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How to Dye Your Hair with Henna

Henna is the safest way to color your hair. Henna is a plant that grows in hot, dry climates. It’s leaves are harvest, dehydrated, and then made into powder. When Henna is mixed with an acid medium, henna will stain your nails, skin, or hair into a reddish-brown color. This makes it a safe, non-toxic way to dye your hair. Henna has been used for thousands of years to keep hair healthy and to color white or gray hair. There is only ONE color of Henna, however, there are different ranges of that color depending on the climate and soil of that plant and I’m happy to show you how to dye your hair with henna! 

There are so many amazing benefits of using Henna…

hennameme

What Kind of Henna Should I Avoid?

You may have seen various types of commercially produced “boxed” Henna treatments that specifies for “blond hair”, “black hair” or strawberry-blonde hair”. I’ve learned over the years of doing Henna on my hair that these are very poor quality of Henna. They are produced by adding synthetic dyes, metallic salts, and other plant dyes to a poor quality of Henna. You want to steer very clear of anything that is labeled for a specific hair color. Look for Henna that is 100% Henna. The best quality you can get is Henna that is labeled “body-art Henna.” It has the highest dye content of Henna.

What will Henna Look Like On My Hair? 

See all my white/gray hair?

Because the red-orange dye molecule is binding to the keratin that surrounds the pigmented hair core, the resulting color is different for every strand of hair, and for every person. The henna stain is translucent, and blends with your own color. Hennaed hair looks like you grew it yourself! The color you get on your hair will vary depending on your hair color you have now and the chemicals you already have on your hair. Many ask if it is safe to apply Henna on color-treated hair and the answer is YES! But it’s only safe to use high quality, body-art quality Henna.

My Hair: Henna IS permanent if you use 100% Henna. See the pic below. Kinda embarrassing that I waited so long to color my roots, but you can see my white roots coming out and you can see the red Henna “highlights”. It had been 3 months since my last Henna treatment and the color was still going strong (other than my new roots). I do want to add, I use a natural shampoo and conditioner. It is wild-crafted, raw and vegan and I love it on my hair!

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If you have course hair, Henna will be amazing for it! It won’t dye your hair completely red, but it will give it red highlights, loosen the curl, and make it silky!

How to Apply Henna to Your Hair 

You can purchase your high-quality henna from here. 

You need to use a acid medium to apply henna. Lemon juice does this very well. When mixed together it releases the dye and bind to the keratin in your hair. This makes Henna permanent.

Step One:  MIX IT! Mix enough henna with lemon juice to make it like the consistency of mashed potatoes (see photo below). If lemon juice is too harsh on your skin, use something less acidic like grapefruit or orange juice. You could use vinegar or wine, but your hair will be a little stinky for awhile. Don’t use boiling water or your Henna will fade and be an ugly orange.

  • Short Hair (use 100g or 1 cup)
  • Collar Length Hair (use 200g or 2 cups)
  • Shoulder Length Hair (use 300g or 3 cups)
  • Waist Length Hair (use 500g or 5 cups)

If you have thick hair, add an extra 1/2 cup to a cup of Henna powder. 

_MG_7376

Step Two: REST IT. You need to let your Henna paste rest for several hours. I usually mix the Henna in the morning and apply to my hair at night. Letting it rest allows the slow dye release and will give you the BEST results. Cover your Henna with a plastic wrap and let it stew.

Step Three: MIX IT AGAIN. It’s been several hours and you are ready to apply. Mix some more lemon juice with the paste mixture until it is the consistency of yogurt.

_MG_7398

Step Four: APPLY IT. WEAR GLOVES. Henna is permanent and it will stain everything it comes in contact with. This is the messy step. I have a few suggestions to make it easier. Get in your bathtub and fill it up with water. Apply the Henna while standing in your tub. Or, you can go outside and apply. Bring a mirror.

