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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. Hi!
    I have bra strap length hair. It is a light/medium shade brown with a few bits of blonde scattered around (natural highlights). I have brown/hazel eyes and not pale, but not quite olive toned skin either. I want my hair to turn a brown color similar to what I have, but I want it to appear a nice deep red in the light. I hope that makes sense. I do not want my hair to turn orange at all or get dry. I’m worried about damaging or drying out my hair since it is so curly. I have very fine coiley curls that tend to get dry in certain spots. I am completely clueless when it comes to henna hair dye, so I do not know what brand to buy that is 100% pure henna or where to buy it. Will this dry out my hair? What color do I get, what brand, and where? Sorry for all the questions!

  2. Hi sorry its me again I also forgot to mention I have veryyy thick yet fine curly hair.

    Thanks! ( im the same Ang that on July 28, 2012 at 9:03 pm)

  3. Hello Ang
    Thank you for your post. You’ll have to make sure to moisturize for sure when using henna and herbs on your hair. We have some amazing hair oils and butters.
    A deep red henna would be our Yemeni or Red Raj. You may need to add indigo a bit to darken it but we’d really recommend you do hair strand tests first to be sure you like the color results.

  4. Hello Kirsten. Yes yemeni or Red Raj would be a richer red henna to use. Those would be good choices as Jamila would be bait more of a cool soft red, almost coppery.

  5. nevada escorts says:

    I like my natural hair color. It looks black but if you look really close it’s just really dark brown, which I think looks more natural with my skin, so I don’t want to go jet black. I do want to get my greys a dark brown. Would I do half and half and add some alma powder to achieve this?

  6. Hi Nevada, yes you would use at least 60% indigo and 40% henna and add a bit of amla powder to your recipe but the amla powder is optional. Just make sure to use henna and indigo for dark brown in the proportions recommend. I hope this helps

  7. PS Nevada, yes it’ll cover greys too!

  8. Hi Khadija, want to report from our recent conversation that the 2 TB. of Sukesh Ayurveda added to my henna powder was a success. My curls were popping similar to my clay treatment! Have you had any feed back of Sukesh with Red Raj? Thanks again

  9. mary brown says:

    hello, my hair is thin and not to long bra straps lenght and I have dyed it red before a month and the color has faded away and now its a honey brown and a little bit of orange color its very lighter than my natural color which is dark brown. I made a test on my ends with the natural henna(the red one) but it turned out really dark red and kinda purple(i left it 2 hours or more). Can you suggest a way to lighen up the result cuz I want it red not dark.

  10. Keikimummy says:

    Hello, This post was really helpful. Thanks. I would like to colour my hair with henna, and I have seen some conflicting advice on the web. Some say, when you do the second, third, fourth (and so on) treatments you should only do the roots, because the ends are already coloured. Others say, henna fades, so do your whole head every time. Which is true? And if I chose to colour my hair, say, once a month, and I did all of it (including the ends that were done before, and before that, and before that) will those ends get brighter, or will it just stay the same as the newly coloured growth? And if I were to do both, roots sometimes and all sometimes, how often do I do each? How should I space it out?

  11. Hi. I have naturally red hair (like a light auburn) I do NOT want orange hair. I just want a brighter red, and to keep the brown hair away. Also, I love my curls and do want them to go away. What can I do/us to keep the curls and not go orange.

  12. Hello, I have color treated blonde hair that is very dry. I would like to use Cassia but I don’t want the yellow color in my hair more like a med blonde. I did us Cassia on the under part of my hair and it turned a little reddish, fizzy, tangled and dry. When I applied the Cassia my hair felt like twin dry and rough is this normal? Anyone have suggestions to achieve the color med blonde without the red or yellow color? Also any suggestions on how to make hair easier to rinse out and not be so dry? Thank you

  13. When I do henna my hair orange how I can get dark chocalte color

  14. Hello
    I have really dark hair black hair infact but not African hair I purchased egyption quality henna for hair and mixed it with lemon juice then let it sit overnight then applied it on my bangs and let it sit for 4 hours when I washed it my hair was still black I’m really sad because I wanted red hair or at least auburn but it’s still black is there something I did wrong I really want red visible hair pls reply

  15. Hi it’s me the same chrissy I forgot to mention that my hair had oil in it before applying henna to it and it wasn’t wet I’m the same Chrissy (august 16,2012 at 9:04)pm
    P.s is it normal that my hair smells like henna?

  16. Hi Khadija,while waiting for dye release in henna after mixing,should it be refrigerated or left out?

  17. Chrissy I’d recommend a better quality stronger henna that has more dye content if you want richer reds, and to add hibiscus to boost red tones. Henna also builds up so do a few applications to see changes.

    Alyssa, it should be left out for dye release.

