How do you dye your hair with henna? What is the process like? Is henna safe to use? What do you need to know? We’ve covered all of the information that you need in a very detailed DIY complete with photos. As an alternative and all-natural hair dying method, you will definitely want to read this before embarking on your first henna hair dying adventure.
This article is brought to you by Jessica Sanchez of Zoda Design. Jessica is a dear friend and has been a trusted member of the Pink Fortitude team for several years as our web and graphics designer. And she is a fellow ginger!
I’ve been using henna to dye my hair for well over a decade. I love that it’s permanent – no amount of washing, drying, or product use will cause the color to fade. The only thing you really have to worry about is coloring your roots as they grow out (personally I wait until my roots have grown around 2 to 3 inches and then I just re-henna my whole head). I’m lucky enough to not know from personal experience, but I’ve heard that it covers up gray hair really well. You can also use regular hair dye over henna.
The color you get with henna can sometimes be a little hard to predict as well. If you have light-colored hair, expect a brighter shade of orange, and if your hair is dark, you may not even notice a difference at all. There are all sorts of additions you can make to henna in order to get closer to a specific color, however, it may take some trial and error to get the specific results you’re looking for.
It’s also important to keep in mind that dying your hair with henna is a process – it requires planning ahead of time! When you initially mix your henna, it will take around 10 to 12 hours for the dye to release. I typically mix it up before bed and then dye my hair the next day. Also, once you’ve coated your hair with the henna mix, you will need to leave it on your head between 3 and 6 hours! Make sure you plan accordingly.
If you’re definitely ready to give henna a try, the first step is to purchase body art quality henna from a reputable retailer. I use Ancient Sunrise henna and have always gotten great results, but feel free to do your own research on products so that you’re confident you’re getting the best available henna.
Look for henna hair dyes to be 100% pure henna and plant-based, made withONLY dried, powdered lawsonia inermis, andwithout contaminants, chemical dyes, or metallic salts.
Items you may need include:
- Henna hair dye kit
- Glass or stainless steel bowl
- Latex gloves
- Plastic wrap
- Carrot bag (though using this can sometimes be more annoying than helpful)
- Lots of old towels
- Lemon juice.
It’s also helpful to have a friend with you, either to help in applying the henna or to point out spots you may have missed.
The amount of henna you’ll need will depend on the length of your hair! Typically henna comes in 100g packages. I have shorter-than-shoulder length hair and I generally use about 2/3 to 3/4 of a package to dye my hair. I recommend buying extra just in case you’re not sure!
Once you have your henna and other supplies, it’s time to get started!
Since the henna you use to dye your hair comes in a powder, it is necessary to add an acidic liquid in order to allow the dye to release. I’ve tried numerous acidic liquids (coffee, tea, juices, etc) but the one tried and true liquid that always works for me is lemon juice.
The mixture is pretty simple – first, place the desired amount of henna into a glass or stainless steel bowl. Next, pour in some lemon juice and mix well with a spoon or a fork. The amount of lemon juice will vary depending on the type of henna you purchased and the amount of henna in the bowl. Start small and continue to add lemon juice until your mixture resembles the consistency of mashed potatoes and no longer has any big clumps of dry henna. If you find that it becomes too thin, simply add a little more henna and stir again.
Mixing the Henna
Once your mixture has the correct consistency, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and store in a warm place for 10 to 12 hours. (I typically put it on top of the refrigerator.)
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Once the dye has released, it’s time to dye your hair! You can tell that the dye has released if the top of your henna mixture has darkened – see the photo below. If it’s not yet ready to go, cover it with plastic wrap and put it in a warm place for an hour or two.
If the dye has released, put gloves on and give it a quick mix with your finger. The consistency will have changed to that of smooth, creamy peanut butter. Now’s the time to separate your hair into sections – this step helps make the henna application process a bit easier.
Once you’ve sectioned your hair, start applying henna at the base of your neck. You’ll want to apply it very thick, sort of like frosting a cake, releasing and adding sections of hair as you go.