  • Do not be stingy. Apply generously and thick for a deep, rich color.
  • Comb your hair and divide it into sections.
  • You can put the Henna in a piping back, squeeze bottle, or just use your fingers and apply. I find the latter to be the easiest.
  • Start at the back and work the Henna down to the scalp. Apply it thick! Then bring down the next section and Henna it. Make sure every bit of hair is THICKLY coated…like cake frosting. Don’t be afraid to use plenty of Henna and don’t be afraid to get messy.

hennasteps

Step Five: RELAX. When all your hair is covered with Henna, wipe your skin clean of any Henna, and wrap everything up in a plastic wrap. This keeps the Henna warm and moist and allows the hair to take in the dye. I then wrap a large DARK towel (remember Henna will stain anything it touches) around my head. This is when I go to bed. Yes, I sleep with the Henna on my head all night. This is not necessary but I have found that it covers my gray hair the best when I leave it on for, at least, 6 hours. The recommendation is 2-4 hours, but if you know that your hair is resistant to dye or has gray, then you may want to leave it on a little longer. I lay a dark towel over my pillow and sleep. I actually sleep really well with Henna on my head and it is also known that Henna can soothe headaches. So, just relax and enjoy the full benefit that Henna can give you.

wrapped head

Step Six: RINSE IT. Time to rinse out the Henna. I have shorter hair so this step isn’t too difficult. I take a nice long shower and rinse it out completely. I follow it with a wash and condition. When my hair was much longer, I used to fill up the bathtub and lay down in the water. This helped get the Henna out of my hair.

A few things…

  • Henna may seem really bright at first. Do not panic…it will darken over the next few days if you used the acidic mix. It will take about 3 days to settle into the true color.
  • Once again, DO NOT be stingy with the mix. More is always better with Henna.
  • You can use this on beards too if you would like!
  • Some people can’t stand the smell of Henna. I, personally, love it. It’s earthy and sultry. If you can’t stand the smell, you can add 1 TB of powdered ginger, clove, or cinnamon to your Henna mix.

Where to Buy Henna: 

  1. Order high quality henna from HERE.
  2. Check a local Indian store to buy it SUPER cheap!!! Just make sure it’s 100% Henna!

The day after I slept in Henna.

 

http://www.hennaforhair.com/techniques/deb/

http://www.hennaforhair.com/freebooks/hennaforhair.pdf

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46 Responses to How to Dye Your Hair with Henna

  1. Andy November 11, 2013 at 7:08 pm #

    Awesome post! I have been using henna for ages now, and would never go back to chemical dyes. An Indian friend of mine taught me how, and she also adds other things to the mix – amla berry powder and shikakai bark powder are both plant products and strengthen/condition the hair. Amla also makes the colour slightly darker. You can also add neem bark powder if you have dandruff/scalp problems as it is a natural antibacterial. All of these are available at most Indian stores really cheap. The only thing that gets me is sleeping with it – I can’t sleep well as I am paranoid it will run out and stain my pillows or dribble down my forehead and stain my skin 😛 I have been leaving it on during the day for ~4hrs but the colour take-up isn’t as good as when I sleep in it. Any tips? 🙂

  2. Barbara Doucet November 14, 2013 at 7:30 am #

    I just wish it covered the “silver” we get. I’ve been using a color from the EU that’s made with natural ingredients & no resorcinols (sp) that are carcenogens. I get it at my Herb Shop. It ain’t cheap (lol) but worth every penny.

  3. Jackie November 14, 2013 at 10:12 pm #

    Fantastic article & tutorial! !!!!!!

  4. Melissa November 18, 2013 at 5:07 pm #

    Great post!! Can you clarify something for me? How much lemon juice do you use? I have super short (pixie) hair and am planning to use about 1 cup of henna powder, but how much lemon juice should I use? Or do you just use enough to get the consistency right? Also, have you ever used tea instead of lemon juice?

  5. Deanna November 21, 2013 at 5:39 pm #

    Do you have anything you can recommend for those that don’t want to be a red-head?? I would love to be able to naturally cover the grey…but I don’t have any desire to have red in my hair.

    • Adlynn November 22, 2013 at 12:11 pm #

      Henna for black/grey hair? I don’t waish to have red hair.