  18. Khadija, you say to put oils on your hair when using henna, but doesn’t oil keep the henna from working? That was what I always understood.

    Thanks for the great article!

  19. Sinead, thank you! Not for everyone. Some have very dry hair and oils work well for them. If this isn’t for you then don’t pre-oil. I hope this helps

  20. Hello!

    For some reason my henna only dyes the roots of my hair bright orangey red and the rest stays generally a dark ashy blonde. Do you have any idea why this may be happening?

  21. Julianna, thank you for posting. Do you have two different hair tones in your hair currently?

  22. Elizabeth says:

    Hello.

    My natural colour is medium brown – about a year ago I dyed my hair a rich burgandi colour. Since then the red has faded a lot. I would like to dye my hair back to it’s natural colour, or close to. My hair is quite greasy, but the ends are always dry. I am hoping that the Henna may dry my hair out. It’s down to my shoulders and is quite thin.

    I bought a ‘medium brown’ container of henna (100g). From what I have read though, henna turns your hair a reddish colour no matter what colour you use. The red in my hair now is so faded and has taken ages to grow out/fade.I don’t want to use a salon hair dye but will if it means I can get my hair back to it’s natural colour.

    Any advice would be helpful :-)

  23. Morning Elizabeth!
    Henna and the herbs can dry out your hair some but you also may have to wash it more often. How often do you usually wash your hair? I’d concentrate a little bit of extra moisture on ends only.
    Read the ingredients of the henna product you have as it may say henna but it might have other herbs in it as well to make it more brown.

    I’m not sure what to advise you regarding the product you have as we have our own product line that I’d recommend you use to get your hair back to its natural hair color. This is mainly because I can’t personally predict the outcome of your product. Usually for brown tones you would use henna but add at least 50% of your recipe being indigo that is added. This would get your hair back to it’s natural color. Then you can decide if you want to repeat processes like this in the future for natural color or you can maintain your hair with non-coloring herbs since you’re focus sounds like you’d like to get the other benefits you can achieve from henna and herbs.

    I hope this helps!

  24. I love henna and have used two applications. In the front of my hair near my face i had blonde highlights and love the extreme red it turns out. However the back of my head looks dark brown with a hint of red. Is it possible to bleach highlight my whole head and the re-henna my hair without super damage? I have searched the internet and have not found much info on this. I’m not expecting it to be blonde i just want it ligher so in tern the henna will be brighter. I purchase my henna rom a reputable source so i’m not worried about it falling out. thanks

  25. Hello Tina. Thank you for your post.
    You should be okay but we can’t predict how the bleaching treatment will react with your hair. Just be careful and do test spots if you haven’t done so already.
    Did you get your henna from us here at Henna Sooq? http://www.hennasooq.com

  26. hello, I have never used henna. I have some gray hair but no longer want to use damaging dyes in my hair. When you say loosening of curls, does that mean your hair may turn completely straight? I am african american and I love have kinky curly hair. I don’t mind the curl being looser but not gone completely. Is the loosening a gradual process? Or am I in jeopardy of using henna one time and my hair turning bone straight?

  27. Thank you for your post Kierot. No the henna won’t make your hair straight, it’ll just loosen the curls slightly. If you’re worried about the curls loosening too much, just add amla powder to your recipe, a couple of tablespoons will help maintain your curls.
    It’s a slight loosening and isn’t permanent either. I hope this helps

  28. Hi, I’ve been using henna for a while now and really love the results! I’ve got one little problem though: my hair starts out really dark brown with a red glow at the top of my head and then turns into a vibrant red toward the tips. All nice, but I’ve recently bought an extension fringe/bangs that match the colour of the lower half of my hair perfectly… and are noticeably lighter than the top half. Is there anything I can do to either lighten the top half of my own hair, or darken the top bit of the extensions so to even out the difference? Thanks a lot!!

  29. henn Brahma says:

    hi there,One week ago I dyed my hair with a henna called Henna Brahma.Since then I ve been searching on the internet and I learned that its not the best henna product I could use and that it may contains minerals which destroy hair.I haven’t noticed any hair,though,but when I wash my hair I see some colour on the water and the colour fading away in only two hair washings!!!Now,I want to use Lush Henna but I am not so sure whether I should mix two different types of henna..Thanks for listening and please help :)

  30. henn Brahma says:

    *any hair fall!!

