Using Henna To Color Hair Guide

Henna (also known as Mehendior, Hena) is a flowering plant used to dye skin, fingernails, leather, silk, wool and even to dye hair and has been used for centuries. Nowadays henna is widely used by the Indian women as a dye for hair, skin and nails as well as for body art and temporarily tattoos. Using henna to dye your hair is probably the best way to color your hair naturally without damaging it. Henna simply adds color to the hair with a gentle and natural approach. It doesn’t alter the structure of the hair but it does condition and nourish the hair, as it doesn’t contain synthetic chemicals. It works great to color red or reddish brown hair.

The benefits of using:

  • prevents premature graying of hair
  • nourish and condition the hair
  • make hair shiny and smooth
  • doesn’t irritate the scalp or the skin
  • simple and easy to use
  • henna doesn’t lighten (or bleach) hair
  • doesn’t contain harsh ingredients and chemicals
  • henna straightens and thickens your hair
  • doesn’t contain ammonia
  • prevents hair loss and dandruff

You will need:

  • henna powder
  • lemon juice (vinegar, red wine)
  • protective plastic gloves
  • a shower cap to cover your hair
  • a bowl
  • wide-toothed comb
  • old towels


  1. Step One. Put on some old clothing and drape your shoulders with an old towel. Wear plastic gloves to protect your hands from staining. To prevent staining your skin, apply Vaseline, almond oil, petroleum jelly or any oily cream to your forehead, around the hair line and ears.
  2. Step Two. Put the henna powder in a bowl and add lemon juice. If you don’t have lemon juice you can use vinegar, red wine or water. Mix the ingredients well until you get a smooth paste.
  3. Step Three. Divide your hair into a few sections. Remember: henna must be applied to a clean, dry hair.
  4. Step Four. Start the application of the bottom layers of your hair and slowly work your way up. Make sure you apply the paste evenly and all your hair is covered. Use a comb to spread the dye through your hair.
  5. Step Five. Wrap your hair in an old towel or a shower cap and simply wait. The duration depends mainly on your natural hair color. If your hair is dark you will have to wait for approximately 2-3 hours, but if your hair is lighter it can take up to 4-8 hours.
  6. Step Six. Rinse your hair with lukewarm water but don’t use a shampoo. Henna will nourish and condition your hair naturally. If you find the paste too difficult to remove use a mild conditioner and apply it generously to your hair. Rinse your hair thoroughly until the water is completely clear. Don’t use hot water to wash your hair because the cuticles will open and allow the color to escape and fade quickly.

If you want to achieve lighter color
Mix the henna powder with 3/4 tbsp. yogurt. Apply the mixture to dry hair and wrap your hair into a towel. Leave the mixture on for about 2/ 3 hours and then rinse your hair thoroughly.

If you want to achieve more saturated brown color
Mix the henna powder with 1 tbsp. coffee and leave the mixture on your hair for 6/ 8 hours.

If the color is too bright
To neutralize too bright color, warm up 2/ 3 tbsp. olive oil in a microwave and rub it on damp hair. The oil will absorb the excess amount of henna. Use a shampoo to wash your hair. Repeat this until you get the desired color.

Useful Tips for henna:

  • can easily stain your clothes – so put on some old clothing.
  • Never use to color your hair if you have used chemical dye or if you have bleached it.
  • Always wear protective plastic gloves when dyeing your hair.
  • the more often you use henna the darker the color will become.
  • You can add indigo to make shades of brown.
  • It usually takes approximately 3-6 hours for the color to develop completely.
  • When you buy always make sure it actually contains henna.
  • after the first application it will create a transparent red color but the color of the hair will get darker.
  • henna cannot lighten your hair.
  • Henna prevents premature graying of the hair.
  • 120gr. should be enough for short hair.
  • 250gr. should be enough for collar length hair.
  • 350gr. should be enough for longer hair.
  • 520gr. should be enough for waist length hair.
  • It is permanent.
  • Always do a test to see whether you like the color.
  • works great on brunettes and dark blondes.
  • can successfully color gray hair.
  • can last up to 4/ 6 weeks.
  • it’s best to have your hair colored by a professional.
  • always try the color on a small, hidden section of your hair to see the real color.

To learn more see also the articles:

Color Your Hair


Split Ends

Oily Hair

What do you think about this post?

    • Allie wrote:
      Don't forget that unlike other permanent dyes, once you dye your hair with henna you must wait for it to grow out before you color it again, otherwise your new color will not show up or will be significantly darker, or just weird. My hairdresser once tried to give a girl blonde highlights without knowing she had dyed her hair with henna and the highlights came out bright green, so be careful and plan ahead.

    • Linda wrote:
      For some STRANGE reason, my February application of lt. brown powdered henna turned carrot orange on the crown where most of my gray is. Colo "OOPS" worked as well as anything---purchased at a local Walgreen's (at 6:00 a.m.). After using two more "OOPS" processes---SPREAD at least 2 wks apart---I was back to brown/gray. Then I started over w/ lt. brown but this time leaving it in only 30 minutes rather than 45 minutes. I am pleased. Know that henna ACCUMULATES and most touch-ups should be for roots only. Take care.....Linda

    • xti wrote:
      If henna is permanent, and needs to be grown out, what does the article mean when it says henna can last 4/6 weeks? Does henna fade out with time, or does it leave a definite growth line? Thanks in advance!

    • georgina wrote:
      i have heard lots about henna and as i want to have black hair but normal hair dyes fade i thought it would be the best option for me but where do you get it from?

