Monday, December 24, 2012

All about cassia obovada, henna, indigo

I have already covered some information on these 3 plants in my other entry (Minimize chemical dye damage and alternatives.) but I wanted to write a more personalized entry about it with my own experience added and a bit more information. All the info about these plants is based on the fact that they are pure plants, as in dried leaves that have been grinded into a powder, no additives.

Cassia Obovata
- is a plant with a golden-yellow dye molecule (which will only show up on very light colored hair such as white and light blonde)
- if you mix it with warm water the dye should release in 4-6 hours or so, if you mix it with an acidic liquid then it may take 12 hours; alternatively you can freeze the paste and when you unfreeze it the dye would be released
- it should be kept on your hair for at least 2 hours, but you can leave it on for as long as you want beyond that
- makes your hair shiny, healthy and strong
- will make bleached, damaged blond hair thick, shinny and silky
- will restore youthful golden color to dull or graying blond hair
- helps keep your scalp healthy
- it will NOT lighten hair and will NOT be noticeable on hair colors from dark blonde to jet black
"There is NO such thing as neutral henna or blond henna!  Much of what is sold in boxes called neutral or blond henna is Cassia Obovata, usually with unlisted adulterants."  (info from here: Cassia Obovata1)
- it is an excellent conditioner which makes hair glossy and thick, with a healthy scalp
- it has a strong smell similar to a heap of warm mowed grass
- if your powder stains your hair or hands yellow it probably has some rhubarb root mixed into it
- is also known as Senna obovata (but it is NOT cinnamon)
- traditionally used to cure fungal and bacterial infections and has been tested and found to be highly effective against many microbes and fungi
- is also effective in treating psoriasis.
(info from here: Cassia obovata2)
- this is NOT a protein treatment, it is a conditioning treatment
From my experience Cassia makes hair shinny and it is also effective at keeping my flaky, itchy scalp happy. It is a bit drying, but I found that heavily oiling my hair before applying the cassia does wonders in that department. Some people also add oil to the cassia mud (and mix it in) before applying it to their hair, I have not tried this yet, so I can't comment on it. I do plan to add some oil to my mixture next time, some for scalp health and some to promote growth. Use conditioner after rinsing out the cassia mud, you may have use conditioner twice to get your hair back to normal.
One thing I want to mention is that my shedding goes WAY down when I rinse cassia out of my hair and then wash it right after. I can attest to the fact that Cassia and henna are both NOT protein treatments because my hair hates protein and becomes dull from it, this has never happened to me with Cassia nor henna. Cassia can be combined with henna to get strawberry blonde color, but since it does not lighten hair this only works on light blonde and white hair (click here to check out mixes: Quick Henna Mix Guide).