  31. i have used henna a few times – the last time i used cassia and added lemon – within minutes it started to rise like a soufflé – big time – i was nervous and threw it out – i decided to try again tonight and the same thing happen – is this a normal response? is it safe to use?

    thanks so much for your thoughts
    josie

  32. Hi Josie, yes it does rise somewhat but not like it’s going to explode. Have you watched our organic cassia video. View here: http://youtu.be/MuY3TyOW7Ls
    I hope this helps

  33. Petra I’d recommend a root touch up on the top or lighter areas to darken it some. Is this gray hair that is lighter? Do you have two tones in your hair? Or if you want to lighten then use cassia in your recipe with the henna on the darker areas to lighten it. I hope this helps

  34. Henn, our company has our own company line that you would really prefer. Please head to our website at http://www.hennasooq.com and also click Learn to read our hair tips.

  35. Josie, this is normal typically that it fluffs up, but do you have any photos just so we can be sure?

  36. Hi Khadija,
    I have just completed my second henna treatment consisting of 2TB. of your Sukesh Ayurveda, a little hibiscus powder and warm water. Not only have a had good dye release, but I also have had strong, conditioned hair with fantastic color. This is a keeper recipe for me. I have a wonderful monthly ayurvedic treatment that is simple and great for my hair. Thank you!

  37. I want to get color like the african american girl in the picture. i want a reddish brown that is darker toward the roots. My hair is a really dark brown and I am newly natural. My hair is really curly and I wouldn’t be too sad if i lost some of the curl, but would rather keep my natural texture. I dont even know if it is possible to naturally lighten my hair, but i am staying away from chemicals and lovemy natural hair. Hope somebody answers soon :)

  38. JoLindy you’re more then welcome !!

    Jamelia, Henna would add reddish tones with your natural hair color and you could apply the recipe only towards the ends as you’d like to get that tone there and keep the roots darker without applying henna there. I’d more then likely recommend to start with using our Jamila henna powder BAQ 2012.

  39. ibtesam Abdallah says:

    Salam
    I used Henna long time ago and now I am 53Years old I have a lot of gray hair I heard that there is something natural you use it beside the Henna and keep the gray hair dark since I have a dark hair because I do not want to use Henna and my gray hair will turn orrange and that is why I am coloring my hair and I want to stop and go back to Henna so is this true and what is the substance that you used beside the Henna.

    Thank you

  40. Ibtesam, what color would you want your hair?

  41. Hi there, I read above about pre oil hair before henna. Do you mean moments before I do henna I lightly oil my hair then apply the henna mixture?
    Thanks for your reply.

  42. Hello, I have been researching henna due to I am ready to take the henna plunge. I’m a 3c/4a originally dark brown however I have been using perm black dye just for my edges…(Last dye almost 2 months ago)…Its time to dye the grays again. I don’t want to use chemicals and I like natural things for my hair. My hair sucks up anything I put in it. I’m not wanting the red head right off however I’m interested in a mahogany color (like the pretty afro american lady in the pic) and the awesome benefits of henna that I have read about.. My curl pattern is tight and I can use a little bit of loosening but I don’t want to loose my curl/wave pattern totally. Also, can I go redder once I obtain this mahogany color.

  43. I apologize, I am requesting a regime that you think would work for me from henna, shampoo, condish, cowash, oils, etc

    Thank you

  44. Anisha Clayton says:

    I have VERY thick shoulder length kinky black hair. i have been looking into henna and i would love to do it to loosen up my thick kinky hair. i also really would like some fiery red and copper highlights. i was wondering which henna would be best for my 4b/4c type hair, also any suggestions on what natural oils and herbs i could add to really bring out the highlights more

  45. Lorrie, yes we do mean that exactly :) Just oil your hair before your henna application. Some find this really helpful for before their treatments since henna and Ayurvedic herbs can be drying

  46. Hi Lee. You could use our Organic Rajasthani Indian henna powder. This would be perfect. Our Cocoveda line is very rich and moisturizing. You’ll really like it. It’s perfectly balanced for your hair type. You can co-wash the henna and ayurvedic hair treatments out as well with a conditioner of your choice. I hope this helps you get started!

  47. Red Raj would be your best choice Anisha, and you can pre-order our Red Raj today and get 20% off for Black Friday. The best hair oil we have would be our Cocoveda hair oil and lastly our Organic Hibiscus powder would bring out those beautiful red tones even more ! Enjoy!

  48. Im transitioning to natural hair again and I used a ‘black henna’ that I got off of amazon. Then I found your website, and I really want a different color maybe a brown or red tone. Would the color even show up on my hair now that I have used the ‘black henna’?

  49. Jelena Bubonja says:

    Hello :) I have grown 2cm of my natural light brown hair and the rest of my hair is a washed out red hair with yellow and orange on it!! I desperately want to dye my hair with original black powder ”EGLE’s” henna, and i a;ready bought it but i don’t know if i can dye my hair with henna on this industrially dyed hair and will it be black from henna? please help

  50. Jelena Bubonja says:

    And if i can dye my industrially dyed hair black with black henna, what is the best ingredient to use to make my hair be intensive black color?

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