When all of your hair is covered with henna, wrap it in plastic wrap or cover with a plastic bag. This helps to keep the heat in, and the heat helps the dyeing process.
Once your head is covered with plastic wrap, you’ll want to remove any extra henna that may have come into contact with your skin. Wet down a towel with warm water and use a mirror (or a friend!) to find all of these areas. Henna will stain your skin and you want to remove it as quickly as possible to minimize this. Definitely plan to check behind your ears, the tops of your ears, the back of your neck, and around your hairline. Also check your shoulders, chest, back, and the walls and floor around you – sometimes henna likes to fly off into crazy places!
When you’re done touching up your skin, cover your head with a towel and go about your day. Plan to leave the henna on your hair for at least 3 hours, and up to 6 hours if you have resistant gray. If you don’t have a lot of time, you can speed up the process by applying heat with a salon dryer or a heated blanket, but make sure you leave the plastic wrap on your head. Henna can dry out and it becomes very difficult to remove once that happens!
When your allotted time is up, simply rinse the henna out of your hair in the tub or sink. I also like to shampoo afterwards, just to make sure I got everything out. You can use conditioner as well, if you like.
Dry and style your hair like normal.
Natural henna has a very distinct smell, kind of like grass or hay. This smell can stay in your hair for about a week after dyeing, so if you can’t tolerate it, there are some additions you can make to your mix that will help. Try ginger powder or cardamom powder (one heaping teaspoon per 100g henna).
Henna will darken over the next week or so. As you’ll notice, my roots were bright orange once I was done blow drying! After a week and a half, it had darkened to a nicer auburn. (I also had some lowlights put in afterwards, proving again that you can use regular dye over henna!) If you have an event and you’d like to henna your hair for it, make sure you do so about two weeks in advance.
While the process of dying your hair with henna is a lengthy one, it’s well worth it. Not only does henna make your hair look and feel healthy, but the color you get is so gorgeous! If you’re interested in learning more about dyeing your hair with henna, I recommend you read the free ebook by Catherine Cartwright-Jones, Ph.D. on Henna for Hair.It’s chock full of really great information that can help you get exactly what you want out of this amazing natural dye!
Other great resources:
How to Make All-Natural Red Hair Dye – The DIY and Pictures
Madison Reed Hair Dye (free ofammonia, parabens, resorcinol, PPD, phthalates,and gluten. And Leaping Bunny certified)
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What is the best way to dye hair with henna? ›
Gradually add a little freshly boiled water to a small amount of henna and stir until you have a lovely creamy paste. Apply to a section of hair about half an inch wide (including twinkly grey hairs if you have any). Leave to develop for two hours, then shampoo, rinse and dry.What is the problem with henna hair dye? ›
Many people also complain of hair falling out after henna applications. “Henna alone can't cause hair loss, but low quality or improperly applied henna may lead to dry hair and scalp and cause intense hair loss,” Davis explains.Do you put henna dye on clean or dirty hair? ›
First of all, hair should definitely be clean. But “clean” means several things. For henna and plant dye mixtures, it means, 1) free of dirt; 2) free of oils, both natural and added; and 3) free of mineral build-up.How many times should I dye my hair with henna? ›
How Often Should You Reapply Henna? You can reapply henna every 3-4 weeks for full coverage. Typically, henna stains last until your strands fall off or your hair grows out. Therefore, the frequency of application depends on how fast your hair grows, especially if you are using henna to cover gray hair.How many hours should henna be soaked before applying henna? ›
Let Your Henna Mixture Soak
After preparing the mixture, it is recommended to let it sit a minimum of 3-4 hours. However, I like to let it sit soak as long as possible, to give henna a chance to fully release its dying properties.
