why does henna mixed with water fade?

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spring water
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why does henna mixed with water fade?

I read the following in Catherine's book:

"Don’t mix your henna with boiling water. The stain from henna mixed with boiling water will fade to a lame brassy orange. The stain from henna mixed with lemon juice will gradually darken into a rich, natural deep red color."

This lighter color wouldn't be a problem for me, as I want dark brown hair without a reddish tone. Someone recently wrote here on the forum, that she achieved this dark brown by mixing henna with boiling water, not with lemon juice, and this way her hair didn't become reddish. But as I remember she also stated that this way henna fades quicker too, just like indigo.

My question is: why does henna fade quicker if mixed with boiling water instead of lemon juice? The dye molecules stay small I guess, so why don't they bind to the hair just as strongly as they do when mixed with something acidic? And I also wonder whether it's better to use warm water instead of boiling water...?

I would also like to ask why does indigo attach to hair better when mixed with henna than used alone?

Thank you in advance!

Jen
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Re: why does henna mixed with water fade?

Good questions!

When mixed with an acid henna dye molecules better maintain little hydrogen atoms that hang on the edges of the molecule. This prevents the dye molecule from linking up with other dye molecules or anything else until it gets in contact with your hair. This allows the dye to bind with hair in the strongest possible way. When mixed with water, and especially boiling water, the dye is released quickly, the hydrogens fall off quickly, and many of the dye molecules are "burnt out" before they can get in contact with the hair.

Indigo has a lager dye molecule than henna and it doesn't have the love of protein that henna does. To my understanding the indigo molecule holds on the the henna dye molecule itself rather than the hair when they are applied in combination.

spring water
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Re: why does henna mixed with water fade?

Thank you very much, Jen!

So the henna mixed with water gives a lighter color than the henna mixed with something acidic because less dye molecules attach to the hair? (I thought the acid makes the color stronger, or the boiling water makes it lighter :-))

Therefore when we use indigo, it's better to mix the henna with something acidic, because this way there will be more henna dye molecules in our hair, to which the indigo dye molecules can attach?

Or we can use boiling/warm water to our henna (in case we want less red) but this way the indigo will fade off even quicker than when we mix indigo with a dye released henna paste...?

Isn't there any other plant with such a good dye like henna but with dark brown/black color...? I mean probably there is, we just don't know about it... Isn't there any research somewhere in the world you know about? I really hope this hair coloring procedure can get easier soon... I mean for those who wants red hair, henna is great, but for brown...

Anyway, thank you for your answer again!

ACWN
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Re: why does henna mixed with water fade?

Its a weaker color (and prone to fading) because the henna doesnt have time to properly bind in a water based mix as it would with an acid based mix.

 

Thus, yes... its better to have SOME acid in your henna if you use indigo because otherwise the indigo wont stick properly and may fade entirely or possibly wash right out (which would probably only really happen if theres next to no henna in your hair). Boiling water is not recommended at all.

 

Unfortunately, I dont think there is. Henna has been around for a LONG time and has been used for a LONG time to dye hair. So has indigo, I believe.

 

Once you get the right recipe down, its easy. The hard part is finding the right recipe.

spring water
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Re: why does henna mixed with water fade?

Thank you for the explanation!

I use acid for my henna, which I mix with indigo. But indigo fades after the first wash - so the color looks good only for a few days...

I use an 80indigo/20henna mix. I read here that indigo works only for 1-1,5 hours long, so if we leave the hendigo on longer than this, we can end up with more red in our hair. But at the same time I also read here that Megumi's 2-step process for dark brown is: 3 hours for henna and another 3 hours for 90indigo/10henna. Why do we have to wait 3 hours with the indigo heavy hendigo? I keep my 80/20 mix on for 3 hours, and the result on my few grays is a very dark red/burgundy. Not simply dark brown which I would like to get. And after the first wash my greys become lighter red. So it's not the best yet.

Next time I will leave the hendigo on for only 1-1,5 hours to get a real dark brown. But I'm afraid it will also fade after the first wash...

