spots & a healthy head of hair. She is the founder of Healthy Natural Hair Products & Ade Ori Hair Care, and the author of the highly-rated Healthy Hair Care Series. She continues to study hair science, Ayurveda, and natural and healthy solutions for hair and skin. Learn more about our Editorial Guidelines

This post contains affiliate links which means I will make a small commission if you purchase through those links. Read full disclosure HERE.


Wednesday 8th of June 2022

What to do to make the indigo colour stay longer, I usually apply Heena, keep it for 2 hours & then apply indigo & keep it for 2 hours, & wash with shampoo only on the next day

Haircare | Fitness | Beauty

Saturday 25th of June 2022

Method you've described will make the color fade faster. Highly recommend keeping henna in for over 5 hours or at least 8 hours then applying indigo after that for up to 4 hours followed by deep conditioning. Do not shampoo your hair until the following week because the henna and indigo need time to settle in.

Charulata Upadhayay

Sunday 3rd of April 2022

Hello After henna and indigo. When I will apply oil in my hairs. Is that just after henna or just after henna and indigo. Thankx

Haircare | Fitness | Beauty

Monday 4th of April 2022

After the whole process. You can apply it for styling your hair afterwards.


Thursday 1st of July 2021

Really this is a perfect powder.Thanks for sharing these tips! I am sure they will really helpful!