  6. becky November 21, 2013 at 5:55 pm #

    What about us blondies

  7. Diana Melms November 21, 2013 at 6:38 pm #

    I have a question my hair is Dark Brown what color will it be for me really don’t want it a reddish color can you help me here

  8. gina November 21, 2013 at 9:29 pm #

    Agreed with above poster Deanna. My ? is how do I go dark chocolate brown?

  9. Mea November 21, 2013 at 11:08 pm #

    Great article…but I didn’t know “African” was a hair type…hair is typically classified as one of the following or mixtures of the following: straight, wavy, curly, coily, or kinky…

    • Tal July 26, 2015 at 1:45 am #

      As an African America myself, the reason for the distinction it because African hair is drier than most other types of hair. We typically don’t shampoo as much as others because it dries the hair and scalp, as well as causes more split ends when combing/brushing. Hope that helps.

  10. Donna November 22, 2013 at 6:44 am #

    Great info! Is there a way to dilute the red color? I am more blonde, with strawberry undertones. Maybe with water?
    Thanks!

    • The Paleo Mama November 22, 2013 at 8:59 am #

      Not really…Henna is ONE color but it can look different for everyone. You can use indigo to make it more of a dark…black color.

    • The Paleo Mama November 22, 2013 at 9:00 am #

      Henna is one color but it looks different on everyone depending on what your hair color is. The only way you can go darker is dyeing it with Indigo after. I’m not sure how to do this though.

  11. annette November 22, 2013 at 9:42 am #

    what color for blondes? it doesnt work does it?

    • Susan November 25, 2013 at 5:27 pm #

      I’ve been told that Cassia Obovata (on the mehandi.com website) will work for blondes and still cover the gray. I am going to be trying that soon. You can order a tiny amount to test it on hair from your hairbrush to see what color you will end up with before you do your whole head. You may want to try that first!

  12. Dolores November 25, 2013 at 6:03 pm #

    I’be been usin pure henna (rot) for some months and I’m happy. I prepare ir with water and a bit of apple vinegar and a bit of rosemary essential oil, and I’m very happy. In the beginning it is a mess, but then you get used and it is easy and unmessy. My white hair becomes orange/ red and the rest gets the color reflection, I love it.

  13. Anna D December 19, 2013 at 7:24 am #

    I wanna say huge THANK YOU! for posting this. I coloured my hair according to your recipe and I absolutely love my hair colour!!! It coloured all my grey hair perfectly, my hair is shiny. And I recommended it to my family and friends. Everyone loved my hair colour and they were surprised at the method. I remember we always used to use boiling water for henna and the colour would come out this horrible pinkish and unnatural. Thank you again very much! 🙂

    • The Paleo Mama December 19, 2013 at 9:13 am #

      You are welcome! I did the boiling water my first time and almost gave up henna. So glad you love your hair!!!

  14. Cynthia May 9, 2014 at 12:07 pm #

    Use INDIGO To naturally dye your hair deep reddish, brown or black shades
    COMBINE henna and Indigo FOR YOUR PERFECT SHADE

    What it is
    Indigo, Indigofera tinctoria
    Indigo powder is from the ground leaves of the indigo plant which contains a deep blue dye used for centuries for textiles including the original blue Levi Strauss jeans!
    The leaves are harvested, dried, and ground into a powder for use in textiles, arts, and as a natural hair colorant.
    What it does
    •Indigo combined with a henna application on hair can produce deep rich red/brown shades through a rich jet black color without any chemicals!
    This is considered safe for those with chemical sensitivities and during pregnancy or while nursing. A doctor should be consulted if you have any concerns.
    Indigo with Henna is a great replacement for modern chemical dyes if you are having a reaction or eczema caused by chemical color. This is your solution!