Will henna cover gray hair? Yes, but it is a bit of a process. The short version is: for best results on gray hair, we recommend using Rouge henna first then applying a darker shade like Brun or Marron.What is the best henna to cover gray hair? ›
Choosing a Henna Shade to Cover Grey Hair
For stubborn greys, go with a medium-tier color gradient. Burgundy and Mahogany henna are an all-time favorite in this genre. For a dark color scheme, you can pick deep red henna, dark brown henna, jet black henna, and wine-red henna.
So, how long does henna dye last? Henna hair dye will begin to fade between 4 to 6 weeks after the initial application, however, it can stick around up to a few months. And this all depends on how long you leave the henna in when you dye it and the natural quality and type of your hair.How many times we should apply henna on hair in a month? ›
You can re-apply henna every 3-4 weeks or depending on your hair growth, and how quickly it grows out. You can do a simple root touch up or cover the entire hair as per your needs. And enjoy the benefits of this natural hair dye.Do you rinse henna with hot or cold water? ›
Rinse Henna paste out thoroughly with warm water, ending with cool water. This can take some time. It's like rinsing mud out of your hair. Using conditioner quickens the rinsing process.
Do you shampoo your hair after henna? ›
When Should I Wash My Hair after Henna? No matter what type of hair you have, you should always leave it at least 48 hours after rinsing out your henna to shampoo with any kind of detergent at all. This is because it takes 48-hours for Henna to fully oxidise (which means deepening exposure to light).Why add lemon juice to henna for hair? ›
Henna attains best dye release with lemon juice as it acidic in nature. Deep red henna will look more burgundy because of the acidic nature of lemon. Also, it is the best remedy for hair problem like dandruff.
Apply henna for maximum 2-3 hours in one time, more than that will make hair excessively dry and it will start breaking up. 5. Preconditioning & shampoo should be done before henna application, rinse your henna with plain water only after the process. 6.How do you cover GREY hair with henna? ›
Apply oil to your hairline and ears to protect them from staining, then use gloved hands to apply the henna to dry hair. Wrap the dyed hair in a shower cap to keep the henna moist and warm, then leave the mixture in your hair for 1-4 hours. Do not leave it in overnight. Unwrap your hair and rinse with water.How long should I let henna sit for dye release? ›
Henna only needs 3-4 hours to release its dye. you the absolute best color results.Should you moisturize before or after henna? ›
AVOID LOTIONS/OILS the day you get your henna. These will interfere with the henna stain, sometimes even if you wash afterwards so it's best to avoid them that day. WASH your skin so there's a clean surface for the design. IF you spray tan, do this at least 24 hrs after the henna is applied.How long should you avoid water after henna? ›
Keep your henna design away from water for the first 24 hours or so after you remove the paste. Early exposure to water can interrupt the darkening process and leave you with a lighter stain that will not last as long.How do you wash your hair after henna? ›
Apply henna for maximum 2-3 hours in one time, more than that will make hair excessively dry and it will start breaking up. 5. Preconditioning & shampoo should be done before henna application, rinse your henna with plain water only after the process.What does henna look like on grey hair? ›
Henna is the best and the safest natural henna to cover your gray hair. It leaves a reddish-orange tint on the hair strands after drying. However, the results depend on the natural color of your hair. Henna gradually fades out over time.What can I add to henna to make my hair darker? ›
You could also add indigo powder to your henna mix to make henna darker for hair, and it could end up giving your hair a dark brown or black look. Some people also trust brewed tea or coffee or beetroot.
