Natural Hair Dye: The Ultimate Guide To Henna

Posted by Elizabeth Alex on

I am often asked what is the safest way to cover greys for curly hair. Naturally, henna came to mind. Unlike salon hair dyes, or box dyes, henna has natural conditioning and rejuvenating properties for the hair and scalp. However, since I don’t color my hair, I was inspired to share my curl friend Yesha’s little story on why she loves Henna to color her curly hair. Her curls look so brilliant I figured you could follow more of Yesha’s top tips to use Henna successfully! 

While I am 28 years old now, I saw my greys popping at 24! My premature grey hair growth was a result of all the CHEMICAL TREATMENTS (8x straightening treatments and 2x keratin treatments) and using artificial dyes either L’OREAL MAJIREL or WELLA PROFESSIONAL at the salon to color my hair at an early age. After a while whenever I coloured my hair I had an allergic reaction. Red rashes all over my body was a nightmare! That’s when I thought I should give Henna a try.  I figured if my hair survived all those chemical treatments then they should thrive with something so natural like Henna too. I tried it. By the third try my end-result was so impressive! 


Important Points to Remember 

Henna dries hair out so it is a chemical reaction too but there are no side effects.  So all you need is some extra after care to balance. Colouring your hair with henna will never give you results overnight! It’s not magic! So please be patient and gentle with yourself. Here is everything you need to know about Henna Hair Care.

Ingredients Required for Henna Hair Care

  • Heena  
  • Beetroot Juice 
  • Amla powder
  • 1 tbsp Coffee Powder 
  • 1 Lemon
  • 2 tbsp Curd 
  • 2 tbsp Coconut oil / Mustard oil 
  • Iron bowl (if you don’t have an iron bowl you can use a glass bowl or plastic bowl)
  • Hibiscus Tea (optional, thanks @chroniclesoflaura)

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How to make amla water:

  • In 1 glass of water add  2-2.5 tbsp amla powder. 
  • Boil amla water until the quantity of water is half. 
  • Filter this amla water with a strainer. Keep aside. 

How to soak henna:

These are approximate measurements for shoulder length hair - 100 gms, mid back length - 200gms and hip length - 300 gms. Soak this henna mixture for at least 2 hours or overnight.

  • Add Henna according to hair length to the bowl. 
  • Add beetroot juice to Henna
  • Add filtered amla water and mix (You can also add amla powder to the henna powder if you don’t want to go through so many steps.)
  • Squeeze one lemon into the mixture. 
  • Add 1tbsp coffee powder.
  • Add 2tbsp Curd. 
  • Add 2tbsp Coconut oil / Mustard oil (optional)

How to Apply Henna:

  • Clarify your hair first - do not apply conditioner or mask or oil before applying your henna.
  • Apply henna on damp hair section-wise for even distribution. 
  • Make small sections to gently finger-Detangle.
  • Wrap a cling film around your hair and cover with shower cap for extra protection. This double protection ensures your hair doesn’t dry out.
  • Keep for at least 2-3 hours for best results.

Post Henna Application 

  • Rinse out the Henna with WATER only.
  • AIR DRY 80%
  • When your hair is 20% wet coat your hair with your favourite oil. (Do not skip!!) Leave it on 12-24hrs for best results.
  • Next day wash your hair with clarifying shampoo (to remove the metallic deposits) 
  • Then DEEP CONDITION and style as usual.

Yesha’s Top Product Recommendations After Henna 

But does Henna alter the curl pattern?

Blogger Curly Nikki says, “Really & truly it just depends on how our hair takes the henna or how often you use it and the only way for one to know if it will alter their hair pattern is to try it. All we ask is to ensure it is 100% henna you are using!” 

Blogger Winter_Bear_Diaires Risha Saikia says adding Amla to your Henna mixture prevents elongation of curls. Learn more about the amazing Amla benefits for curly hair from this Jadeikens video here. Jade testifies how Amla gives her curly hair crazy shrinkage so it’s only logical you add it to Henna no?  


Are there any side effects to Henna?

As with all natural products, there may be chances of henna allergy or henna sensitivity. Always do a patch test before you apply it all over your hair. If you do experience redness or itching then an OTC allergy medicine should help or call your doctor immediately. If you feel your hair feels dry after henna then Yesha advises you to deep condition your hair more frequently or every time you wash your hair.

But what about the smell?

Personally? The smell reminds me of my mother and I’ve had mother-issues for the longest time. Maybe she mixed an egg in her mixture? Hmm.. the henna smell is probably my biggest pet peeve so I would not be trying it. But if you don’t have issues like mine, don’t worry! Laura (the one who adds hibiscus tea to her henna mixture) says that earthy-smell goes away after a few subsequent washes. 

A few followers that DM me on instagram also said they add egg to their henna mixture. I think it’s better if you eat the egg rather than applying it to your hair! Not only to avoid the egg-y smell but also because the egg molecules are too big to penetrate into your hair. Maybe it does help with moisture or shine for some reason but avoid adding it to your henna for the “smell”. 

How often can we Henna? 

While some do monthly treatments, Yesha applies Henna every 3-4 months only. Use your discretion as always. 

Do we apply Henna to the scalp? 


But will Henna give you migraines?

Your head should never feel “heavy” after the Henna application. If it does then you’ve used too much. Make small sections and use a dime size henna per section. Using more is not going to give you better results. Our hair can only absorb so much! Be light handed to avoid heaviness on your scalp. Don’t apply on your scalp to avoid potential migraines.

Does Henna change hair porosity?

Logically speaking, if henna binds the red tint into your hair structure, and “dries” hair out in the process then it automatically makes your hair high porosity. High porosity hair generally absorbs moisture fast but is unable to retain it. This is exactly why your aftercare regime should be full of moisturizing add-ons like deep conditioning and styling to pump the moisture back in!  

...but what about the million shades of unsavoury orange color? 

Notice some parts of your hair a weird bright orange after henna? Look at those parts closely. Are those the same parts with previous heat/chemical damage? For example, have you always straightened the front portion of your hair, back in college? That’s heat damage. So those areas will show a brighter henna result. However, subsequent regimen full of moisturizing CG products may make this a better experience for you. Focus on the aftercare. Blogger @Anitaditariza Ana says adding indigo to henna allows for a deeper mahogany color. 

Adding Indigo for Dark Brown shades

Blogger Safia @Curl.boss says - Yes, indigo is a bluish purple dye, it converts the orange of henna into dark brown, it only can bind to the hair if it's already hennaed and I do the 2 step method. I apply indigo right after I wash out henna (so no oils recommended) Excluding oils will ensure maximum binding between henna and indigo molecules! Please note the process dries out the hair initially, but as the dye settles down and oxidises, cuticles of the hair calm down and hair looks so lustrous! Find Safia's Indigo Guide here. 

There you have it! Hope you are encouraged to dye your hair naturally and safely. Let me know if you try :)

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Thank you for watching & reading!

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