Henna is a non-damaging herbal dye that you can use to colour your hair a beautiful red to auburn brown (the final shade depends on your original hair colour).
The whole process of using henna dye takes about 3 hours from beginning to end, so a bit longer than with conventional hair dye, but worth it for the vibrant result - and benefits to your hair (see below).
Keeping reading for our step-by-step tutorial on how to apply henna to your hair…
Firstly, take some precautions to avoid staining your forehead, neck or clothes. Applying henna dye can be a bit messy! Wrap an old towel around your shoulders to protect your clothes and if you apply a line of organic Ultra Rich Balm (trial size pot for £2.50) along your hairline, it makes any stray henna paste much easier to wipe off.
Next, mix up your organic henna, as per the instructions. Here is what it should look like when it's all ready to go (N.B. do not use a metallic spoon or bowl).
Next, prepare your hair. It should be clean and dry, without any conditioner or other products. Section off the top layers of your hair with hair elastics or clips. Make sure to use gloves to protect your hands from stains.
Then put the paste on with your fingers, working it in to fully cover every strand in the section. You might find a wooden or plastic fork quite helpful to lift the henna out of the bowl and comb through your hair (this becomes trickier as you put more dye on when you need to revert to using your hands).
Doing the front sections of your hair should be easy. For the back, you can look in the mirror, but it’s still a bit tricky. Unless you have double mirrors, you can do it by feeling around or get someone else to help you apply it at the back.
When the underneath layer of your hair is completely coated, let down the top layer one section at a time, coating each one as you go.
When all of your hair is totally coated, you can gather it on the top of your head, then cover and leave to dye, follow the instructions to see how long to leave henna on hair.
Wipe off any dye that’s got onto your skin, like your forehead or nape of neck. – It will wash off later if you miss some, but it’s easier to remove when still wet.
How long to keep henna on hair?
We usually recommend keeping the henna on your hair for around 2 hours. You can leave it on longer and the longer you leave it on, the stronger the colour will be.
After 2 hours, rinse all the paste off your hair with water until the water runs clear. You can shampoo very lightly to get rid of the last bits of paste. Again, rinse until the water runs clear.
Apply conditioner if you like, unless you’re following the henna with an application of indigo to achieve a brown or black shade.
The colour may seem bright, brassy and coppery at first but don’t worry, this will deepen over the next 3 or 4 days. This is because it takes a few days for the oxidation process to take place. (Like a cut apple which darkens over time due to oxidation).
How can you determine the colour outcomes of dying your hair with henna?
Everyone’s hair is different and will take the colour slightly differently. Different application methods can affect the colour result. Trial and error may be necessary to get your desired shade, so strand testing is an excellent way of experimenting to find the right shade.
Henna bonds with the keratin in your hair, providing a semi-transparent layer of colour. Some of your original hair colour underneath will show through to some extent, thus affecting the final colour outcome.
For example, on dark blonde hair it is likely to be a natural auburn red shade, and on medium brown hair, a rich reddish brown. On dark brown hair, it will be a lot less red, more of a slight red undertone in the light.
How to apply henna on grey hair?
On white or grey hair, if you apply henna it will result in an orange colour. But you can achieve an auburn brown or even a black shade if you follow the henna dyeing process by doing the same with indigo. Apply henna to your hair first, as per the above guide, and then follow it in exactly the same way with indigo powder. This can then give different shades of browns to black. More information on this 2-step henna plus indigo process is here for achieving a black colour. There's more information about this 2-step 'hendigo' process to colour grey hair black in this article.
What are the benefits of using henna?
Using henna on your hair can have many benefits: Conditioning, repairing damage, and balancing pH levels are just some of the many benefits that henna offers.
- Improves scalp health. Henna helps improve and maintain scalp health with its cooling, antifungal and antimicrobial properties. It can help sooth aggravated and itchy scalps while also helping treat other issues like dandruff and fungal infections.
- Enhances hair colour. Henna is a well-known natural hair dye, but it can also improve your hairs natural pigment and prevent premature greying of hair.
- Conditions your hair. Studies show that henna has hair conditioning properties. This is because henna helps seal the hair cuticle so that it can retain moisture.
- Promotes hair growth and curbs hair loss. Henna benefits the scalp by improving follicle health. This, in turn, curbs hair loss and boosts the rate at which hair grows.
- Finally, applying henna is recommended by health experts as a safer way to dye your hair, particularly if you are allergic to conventional hair dye, have sensitive skin, eczema, rosacea or are pregnant.
If you’d like to find out more about using henna, we also have a FREE 22-page good henna guide - click here.
You can buy pure, 100% henna powder here