How to Remove Indigo Dye from Hair


Most of you know that I have used henna to dye my hair for millennia.  You may also know that when I first started using henna, I didn’t need to color my hair.  I just did it because I wanted to.  I liked a more auburn color than my natural brown, and I didn’t want to use chemicals.  If you have been doing your Gallimaufry Grove homework, you will know that I no longer color just for fun.  That’s right, folks.  I’m going gray.  A lot.  Sigh…

Because henna works with the color of your existing hair rather than changing it, I was a lovely auburn before I began turning gray.  But the gray hair turns really red when I use henna.  Before I learned how to henna my gray hair, I just mixed indigo and henna about half and half and did my whole head.  That looked fine for the first time or two, but Indigo has a way of building up.  In other words, the more you use it, the darker and blacker your hair gets.  My hair turned so dark it was almost black.

I began using the new henna for gray hair technique on my new hair growth and just hoped the dark indigo in the rest of my hair would fade out.  It didn’t.  As my new hair growth got longer I started getting comments about my “reverse ombre” hair color (it was lighter and redder at the top, but darker and blacker at the bottom).  I went with it, but I didn’t like it.  I finally decided I would just have to grow it out and chop it off.

Then my kids took this picture for a refashion “after” shot:

This picture makes me shudder on so many levels, but for the purpose of this post, let’s just talk about the hair.  The top first 4 or 5 inches looks auburn, but the rest looks positively blue/black.  It looks like somebody gave my hair a black eye.  This is the picture that got my attention and let me know I had to do something.
I did a bunch of super scientific research with my favorite research expert, Mr. Google.  I read about all kinds of things that didn’t work.  Most people tried everything, failed, and then either used a harsh chemical dye remover that ruined their hair, or skipped the drama and just chopped it all off.  I wasn’t satisfied with those options.
There was one long shot idea involving citric acid, though.
My super scientific research involved a highly regulated clinical trial conducted in my kitchen with a study pool of exactly one individual — me.  It was a double blind study — I didn’t know what I was doing and I wasn’t exactly sure how I would react.
Amazingly, though, this crazy idea helped.  I don’t know if it took ALL the indigo dye out of my hair, but it definitely took out some.  My hair is naturally dark, so the change is subtle.  I don’t know what your results would be if you have naturally light hair.  My thought is that you would lighten some of the indigo, but probably would not return to your natural color.  However, if you aren’t happy with indigo but you don’t want to use harsh chemicals, every little bit helps.

Without further ado, here is what I did:

Step one:  I mixed 5 tsp. Citric Acid with 4 cups warm water.  I saturated my hair with this (my hair is long, so I mixed this in a pitcher and dunked the length of my hair into the pitcher until it was soaked.  Then I poured the rest over the hair near my scalp because, oddly, my head doesn’t fit into a pitcher.)  I wrapped my wet hair in a plastic Walmart bag (plastic wrap or a shower cap would also work).  Then I wrapped a towel around that to keep it warm.  I let it sit on my hair for 1 hour, then I washed and conditioned my hair.
At first, I didn’t think it had helped at all.  I thought my hair looked just as blue/black as always.  But it seemed to lighten just a bit over the next two days.  On the second day, I put my hair up in a bun.  Before I did this treatment, my up-do’s didn’t look real.  The bun was a different color than the rest of my hair because it was so much darker.  It looked kind of like a bad hair piece.  But after this treatment, my bun looked like it belonged to me.  Whoohoo!  That was when I knew for sure that this was working.
Step two:  I was so excited about the subtle change that I decided to see if a second treatment would take out a little more.  This time, I put 5 Tablespoons Citric Acid in 5 cups warm water, and proceeded just as before — I covered with a plastic bag and a towel and left for one hour, then washed and conditioned.  After a couple days, the ends of my hair now look about the same color as the rest of my hair!
I was a little concerned that all that citric acid would dry out my hair or irritate my scalp.  I didn’t put the second treatment right on my scalp, just in case.  As for my hair, it did not dry it out.  Rather, it seemed to strip off any buildup.  My hair is actually shinier.  For the record, my hair is pretty healthy to begin with.  I don’t know if this would dry out already damaged hair.
I am over due for my next henna hair color treatment.  This time I will be starting with hair that looks a lot more uniform in color than before.  Overall, I am so glad I tried this.
Update:  It suddenly occurred to me that you guys would probably like to see an “after” photo so you could see the difference.  I am sure there is still some indigo in my hair, but it definitely looks more uniformly auburn now.  By the way, the indigo in my hair from about 4-5 inches from the top all the way to the ends was about 6 or 8 months old.  It had been on there awhile and wasn’t going anywhere by washing.  After I did the citric acid treatment, my hair seemed to lighten out over the next day or two.  The following picture was taken only a couple weeks after the Indigo of Doom Picture above.  Sorry in advance for the lame selfie — my photographers (aka. the teens) were busy…
If you try this, please let us know in the comments.  Did it work for you?  Did it take out some of the indigo?  All of it?  None of it?  Did your hair turn into chicken feathers?  Inquiring minds want to know!
Have a great day!
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  1. I just want you to know you are the answer to my prayer! I used to Henna/Indigo until a few months ago. I was letting it grow out (ugly, ugly roots as I'm mostly gray now – though I feel entirely too young). I think I'm allergic to the henna or the indigo because the itching was fierce and relentless and stayed for days. I used Color Oops to remove the henna, but apparently the indigo was there, hiding. Anyway, my best friend from college came up to visit and talked me into highlights to blend the gray so I wouldn't have a stark line. I now have splotches of green in my hair. I understand it's the indigo. So many blogs and forums say I just have to live with it, or dye it red to counterbalance. Your post gives me hope and I'm trying it tonight!!

  2. I'm so glad you found me, Annie. I really hope it works as well for you as it did for me. I don't know if it will remove all the indigo, but it should at least lighten it. Let me know how it works for you!

  3. Hi Angela and thank you SO much for this great post. I especially the photos bc they illustrate exactly how dramatic (and traumatic) indigo buildup can be! I hadn't realized what was happening to my hair, exactly, at first.

    I had used henna for years, in college, bc I loved the look (auburn) and feel of my hair. A couple of years ago I started using it with indigo (a health-store brand mix; I used dark mahogany and chestnut) but only on my roots (around my face/temples) to cover the gray and blend with my naturally medium brown hair.

    At first, it worked fine but I noticed that it's been getting progressively darker and I realized last week that the hair around my face is essentially black. I didn't get a color band, like you, but I do have completely different color in front and back. And I like the color in back (the front is way too dark). That's troubling enough. Plus, unlike henna which seemed to make my hair warm and richly colored and multi-dimensional, the indigo (over time) made my hair look monochromatic, dark, and fake (very obviously dyed).

    I was obsessively reading about indigo removal when I stumbled upon your blog post. I tried the citric acid and it did help lighten some hair. I'm beginning to see (if I search really hard) the beginnings of strands in red, again. I have been doing the citric acid for 2 days now and it really seems to be lifting very very slowly (from jet black to softer black to dark brown with some reddish strands). I'm SO relieved and can't thank you enough.

    I do have a question. Most of the sites I went to said that vitamin C powder and shampoo lighten hair temporarily as it breaks the molecules that dye the hair but after a few days, it re-oxidizes and re-darkens. Your experience seemed to be that the citric acid continued to lighten your indigo after a couple of days. I'm hoping that will happen with me as well. I realize that vitamin c powder and citric acid are different but I was wondering: did you do anything special to prevent the re-oxidation and re-darkening? Any extra washing, etc.?

    Lastly, I must note that my experience echoes yours in that I have had no damage from the citric acid (I did a very concentrated solution and left it on, rinsed, reapplied all day). In fact, like you, my hair feels and looks incredibly shiny and healthy (I had very healthy hair to start with as well).

    Anyway: THANK YOU for sharing your experience!

  4. Marilyn, I am so happy you found my blog and that this post was helpful to you. I agree that indigo builds up and gives a sort of pasty, monochromatic, fake look over time. I wish someone had told me before I started using it in the first place.