ACWN
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Re: why does henna mixed with water fade?

It sounds like whats happening is that the theres not enough henna for the indigo to bind to, so the indigo is basically washing off.

 

Here is my suggestion, please strand test this just to be sure you get the color you're looking for. Do an application of JUST henna for at least 2 hours (you could also sleep in it overnight to make it more convenient). Wash. No conditioner. Follow up with an application just indigo for 15 minutes to a half hour at MAX. Rinse and let oxidize for at least 4 days. See if that gives you the color you want. If it comes out a little dark, try another strand test, but with less time - such as 10 minutes if you only left it on for 15. Yes, its more labor intensive, but it may just give you the color you want with less red and minimal fading.

 

Just a note of warning though - if you do this with out strand testing ahead of time, you do so at your own risk because a two step can go black very quickly - which is why I suggested such a short time with the indigo step. And once your hair goes black with indigo, its very hard (pretty much impossible) to lighten it back up. So... strand test, strand test, strand test!

 

And if you get the color you want with this method, DO ONLY YOUR ROOTS!! A second full head application will most likely give you black.

spring water
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Re: why does henna mixed with water fade?

It takes me a long time to put the paste onto my hair, I guess it's at least 20 minutes (I never checked). Do you mean this 15-30 minutes together with the application time or only after that? If the application time counts too, and I guess it does, then the problem is that the part of my hair where I put the indigo first gets ready by the time I finish putting the indigo to all my hair - so the color won't be even... Am I guessing wrong?

Should I be more quick...? :-)

ACWN
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Re: why does henna mixed with water fade?

Prepping your hair before you put it in helps a LOT, especially if your hair is longer. Remember to apply to damp hair and section your hair off before you put it in. Part it down the middle like you would for pigtails, then part those halves into different sections and pin them up. Do a section at a time. That will probably help.

 

If you need help parting your hair or putting it in, enlist it.

Carrie
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Re: why does henna mixed with water fade?

Have you tried using a bit less indigo in your hendigo, and applying for a shorter time? say 60 henna, 40 indigo (or even 70/30) for 1.5 to 2 hours.  I'm thinking that 20% henna isn't enough henna to help indigo stick. Also, including 20-25% amla in your henna portion can help indigo stick.

The 2-step that ACWN suggests will work but as you point out, it's hard to apply indigo quickly. It doesn't have the nice creamy texture that henna has. For an easier application, you could also try an indigo gloss - mix approximately 2-3 Tbsp indigo powder into enough conditioner to cover your hair, leave on however long (strand testing will tell you this; try 20-30 minutes to start with) and rinse out.

spring water
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Re: why does henna mixed with water fade?

Thank you both of you for the help!

I only tried a maximum 25-30indigo/75-70henna mix. I didn't want to use too much henna as I would like to get a very dark brown.

I thought of applying it for a shorter time, but I haven't tried yet, because (as I said above) I was confused about it. Megumi's technique says 3 hours for the second step (90indigo/10henna) too. But I also read that indigo works for only 1-1,5 hours.

What do you think of trying (I know, strand test first :-)) Megumi's technique but leaving the second step for a shorter time. Because 3 hours for henna and another 3 hours for hendigo is quite long for me. (Mostly as it's dripping. BUT, last time I put a little cornstarch "pudding" to the indigo paste instead of some part of the water and it was much better. Next time I will make the pudding a little more thick.)

So I thought of: Leaving henna on for 2-3 hours and the 90indigo/10 henna mix for 1 hour.

The reason I still haven't tried this two-step technique is because I'm worried about the "only roots" coloring. Some people said here that it's not easy to color only the roots and their hair became streaky/blotchy. And doing the roots with a two step is maybe even more hard, I guess. If you want black, it's okay, as you can put the indigo on a bigger/longer part than you did the henna, as your already black hair cannot get darker. But a dark brown can go black on those parts of your hair where you didn't put henna before (in the first step) but you put the 90/10hendigo. Or vice-versa, the color of your hair can be more reddish on those parts where you put henna in the first step but no hendigo in the second.

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