Trouble achieving black hair without damage

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Last seen: 8 years 5 months ago
Joined: 2010-09-07 11:41
Trouble achieving black hair without damage

Hi!  I've used this site for all its information for a while now, and finally decided to make a username to receive some individualized help.  My natural hair color is a dark blond, light brown/dirty blond.  However, I had been dying it with chemical hair dyes (store bought and salon done) since I was thirteen.  Three years ago (after seven years of chemical dyes) I decided I wanted to get away from chemical hair dyes due to the health risks.  I did a lot of research, and finally decided to allow my hair a good, long break from chemical dyes.  I did some natural soaks and applications (using egg, yogurt, oil, etc.), to boost the overall health of my hair while helping to get out the majority of chemical hair dye.  After about four or five months of not using chemical hair dyes, I decided to try henna.  I first used Lush's henna bars, which worked pretty good and made my hair very healthy feeling.  I did two applications of that, when I noticed my roots showing up.  I wanted dark red, auburn hair.  After those two applications, I waited a while longer (perhaps two months since the second application) and tried some BAC henna (Mehndi, I think?).  That made my hair very brittle and coarse.  I did some research, and decided to stick with it and added some different things to the mix to help moisturize my hair (it's been a while, so I'm not sure exactly what I used, but at that point I was using advice from this website).  Still no luck.  My hair was very dry and broke easily, and I couldn't use any heat on it because it was so sensitive.  I wasn't a fan of the color, either--I was starting to realize darker looked best, and decided what I really wanted was black hair.  I tried a mixture of henna and coffee, and then did two applications of indigo (one the same day and one the next day), and tried using a good leave in conditioner after the applications (one that I found was relatively good with hennaed hair).  That seemed to help my hair, but it still snarled and broke off easily.  I liked the color, but it the indigo faded after a month and my hair had more red in it that I wanted after.  After that, I waited almost half a year before doing my hair.  I used a quick, relatively safe (for chemical hair dye) temporary dye to even the color out for my wedding, and at this point the indigo had faded quite a bit and my hair was a dark to medium brownish red.  After that washed out, I tried leaving my hair alone for a while.  My husband and I were saving up for our delayed honeymoon, so we didn't have money to throw away anyways.  Right before the honeymoon, though, I decided I needed to do something about my hair (I wanted it to look nice in the pictures on the trip!), so I purchased a box of Light Mountain Henna Black.  I had done my research, and felt they were safe as far as metallic salts go, but knew ahead of time that they weren't a high quality henna/indigo mix.  I didn't really care too much about that, because my top priority with choosing a hair color is the health risk involved, not the hair risk.  It came out pretty good, the color was dark (though pretty flat with little to no shine), but it still dried out my hair.  I have since bought some good, natural hair treatments to help moisturize and bring shine to my hair, but I haven't noticed much of a difference.  The LMH has since faded--it's been about a month since my last application (I applied LMH twice). 

I'm coming to this forum because I'm out of ideas.  I have heard people say that BAC henna makes your hair healthier with each application, but for me it seems as if it dries my hair out more with each treatment.  I also don't honestly have the money to buy BAC henna and indigo pure every time I need to do my hair/touch my roots up.  I'd also prefer my hair as dark as possible, and henna/indigo doesn't seem to do that for me long term.  I'm a bit out of ideas here, and was hoping perhaps someone could give me some pointers?  I have heard of Naturtint, Herbatint, and Naturcolor (along with a similarly named one, I believe, that I have seen at my local Whole Foods).  Does anyone have any knowledge/experience with them?  I don't mind so much if they aren't the best for my hair, but am more concerned with the chemicals they do have being harmful to my health.  What do you think?  If anyone has any suggestions about henna and indigio, that would be helpful as well.  I have heard that indigo can't be used alone, but what is the reasoning for that?  Thank you for any help/knowledge you can give!  I aplogize if this is a bit lengthy too!