    To answer your question, I must have read the same sites you did, because I was worried about the citric acid results being temporary, too. For me, though, the results were permanent. It didn't remove ALL the indigo. I don't think anything would have. But it did blend my hair and bring back some of that multi-dimensional look you were talking about. I didn't do anything other that what I told you in this post. I have no idea why my results were permanent and other people that have written about it said it was temporary. I did no extra washing and I didn't add anything to my normal routine other that what I stated in the post.

    Thank you for telling us your experience with this. We are all learning about natural hair care and hair color here, so hearing your results really helps us. Awesome to have you here!

  5. I just had my hair professionally highlighted today. I had previously (approximately 8 or 9 months ago) used Light Mountain henna on my hair. Bad idea obviously because the majority of my hair turned out perfectly. The top layer however is blue. My hair stylist tried several things for 6 hours to get this out. It did not work. Do you think that this citric acid remedy would work to remove the indigo even after the highlights? If not could it be chemically dyed dark to cover the blue? Any advice at all would be greatly appreciated! Thank you!

  6. Inquiring Mind, someone gave me the citric acid that I used, but you should be able to find it at most health food stores or on Amazon. I'm not sure about the food grade part. I've not heard of citric acid that wasn't edible. Maybe just read the label. It shouldn't have any additives or anything.

  7. Anonymous, my hair doesn't have any chemical dyes on it, so I can only give you some guesses, but nothing that I have actually tried. The citric acid might take some of the indigo out. It probably won't get it all, but it might get a good bit out. I don't know if the citric acid will interact with your chemical dye, but I wouldn't think so. It would be a lot like putting strong lemon juice on your hair. It might dull the chemical dye (I really have no idea if it would or not), but I wouldn't think it would turn your hair green or anything. It might be drying after having chemicals, though, so definitely condition your hair well afterward (maybe do a hot oil treatment). I have heard a few people have success with a chemical hair dye stripper. It would be damaging to your hair and would take any chemical dye off with the indigo, but it might work. Indigo is pretty stout stuff. I wish there were more warnings about how to use it on hair. It seems like so many people have bad experiences with it. Let us know what you end up trying and how it works for you.

  8. Oh thank you so much for this post. I am at the moment with a bag on my head (with citric acid on my indigo Hell hair).
    The first photo you posted could be my hair on the spot (with red crown and all)
    This is my second citric acid application..I am so hoping it will get to what your hair looks like in the after photo!
    I also agree the first citric acid application made my hair super shiny and smooth.
    I also have healthy hair health so I am thinking it stripped minerals and gunk out of my hair.
    Wish me luck at getting this crown of red with black tentacles gone for good 🙂

  9. I also have plastic and a towel on my head :P. Just a warning, this may get graphic. SOO I have been using henna for the last two years, and my hair is about to my shoulders… well after getting a wild hair I though heck, why not lighten it ( I was using Lush caca noir and I know it doesn't have the metallic salts….. ) So I grabbed a box of garnie fructice chamomile blond and VOILA!! gold hair at the roots and ashy green and the ends :). not to be detoured I though well what counterbalances green? RED!! no red? pink will do! on top goes the splat pink hair…. WELL now I have muddy poo with pink blotches ( and a good cry)…. so after some careful consideration (I.e. franticly searching the interweb) I discover your site. so I throw in some color oops, to get my hair to JUUUUST the right level of damage before I used your method of citric acid. Now we will see if it works! I have already called me hairdresser mother, and made an appointment to go and get a chop, (and hopefully she can salvage the color). But I thought I would let any one out there know, that if you are worried about what you have done to your hair, DONT WORRY!! Nothing can top what I have done to my silly head 🙂

  10. Oh wow. I am laughing and feeling sorry for you at the same time. How did the citrus turn out? Was your hairdresser mother able to salvage your hair? Are you starting a new trend of multi-colored hair in your neck of the woods? Or are you rocking some cool hats?

