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Common Mistakes And Tips: Henna For Hair


After so many years of doing henna and natural herbs for hair, and getting all sorts of questions, I really felt we could use a good post on common mistakes and errors, when it comes to henna for hair (and herbs). We’ve included some amazing tips that everyone should know.

Beautiful Rich Henna and Indigo'ed Hair

This list will never be complete, and we’ll need all of you to help add to it. Henna and natural hair care is all about being open, having a good vibe, being natural, and accepting each and every recipe as special, and unique to every person.

  • Henna is a plant, not a chemical, or ink. Henna is a natural plant, and it grows in very hot climates. As a natural plant it makes only one color: orange-reddish tones. Plants don’t give us more then one color. Typically blueberries stain blue, just as henna stains red. Commercial boxes of henna will tell us they are henna “colors”, but in fact they are pre-mixed boxed of henna that contain other herbs, and ingredients (sometimes even chemicals, additives, or metallic salts). It’s also not an ink. Henna powder is mixed into a henna paste, which can be used to dye your hair (permanent until it grows out), or to create henna body art designs (temporary) on the skin. Please read our recipes and how to’s section to find out how.
  • Henna colors, is this possible? A lot of commercial boxed henna hair dyes will have a variety of colors available. Natural and 100% pure henna only dyes orange-reddish tones. Please always read the list of ingredients on the boxes you purchase, or just purchase 100% pure henna powder from a reliable supplier.
  • Henna will not lighten your hair tone. Henna is a chemically-free all natural hair dye. It doesn’t contain chemicals, or bleaching ingredients that would lighten your hair.
  • Neutral Henna. Cassia obovata is sometimes called neutral henna, but in fact it is another plant that has a low yellow dye molecule, that can color grey, light, and blond hair. On dark hair, cassia obovata will not usually show any color. Using cassia obovata will give you all the benefits of henna, but it does have to be done a bit more often, as the results are not as long term as henna is.
  • Black Henna. Indigo is sometimes called black henna, but this is yet another plant that will color the hair brown to black tones (must be used with henna to give these results). Indigo does not have dye release the same way that henna does, so it must be mixed and used right away, or within 15-20 minutes. Please make sure your indigo does not contain PPD, which is can be quite damaging to the hair, and skin.
  • If I use henna I won’t ever be able to use chemical dyes/treatments on my hair. As long as you use 100% pure henna powder, then yes you can use chemical dyes/treatments as you normally do. You won’t have to wait months to do your chemical treatments/dyes as the hair dresser would like to tell you. Keep in mind, that the hair industry is run by major companies that push all types of chemical products. They are in no way trained, or specializing in henna, and natural hair care (for the most part). You should give your hair a break in between treatments. Roughly about 1-2 weeks.
  • How much henna do we need to use for our hair? No, you don’t need 500 grams of henna powder to color (treat) bra strap length (BSL) hair. First thing that needs to be asked is, how long is your hair, and secondly, how thick is your hair. Those are questions that need to be answered first in order to access how much henna powder you’ll need. You also don’t want to spend more money on products then you have to.
    General speaking, shoulder length hair needs about 100 grams of powder, bra strap length about 200-250 grams, hip length about 300-350 grams, and so on.
  • Should I use lemon juice in my recipe? No, you don’t have to use lemon juice as your primary, and only liquid ingredient in your henna (herbal) hair recipe. So many people would have turned away and abandoned henna and natural herbal hair care, if they thought they could only use lemon juice. Lemon juice is acidic, and can be very drying on your hair. You can add a small splash of lemon juice, if you’d like. We usually add a bit of lemon juice. The most highly recommend liquid to use is warm water. You can even use tea (any variety of your choice), or coffee brews as well (for dryer scalps be careful with these as they can also be a bit drying). Chamomile tea has become quite popular to use in henna hair recipes.
  • Is henna a temporary hair dye? No, henna is not temporary. It is a permanent hair dye. Henna alone only dyes orange-red tones. The only way to remove it is to let it grow out, or cut your dyed hair. That is why it is always recommended you do hair strand tests before making the “full head” committment.
  • Can henna, and herbs for hair be drying? Yes they can be drying. If you have a dry scalp, then you will need to moisturize. You can add moisturizing oils, yoghurt, or a conditioner to your henna recipe, or use a good hair oil after your herbal hair treatment.
  • Does henna lock out moisture? Some people believe that because henna coats the hair strand that no amount of moisturization can reach it. In fact no, henna will not lock out moisture from your hair. Oil, and condition your hair as usual, and as needed. The results will be amazing, and your hair will get all the moisturization it needs.
  • Using a metal bowl, or spoon is it safe or not? When using pure henna powder (body art quality), and herbs for hair, you can use stainless steel bowls. Traditionally, they have used iron bowls, as it has shown to bring our more dye release. We typically use a spatula to mix it. We don’t usually use plastic bowls because they are porous, and the herbs will stain the bowl. The commercial boxes of henna, and henna “colors” that contain other ingredients, herbs, additives, metallic salts, etc..would more so cause reactions with metal bowls, then 100% pure herbs would.