    • Kelly wrote:
      There is alot of incorrect info in this article. The first major piece of wrong info is themost omportant one. This article says to mix the color, then apply it to your hair. THAT IS WRONG. After you mix the color you must wait several hours for the henna to release it's dye for it to work well on the hair. Also in response to one of the comments, you do not have to wait for the henna dye to grow out before getting your hair chemically colored or highlighted. When people use henna, then dye with a commercial or professional dye, and thier hair turn a nasty color, it is usually a result of the henna they used was NOT pure, and contained metallic salts. Most store bought henna kits contain many fillers and metallic salts. Be sure you are buying pure body art wuality henna. I have been hennaing my hair since 2005, and switch on and off to commercial red dyes all the time. My hair never has turned a funny color.This is where I got all my info about henna, and where I order it from. I do NOT work there, so I am not plugging this site for my benifit, but the site is truly informative, and the wuality of the henna they sell is amazing. Kelly

    • Grow Hair wrote:
      Thanks for the information about: How To Color Your Hair With Henna Properly?. It will help a lot.

    • Freja wrote:
      Exactly how much water should I mix 250 g henna with ? And the article doesnt really inform on exactly how long to leave it in, compared to the different colours.. any help ?

    • minhaj wrote:
      this a perfect website

    • priyanka wrote:
      spotless skin&how to colour hairs

    • Alethia wrote:
      Can you wash your hair with normal shampoo after a couple of days of dyeing your hair with henna? My mother is convinced otherwise.

    • rama ghosh wrote:
      I used henna for dying hair but I noticed that even after washing with shampoo , colors came out with sweat.

    • Ethel wrote:
      Ive used henna for the last 10yrs and have not had a problem. I want to try a commercial dye and am wary especially after ready the warnings. Any advice

    • joanna wrote:
      yes you can henna over chemically dyed hair as long as its pure henna theres a lot of stuff here about henna which is incorrect

    • Nicole wrote:
      Have been using Henna for years, never used wine as the liquid base, may try that tonight. For those asking about how much water, its hit or miss on the amount. The consistency should be that of yogurt. Slowly add boiled water until it reaches that, also as said before it need to "Steep" first in the hot water. NEVER use metal bowls or utensils, so in a plastic or glass bowl mix the water (or wine or whatever you are using) and set in the oven with a bowl of hot water under it to contain the heat, cover the mixture with saran wrap. I leave it in there for at least an hour before applying to hair. WARNING: be sure the mixture is not too hot when you apply it. Depending on the depth of color you want, I leave mine on for 4 hours and it comes out a deep red. I use an all natural shampoo to rinse with, NO CONDITIONER for the first few days at least. IF it changes your already chemically treated hair green, make a baking soda paste and wash your hair with that. It will be gone. GOOD LUCK!

    • Linda wrote:
      I am repeating a question asked earlier that I did not see an answer for, and I have wondered the same thing. If henna lasts up to 6 weeks, why does the information say that it has to grow out? It can't be both. Also, I just used a 'light brown' henna, so was quite surprised to turn out 'copper penny red'. I would like to soften this but don't know how. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I have looked at pics of henna colored hair, and it seems they have an orange glow around the scalp. I don't want to give up, but I do want it to look more natural as I am probably 75% grey. I don't like the 'old lady covering up her grey with red hair' look!

    • lanette wrote:
      Linda, I've just started using henna, an dthis is what I've found from another site: The freshness of the henna powder will affect the final color you get. The fresher the powder, the better the final results will be. This is most important for gray hair, as stale henna will push the color to a very unattractive orange hue on gray hair. Henna powder can be found at many health food stores, but it's often stale and will not give you a desirable end result. The best henna is usually bought directly from a reputable importer or from one of the many people doing henna tattoos.

    • Debbi wrote:
      Try Surya henna, it's awesome and so easy to use. I have used the Chocolate color twice and my hair looks amazing, deep brown and the grays turned a beautiful red color, not orange. It fades naturally, too, and the grays soften to gold highlights.

    • Ramesh Kadyan wrote:
      Kesh Vardhak herbal hair drops is very effective in hair falling, dandruff, alopecia & baldness problems.

    • Anonymous wrote:
      I hear that henne breaks hair and ip brittle

    • D wrote:
      Henna lightens my hair. It's 100 percent henna too. It makes my hair look beautiful and it conditions it amazingly! I wish it wouldn't get dark as fast though.

    • Millie wrote:
      Ok so I have a question (and I would really love a factual answer not just an opinion). This was my first time applying henna (black) to my hair. The way I did it was I mixed the henna powder with water and conditioner: I was told I could use a deep conditioner method. Then I applied to my hair, combed it through, rubbed it in and left it in for 1 hour. After that, I rinsed it thoroughly with lukewarm water until the water ran clear. That is all I did, and then I. saw that the directions said to shampoo your hair. Like I said, all I did was rinse the henna out. I'm sure my hair will be okay, but my question is: what is the big deal about shampooing the henna out of your hair? Will it do anything damaging to you or your hair? My hair color came out great and my hair is fine. I just did this yesterday. Let me know all you henna application pros and possible stylists out there.

    • Ginny wrote:
      HI Millie, The only reason you would want to shampoo your hair is to keep any "extra" color from coming out on your clothes. The more henna you leave on your hair, the better it is for your hair. That may not be true if you are using a product that is not pure henna - in that case I would contact the company. Hope that helps :)

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