  11. OMG I am so glad I found this! I used the two-step henna and indigo July of 2014 and hated it after a week. I've been wanting to go platinum ever since! But bleach + indigo = NO. I'm also afraid of just chopping everything off and starting from scratch. I have fairly long hair that I just can't let go of lol. I also have a few dye jobs on top of the indigo (ironically, a dark brown). I'm going to try this ASAP.

  12. I recently dyed my hair with light mountain black henna. My hair is naturally dark blonde with little highlight from sun-in spray used last summer. Well my hair did not turn black but a dark TEAL GREEN. Do you think this will get the green out? And would it be safe to try a brown henna to make my hair warmer a month later??? Help!!

  13. The henna I use is pure henna. It only comes in one color — red. (I tell about it here: )
    I have no experience with the boxed kind of henna that says it comes in different colors. The only way to get different colors is to add things to the henna. Generally, if henna turns your hair green it is because there were chemicals involved somehow — either already on your hair (usually by using henna too quickly after a chemical dye job) or in the henna mix. I switched from chemical dyes to henna without any problems, so I'm thinking you might want to check what is in the henna mix you're using. I'm not sure if this method will be enough to remove the green, since this method is for henna/indigo, not chemicals. You may need to use a chemical dye remover (there are a few on the market. I think one is called Oops.) Once you have removed everything from your hair, I would condition it well and give it some time (maybe even 2 weeks) before trying a pure henna. The boxed mixes that say they are henna but offer other colors than red have other things mixed in. I have absolutely no experience with those. Be super careful about what they mixed in or you may end up green again. Hope that helps.

  14. How often do you touch up the roots with the henna/indigo 20 minute paste? Will the 20 minute treatments eventually get darker in time? How often do you henna? I'm on my way to buy citric acid. I pray it will get this indigo out.

  15. My hair grows incredibly fast, so I really should do my roots every 2 weeks. I'm too lazy for that, though, so I just endure my roots for awhile. I do my roots every 4 weeks and henna when I do them. The 20 minute root treatment doesn't get darker over time because you are only doing the new growth. You aren't putting indigo on the same hair repeatedly — that's when it starts building up and going dark. I hope the citric acid worked for you.

  16. Holy Remnant Ministries, I love the questions! Keep them coming. 😉

    I have actually been thinking about trying a henna/cassia mix. I haven't done anything more than think about it though. I think it would work beautifully. It would likely turn your gray hair into lovely strawberry blond highlights. As we ahem..age… often our skin changes tone, too. Going a slightly lighter color with the highlights can help offset that, so I think the cassia/henna would be great as it would be lighter. One thing to mention, though, is that cassia is very light. It won't take much henna to make it look just like straight henna. I was thinking of trying a ratio of 1/3 henna to 2/3 cassia. I was also thinking of gradually changing my mix over the course of 3-6 months so that I don't have a sudden root color change. It would just sort of blend. Eventually, I would have slightly ombre hair, but that would be cut off eventually and I would be left with lighter highlights.

    I'm so glad the citric acid helped some. You might have to do a second treatment to get some more indigo out.

  17. I did 2 citric acid treatments, and then did the henna again. Now I'm afraid because IF there was any indigo still in my hair will the henna make the little indigo that was left stick to my hair? Can I still do more citric acid rinses to get more indigo out even after I hennaed again? I appreciate you taking time to answer my questions! You are a blessing from God!!!

  18. I'm so glad I can help! I really don't think the henna will make the indigo "stick". I would wait until I was about to do a new henna treatment (or henna/cassia or whatever). That way you won't have to be concerned about the henna fading. For the record, though, when I did this, my henna seemed brighter, not faded, after doing the citric acid treatment. I would be careful not to do too many citric acid treatments too close together, though, or you might dry out your hair. I would say that 3 or 4 treatments will probably get out all that citric acid will be able to get out. It isn't a super harsh dye removal treatment (like a chemical dye remover would be), so it is probably limited in how much it will remove. My hair had noticeably less indigo after the citric acid, but there was still a little indigo hanging around. Indigo is far less forgiving than henna.