Naturally Curly Hair

  • Can henna loosen my curl pattern? Yes, a lot of people have seen loosening effects of their curls when using henna and/or cassia obovata. There is a small percentage of people that don’t get any loosening of their curls. If you prefer to maintain some of your curl, then add amla powder to bring them back. Keep in mind, that amla powder also tones down the red of henna. You can also use amla powder in your henna/cassia recipe to maintain the curls in your hair, in case you don’t want to lose your curl pattern.
  • So many henna powders. How do I choose? Keep in mind that some henna companies do re-name their henna powders, and this causes more confusion then necessary. The basic, and most important information would be which country is the henna from, how fresh is it (current crop year is best), and how well sifted is it? Please read: How to Choose the Right Henna Powder. There is no henna for a particular race or culture. Henna doesn’t discriminate. It is for everyone to use. If you were to say that a particular henna powder is very well sifted and therefore better to use on curly or african hair, then that we’d understand. But giving a henna powder a new name, is just for marketing purposes. If your henna comes marked with Jamila henna powder in red writting in any format on the foil packaging, then that henna is Jamila henna powder, not any other generic name that it has been re-named. Please read more on Jamila Henna.
  • Body Art Quality: What does that mean? This is another marketing term that basically means 100% pure henna powder. This pure henna powder is safe enough to use for body art, and most likely finely sifted. Body Art Quality can’t apply to any of the other herbs we use on our hair, because that would mean we are using these herbs for body art, and we aren’t. They are being used for hair usage. Make sure you get yourself 100% pure henna, and herbs. Getting organic herbs is even better because you are guaranteed that the company/farm has gotten proper certification, and inspection that there are no pesticides used, and is an overall healthier, and safer product.
  • My katam/indigo didn’t work for me. Indigo and Katam should be mixed seperately from the henna paste, in a seperate bowl. They are fussy herbs, and need to be started out in their own bowl. Allow it to sit 15-20 minutes, and then put the indigo/katam paste into the henna paste (bowl).

Sarah smiling with deep rich henna'ed hair

Tips that work!

  • Putting henna (and any herbs) onto damp hair really helps it go on much easier. Also applying indigo onto damp hair (with a dash or so of salt) has gotten the indigo to absorb better and give even darker, richer black color results.
  • Adding sugar to your recipe makes the henna paste smoother.
  • Pre-oil your hair, if you tend to get really dry when using henna, and herbs in your hair. This will give you the moisture boost you need. This also helps prevent dripping when dyeing your hair. Some of the best hair oils to use are olive oil, coconut oil, argan oil, and camellia oil.
  • In order to get deeper, richer red results use a good, fresh henna powder that is known for giving rich red results (such as yemeni henna). After 2-3 applications, the color will deepen further.
  • Wash your henna, and herbal hair treatments out really well. Use a lot of conditioner to help with the process. If you don’t wash it all out well, then your scalp will feel itchy, and gritty.
  • Rmemeber to always be opened minded, and if needed, adjust your recipe to suit your hair. Just because someone else does it, doesn’t always make it right for you.
  • Keep your recipe simple. Don’t get overwhelmed with a lot of the other ingredients that are added to recipes.
  1. Thank you Ozel for sharing!! xo

  2. Good day Suebelle. So sorry to hear this happened to you. Have you tried vim or soft scrub? That might help. You can try our Sweet Honey Hair Nourisher to remove some of the color from your hair.

