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Tips for dealing hair thatís gone too red/orange from henna

10 CommentsWednesday, 5 September 2012  |  Tricia

Please note, these tips only apply if you have used pure natural henna, or pure natural henna mixed with other plant products. They do not apply if you have used henna which is not pure and has artificial chemicals mixed with it.

You can try to remove some of your unwanted colour and/or tone the colour down by adding another colour on top. You can see lots of methods to lift unwanted dye on this page including soaking your hair in olive oil, or using vitamin C powder or baking soda.

Putting a brown or black natural hair colour on top
In general when a hair dye has gone too red because of too muchhair coloured with henna henna, putting a brown or black natural hair dye on top should counteract the red tone. This is because the darker dyes contain indigo, which is a bluish-black colour that darkens the red/orange colour of the henna, making it go dark brown.

Dyes that are natural and contain indigo include It's Pure Organics Natural Brown or Dark Brown or Very Dark Brown, Logona Brown Umber, and Logona Natural Brown. The Logona browns do not contain a lot of indigo and are not very dark. The It's Pure Organics Dark Brown contains a lot of indigo so this will a darker shade. Any of these would help to darken your too-bright henna colour, but if none of these are sufficient to tone down the red, then you could try 100% pure indigo.

Pure Indigo is the most powerful darkening dye to use over henna. Mix the indigo powder into a paste with water and apply it to the hair. To tone the red down very slightly leave the indigo on for a short time (5 or 10 minutes). If you leave the indigo on for a longer time you can darken the henna to red-brown, brown (up to 2 hours) or even black shade (usually you have to leave it on for at least 2 hours to get a black shade). Be careful you don’t leave it on too long, so it doesn’t go darker than you want it. The longer you leave the indigo on, the darker and less red your hair will be.

There is no fixed rule about how long to leave indigo on for – the timings given above are very approximate. It depends on how porous or how resistant to dye your hair is. The only way to tell before putting it all over your hair is to do a STRAND TEST FIRST (if you like you can buy a tester sized packet to strand test before you even buy a whole packet).

One way of helping to ensure the indigo does not go too dark is to dilute it with cassia powder about 20% to 25% indigo powder to 80% to 75% cassia powder. If mixed with water the cassia is colourless and so dilutes the colour of the indigo. Again STRAND TEST FIRST to avoid an unwanted result.

The full instructions on how to use indigo are included when you buy any size packet of indigo from Suvarna.

Other ways to cope with henna that is too orange, red or brassy:
Wait a few days. Henna oxidises over 2 to 7 days, darkening and deepening in colour. What looked like brassy orange immediately after washing out the dye may calm down to auburn or copper after it has oxidised.
Repeated hennaing might seem like a bad idea but it can darken the colour to make it more red, rather than orange. If you are worried that it will make it worse, strand test first!

How to avoid henna being too brassy in the first place:

The golden rule to avoid all hair dye mistakes is to STRAND TEST FIRST.

Different hennas will have slightly different qualities - some more red, or more orange, some deeper, some more burgundy. You can ask your supplier about the quality of the henna you buy.

Soaking the pure henna in something acidic overnight facilitates the maximum dye release. This generally makes the colour deeper, more red and less orange. (This applies to pure henna only, not henna mixtures such as Logona dyes).

Be cautious when putting pure red henna on hair which is very light coloured. Generally henna will be much more brassy/orange when you put it on its own directly on to white or very light grey or light blonde hair. If you put it onto brown hair it is much less red/orange; the darker brown your hair is the less red/orange it will be.

Mix a little indigo with the henna - not enough indigo to make it go brown, but just a little to tone down the red/copper.

If you are mixing henna and indigo together to achieve a brown shade you need to use more indigo than henna in the mix (as stated in the instructions you get from us.) Adding some amla to the henna/indigo mixture can also help to tone down the red of the henna to achieve a less reddish brown and more ash brown. Amla on its own doesn't tone down the red of henna.

If you are very fair and want a more strawberry blonde, not bright ginger, colour, mix a little henna with a lot of cassia (which is a leaf powder that gives a golden colour on its own).

I can’t guarantee any of the above will be right for you because there are so many variables (for example, your starting colour, your hair chemistry – how porous or resistant your hair is). For these reasons, the same product will be different on different people’s hair.

Don’t be put off by being afraid of a disaster. Without experimenting you will never know if it will work. If you’re worried, just experiment on a little bit of your hair – STRAND TEST FIRST!

Notes about differences between the products we sell:
The Logona hair dyes that are least red are Brown Umber, Natural Brown, and Henna Black

The Logona Colour Cream with the least red in it is the Nougat Brown (though this is not very dark).

The Logona hair dyes with more henna in them that tend to be brassy when you put them directly on to white hair are the Henna Red, Flame Red and Mahogany.

The Palette by Nature hair dyes with names ending in N - 4N, 5N etc. - tend to be more ashy shades with very little red in them.

The Its Pure Organics Body Art Quality Henna, as hennas go, is a little more red and less brassy orange on white hair. Some cheaper, poorer-quality henna tends to be a lighter orange and less of a rich red colour.

Remember, pure henna doesn’t have to be red/orange/copper - you can mix it with indigo to get different shades of red brown, brown or black, or with cassia to get strawberry blonde shades.

Ask Tricia a Hair Dye Question here

See all the natural hair dyes we sell here

Tips on how to remove unwanted hair dye

Tuesday, 11 December 2012  |  20:50

I wanted to dye my 90% grey hair with pure henna to make it red but it has gone too brassy orange. If I use indigo on top of it to tone it down I am afraid it will go too dark.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012  |  21:36

Try a strand test first before putting it all over your hair. I would suggest leaving the indigo on for about 5 minutes and see what happens. If it is not strong enough then try it for a little longer.

Jane Hampson
Monday, 15 September 2014  |  13:13

Hi Tricia, I just wanted to get back in touch and say a big thank you! I have been experimenting over the last week and finally have a lovely rich brown all over my grey roots, and my hair is in lovely condition! Can't believe it!! I used the Lagona Natural Brown first, but my grey went copper. So I did a strand test with a little pure indigo - it went green!!! So then I mixed 1 part henna with 2 parts indigo and it covered all the grey but left a few around the temples and sides a bit too red. So, I then put pure Indigo on these bits for 10 minutes only and bingo - the perfect colour. I know what to do next time. One question though - next time to avoid the henna/indigo mix making my grey roots go too red, should I mix in amla or simply add more indigo?
Many thanks for all your advice and for this website, I've used chemical dye for years and loath using it, so to finally find a natural effective alternative is amazing!

Thursday, 24 December 2015  |  11:34

hi Tricia i have white hair roots on my front head used to dye my hair for years but it has ruined my scalp so i applied henna soaked in coffee n tea water in iron pot and my white hair turned red orange which i hate. I've been hearing about INDIGO tell me about it? I am in Pakistan where can i get it here coz ordering from other country would be too costly. please help me Thanks

Monday, 27 June 2016  |  10:27

You can mix indigo with henna to get a brown shade. For dark brown we recommend about 1 part henna to 2 parts indigo. If you want black you would need to do 2 separate applications, first henna and then indigo. You can read more about it here: and you may find out good henna guide interesting here:

Thursday, 25 August 2016  |  12:09

I have been using Surya Brasil Dark Brown Creme on my 50%gray/50% black Asian hair. The gray turns brassy (yellow tone) after 2 washes which the product's representative told me occurs on some people. She said to try mixing the dark brown henna with black henna to tone down the yellow undertone it is fading to. I am scared to make matters worst. Any suggestions you can offer to remedy things would be much appreciated. Thx you. Karen

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