  19. I would like to know what your opinion is on this YouTube video. The woman in the video lightened her henna with Loreal Sunkissed which is basically hydrogen peroxide. They add oils so they say it is non-damaging. I have dark brown hair as well, but would absolutely LOVE lighter hennaed hair even without the sun. If I try what this woman did, do you think it would defeat the purpose to re-henna every so often and re-lighten every time I henna? Here is the link:

  20. Hi Angela!
    Just finished covering my head with lemon juice since I don't have pure powdered citric acid. After using lawsonia inermis and cassia for about two years, I had the brilliant idea of turning my hair jet black with indigo. I loved the color but my hair was feeling stringy and fragile, although I made sure to use the best quality product I could find. It's been about eight months of me doing many treatments with the indigo and it won't fade at all. I miss my old hair terribly: it used to be long and incredibly shiny; nothing compares to the strenghtening properties of lawsonia inermis.I already had to cut MANY inches.
    Thanks for sharing your story

  21. Amifm, my reason for using henna was to get away from using chemicals on my hair and scalp, so I probably wouldn't use it for that reason. However, if you don't mind chemicals and just want something that won't dry your hair out, this might work the first time. I'm not sure about how drying it would be to lighten your hair each time you henna'ed. I also don't know how the henna and the chemicals would react together, so try it at your own risk, if you know what I mean. It could react strangely and turn your hair green or make it brittle. I just don't know. I wish I could be more help.

  22. Hello Margherita. I'm so sorry you're having trouble with the indigo. I haven't found many people online that are honest about the results of long-term indigo use. It seems like it looks great the first 1-3 uses, then it builds up on the hair shaft and starts doing weird things. Indigo should come with better instructions, IMO. I talk more about it on my post Henna for Gray Hair. Thanks for sharing

  23. Hi Angela, thank you for your post & blog! I love seeing other blogs with Bible references (Titus 2 <3) I am now commenting after having read your post weeks ago b/c I just did a 3rd indigo treatment, this time pretty much straight indigo after henna. I left it in too long so now I'm fully black with some brown highlights from a previous at-home peroxide experiment. I wasn't worried b/c I don't look too bad with black hair and my previous uses of henna with indigo faded, but it's not my optimal natural dark brown & I am now trying to lighten it naturally. My questions are, what shampoo/conditioners did you use when you rinsed the citric acid out? I figure a sulfate shampoo may strip the hair more, so I am willing to try that. I'm also praying the indigo/henna I used was pure, I was desperate to get the brassy highlights toned down & brown my hair, so I tried out Reshma Henna, which I found great reviews on but it doesn't actually state ingredients on it's box. SilkandStone actually has a great post on lightening henna & indigo with oils as well, if that helps anyone. I have fragile dry hair, so oil soaking is my first plan. – Jade,

  24. Hello Jade. I am so glad to have you here. I used an all-natural shampoo and conditioner from Dessert Essences (I used the coconut one). I may have also used Tres Semme's low-sulfate shampoo — sometimes I will use that when I want an extra-cleansing shampoo. It's been awhile, so I don't remember for sure. I usually try to avoid sulfates, but they might help a little in this context. I don't have any experience with Reshma Henna, so I can't help you there. I have heard a lot of people say that oil has helped remove henna. They say you have to leave it on for at least an hour. Some people leave it on overnight. I don't think it helps much with indigo — maybe a little, and any little bit helps when you want to remove dye, right? I'd love to know how all this works for you. Thanks for your ideas!

  25. I'm having same problem with several years of henna and indigo turning the ends very dark. I also have grey hair, and my roots are very light. I tried the citric acid twice, and it worked a bit. I'm thinking of trying alcohol. Any experience with that?

  26. I have never tried alcohol on my hair, so I really don't know. It sounds drying, so you would probably want to follow with a moisturizing treatment. I have heard of things like "Oops" helping, but again, I have no experience with it. You would need to research it first. Let us know if you find something that works.

  27. I've used vitamin c tablets crushed up in dandruff shampoo and gotten amazing results for color removal. You need at least 3,000 mg in one treatment. Leave on for an hour with hair covered with a

  28. Thanks a lot, it really removed indigo from hair, i have been fighting with so long ! After seeing your photos, i tried it and it really helps ! Btw citric acid i bought in ordinary shop with food, next to sugar and vanilla sugar etc….:)

  29. I used the powder form, but as long as there aren't any added ingredients in the liquid form, it should work just fine. I got mine from the health food store, but I don't think it is super hard to find. You might try looking in the grocery store, too, like the commenter above you suggested.