    •Indigo blended with henna creates a medium brown to rich deep brown hair dye
    •Indigo applied over henna treated hair makes a lush black hair color
    •Adds richness, shine, and texture
    •Covers gray hair
    •Use as often as you like for healthy dark brown to black hair color
    •Non drying
    •NO chemicals, preservatives, PPD or nut derivatives
    How to use it:
    As a BROWN dye:
    •Go brown, auburn, chestnut, or chocolate with your hair naturally!
    For Brown, auburn, chestnut, or chocolate hair coloring use a 1 step process by combining indigo with henna
    •First
    Prepare henna paste and allow to sit for 12-24 hours until the dye has released.
    •Second
    •Mix indigo into the henna paste, you may adjust the consistency with warm water until it’s the consistency of thick yogurt.
    Allow to sit for 15 minutes
    •Apply the indigo/henna paste to dry or damp hair in sections, completely coating all the hair down to the roots.
    It’s easiest if you Start from the back and move forward. Wear gloves to protect your hands from being stained and drape an old towel over your shoulders to protect clothing.
    •Wrap your hair in a shower cap or plastic wrap and allow to soak in for 1-6 hours
    •Rinse or shampoo to remove any residue
    Condition to soften hair (some people skip the shampoo)
    •Repeat: Monthly for healthy, thick and shiny, dark locks
    *the higher proportion of indigo to henna the darker the color will be
    *the longer you allow the paste to soak in the darker and richer the color will be
    *Takes about 2 days for the color to oxidize and show it’s true shade
    As a BLACK or Deep Brown dye:
    •Go bold. black and deep brown hair naturally!
    Use henna first for your base tone and then indigo to create rich black hair color in this 2 step process
    •For Black and deep brown hair coloring use a 2 step process. Apply henna to your hair for a deep red base then apply the blue indigo to create the rich deep browns and blacks.
    •First
    Apply a henna paste to your hair to create a rich red base. Follow directions for henna here.
    •Second
    Apply indigo over the freshly hennaed and washed hair to create the deep black color
    •Mix indigo with warm water until it’s the consistency of thick yogurt.
    Optional, add 1 teaspoon salt per 100 grams of indigo powder for darker color. Allow to sit for 15 minutes
    •Apply the indigo paste to dry or damp (previously hennaed) hair in sections, completely coating al the hair down to the roots. It’s easiest if you Start from the back and move forward. Wear gloves to protect your hands from being stained, drape an old towel over your shoulders to protect clothing.
    •Wrap your hair in a shower cap or plastic wrap and allow to soak in for 1-2 hours
    •Rinse or shampoo to remove any residue
    Condition to soften hair (some people prefer to just use conditioner)
    •Repeat: Monthly for healthy, thick and shiny black locks
    Takes about 2 days for the color to oxidize and show it’s true shade
    For a scent you may add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to your paste mixture.
    Storage
    indigo powder: fridge, or cool dark place.
    paste: use immediately as indigo paste does not freeze or keep well.

    How Much do I need
    Short Hair 1 Box or 100 Grams
    Shoulder Length Hair 2-3 Boxes or 200-300 Grams
    Long Hair 4-5 Boxes or 400-500 Grams
    What else you need to know
    Disclaimer
    *We recommend you perform a strand test before using any of these recipes or products on your hair to be sure you like the color and result.
    Test the product on a small section of your hair or on hair harvested from your hair brush.

    When using natural products please keep in mind that every product will react and color your hair uniquely. The result will be different and unique on everyone depending on hair type and condition. There are many ingredients and recipes to try, have fun experimenting!
    You may deep condition after the herbal dye treatments to counteract dryness.

    What it looks like
    Indigo powder is a medium to bright green powder from the ground leaves of the plant and smells like fresh peas, very strong and pungent. When mixed into a paste it is a dark rich green that slowly shows blue dye on the top and will appear a navy blue/blackish color with time.

    History and Use
    Indigo has been used for centuries as a textile dye, and hair colorant. It is what, until the advent of chemical dyes gave blue jeans that special navy shade and Is still used to dye the beautiful flowing blue robes of the Berber tribes in Northern
    Africa/Morocco

    • Donna July 2, 2015 at 8:57 pm #

      I just used Mehandi’s henna & indigo on my hair and it did not cover the white. You seem very knowledgeable. Can you help to advise what I need to do/purchase to do the roots only this time around and get a dark brown this time as a result? I was very unhappy with Mehandi’s response to the issue of non-coverage and prefer to try elsewhere for the coverage I still need for my roots.

