What You Need to Know About Henna Hair Dye

I started using henna hair dye last summer, and it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done with my hair. Many online retailers and traditional Indian shops offer various shades of henna dye, even LUSH sells it now. Henna can only make your current hair shade darker, not lighter, though it can drastically change colors and tones of your hair. Using a 100% henna mix will give hair a straight orange color, which is perfect for blondes wanting to go red. However, when brands use other species of plants in their dyes, such as the indigo plant or red clay, this is what can create the various shades and colors available. Henna dye usually ranges from a light orange, through the red shades, to a straight black dye. 

I purchased a red dye this past summer from the Light Mountain Natural website, and purchased a deep red dye from The Henna Guys website earlier this March. Here is a picture of my hair now in direct sunlight, you can see the bright red color in individual strands.

Through these two experiences with dye, I’ve learned a lot. So here are some tips to get you started!

Tip 1: Choose Your Color Wisely

Henna dye ranges from semi-permanent to permanent, and it’s not recommended to bleach over henna. Also, like I said before, henna cannot make your hair any lighter, it can only change tones or make your hair darker. However, you can henna over henna to get a deeper tone or to touch up roots. Sometimes it can be hard to figure out what color henna will turn your hair, especially because results in the sun look a lot different than results inside. So I definitely also recommend doing a strand test. 

Tip 2: Add Essential Oils

When your henna dye comes in the mail, it comes as a powder, not as a liquid. So before you’re ready to dye, you have to mix your henna and let it sit for a few hours. You can use water to mix, or also a black or red tea to deepen the color your trying to go for. Although henna dye is great, the biggest issue people seem to have with it is the smell. Depending on the type of dye you get, it can smell like hay or marijuana. And unfortunately, the smell can resurface whenever your hair gets wet. Therefore, I recommend using a few drops of your favorite essential oils while mixing to cover up the scent. And after you let the mixture sit for the color to develop, you’re ready to start applying. 

Tip 3: Go Outside

Along with being a bit smelly, henna can also be messy. Application can be difficult, because the ideal texture of the liquid henna is like a cake batter. It applies very thick, so the more you put on your hair, the heavier your head gets. By the end, your hair is like an extra five pounds. Henna does stain both skin and surfaces also, so it’s better to go outside than to risk staining your bathroom. Once your henna is applied, it is recommended that along with waiting a few hours, you also keep the henna hot so it maintains its liquid state and develops faster. While many people recommend using a hair dryer every half hour or so, it’s much easier to stay outside and let the sun do the work for you. 

Tip 4: Be Prepared to Not Wash

Lastly, henna takes multiple days once its washed out with water to develop into its permanent color. Therefore, its recommended that you wait as long as possible to shampoo and condition your hair, most people wait around two to three days. 

Though henna tends to be very high maintenance, for a non-chemical hair dye, the results are great. The color looks natural yet vibrant, and henna conditions your hair along with coloring it. I am always happy at how the results turn out, and with these tips, I hope you are encouraged to try it!