  30. Amazing ! Thanks a lot ! I tried it and it worked… Just citric acid quite irritates my skin, so after 2 attempts i used apple vinegar (2 tbl.spoons in glass of water) and i get rid of indigo finally. Since i used now diluted apple vinegar cca once a week, it does not get dark again…

  31. Your post = My head not getting a clean shave! Thank you, thank you, thank you. I'm a natural blonde through and through. In search of a dramatic change I went to henna; the permanent of the permanent color methods out there. To justify my henna choice, I had used box colors in my teens to make changes, but they faded faster than Usain Bolt in the 100 meter dash. So, silly me, I thought that the henna would STAY longer than than the boxed stuff, but eventually fade… Hahahahahaaa! No. I used Color Lab henna in mohogany (yowza, bright red, not the brownish red I was seeking), and then dark brown (to go over my freaky-deaky "mohogany" color). *sigh* I've been growing my hair out, refusing to henna until I found a solution. Then BOOM! I found ColorOops (angels on high sing glory glory hallelujah!) Well, that worked to an extent… Now I'm left with kind'a redish blonde roots (about an inch) with crazy brownish/greenish/blueish strands (good grief, one valuable and slightly expensive lesson learned). I jumped in the color Lab website to look up the ingredients in the "mohogany" and dark brown, and there it was, first ingredient: indigo. @%#&!!!! An extensive search on the web (me crying and typing as fast as my little fingers could) lead me here. Currently have citric acid in my hair, about to wash it out. (Please pray I don't lose all of my hair by some freak chemical reaction.) I'll report back my results in a couple days (or immediately if my hair falls out). Thank you for you post, as of right nownim thrilled!

  32. I'm so glad you didn't shave your head. How did the Citric acid work for you? I have been working to lighten my henna now that I am growing out my gray instead of hiding it. One thing I have used a couple times is this: Extra strength dandruff shampoo (it's a stronger shampoo that helps fade color) mixed with citric acid (I just dump some in – I don't measure). Apply to dry hair, leave for 20-30 minutes. Shampoo out and condition as usual. This doesn't make a dramatic change (but doesn't seem to damage my hair, either). I've done it twice, waiting a few days between each. Each time my hair was ever-so-slightly lighter. My hair is still red, but it isn't as dark red as it was. It might work to lift some of the indigo, too.

  33. Glad to report I didn't lose all my hair haha! The C.A. didn't do as much change as I thought, so I'm giving it a second go. I used more this time with the same amount of water (oddly I did have a container in my cabinets that my whole head could fit in!) Bnt over my tub with my head stuck upside down in a Christmas cookie container for about 10 minutes, squeezed excess out and have it wrapped up now. I'll try the dandruff shampoo – I'll try anything – to get the indigo out. I don't mind the henna that's still kind of in my hair, looks strawberry blondish!

  34. Do we do the citric acid treatment post washing out hair while in the shower? And also if this works I will cry with joy…

  35. This post is the answer to my indigo troubles! It fades so quickly on my gray roots that I never thought it would build up like this on the rest of my hair. My hair now looks EXACTLY like your "before" photo in this post: auburn roots (because it's been 3 weeks since I colored them) and way too dark rest of the hair. I'm going to read through this again…slowly…and completely change my henna/indigo process. Thanks so much!!

  36. How did the second treatment do, Alie?

    Anonymous, I don't think it really matters whether you wash your hair first or not. I just put it on mine before I washed it.

    Holly, I hope it helps you. Let me know how it goes.