Does henna turn gray hair orange? ›
Generally henna will be much more brassy/orange when you put it on its own directly on to white or very light grey or light blonde hair. If you put it onto light brown or brown hair it is much less red/orange; the darker brown your hair is the less red/orange it will be.What shades cover grey hair best? ›
Neutral shades like soft blonde, mushroom brown, light copper, and caramel blonde balayage are the easiest to blend gray into (and maintain over time without wanting to shave your hair off).Why is my henna hair fading quickly? ›
Dry skin helps henna to take and get a nice deep dark stain, but it also fades the henna quicker as dry skin sheds its cells faster than moist skin. Apply olive/coconut oil or non-exfoliating lotion over your henna design daily.Does leaving henna on longer make it darker? ›
The longer you leave the henna paste on the skin, the darker and longer lasting your color, because it stains more layers of skin cells. As the skin cells exfoliate away, there are still layers of stained skin below them, and that is why your tattoo will stay much longer if you leave the paste on longer.Does henna thicken hair? ›
Yes, henna does promote hair growth and helps increase the thickness of your hair.Does henna help thinning hair? ›
A study showed that henna helped reduce hair loss (5). It also prevents split ends, reduces hair damage, and boosts scalp health. Boosted scalp health, unclogging of pores, and balanced pH levels can put a stop to hair loss and promote healthy hair growth.Does henna increase hair growth? ›
Yes, henna is good for hair growth. It is a plant-based powder that covers gray hair by giving natural dark color to hair. It is advisable to make its paste along with other nourishing ingredients to get its benefits.Is 1 hour enough for henna? ›
STEP 8: It takes between two to four hours for the henna to set. But you can leave it longer for more vibrant color. To remove the henna from the hair, hop into the shower and rinse it with water. Apply conditioner to your hair to loosen the henna paste from your hair.Do you wipe henna off after it dries? ›
Once your henna paste has dried, leave it on. Do not wash with water. It's best to not scrape off the dry paste and to cover it with a breathable material.How do you speed up henna dye release? ›
Putting your paste in a hot environment (100 degrees, F or higher) will speed up the dye-release process considerably. A bowl of henna paste in a car on a hot day will dye-release within about one hour, depending on the car's internal temperature.
How do you not get cold after henna on your hair? ›
Therefore, before applying henna in the winter season, it is said to add 2-4 cloves in Mehendi paste. By doing this, it will not cause cold and cough. Still, if you have other cold-related health problems, then you can add elements like oil, tea water, dry amla, mango juice, cinnamon, walnut, and coffee in Mehndi.What should you not do after henna? ›
Avoid chlorine, salt water, dishsoap, bleach, other cleaning materials, and any other harsh chemicals. You can bathe and shower as usual. Avoid hand sanitizer – it is the #1 thing that unintentionally kills henna stains FAST. Acetone nail polish remover has also been known to fade henna stains more quickly.Which shampoo is best for henna dyed hair? ›
|1||Mamaearth Henna Shampoo & Conditioner with Henna and Deep Roast Coffee 250ml 9.7 View Product|
|2||Mamaearth Henna Shampoo, for enhance hair color, with Henna and Deep Roast Coffe 9.5 View Product|
Additives to Mix With Henna Hair Dye
The acid in apple cider vinegar or freshly brewed tea and coffee can help henna bind to keratin, a protein that provides structural support to the hair's cuticle and cortex. Two to three teaspoons of apple cider vinegar are enough to help deepen color and reduce redness in the dye.
Coffee tends to create a darker shade, and we always recommend it for our hair dye collection. But before you apply it, make sure to do a patch test. Black tea is also a great ingredient to add to your henna mixture.How long does henna last on GREY hair? ›
How long does henna last on gray hair? Once you color your gray hair with henna, the color should last about 7-9 weeks.Can henna last 3 months? ›
Henna tattoos can last between 1 and 3 weeks, depending on how well you care for them. Because henna is a dye that absorbs into your skin cells, the faster you lose skin cells, the faster your henna stain will disappear.How long after getting henna can I shower? ›
You will need to wait at least 12 hours before having a shower after a henna design. It's a good idea to coat the design in an oil such as coconut or olive oil or alternatively, use some cocoa butter to protect the design from the water. Avoid scrubbing or soaping the henna design when showering.What can I mix with henna for silky hair? ›
- Soak henna in black tea overnight.
- Add a little lemon juice to this henna pack.
- You can even add an egg or a little curd to this mixture.
- Apply this paste for 20 minutes before washing it off.
- This hair pack will give you shiny hair instantly!