Last seen: 4 years 9 months ago
Joined: 2010-05-08 13:33
Re: Trouble achieving black hair without damage

BAQ, not BAC henna. Body Art Quality.


Brands like Lush and LM are not pure straight plant dyes (Lush's first ingredient is cocoa butter) and are premixed, which is why you have to mix them a certain way to achieve dye release in both at the same time. Which results in poor color over the long term. Henna needs an acid and needs to be dye released over a period of several hours. Indigo needs only warm, distilled water and no dye release time. It also dislikes acid mixed directly with it. Because of this, brands like Lush and LM typically have you mix with hot to boiling water and apply right away for a short period of time because due to the heat the dye doesnt last that long and typically demises very quickly. Boiling water also results in lame, weak color in henna that fades.


Unfortunately, henna is not for everyone. Some people do find that it is bad for their hair and results in what you are describing - dry, brittle hair. However, some things could be causing it. If you used a strong acid like lemon juice to mix your henna, that could be the problem. My hair personally does not agree with that much acid so I have to use something less acidic. I personally use acidic teas like chamomile, but apple juice might work for you. It may be worth trying BAQ henna one more time with a less acidic liquid.


Indigo cant be used alone because A) its harsh on the hair and B) without henna, it wont properly bind to the hair. Indigo binds to henna which binds to the keratin of the hair. Indigo's dye is also blue/green/gray and without henna's red-orange would result in a very odd color.


I've never heard of the hennas you've mentioned. And I dont know that I would personally recommend them. Its not really so much about it being good for your hair, but about it being dangerous for your hair. Many premixed brands that come in colors are compound hennas which may contain metallic salts. Metallic salts will react very badly to any chemical treatment for the hair (dye, perms, relaxers, etc) and can result in a number of very nasty reactions such as the hair melting. Yes, the hair literally melts and becomes a solid blob. Imagine that on your head!!


Some brands (usually the ones claiming to be black henna, I believe) also contain PPD which is a very nasty little thing that can be found in many chemical dyes. Reactions to that are pretty nasty too.

Last seen: 6 months 3 days ago
Joined: 2010-04-25 16:31
Re: Trouble achieving black hair without damage

The premixed dyes that you mention are off-topic here; this forum is only for discussion of pure plant dyes. You can get advice about those on the Long Hair Community forum, though.

It doesn't happen to everyone, but it's not unusual to notice increased dryness after henna. Many people do a deep conditioning treatment immediately after rinsing out their henna, for that reason. For example, a deep oiling for an hour with heat applied, or oiling overnight, or a commercial moisturizing product for a few hours or overnight.

It's possible that your hair doesn't like plant dyes, or it doesn't like plant dyes after being damaged chemically because of the drying effects herbs can have, or the dyes you used weren't of good quality. Kind of hard to know which it might be.

Have you ever used pure plant dyes (not a premixed product, and not containing sodium picramate or other metallic salts) on virgin hair?  Sometimes using henna on damaged hair helps its condition right away, but other times it takes multiple applications of henna before you see improvement.

You *can* apply indigo without having used henna, if your hair is already quite dark, but it's rather drying for the hair if henna isn't present to buffer that effect. On hair that isn't dark, the greenish color of indigo isn't too attractive in any case.  The other thing is, indigo doesn't attach well to hair unless henna is present.

Last seen: 7 years 7 months ago
Joined: 2010-06-01 14:49
Re: Trouble achieving black hair without damage

My natural hair is just like yours, dark ash blonde. Two days ago I've dyed it black by 2-step process with henna and indigo. M yhair is shiny and soft. Try once again and do everything what people on forums suggest you. With their help I finally got this color, it took many strand tests.

I'm sad to hear that your indigo faded, I applied it twice to avoid what happened to you. We'll see. :/


Naturtint and other dyes you mentioned fade away after a month or two. I've done alot of research about them too before hennaing.

I bought my indigo and henna at Muller's stores, but I'm from Europe so I'm not sure if they have them where you live.

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