  37. Second citric acid treatment was no noticeable results. Feeling like I was going to be stuck with weird hair (the green/blue weirdness did fade) I attempted another color oops. Definitely left a vibrant green-blue color with reddish-blonde roots. Hahaha! Man, I can't win. I did a bit of digging and found that some woman have used vitamin C mixed with shampoo. Only vitamin C I could get my hands on was the Emergen-C from CVS. Using the basic color wheel theory, I bought the raspberry flavored one to hopefully balance out the green color. I am glad to report that the green faded significantly! I did this last night and today I did two baking soda/cheap shampoo washes. Found 77¢ strawberries and cream V05 shampoo/conditioner. Wet my head, slapped in some shampoo (didn't lather it), put in handfuls of baking soda (working my way up from the ends to the roots), lathered and scrubbed like crazy, piled it on my head, covered with cling wrap and a towel, set it for 10 minutes (did this whole process twice), rinsed, blow dried on medium heat and ZERO green!!!! None! I am thrilled! Will wait one week, still use the cheap crap shampoo, and do it again. My length is not the same color as the hair closer to my roots, but it's not green and that's all that matters to me right now. I'm sure the indigo is still lurking in there so I won't be bleaching or dying it lighter any time soon. Baby steps and no more Color Oops ever again. -Alie

  38. Wow. I've used Color Oops to remove some henna with no problems, but I didn't have indigo in my hair anymore. I have heard that things react with indigo. I guess I heard right. Wow. Just wow. I am glad you were able to get rid of the green.

  39. It's been just over a month now since I discovered this post, and I wanted to update my progress. I used citric acid twice and I could see the indigo come out of my hair when I rinsed it. My hair seemed softer after the citric acid, and it didn't seem to be damaged at all.

    However, that stuff stings when I get it on my scalp, so I did some more research and found out that oils can also be used to remove henna and indigo. I've used fractionated coconut oil (the kind that's always liquid) and SOAKED my hair in it from the "ponytail point" (the point where a hair elastic would go in it) down to the ends. I've been doing this on a day when I don't plan on going out, and leaving it in all day.

    Then just before rinsing I use one egg, beaten together with some water, and put that all over my hair. Apparently this helps rinse the oil out. It works like magic, though it's important to rinse with cold or lukewarm water so you don't cook the egg as you're rinsing it out.

    All in all, I've used the citric acid twice in the last month, and the coconut oil probably three times. My hair definitely looks lighter, but I'd still like to remove more of the indigo. This may be a longer process than I thought, but I'm still happy with how it's going.

    Thanks again for your great advice!

  40. Hi Angela, I just found your blog today and I've decided that it's time for me to take the plunge. My 1 part henna to 2 part indigo has been increasingly harder to bear every two weeks. It's itching my scalp and I hate how black it has become. I was forced to move from chemical dyes to henna/indigo about 9 years ago after getting chemical burn from hair dye. I'm really not sure how much grey my hair would be naturally, but I would say at least half now. I've been wishing I could go natural and make the best of it but I don't want to lose my length. After just completing s very expensive order for my next supply of henna and indigo which I had trouble even ordering in Canada, I decided it is now time for me to take the plunge. So, I just returned from the health food store with my powdered citric acid. I'M GOING NATURAL 😉 not sure if my discouraging friends, family and stylist are ready for this. I will keep you posted.

    • Nora, sorry I didn’t see your reply until months later! I am touching up the roots (I have plenty of gray, and still want to cover it). I’ve since chopped off a good deal of my hair (first 8 inches, and then a couple more) so now my hair is a chin-length bob and a lot of the old indigo hair has been cut off.

      I’ve come back to this post to remind me of how to mix the citric acid, as I’m giving it another go. It’s been a while since I used anything (citric acid or coconut oil) to strip out my indigo, and I’m hoping to get it another shade lighter.

      To people above (in the posts from January 2015) asking about this: “vitamin C powder and shampoo lighten hair temporarily as it breaks the molecules that dye the hair but after a few days, it re-oxidizes and re-darkens.”

      I think that has to do with something I learned in the instructions on Color Oops (also known as ColourB4 in the UK): they say that their product shrinks the molecules of the dye. But then you have to rinse your hair A LOT to get the molecules out of your hair. If I remember correctly, I think they recommend rinsing your hair for TEN MINUTES in the shower to get it all out. So I imagine that if someone used Vitamin C or citric acid or something else to get the indigo out, but then didn’t really rinse their hair well, it might re-oxidize.