      Thank you.

  15. Dr. Daisy May 30, 2014 at 8:09 am #

    Yes!! I will be taking the plunge and doing my own hair. I never dyed my hair but gave in a few years ago and allowed my friend to dye my hair…now it seems that the grey is popping up more and more so…I will now try henna..thanks so much for sharing 🙂

  16. Tiffani May 30, 2014 at 8:28 am #

    Your hair looks amazing! Which variety of the henna did you use? There are so many different ones listed on the site. I’m a natural red head with lots of different shades and highlights. I get asked all the time who does my highlights. But…the whites are starting to appear more numerous. So I’m planning ahead. But which to choose? Have you ever tried the henna products from Mountain Rose Herbs?

  17. Kay June 1, 2014 at 12:44 pm #

    I have the same question as Tiffany. I’m dying my hair right now with Herbatint, but have been wanting to use henna for some time now. I think you blog has made me brave enough to try it. Of course, it may be more difficult for me bc I have extremely curly long hair! Looking forward to finding out why kind you ordered. 🙂

  18. Kay June 1, 2014 at 1:39 pm #

    Ha! Found the answer on your fb comments! Its Twilight that you ordered! 🙂

  19. Danielle June 10, 2014 at 12:33 am #

    Love the after picture. Your hair looks fantastic! I think I’m going to give henna a try this weekend.

  20. Elizabeth July 8, 2014 at 11:01 am #

    I’ve heard once you use henna you can’t use other dyes until your hair grows out. Something about the henna being flamable?

  21. Kathy October 15, 2014 at 10:07 am #

    Have you ever tried the henna offered on the Moroccan Method site?

    • The Paleo Mama October 15, 2014 at 10:09 am #

      No I’ve never tried it!

      • Kristy March 8, 2016 at 5:01 pm #

        Morocco Method’s website has a snippet on how to cover grey in two coloring steps, however, I’ve only used henna once and didn’t see that site before using henna in an attempt to cover my grey. I’ll give the two steps a try because the henna mixture I tried subdued the grey but it is still clearly grey. Thanks for blogging on this topic! https://morroccomethod.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/207017356-Henna-and-Grey-Hair-

  22. Alyssa October 16, 2014 at 7:17 pm #

    First off, I want to say that henna is a great natural dye for hair.

    Now, a word of warning from a friendly cosmetologist 🙂

    Please use henna only if you are committed to it. Any other dye/bleach used over henna cannot be guaranteed to come out with any kind of great results and typically henna cannot be lightened. You must ALWAYS let your stylist know you have used henna on your hair and they can help you decide where to go from there. It isn’t a very common thing to see in a salon but I do remember an instance in COS school when someone wanted to go lighter and forgot to mention she had used henna. Long story short she ended up with an odd shade of green hair.

  23. Faith November 9, 2014 at 11:15 am #

    I LOVE Morrocco Method products!!! I have been using them for almost 2 months now and I won’t use anything else on my hair. I’m doing the light brown henna on my hair today.

  24. tana December 9, 2014 at 1:57 pm #

    Hey, I was so excited about this henna. I followed the link and went to order it and it quoted me shipping price of $8.50 on an $8.99 product even though it was in Ohio!! Why would that be? and then I called their business office and got an answering machine.
    those 2 things threw up some red flags for me. Any insight on that? Thanks

  25. eva December 22, 2014 at 11:40 pm #

    Thank you SO much, I’ve never realized you can die hair with henna, I thought it was only for skin.

  26. Mrs Corona December 29, 2014 at 3:18 pm #

    Hello. Thank you for such informative post. ☺

  27. Chandrika January 18, 2015 at 9:40 pm #

    Hello, such a great post!

    I have dyed my hair with henna for a very long time.