- Prep your skin. As previously mentioned, henna can easily stain porous surfaces like the skin. ...
- Mix the henna with hot water. To make the paste, place the henna powder or block in a bowl and add boiling water. ...
- Apply. ...
- Wait a few hours. ...
- Wash it out.
How do you lock henna hair dye? ›
Leave the henna mixture to sink in for 3-12 hours under a shower cap, plastic bag or DIY alternative. Remove the mixture under running water, squeezing the locks thoroughly. Since the hair isn't loose, extra care must be taken to ensure the dye is properly rinsed out.Why is my henna not releasing dye? ›
As well as freshness, other variables that can speed up and slow henna's dye release down such as the ambient air temperature, liquid temperature and use of acids in the mix. Heat can speed up henna's dye release while acids and cold air/water have a habit of slowing the dye release down.Does henna work better with heat? ›
Heat can both speed up processing time and ensure a more saturated result. After the henna paste has been rinsed out, you may choose to use heat again to speed up the oxidation process.Is it better to wash hair before henna? ›
STEP 2: Before you apply henna, wash your hair with a mild shampoo to clean your hair and scalp (do not use conditioner as it can prevent penetration of henna) and dry your hair. Apply some petroleum jelly or coconut oil in your hairline including your forehead, neck and ears to prevent staining.How long should henna be kept in hair? ›
Apply henna for maximum 2-3 hours in one time, more than that will make hair excessively dry and it will start breaking up. 5. Preconditioning & shampoo should be done before henna application, rinse your henna with plain water only after the process.Should I oil my hair after applying henna? ›
After applying henna, oil your hair using mustard oil, and shampoo your hair the next day. This will leave your naturally conditioned and soft, and the results will last longer.Do you mix henna with hot or cold water? ›
Henna can be mixed with hot water or cold water. When you mix henna in hot water, the dye release may be immediate, but it is much weaker than desired. Mixing henna paste in cold water may take several hours to a day for the dye to release. We recommend mixing henna in warm to room-temperature water.How do you apply henna to GREY hair? ›
Apply oil to your hairline and ears to protect them from staining, then use gloved hands to apply the henna to dry hair. Wrap the dyed hair in a shower cap to keep the henna moist and warm, then leave the mixture in your hair for 1-4 hours. Do not leave it in overnight. Unwrap your hair and rinse with water.Why put lemon juice in henna for hair? ›
Mixing lemon juice with henna creates a safe and gentle way to dye natural hair. The acidic qualities of the juice help to open up the cuticle of the hair, allowing the henna to penetrate better and thus provide a better overall colouring.What shampoo to use after henna? ›
AVOID sulphate shampoos and anti-dandruff shampoos which are extremely harsh and will fade your colour. Soaps and shower gels are also likely to damage your colour very quickly. Instead, choose a natural shampoo, free from sulphates, parabens and silicones to let the natural beauty shine through.
Can I mix conditioner with henna? ›
You should mix 1-2 tablespoons of henna directly into your conditioner (not allowing for dye release”> and only leave-in for 20-30 minutes. Henna is strong, so ALWAYS strand test… the red will creep up on ya quick! Faithful henna-ers that want to experience soft, smooth results upon rinsing.What happens if you let henna sit too long? ›
If the paste is left too long before use, the aglycones bind to surrounding molecules and to the oxygen in the air until there are no precursor dye molecules left to bind to the hair. This is called “demise.” Demised henna will result in poorer coverage with a weaker, less permanent bond.What should be mixed with henna to apply on hair? ›
To use henna for hair growth, mix 3 tablespoons of henna powder with ½ tablespoon each of brahmi, curry leaf, amla, and purified gunja seed powders. Add 1 teaspoon of onion juice to this. Now, add hot water to prepare a paste. Let the paste soak for a few hours before applying to your hair and scalp.Should I shampoo before or after henna? ›
Preconditioning & shampoo should be done before henna application, rinse your henna with plain water only after the process.