Indigo Hair Dye
|indigo field||indigo powder|
|mixing indigo with water||freshly mixed indigo paste||indigo paste ready to use|
True indigo’s real name is indigofera tinctoria. In old times Greeks and Romans imported cakes of pigment called “indicum”, meaning “from India” and, interestingly, this lead to the term indigo.
Indigo is a plant that produces a dark blue dye – we all know it as the colour used to colour blue jeans. It has the potential to turn hair from brown through to black when it goes over henna, but note that it will only ever stain the skin blue, not black. Its’ botanical family is : Fabaceae (Leguminosae). Its’ species is: Indigofera. Indigo molecules in the leaves of the plant contain the dye which oxidises to dark blue. They are alkaline. They react with henna which is acidic to create incredible dark shades with interesting undertones of red, burgundy, orange, brown, and even stunning blue black. Note that alkalis and acids have different effects on the hair. Acids generally will harden and contract the hair, while alkalis generally will expand and soften the hair shaft. So henna and indigo go really well together and make a great team!
Go here to see pictures of the indigo plant and its leaves – http://toptropicals.com/cgi-bin/garden_catalog/cat.cgi?find=indigofera tinctoria.
What the Books say about Indigo
In their book Herbs: An Indexed Bibliography, J.E. Simon, A.F. Chadwick and L.E. Craker describe indigo as follows :
“As a medicinal plant, indigo has been used as an emetic. The Chinese use Indigofera tinctoria to clean the liver, detoxify the blood, reduce inflammation, alleviate pain, and reduce fever. ………….The powdered root of Indigofera is used in South Africa to alleviate toothache.”