My quest for gorgeous Rapunzel hair continues unabated. During my spare time, I surf the net hoping to find the penultimate solution. While that may still be a distant dream, I did hit a jackpot of sorts, at least where natural hair colour was concerned. I had used LUSH Caca Noir on my hair with fabulous results. The  INOA global red hair colour with red highlights I had got done few months back had left my hair pretty much fried. It looked great initially,especially when blow-dried, but as time went by and the colour started fading, I looked nothing short of one of Macbeth’s witches. LUSH Caca Noir restored its life and vitality and the black colour largely but not the colour as much as I would have liked. I’ll talk about LUSH Caca Noir later but right now it’s about another brand I came across, TVAM, that offered 100% natural henna and indigo.
              I had often read that to get a black colour from henna, one has to either mix indigo in it or apply indigo afterwards. Henna alone will not give a black colour but only a reddish-orangish one. LUSH Caca Noir has indigo in it and that is what helped cover my horrid left over reds and restore the natural black colour. I had been looking for indigo alone in the Indian market but to no avail. The so-called “Black Henna” available in the markets is nothing but harmful chemicals like PPD. Rather strangely, many US and UK sites did offer pure indigo. But ordering henna and indigo from the USA? Really! I was going to be the laughing stock of the family.
         So imagine my joy when I accidentally came across a relatively unknown brand  ( at least to me)on Urbantouch.com ( which incidentally is one of the best online shopping sites in India) called TVAM that offered a large variety of hennas- Natural Henna, Treatment henna, Black henna, brown henna as well as Indigo and all  of them 100% natural. LUSH had made me wise that a variety of hair colour could be achieved naturally through henna. For my black hair what I ordered was TVAM Natural Henna and TVAM Indigo. Honestly, I was quite sceptical as I did not want to end up with green hair and did harangue them a lot with a host of queries. I must give it to the owner, Crisy Vasan, who promptly answered all my crazy ass queries. Thankfully, I had no disasters but before putting anything on your head, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE do a strand test. No point blaming the universe or the manufacturer later.  
First things first, the packaging especially of Natural Henna is very chic. In a little gunnysack with an equally traditional looking string at the neck, it immediately conveys the feeling of all things traditionally Indian. Inside is a nicely sealed foil bag. The Indigo packing is just this foil bag. On the first day, you apply henna followed by Indigo the next day. The henna application helps  Indigo give a better colour and last longer.  
SAMSUNG    The ingredients of the “Natural Henna” are all natural -Lawsonia Inermis Linn Leaves (powdered Henna) and it is  SLS, SLES, Pthalates and Parabens free. The instructions for mixing of Natural Henna are simple even for anyone who has not used henna before.“Mix the Henna Powder in lukewarm water and keep it aside overnight or for a minimum of 3 hours. You may use an iron container to make paste for a darker tint on your hair. For enhanced nutrition and shine, mix curd or egg with henna”. Since I was looking for darker tint, I used an iron bowl. Yes… These ancient looking things are available in the market though not at your upmarket departmental stores. You will have to make a trip or two to the narrow lanes of old part of the town to procure one of these. Who said looking gorgeous wasn’t hard work? With my fine hair that comes till mid waist, I ended up using the entire packet of 100 grams. I also added curd, egg and a teaspoon of mustard oil. Application again can be hard work but I prefer to get it done from my favourite salon whose owner, thankfully, has not started looking down upon henna applications. Leave it on for 3 – 4 hours and shampoo it off with any natural shampoo. The instructions tell you to use any TVAM shampoo but since  I didn’t have any, I used Body Shop’s Rainforest Shine Shampoo and Conditioner and that worked just fine. Hair was not particularly soft or shiny but was just about okay. In any case, this was just the first step of the whole process.
                  The big test came the next day with Indigo. The ingredients areIndigofera Tinctoria (Indigo) and the instructions are simple – “Mix the Indigo Henna in water and apply immediately on the hair and wait for 2-3 hours”. Okay so it smells kind of funny…like freshly mowed grass that I used to play in during childhood. However, it is not a particularly pleasing smell but does settle down in a while. Application is like henna’s only that indigo will drip like crazy and stain everything it touches. You will need all old towels to soak it up. However, it does dry up pretty quick and once that happens it cakes up. I did not cover it with cling film as apparently letting indigo air-dry gives a darker colour to the hair.
After an hour or so, I got a scare of my life as the indigo on my hair started turning a purplish-blue. I definitely did not want purple hair! However, all is well that ends well and thankfully my hair did not turn blue or purple. Washing it is a bit of a chore as the dried up indigo takes more time to come off and the black-blue stream of water is not very kind to your bathroom tiles.
        Anyways as I let my hair dry naturally, all the effort was worth the results… fabulous black hair as if I never did have the red hair colour. No doubt, LUSH Caca Noir had covered the reds considerably but this Henna-Indigo duo sealed the deal so to speak! I repeated the process after about a gap of 2months when the reddish tint had started showing up again. In between, I did one application of LUSH Caca Noir, which remains unbeaten for its conditioning property, and because it has indigo in it, it does work in maintaining the black colour.
 This picture was taken indoors under artificial light about 48 hours after the indigo application. The lovely black colour is very evident. 
For a quick recap, the pros and cons.
-Gives jet black colour unlike traditional henna that gives an orangish-red tinge.
Is 100% natural and thus perfectly safe.
-Hair may not come out particularly soft or glossy but definitely feels healthy and stays that way and not burnt out.
-Grey coverage is excellent. I do not have too many, but whatever little bit I do have were all black.
- Available in  Brown also along with a pre mix of henna and indigo that TVAM markets under the name of “Black Henna”
-Easily available on line on TVAM site and many other online stores.
- At Rs 401/- for 100 gram of Pure Natural Henna and Rs 455/- for 100 grams of Natural Indigo, it is expensive especially when one compares it with local henna available in the market
-With 2 consecutive days needed for application it is a time consuming process.
               I toyed with the idea of just rinsing off the indigo on the second day, oiling the dry hair and then shampooing the next day but just did not have the stamina. Three consecutive days dedicated to hair care is way more than I can afford ! But that I repeated the process, when North India is freezing its butt off, does speak for the efficacy of the products. As the remnants of the chemical colour wear off and I trim off the edges, probably I will not need to repeat the indigo as often. Alternating TVAM Natural Henna-Indigo duo with LUSH Caca Noir seems to be working best for me and seeing the result on my hair is totally worth the effort and the money.
Rs 401/- for 100 gram of Pure Natural Henna
Rs 455/- for 100 grams of Natural Indigo Henna
Also available in Natural Brown Henna and Natural Dark Brown Hennaand Black Henna