Please verify steps of the henna-indigo gray coverage process

I have compiled all the recommendations given to me for covering my stubborn gray  and here is what I have surmised. I would appreciate if you would confirm if the recipe/ steps are valid. I understand that I may still have to experiment but wish to get this right.  Thanks in advance for any help and comments!  I very much appreciate all the help you have given me. I hope that one day I will be able to post pictures of my success.:-)

I am using Celebration Dark Brunette Kit for gray coverage.

One-Step Process:

1)  Mix henna with lemon juice. Keep it in a warm place (~75 degrees F). Dye release for 8-12 hours. OR use apple juice to mix henna (less acidic) and hence may not inhibit henna dye uptake. OR Use only amla powder to mix henna. (If Amala powder is used to mix with henna, do not follow the step 2 listed below and just mix henna to indigo after indigo is prepared separately as noted below).

2) To tone down red, mix amla powder as per the directions from Amala literature posted on Henna for hair:

  • Prepare your henna paste as usual with acidic liquid, let it sit until dye release occurs, and then separately mix amla powder (¼ as much amla as henna) with warm water, and add to the henna paste. Separately mix indigo with warm water and add it to the henna/amla mix, stir thoroughly and apply immediately.

Do not add amla directly to indigo as the acidity of amla inhibits indigo's dye release. Make sure the amla paste is mixed separately from the indigo paste, and add each separately to the henna paste.

3) Mix indigo separately in warm distilled water. Let it sit for 10 minutes for dye release, then add the henna-amla mixture to indigo pate and mix throroughly.

Keep the mixture on hair for about 2-3 hours or less. (Timing still continues to be the gray area-no pun intended. ;-)

2-step process:

  Here is an example of Megumi's 2-step process that was recommended to me a while ago by Carrie.

The 2-step technique means you henna first, then rinse out and apply a second step. For black, that would be 1 hour of indigo. For brown, that would be either indigo for a shorter time (15-30 minutes perhaps - to be determined by strand testing) or a mixture of henna and indigo. Having a foundation of henna in the hair already makes it easier to get complete coverage on your gray with the 2nd step. 

Here is an example of one of Megumi's clients who had henna followed by 90/10 indigo/henna mixture. Each step was 90 minutes under the dryer, which would be equivalent to 3 hours without heat. So 3 hours of henna, 3 hours of hendigo.  Long process ... if you had a bonnet dryer or a heat cap you could cut down the time like Megumi did.[]=11178

Using a high dye content henna helps get more solid gray coverage. That's why the Dark Brunette for Gray kit contains Yemen henna, a high dye content henna. (Yemen is what Megumi was using on her clients, I believe). Celebration has even higher dye content; perhaps it would do even better on gray but we haven't had any reports yet about that particular aspect, to my knowledge.


Carrie, provided some additional input on another thread for me. I am adding it here.

Normally for a 2-step process you leave the initial henna on for at least 2 hours, but with a heat cap I think you could do 60 to 90 minutes. You need enough henna in the hair as a base to help the indigo bond well with the hair. For the hendigo step with heat you may only need 30 to 60 minutes. Megumi basically cuts the time in half when the client sits under the hairdryer.

You may find this old thread helpful - the hairdresser Megumi is advising someone about how to get good gray coverage without overly darkening her brown hair. She describes how to do a 2-step for a brown outcome on gray hair.[]=11192

Nicole decided to go with a 1 step process instead: here are her results:[]=11619

here is Megumi's advice for doing maintenance and roots with this mix, since there was a bit of fading on the length the first time:[]=12122






I don't disagree with anything above except this from #1:

"OR use apple juice to mix henna (less acidic) and hence may not inhibit henna dye uptake."


... using something less acidic for the henna paste has helped some people overcome the tendency of acidity to inhibit INDIGO uptake.

However, many people use lemon juice without a problem in their hendigo. Megumi, for example, uses lemon juice with her henna, and then adds amla to it just before application, and gets good results.

Thanks! I am thinking that lemon juice in henna in Megumi's method works because it is a two step process. Henna is rinsed in plain water but perhaps it strips it off enough for indigo to work its magic.  Perhaps, for 1 step process, it creates too much acidity for indigol. I am coming to the conclusion that for my stubborn gray, doing a 2 step might be the answer. I am just way too nervous to try indigo by itself. If I got black, it will be awful against my complexion and eye color.


"I am coming to the conclusion that for my stubborn gray, doing a 2 step might be the answer."