Henna (Lawsonia inermis)
- only comes in one color which is kind of orange and then it oxidases into a red/burgundy (the process takes about a week)
- if you mix it with warm water the dye should release in 4-6 hours or so, if you mix it with an acidic liquid then it may take 12 hours, you can test the dye release on your wrist, the orange stain should appear immediately; alternatively you can freeze the paste and when you unfreeze it the dye would be released, this method also give it a redder tint because it allows for maximum dye release; if the dye release is instant RUN, run fast, run far because pure henna does NOT do that, metallic salts added to henna do that though and they fry your hair
- it should be kept on your hair for at least 2 hours, but you can leave it on for as long as you want beyond that
- if you're looking for a redder/darker color I suggest you pick something with higher lawsone content (that's the dye molecule), this will be different for hennas depending on where the plant was grown, the soil is what determines lawsone content, the plant will be the same
- leaving the henna on your hair for longer periods of time will also result in a darker/redder color, so will freezing the paste then unfreezing it, and so will repeated applications
- this is also good to keep in mind if you want a lighter red/more orange color and you are diluting the henna with conditioner or cassia: for a lighter color choose a henna with low lawsone content, leave it on for less time and do not freeze the paste
- there is no such thing as colorless henna, blonde henna, brown henna, black henna, all of those names are lies, henna has only one color, I'm going to repeat it until I'm blue in the face
- henna will make damaged hair strong and super shinny (glossy)
- it can be used on previously chemically colored hair
- if the henna is not sticking to your hair do a protein treatment (soy sauce is the best option for this) then do a henna treatment
- you can attempt to color over it with chemical dyes but good luck, the red is permanent, your hair will not be damaged though
- if you buy henna from some random store it will probably melt your hair off, that's not an exaggeration
- henna is often just a name used to sell hair dye
- a lot of the time the boxes that say henna do not even contain  lawsonia inermis
- almost all the time boxed 'henna' contains metallic salts which in combination with peroxide will melt your hair off, or if you're lucky it will just fry it beyond any hope of ever looking good, this means that if you ever used or plan to use a conventional hair dye, it will probably have peroxide in the developer and thus give you tragic results, plus just the metallic salts themselves fry hair without any help from peroxide, THIS is why henna gets a bad rep, because the name is abused by foreign companies that do not have to respond to the FDA nor list their ingredients correctly
- the ONLY source I trust for buying henna is, their henna is pure, tested and certified
- if you want to risk melting your hair off, then you can try store bought henna, but only buy the type that is marketed for tattoo/body art use (avoid the hair 'hennas' will most likely contain metallic salts) and always make sure you test it just in case
- henna is permanent, it will not be covered by darker dyes and the red will be with you pretty much forever, if you try bleaching it say hello to orange hair
- some people have had success removing henna with products like color oops or color be4, but as a general rule henna is permanent so only go use henna if you are sure you want red hair
- henna will work with your natural hair color so if you're a light blonde it will probably look orange/red, if you have dark hair then it won't be visible except for a reddish shine in sunlight
- henna does NOT lighten hair, in fact with repeated applications henna will build-up and darken its color, culminating in a shade that looks a lot like plum
- it is NOT a protein treatment, it is a conditioning treatment
- it makes fine and damaged hair a lot less likely to break
- it is anti-fungal and can help with psoriasis as well
- it is drying at first because the mud is very difficult to completely remove from hair, so my advice is to do a heavy pre-henna oiling (and apply the henna on your oiled hair, do not wash the oil out first), that should fix it, you can then condition it after rinsing it out if you're still experiencing dryness
- alternatively you could just be patient because the henna mud build-up will go away in a few washes
From my experience henna was the best thing to ever happen to my length. I wish I could turn back time before I chopped off my damaged hair (damaged by chemical dyes) and just use henna because that would have been enough, it is that amazing.  My hair has never been so soft and shinny, ever, not even when I was a child and never did anything damaging to my hair. If you or someone you know is suffering from damaged hair and lost all hope there is one answer: henna. My personal experience advice is: never mix it with lemon juice (it is SUPER drying), use either warm water or chamomile tea. I also advise you to NOT buy from they are shady (they do not post negative reviews on their site, only the positive ones, don't believe me? try it) and their henna burned my scalp (I literally had wounds from it). The only downside is that it only colors hair one shade, however it can be mixed with something else (indigo) to get brunette colors, so read on.

Indigo (Indigofera tinctoria)
- it only comes in one color, you guessed it: indigo
- it will NOT lighten hair
- mixed with henna it can give brown shades (from reddish medium brown to dark brown)
- used on already hennaed hair it will give a jet black color (this is known as a two step henndigo, first you use just henna and then you use just indigo after washing out the henna)
- instructions on mixes here: Dye your hair brunette with henna and indigo
- indigo dye releases immediately and demises in about an hour, so it needs to be used right after after mixing it (unlike henna and cassia); if you're mixing indigo with henna, prepare the henna first, wait for dye release and before applying it to the hair mix the indigo powder with water (or whatever you use), then mix it in with the henna and immediately apply it to the hair
- it should be kept on your hair for at least 1 hour, but you can leave it on for as long as you want beyond that
- some people are allergic to indigo, this presents itself as itching most of the time
- it can fade the first few times it is used, but once it sticks to hair it is permanent
- if you bleach or use a chemical dye with peroxide over indigoed hair you WILL end up with green hair and the green will not be hidden by black dye or removed (more bleach/peroxide=greener hair)
- indigo plus peroxide will always equal green hair, if you have previously bleached or chemically dyed hair, do just henna first (make sure the henna sticks), then do the henna/indigo
- to remove indigo the best option is peroxide free color removers such as Color Oops
- to make indigo darker add a tea spoon of salt to every 100 grams of indigo
- indigo is NOT brown henna, nor black henna, it is a completely different plant
- the same warning that I made about henna apply to indigo, if you risk buying it from the store (marketed for hair use, it will probably contain metallic salts and) you will probably end up with melted hair
- always buy only body art quality (pure) indigo for your hair
I only used an indigo/henna mix once while doing a strand test and I used the one from which is notorious for always fading, so, you know... it faded after a wash or two and then I couldn't see it anymore (over my already hennaed hair). I personally wouldn't recommend Lush henna for hair coloring.

In conclusion:
- only use pure plants forms (body art quality works if you test it first, is the only source I personally trust)
- ALWAYS strand test, this stuff is permanent you don't want to end up with the wrong shade and be stuck with it, either test a strand already on your head, or test your mix on shed hairs, photos are useful for seeing the results, photos indoors and outdoors in sunlight are optimal
- test for allergy behind your ear or on the inside of your elbow
- none of these plants lighten hair
- all of these plats are beneficial to your hair and NOT damaging (as long as you get the pure stuff)
- only use the pure plant version (seriously, it's worth saying trice because otherwise you can end up with melted hair)
- none of these plats are protein treatments, just because they make the hair stronger doesn't mean they are a protein treatment, if you disagree then feel free to read the research yourself from a scientist: Henna for hair
Last but not least writing all this stuff down just makes me want to henna my hair again. It's just so tempting because of all the benefits. Henna is seriously the best thing to ever happen to my length, chances are I will just continue to go back to it and never see my hair fully be it's natural color again.


