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Common Mistakes And Tips: Henna For Hair

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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. i was hoping you could answer a question for me…
    I’m wanting to get a perm & am wondering if it’s safe after having used ‘surya brasil henna cream’ to die my hair about 4 or 5 months ago?

  2. Hi! I was wondering if you could tell me what and how much to use to dye my hair to match that reddish picture above? I have medium to dark brown hair with about 20% greys at the roots but I would love that reddish color to be my all over color. Also, my hair goes down to the middle of my back. I’ve never done Henna before so I don’t know what to get and how much. Could you help me?

  3. Oh also, I had a bad chemical dye and my hair started to fall out from it. IT’s very dry and curly. Didn’t know if that made a difference on what to buy.

  4. Hi! I recently died my waist long hair with 50% moroccan henna and 50% indigo with a few tablespoons of alma powder. It worked wonderfully and I have the perfect color I wanted. Thank you so much for your help on it!!

    I do have one question though. I am about to touchup the new regrowth to match the rest of my hair so I plan on using the same recipe again but I noticed with the first application my hair became very course, dry and lost its shine. Is there a product you can recommend for me to get the softness, moisture and shine back? And could you also tell me how and when to apply it?

    Thank you so much in advance!

  5. Hi Renee. Great to hear but we need to tackle this dryness issue for sure! We really recommend you moisturize with our Organic Argan Oil or Cocoveda. Those are perfect and you can also deep condition with our brand new Sweet Honey Hair Nourisher. Please let us know how it turns out

  6. Bonnie Kilberg says:

    you can put the oils right in your Hendigo mix..I never Henna w/o adding oil Cocoveda, Kukui, Coconut in my mix…I am going to order Sweet Honey Hair Nourisher with my next order tho….I know my HS Ladies and it will be amazing

  7. I used henna, indigo, amla mix for the first time today. As I was rinsing the mixture out of my hair, I noticed a lot of grit! I had already washed my hair prior to putting in the henna mixture, but had to wash again to get the grit out of my hair! Is this normal?

  8. Hello Jada
    Yes this is normal especially due to the nut powder which is the amla powder. Nuts are more gritty then leaf powders such as indigo and henna are. Did you use your products from Henna Sooq? Some powders do vary by sifts as well.

  9. Hi there!

    I’d like to share my experience… I’ve found that putting a half teaspoon of powdered xanthan gum into the 2 cups of HENNA paste only, works really well by inreasing the ease of application, stopping the drips that occur after the half hour mark, make it wash out a lot easier, and increase the conditioning effect of the henna. I make the henna mix as usual, adding the xanthan gum after everything else and give it a good stir and wait till dye release. Then I mix the indigo seperately, and add just before application. You also use less product, as it spreads way better…more of a gel. I stick it all in a sauce squeeze bottle, and apply that way.
    I’ve had far less messy applications with this method, but keep the ratio! More is not better with xanthan.

  10. Catherine says:

    What mixture was used in the model above with red hair? I would like to obtain that look! Hopefully!

  11. I recently purchased henna (the raj one) and indigo from your site (should arrive Friday!). About a week ago, I got bored and dyed my hair with ion Demi permanent color in a medium burgundy brown (used 10 volume developer). It didn’t change the base of my hairmuch, just added a little red tint.
    I’m wanting a rich brown shade, with a tint of red, and was thinking a 50/50 mix of henna/indigo.
    Question is, as the roots grow out, should I use the same mix? How best to avoid any drastic color variations between virgin hair and the previously dyed hair?
    Also, I’m wondering if I should use clarifying wash before the first application to maybe remove some of the dye? Will the indigo go green in my hair since I just recently colored it? Or, should I do a straight henna?
    Suggestions?
    Thanks!

  12. Hi! I have been reading about Henna online for a while now and I am trying to decide what will work best for my hair type. I have natural light brown/dark blonde fine hair. I would like a reddish tint to my hair, but I don’t want it to turn out an orange color. I love the color of the girl’s hair in the picture in the article! An auburn color would be beautiful! Any tips? Thanks!

  13. We’d really our Red Raj and that would come with instructions and a general recipe. You could do a hair strand test just to be sure you 100% like the results.

  14. Thank you!

  15. curls.biz says:

    Really a beautiful hair style !!!!!

  16. Hi,
    Sorry to say but henna (no matter what kind) should be 100% NATURAL. NO sugar, oils, NOTHING until the henna is completely off your hair COMPLETELY! Also chemical dyes/treatments should be avoided for at least 1 & 1/2 years. Chemicals and henna DO NOT react well.

    my mother is Ethiopian and my father is Bahrainian/Persian. Henna has been in my family for generations and my sister has a henna “salon”.

  17. Good day Soraya. Thank you for your information. If our clients had issues with henna and their chemical treatments we sure wouldn’t be in existence for the last ten years. Henna can be used with chemical treatments. Some clients do have issues with indigo removal and chemical treatments. You must be speaking of henna blends. Some natural henna powders are still blends as most countries don’t follow strict FDA regulations like the USA requires of us who import henna and ayurvedic herbs. I hope this helps you in your search for information. I’ve also never heard of clients unable to use sugar or oil in their hair when using henna. We couldn’t imagine our clients not moisturizing their hair, and the breakage that would occur without hair oils. Sugars wouldn’t do anything at all, either way. Again I hope this helps :) If you ever happen to be in our area we would be more then happy to sit down with you and give you a one on one regarding henna and natural/ayurvedic hair care.

  18. If I decided not to henna any more can I just put a color on top of that henna with out breakage.thanks have a bless day.

  19. You could put a chemical color over the henna if you decide you don’t want to henna. As for without breakage, I can’t say for sure this won’t happen as chemical treatments can be drying as well that could cause breakage

  20. Hi,

    I have medium to golden brown hair and I would like to achieve the same color as the woman in the third picture, which is somewhat of an auburn that is not too orange. Would a deep red henna provide this type of color? Or would I need to add indigo or some other herb in order to get a similar color to that which the woman in the third picture has? I would really appreciate any advice you can provide since I am really anxious to move forward with using henna on my hair to achieve my dream red. Thanks

  21. Good day Panda
    This would be with our Red Raj henna powder. Do you have a high amount or any grey hair? If not then the Red Raj alone would work fine.

  22. Hi Khadija,

    Thank you for responding so quickly. I have some white/grey hairs but they probably only account for 1% of my hair. Otherwise it is medium brown in some places and golden brown in others. How long would you recommend I leave the Red Raj on for, and would it probably require more than one application to achieve the desired color? Also if more than one application is needed, how long should I wait between applications? Thanks again for your help.

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