    I am pregnant and into my second trimester. I am freaking out and don’t know if it is save to use henna. My hair is streaked with white and would love to use henna.

    Can you please help me by sharing if you used henna during pregnancy and a good brand that I can buy.

    I am from india and I used what was available in the local indian store. I am not sure of the quality now.

    Any information is helpful.

    Thanks, Chandrika

    • The Paleo Mama January 19, 2015 at 8:59 am #

      I used Henna during my pregnancies but do what you feel comfortable with. I used 100% pure henna. I linked to the brand that I use but I have also purchased henna from a local Indian store and found that it was a good quality. Just make sure it says 100% henna.

  28. Gill January 23, 2015 at 6:28 pm #

    Thank you for your article. Very well written. I did 3 lemon and about half a cup of apple cider vinegar as I ran out of lemons. Let it sit for 5 hours as that’s the time I had and left it on overnight. My least favourite part it applying it. So messy. I used aquaphor on my ears and around my hair line but still managed to dye my thumb when it came our of the glove. And my back but it came off with baby wipes. This morning my greys are reds and my browns are auburns. Well worth the effort and I love how long the colour lasts. Last time I used henna my friend Deepti told me to mix it with black tea and egg. Have you heard of that before? Sorry I haven’t read all of the comments so maybe someone mentioned it already. Deepti is from India. Her instructions were very exact just like yours. Anyway, thanks again.

  29. crystal b.b. May 14, 2015 at 11:42 pm #

    Just a word of warning about henna hair coloring and henna tatoos. If you are allergic to henna and some people are you may have to deal with 8 to 12 weeks of allergy symptoms sometimes severe,my throat has swelled multiple times from my henna reaction unfortunitely there is little doctors can do other than give me an antihistamine and steroids to lower my immune reaction. I was givin 150 ml of benadryl, a predisone, plus a iv steroid shot when I went into anaflactic shock. Unfortunately because its a dye it stays in the blood for 8 -12 weeks which means 8 -12 weeks of allergy and all you can do is pray you dont die, I have had nights w/ mild to moderate swelling that was unresponsive to antihistamine/benadryl that i had to stay awake all night to watch for the slightiest trouble breathing so i could go to the er before analaptic shock set in….. So far warning if you do henna you may be allergic but let it stop you if you are not prone to allergies it is a wonderful natural hair dye.

  30. Lyt July 21, 2015 at 8:25 pm #

    Hi. I am using Lush henna for quite a while now. My concern is that my grays becomes orangy. I have tried all colors except Noir. I don’t think the henna can make my grays same shade as the rest of my hair. Is Lush 100% henna or should I try using the Morroccan Method or something else? Thanks

    • kay January 19, 2016 at 9:38 am #

      i am wondering if you ever heard back on this question? i was about to order lush’s color and i have quite a few grays and wondering if i should order from somewhere difft now?

  31. Jennifer December 7, 2015 at 3:50 am #

    The last few times I’ve used henna and indigo together, I end up with headaches in the morning. I’ve read that there are indigos that have PPD’s in it. And wondering if the indigo I’m using has that. I do see some places say there is no PPD in the indigo.i remember reading something about if the indigo is black it has PPD. Don’t remember if they said black before adding the water or after. I know about sleeping with the henna in your hair to have a better result, but I’m thinking that maybe I have the henna/ indigo in my hair to long (3 hours)and that’s what’s causing the headaches. So thought about just keeping it on for one hour only. But then it may not work as well. Any suggestions?

  32. jodie blow March 30, 2016 at 10:02 pm #

    I have been using Henna for about 5 years. I am 64 years old. I am Black female and my hair is very fine, I never had to use a straightening comb or any electrical equipment to make my hair straight. I never had nappy kinks like most Blacks. I stopped using Henna about 3 months ago. I was getting headaches, and ringing in my ears. I am a full-time student, and at my age concentration is very difficult. I found it very difficult to remember and study because of the many headaches I was having. Since I stopped using Henna, I feel so much better, my natural Grey is growing in and my hair is healthier. Henna did not work for me.

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