Saturday, March 10, 2012

Henna for Hair

I've used Henna as hair dye for about 10 years. My hair is a natural dish-water strawberry (not quite brown, blonde or red, but a mousy combo that is red in natural light). If you are interested in trying henna as a natural conditioner or as a hair dye, then I highly recommend visiting You should arm yourself with knowledge before attempting to dye your hair at home with henna, and I don't address them all here. The final color depends a lot on your natural color, so duplicated my recipe may yield different results for you!

This pic dates back to 2007 - I'm the one in the middle (sammiched between my hubby and my mom at a 70's party) and that's the hair color I've worn for years. Lately I've been trying to transition to a more brow tone using indigo and henna but I have yet to achieve anything other than my usual red.  This time I've increased the ratio of indigo henna to red henna in my mixture.

I buy my henna from a local herbal shop. One of my favorite hennas for brighter reds is called Jamila Henna, but it is somewhat expensive and since I'm aiming for a browner tone, it's too red for my needs right now. There are many different kinds of henna but I strongly encourage you to do your research before you buy as some products advertised as henna actually contain PPD, a toxic substance with many icky side effects. I also recommend not using henna "mixes" from commercial sources, even ones meant for hair. Pure body-art quality henna is the best. Anything else may contain additives that will interact with color-treated hair or may cause allergic reactions.

Here I've mixed about 1/2 cup of red henna with 1/2 cup of indigo henna. This is a HUGE amount, but I have butt-length hair. If your hair is shorter, less than half of that will be sufficient, especially if you are just touching up roots. Henna is an excellent conditioner, so whether or not my ends need the color, I usually apply my henna mixture root-to-ends.

Red Henna
"Black" Henna (Indigo henna, not to be confused with commercial henna containing PPD)
Lemon Juice
Poppy Seeds
Cardamom Seeds

I added the herbs for additional color as well as aroma. You might avoid using anything "chunky", like the cardamom, in your mixture as it can be more difficult to wash out and is hard on drains.

I leave this mixture in a warm place overnight covered in plastic wrap (do not use metal foil, utensils or bowls). I'll apply it with gloved hands because it can stain hands and nails, and then leave it on for a minimum of four hours. Then I'll rinse without using shampoo or conditioner. "After" photos to come tomorrow!


  1. Ive been advised not to use henna on hair that is previously bleached/colored as it will rot.. i guess you havent had this issue as i know you havent used commercial colors.

    ill prolly go the henna route when my hair has grown out some more, as is i dont want to cut it x

    whats hennaed hair like in terms of condition? I currently have about 12in of virgin growth at the roots, with the rest bleached though its in good condition due to keratin treatments &vegan colors. i want to be able to get away with more natural products eventually

  2. Henna can sometimes interact with bleached or colored hair but I recently learned (by perusing that site above) that that only applies to henna which has contaminants like metals in it. As much of our henna comes from Pakistan it's hard to say whether or not any of it is completely free of these things but the think to do is harvest hair from your brush and soak it in your henna mixture. If it doesn't explode then you're good to go!

    When I henna my hair it honestly feels very crispy at first, but since the henna fills in the damaged spots this is due more to the "thickening" effect than to any damage the henna may cause. After the second rinse my hair feels AWESOME and the conditioning effect lasts longer than with anything else I've used including hot oil treatments and leave-in conditioners.

    What Keratin treatment have you been using? I want to try it!