  1. Life threatening diseases like cancer and kidney failures are seen only in few cases but weak eyesight and skin issues is commonly observed in every second person using the hair dyes to color the hair that too for the limited period of time. These days' people have become so much conscious of outer beauty that they overlook the fact that harmful chemicals present in cosmetics or skin care products can lead to health problems for the rest of their lives.

    natural henna hair dye

    1. Very true! Everything these days is about appearance and companies are out to make money. We should be more concerned with health.

  2. Thank you so much for your comment. I always appreciate it. Happy New Year to you too. Love the new Layout!

  3. Hi! LOVE your blog. Okay so question about henna; first off I totally agree with you that it is the best thing to ever happen to my hair (!), but I also agree that it can be quite drying until all the mud is truly rinsed off. You suggested a heavy oiling pre-henna. Can you clarify? Like do I do an oil treatment, then wash that out and the next day henna, or do I oil it heavily then apply the henna? Thanks in advance!

    1. Aww that's really sweet, thank you! :D
      I apply the henna on hair that is still oiled, that's what helps prevent the dryness.

  4. Hi! Your blog is amazing, thank you for writing. Do you know if also sells cassia, or just henna and indigo?
    Thank you!

    1. Thank you! :)
      Yes they do sell cassia:

  5. Is it ok to use cassia on permanently dyed hair? I would like to use it to condition my hair and then do root touch up in August before the fall semester. Don't want to mess up my hair and not be able to dye it again "cause of cassia, any suggestion?

    1. As long as you use pure cassia it is ok to use it on permanently colored hair. The only seller I trust is, but also has pure cassia. My only suggestion would be to wash the cassia out of your hair with conditioner only (no shampoo), because it can be initially drying to the hair.

  6. Hey!

    I just bought 5g with cassia obovata, because I wanted to try it. After I bought it I discovered that my undertones in my skin are cold colours. My hair colour now is light/medium ash blonde, my eyes are cold too, but my veins look green/bluish, so I might be neutral. But, I'll go for my understones, it means that I won't look good in the colour that cassia obovata gives, because it's a warm colour. I don't want to get ridd of my 5 grams with cassia obovata, is their a flower I can mix with it so it turns out a cold, blonde colour?

  7. I suggest you strand test the color on shed hairs or on one stand in your hair. The color washes out after a month anyway, so you wont have to live with it. Some say mixing it with amla would make it ashier, but I'm not sure, you could try it out. There is a LOT more information on cassia here:

  8. Hi Adelina! Your thread has been really helpful to me in the process of trying cassia. Thank you for all the useful info :) I just cassia'd my bleached, light ash blonde hair (cause I decided that I'm done with bleach and chemical dyes forever) and it turned out a really dark golden blonde, almost strawberry blonde. I can't get ahold of the people at Mehandi, so I figured I would ask someone who has used it before...Does the gold color mellow/lighten up after a couple of days, or does it get darker? It turned out a bit darker than I had anticipated or hoped for, because like an idiot I left it on my head longer than I left it on the hairball test that I really liked the result of...For my test I used apple juice, let it rest for 12-14 hours, then applied and let sit on my hair for about 6 hours. Now I'm thinking I should have just done the 3 hours like I did my test, because I really liked that shade and it wasn't too dark. What do you think? Is there still hope that it may lighten a bit over the next few days? It's not a bad color, but pretty intensely gold...

    1. I'm glad my entry helped you. Cassia will fade. It fades completely in one month, it is temporary not permanent. Hope that helps. :D

  9. Hi... I hope you can advise me. I want to make a mix that is strawberry blondish...I am trying to get it as "cool" toned as possible.. I am thinking about a mixture of henna, hibiscus, amla, and a teeny bit of indigo, and cassia. So mostly cassia, then henna, then hibiscus and amla, and lastly, the smallest amount of indigo.. What do you think about this? Is it okay to mix a bit of indigo with the cassia? Ive never seen that but i want to counteract some of the warm orange and push it into a "cooler" more ashy color. If it comes out a weird color like mauve i would be thrilled. I just dont want orange and dark burgandy was pretty but too deep of a color for me. My roots are med ashe brown and 40% grey/white now. I only have henna and some indigo (from a copper brown i put over the burgandy) right now. ANd it is Dark..! But im willing to look weird for a while to switch to a lighter color. Please advise. Thanks. Michelle

    1. Henna will always be warm, it is an orange color, you can't cool it. Amla is temporary and will fade, your hair will be warm after a few washes. If you mix indigo or amla with cassia you will get green. Cassia is yellow, indigo and amla bluish, you will end up with a green hue.
      This is all in theory though, so my advice is: make a few different mixes and strand test them all on shed hair from your brush or whathaveyou. Then take photos without flash, with flash, indoor and outdoor in sunlight and see what results each test gives you.
      Good luck!