  3. i am allergic to black hair dye and compound henna and ended up in hospital after after using them both on differant occasions and now i am afraid to use anything on my hair to cover my grey hair so i wanted to know if 100 per cent pure hennais safe to use .your help would be much appreciated

  4. Hi Polly. Yes they are all 100% pure and we don’t carry blends. Did you use indigo by chance at all as well? There are people who are allergic to indigo.

  5. Hallo Ann. bryon – you will gets roots within a few weeks. After all that part of the hair was not yet out the scalp. Same as if you had used a chemical colour. Ialso get roots within 2 weeks because my hair grows fast.great reson to indulge in my most relaxing thing – henna on my hair and leave overnight.

  6. He, Khadija! I’ve just made a mix of henna, lemon juice, water and coconut oil and I wonder if I should warm it. Oh, and everything was going well until I noticed that I used a metal spoon to make the mixture, will the henna react with the metal? And what could this reaction do to my hair? Did I ruin it?
    Thank you very much!

  7. Hi Clara! Great to hear from you. Your liquid that you had should always be warm to start so it triggers dye release. Metal is fine as most metals we use in the kitchen tend to be stainless steel. That’s what we use. Should be good :) Let us know how it turns out.

  8. Zarra Kennish says:

    I was wondering what the procedure is to wash to henna out of your hair. Do you just rinse it out with only water? The last time I tried to apply henna it completely washed out after my first wash but I rinsed it out with shampoo and conditioner. Should I have not done that? I kept it in for 5 hours and I used the body art quality kind. Thx

  9. Zarra great question. The way a person decides to wash/rinse our their henna depends on the person’s personal preference and what they like best. Some use water, some shampoo and condition and others just use conditioner only. It may be that your shampoo stripped out the color. Try using conditioner only. What BAQ brand did you use? Usually for me personal I shampoo mine out with conditioner and the henna doesn’t come out at all. It runs a bit but that’s normal. The color stayed in my hair as usual. I also use Red Raj only at this time.

  10. I have that same thing happening with my hair- my roots show very quickly. I think in my case I usually get a strong color right after application and I think 2 weeks sounds about right for the length of time it stays colored. I don’t think my hair is growing that rapidly, so it has to be washing off or something. The rest of my hair definitely doesn’t have this problem. I live in a very humid climate, and I wash my hair fairly frequently- could this be my issue? I only use conditioner (barely any) to rinse the henna out after application and then I try to keep my hair dry for at least 72 hrs after I rinse it out

  11. Deb it’s hard to say if it’s the climate and washing your hair often, as I live on the east coast and also wash quite often. I don’t see fading so quickly on roots. You’re sure your hair isn’t growing quickly? A few clients do mention that to us.

  12. Hi…I just recently henna’ed my hair using henna, amla and indigo. I left the treatment on overnight and rinsed it out the morning (with water). I read that you aren’t supposed to use shampoo and conditioner after rinsing out for 2 days. I am very physically active and just wondering what happens if my hair gets overly greasy in the next 48 hours? Is it safe to use baking soda to simply get it clean? Thanks.

  13. Tara yes you can safely use baking soda or the no-poo shampoo that is sold.

  14. Sallyanna says:

    Hey there,
    thanks for the tips. They’re really helpful. I did have a question about the oils though. Like do I slather hair in olive oil first (so it’s quite wet looking) and then add the henna?
    Thank you

  15. Hi Sally. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend you over-oil your hair but you can add some to your henna hair recipe, about 2-3 tbps per 100 grams of powder used. Or add a small amount to your palm and spread evenly into your hair and bunch through so it stays evenly coated and lightly.

  16. Nobuhle says:

    I have natural (black SA hair) and I bought Henna, Ive read this blog but Im a bit skeptical about applying it. Will it be able to dye my type of hair? I bought black henna dye. My hair is a mix of dark brown and black

  17. Good morning Nobuhle. Great to hear from you! Yes it should dye your hair. I can’t say for sure to what extent it would work as it depends on the brand. Since we have our own henna line of products I’m more comfortable personally speaking on them since we personally use them ourselves as well. I’m familiar with getting your hair that brown to black tones with our products. You can try what you bought and see from there. Just make sure to add some moisturizing oils to help keep moisture in your hair as the henna treatments can be drying.