  41. Holly, that's awesome! Thank you for sharing what you're doing with us.

    Nora, Don't worry about what they think. I think it's great, what you're doing. Eleanor Roosevelt once said, "You wouldn't worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do." I tell myself that quote over and over again now that I'm growing out my gray. (Check out my Rock the Gray Hair posts and my How to Remove Henna from Hair post.) I have only been partially successful in getting out the henna. It is much harder to remove than indigo. So I am sporting the demarcation line — and I show pictures of the weirdness. Mostly I get positive comments, but occasionally I get some nasty ones. That is their insecurity talking. Don't let them bother you. 🙂 Come on over to the Rock the Gray Hair posts and we'll make the journey together. 🙂

  42. So glad I found this post… Background: years of coloring with henna, then wanted to go darker (plus, had to cover the grays), so I've been using used Henna for Gray Hair mix (contains indigo) for about a year. The initial results were good, but just like many other I've noticed that with very new coloring, the end deepen, but the overall color and texture seem to get "muddier" (assuming indigo build-up). Fast forward 9 months of pregnancy + 1st month of new baby = gray roots galore & no time for henna/indigo routine unless I want my daughter to be covered in this mess. So, brilliant idea – let's go lighter, back to "commercial" colors with some highlights, and trips to salon as a monthly me-time "getaway". Today's trip to the salon was supposed to include coloring the gray roots, lightening overall color and putting in some highlights. Items #2 and #3 were a complete bust, the force is strong within indigo… Current situation: reverse ombre, just like you. Jet black ends (now with a slightly greenish / ashy hue), a warm dark chocolate brown (salon color) on the roots, and lighter greenish / ashy strands where the stylist tried to put in highlights. Going to order citric acid (love Amazon Prime), and try this method before attempting any other color changes. Will post results. Wish me luck.

  43. And the salon left you like that!?! I am so sorry. Hopefully the citric acid will help. You might have to do it several times. In fact, you could do this a couple times, take a week off, deep condition and do it a few more times, etc, until you get closer to what you are looking for. Let us know how it goes.

  44. Hey folks! I received an anonymous comment from Russia with another great tip and before & after pictures. I will repost it here:

    Hi, in Russia henna and indigo are very popular. On Russian websites I saw many people making their hair lighter after indigo by using kefir and lemon juice if the stain is new, and oil masks if the indigo has accumulated in the hair. eg: this girl used indigo (a two step process to get black-black hair) for two years, then decided to go to brown. The difference between the photos is 3 months, she used oil masks for the hair.

    • Good day, I know this posts are a few years old, but nevertheless I would like to add my comment. I live in South Africa and I am a hairdresser. A girl came in yesterday with the same problem, she used Lush, dark brown henna, the indigo that is in the hair is a herb, which has blue/green leaves, thus giving it that ondertone of blue/green in the hair when lifting it with chemical bleach. I am going to use Malibu crystal Gel, then their DDL and CPR, it removers minerals and direct dye stains. It is 100% vegan and natural so won’t cause damage. Then definitely try the citric acid. I will let you know how things turned out. The reason why your hair deant feel damages by it, is because citric acid is actually quite good for your hair using it as a treatment,not overusing it. It closes the cuticles of the hair rebalances the pH lever of your scalp. Thus making it shiny again. The Sam with the apple cider vinegar. Hope this help.

  45. Hi- I am not sure if this thread is still going but I want to share an important tip! When you want to cover gray, henna or indigo seems to want to resist covering gray when it is brand new growth. I have tried 6-8 hrs and still not covered well. i discovered that when I do one hour of red henna (NOT indigo) on the bare fresh gray roots- then rinse- then follow with a darker color like burgundy or a mixture of medium brown and mahogany (for ex)= it works so much better! The gray is covered and you get a nice uniform look matching the longer strands. Henna bonds better to henna. Henna doesn’t seem to like to bond well to new gray hair. if only I knew this 1 1/2 yrs ago when I started this process and kept putting more indigo in. Hope it is helpful!

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