  10. Hello,

    Very nice article. I like the way you wrote everything in depth. Apart from &, I hardly ever see somebody going into the details about henna,cassia & indigo.

    I love using henna on my hair. Sometimes I use only henna,sometimes I mix it with indigo. I am like mad scientist when mixing my henna. I love reading about henna recipes from people & try to use these recipes for my hair.

    I have a question for you, can you mix henna,indigo & cassia at the same time? I know,dye release timing for 3 of these powders is different,but can we mix them for different shade of brown,rather than getting traditional red we get from only using henna or light/dark shade of red using henna with cassia/indigo respectively.


    1. I think that it would be more brown but cassia washes out so it wouldn't be permanent and eventually go back to red. I know people like to mix amla with indigo and henna to get browner colors. Check out this link for photos and recipes:

  11. Hi, I've recently decided to try cassia to condition my hair. I dye my hair black, natural colour is medium to dark brown. I've done a strand test with some hair from hairbrush and after 1 hour it seem to have acquired this reddish hue..I read about cassia and would love to try it however I don't want my hair to become lighter..would the reddish colour fade after another wash perhaps?

    1. Cassia does not lighten hair and it has a golden hue to it, not reddish. I'm certain you did not get cassia, but have something else. I strongly suggest to only buy from its the only source I trust

  12. Hi!
    I've recently bought cassia and decided not to dye my hair as it's started falling out. So I was wondering is it possible to first use cassia to boost it up a little and then like a week after indigo? Does cassia make hair impenetrable for indigo?

    Thank you so much!

  13. Cassia does not prevent indigo from sticking. However indigo is notoriously hard to stick so your best odds are to keep trying it might work after a few times, sometimes a teaspoon of salt added to indigo helps. And keep in mind that indigo dye demises after 1 hour so use it as soon as you mix it.

  14. I have part chemically-dyed blonde hair with dark and light grey roots + part (underneath/at the bottom) natural dark reddish brown with the odd grey streak. It may sound horrid but it actually looks really nice!
    I would love to stop using chemical dyes every few weeks to get rid of my grey roots and have been using Morrocco Method shampoos and conditioners for a couple of months now with great results. Their website got me thinking about using natural colouring treatments.
    I accept that everyone's hair is different and I need to test on strands, etc.; but my aim is to achieve an ash/platinum blonde on the light grey and a brown of any tone except red on the dark grey. I do not want yellow/brass/gold or any hint of red/orange. I am happy to leave the natural brown/red hair at the bottom as it is.
    I have read that cassia will give a gold result - but there are so many shades of gold! I have read that adding amla will help with creating more of an ash colour and that indigo, with its blue tones, can tone down brassiness. I've also read about adding camomile tea and lemon to help the 'blonding' process.
    I would expect to get a very different result on my grey roots to on my previously dyed hair, but I am confused about which products to use, how to combine them and in what quantities. Is the mixture controllable enough to just dye my grey roots and leave the previously dyed hair alone, or should I abandon any hope of being able to achieve that?
    Any help much appreciated!


    1. Amla is blue so it will probably give a green shade with the cassia gold. Cassia does not lighten hair and it is a warm color. You can try cassia since it washes out after a month, but if it doesn't work out, using coconut oil on your hair could be an alternative. Just put coconut oil on your hair, leave it in for an hour, then use your regular dye on the still oiled hair. The coconut will protect your hair from damage.

    2. Thanks. I'm guessing the coconut oil won't act as a barrier to the dye or you wouldn't recommend it!
      Do I take it that using a plant-based dye is simply not going to work for me?
      Is there a 'henna' treatment that will do what these products do, ie. coat the hair and repair it, that will have no effect whatsoever on the various colours of my existing hair?

    3. No coconut oil wont act as a barrier. No I can't think of a plant based dye that will repair without color except for cassia which you can use without color release but its temporary and washes out.

    4. You might want to check out for blonde hair info.

  15. Thanks ever so much for your help :)

  16. Thank you so much for this info! There may be hope for my hair after all. I bought henna from hennasooq and it made my mildy damaged hair super damaged. I wanted to cry (I did cry). I am going to purchase henna from and try the pre-oil and leave the oil in my hair before I apply the henna.

    1. You're welcome! Let me know how mehandi henna works for you.

  17. Hi
    do you know if you can use henna and cassia if one has histamine intolerance?

    Thank you.

    1. I believe the answer is no you cannot. More info here