  18. Natalie says:

    So, I have a dark red brown hair color. In the sun it looks very ginger, I want to enhance the
    Is red Ana eventually look more red. Can I get a good result out of a red henna?! Also are there any shampoos shown to not strip the henna?

  19. I always use shampoo on my hair after applying henna.Is dis ok or should omit the use of shampoo?????

  20. Can I use shampoo on my hair after applying henna

  21. Hello Seetu. You can shampoo afterwards if you’d like to but many clients do use only a co-wash to add moisture and detangle at the same time. Whatever your hair likes and doesn’t remove the color is fine :)

  22. Good day Natalie. Yes absolutely.Using our Red Raj would work perfectly and our shampoo bars are also very soft and gentle. They won’t remove the color, except for our Soapnut shampoo bar which clarifies.

  23. Do i read right that i have to put olive oil on my henna mixture to dye my hair? Or yoghurt? To get a good result on my hair ? And for my scalp not to get dry?

  24. Jennifer Gammon says:

    i have used Henna on my hair three times. Every time I wet my hair it drips orange. I am leaving it on for 3 to 3.5 hours. I rinse it for at least 20 minutes and used tons of conditioner. What can I do to stop the bleeding?

  25. Hi Jennifer. You must have a lot of hair, am I correct? Mine also bleeds for several washes. It might just take a few more washes for it to stop running. I hope this helps. It varies from person to person and you and I seem to have the orange dripping problem together.

  26. Vicky thanks for your post. Yes you can put olive oil in your henna mix to help fight against the dryness that henna can give some clients. Yoghurt is heavy and will dilute your color though. The oils are better so it won’t be so dry.

  27. What is the best recipe for dry and normal hairs?

  28. margaret frierson says:

    Can I use Eagle’s black henna on my hair after I have relaxed it the same day ?

  29. Hi Ritu. Great to hear from you. The best recipe also does depend on what your hair focus is. DO you want to color your hair with henna? Do you want to cleanse and moisturize? For dry hair we really recommend our Sweet Honey Hair Nourisher.

  30. Hi Margaret. I can’t make recommendations on other brands as I’m not familiar with them as we use our own products as a family and for our clients. If you are using Henna Sooq’s indigo and henna products yes you can safely use our products on relaxed and chemically treated hair. I hope this helps

  31. Hi,
    Henna does cover my grey very well but it makes my hair not only lifeless dry but also makes my hair falling out A LOT while rinsing henna out. I’ve put olive oil n coconut oil into the paste. (The henna powder is 100% pure from a local Indian groccery store). Any advice? Does anyone have similar situation?

  32. Hello Patty. Sometimes henna pulls out extra dead hairs as we do lose more hair in a day then some of us may notice. Maybe you can try a heavier oil such as our Moroccan Organic Argan Oil which moisturizes really well and deeply. You can also deep condition with our Sweet Honey Hair Nourisher.

  33. hi
    I just put henna on my hair yesterday(BQH)
    I really like the red tinge my hair currently has.. I was wondering if I keep on redoing the henna treatment, the red color will go away-
    well because I don’t want it to?

  34. Henna Esther will always continiously color your hair with repeated applications. There will be red deposits of dye from the henna. I hope this helps.

  35. Khadija,

    I’m about 30 minutes from Columbia, MD. Can I come and personally purchase henna & indigo powder rather than ordering it online? If I can purchase them directly from you, what are your hours? Thanks!!

  36. Hi Julie. Yes absolutely! Please come by. I’ll personally be in the studio from about 6-8 pm tonight.Otherwise weekdays are 5-8 pm and Saturdays 10-4 pm. I or my staff is usually there during those hours.

  37. Heloo, greetings from Slovenia :) Now I know why I lost my slight curly hair,they are completely straight now, you mentioned amla powder, will it bring my curls back or you maybe know what can I do? And I need some advice what to put in the henna mixture to lighten my henna color? Thank you :)

  38. Good day Gea. How are you? I hope well. Did you want to lighten your henna in a more red way or in which type of color? Yes amla powder will bring back your curls naturally. You can either add this to your henna treatment or use it alone after your henna treatments.


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