I agree! I don't tend to suggest it though, until someone has tried the 1 step process and been unsuccessful first. This is because a two step for someone who doesn't struggle to get their gray to cover can go way too dark. Better to start will the least extreme options and work up slowly to more intense methods if necessary, than to accidentally go straight to near black!

 I don't have anybody that can help me put henna on my hair, for the 2-step process, I am actually thinking of doing hendigo in the second step and not just indigo. Any comments? Thanks!


Along the lines of trying the least extreme options first...

One of my friends, who has medium-brown hair with LOTS of gray, does a "modified" 2-step process to avoid going too dark.  The "modified" qualifier comes from the fact that the 2nd step is a gloss, not a full-strength paste, and that she combines indigo and buxus to produce a "lighter" shade of brown. 

Basically, she does henna for about 2 hours, then rinses as much of it off as possible, shampoos with clarifying shampoo (or regular shampoo mixed with 1 teaspoon Dawn or Joy dishwashing liquid) and towel-dries.  Next, she stays in the shower, makes a GLOSS with 1 cup cheap conditioner (Suave, VO5, White Rain, for example), 1/2 tablespoon indigo powder and 1/2 tablespoon of buxus powder, saturates her hair with the mix, loosely covers it with a plastic shower cap, and sets a timer for 20-25 minutes (and while she waits, BTW, she cleans the henna residues off the shower stall, because she's too impatient to just wait and relax).  When the timer goes off, she rinses her hair and that's all there is to it!  Her hair turns out medium brown (not any darker than she naturally was) and her grays take different shades of golden and reddish brown--their crazy neon orange glow dutifully covered by the indigo/buxus mix.  

On some ocassions, when her grays still show too much red after the initial gloss (because it happens) she just repeats the shampoo followed by another, shorter (10-15 minutes) gloss the next day until her grays are as dark as he wants them.  They are never completely solid brown, but the effect is very natural and very flattering--more importantly, her overall color is never too dark.  She says some of the brown fades a little in about a month, but then it's time to do her growth she does a roots-only henna and applies the aforementioned gloss from roots to ends.   

This basic idea might be a way for you to incrementally deepen those "too red" areas you now have without risking going too dark by accident...a bit of a mid-step compromise before deciding if your grays are truly indigo resistant.  If they are, then you'll know there's no other way for you but the traditional 2-step (full-strength pastes one after the other).


Thanks for your input! I would like to try the gloss in one of my trials. My natural hair is dark brown- walnut that looks almost black indoors. My gray  is coarser than my natural dark hair and it is quite bright silver, gray against my dark-walnut brown hair. I have never used buxus. I will have to educate myself about buxus. I remember reading that buxus takes away the shine from henna and makes hair rather dull. What's your friend's experience regarding dullness?

 In my experience, the dye gets better on my gray if I just rinse henna (not use shampoo). I condition my hair the following day with coconut or Amla oil and then shampoo (Aubrey Organic's Rosa Mosqueta shampoo). The texture and feel is amazing. I read about the  hibiscus-henna oil that  makes the hair color even darker (especially on gray area). It also helps restore hair growth.

Hi cglory!

I just talked to my friend and asked if she's noticed dullness after buxus.  She said she hasn't, but remember her buxus has been diluted in conditioner...perhaps if it were a full strength buxus paste, the decrease in shine would be much more noticeable.

Now, from personal experience I can say that it is very possible that that would be the case.  On my very very dark brown hair, I started doing henna-only and it was extremely glossy and "reflective".  But then I started getting a lot more grays, so I began adding more and more indigo to my mixes (50% the first few times, then 66% per weight) as I tried different things to blend in the silvery, coarser strands.  I did notice the reflectiveness went down as I increased the indigo.  It's still a gorgeous dark brown color, but it's more like black ink than it is like black oil.  I don't know if this description makes sense... revive the shine I miss after the higher indigo treatment, I (once in a while) alternate.  I do a 2 parts indigo to 1 part henna hendigo (1 step) and the next week I do a henna-only all over.  That way I get the grays to be dark auburn to golden brown (with the hendigo) and restore the overall reflectiveness with the henna-only follow up.  I know, it's a little crazy, but I don't do it every time I color...maybe just once or twice a year, especially over the summer, when I all of a sudden feel my hair looks too dark.  And sometimes I "henna only" about 1-2 inches of hair around my face and leave the rest alone, that's usually satisfying enough.   MIND YOU--I can get away with all this experimenting because my hair is waaaaay dark to begin with.  Colorwise, nothing it's really going to change much.  I'm not recommending this back-and-forth to anyone else!