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Indigo - Chemistry Forum

Indigo - Chemistry Forum. Discuss chemical reactions, chemistry.

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Old 03-11-2012, 05:49 PM
Pipette Filler
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Default Indigo

Dear reader,

I am 31 years old and I am trying to dye my white hair with a combination of henna and indigo.

I have no problem with henna, it dyes the white hair a bright orange and leaves my black hair just the way it is.

Itís the indigo I have trouble with. Iíve watched just about every video there is on youtube and read quite a bit about the plant and its varieties but I end up with orange hair 99% of the time although sometimes the strands of hair a bit more red, meaning the indigo did work to some extent but the rest of the white hair remains this bright orange color.

Unfortunately, the scientific information about indigo dying for hair is very scarce. Youíll find plenty of information about dying clothes with indigo with various processes but no very little information about using indigo do dye hair.
From what I understand, all I need to do is to add (warm) water to powdered indigo and wait for about 15 minutes and apply on my hair and wait for 20 minutes. The problem is that all the information I can find is so vague and doesnít sound reliable. Hereís the following questions I have:

1. Whatís warm? Iíd like to know at what exact temperature indigo will release the most dye.

2. Why canít you directly put the indigo mixture on your hair and have the dye release happening then. Isnít this the objective? That the dye goes in to the hair? I donít understand the process of having the dye released. If the dye is released but itís not apply to the hair, how can it dye the hair? In other words, once the powder has released the dye, how can it still dye the hair?

3. What happens if you leave the indigo for longer than 20 minutes? It is like chemical hair dye where your hair will just get darker and darker? From what Iíve read, the indigo will stop releasing dye after 20 minutes in your hair so that thereís no point in leaving it any longer. Hereís whatís weird though: the gloves I used with indigo one had some indigo mixture leftover no it. I left it there and it dyed the plastic a very deep blue. If it wasnít that way after 20 minutes, how did it become such an intense color afterwards? I understand thereís a reaction with oxygen which take place but why is it that the same doesnít reaction doesnít happen to my hair?

4. How can I tell which kind of indigo Iím using? From what Iíve read, there are quite a lot of varieties, which one is the most effective in dying your hair?:
Genus Indigofera: Most natural indigo.
Indigofera Tinctoria: found in Asia.
Strobilanthes cusia: found in Japan, in colder climate.
Indigofera suffruticosa: found in South America
Indigofera arrecta: found in Central or South America

5. Iíve also read that indigo is not soluble in water on Wikipedia. If itís not soluble in water, why add water to it for dye release?

I know very little (if anything) about chemistry but I'd really like to understand how all of this works,

Thank you for reading.
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