Henna: A natural alternative to hair dye

Color your hair with Henna

Julia/January 13, 2018/ Leave a comment Edit"Colour your life with Henna"


One of the oddest discoveries that I found for a permanent hair dye, particularly for my grey hair, is definitely the Henna Plant. Before talking to you about my irrefutable experience, I will start with few words about henna as a documented medicinal plant.


Henna (Lawsonia inermis, mehndi in Hindi & Urdu, Arabic ḥinnāit) is a plant that has been used in practice for over 5000 years in Pakistan, India, Africa, and the Middle East. In ancient Egyptian times, mummies wore henna design and it is documented that Cleopatra herself used henna for decorative purposes.


Henna is used for many reasons including self-expression, in special rituals and occasions like weddings, inspiration, reminders, beauty cosmetic treatments, medicinal uses, blessings, and well-being. Today people all over the world have adopted the ancient traditions of adorning their bodies with the beautiful natural artwork created from the henna plant. As well, this fascinating plant is used in cosmetics for dying hair, body, fingernails, as well as fabrics including silk, wool, and leather.

I was searching for years, a completely natural approach for dying my hair. Many times, I had encountered the statement of absolutely no chance of having a natural option for dying your grey hair/white hair. Although, I couldn’t believe that in this entire world, with such a diverse species of plants, that there didn't exist a remedy in this matter. I couldn’t believe that what Mother Nature takes will not be given back in another way. As we know, “Conventional hair coloring products contain allergenic preservatives, para-phenylenediamine (PPD) and parabens, which are irritating and can cause severe health issues. Some may even contain lead and heavy metals.” According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

I kept looking, until one day I found an article about Henna and how to dye your hair with a natural plant. My research became more intense since nothing was mentioned about grey hair. As such, I blogged into Henna groups for learning more about other experiences. I need to say that I come upon quite extreme opinions. Some people mentioned being disappointed about dying their hair with henna, others complained about putting too much effort into this. Just a few of them experienced positive results.

So, I just called on my intuition and I had to give it a try. A quite challenging decision, since henna could dye your hair into a crazy red, which was not my plan. The Henna plant contains lawsone ( hennotannic acid ) which is a reddish-orange dye that binds to the keratin (a protein forming the main structural constituent of hair) and safely stains the hair. The stain can be from pale orange to nearly black depending on the quality of the henna. For this reason, Henna needs to be combined with other plants in order to reach the desired color.

How is Henna Working?

It's very important to use henna that is of superior quality and a sufficient amount for a maximum result. You can prepare the Henna paste combined with few other plants like indigo, amla, and cassia or buy it as a premixed blend.

Henna is red, cassia is yellow, and indigo is blue. Red, yellow, and blue are the three primary colors, tint from which all other colors are created. There is no such plant as “blonde henna”, “brown henna” or “black henna”. The plant, Henna, Lawsonia inermis, has only one dye molecule, and that molecule like I already mentioned it is red-orange.





Interested in trying out Henna dye? For first-time users, I would love to set up a call where I can walk you through the process and help you pick the right combination, whether it be indigo, cassia or alma for your hair color. After our chat, I will send over the portioned ingredients and you will get to mix it yourself at home!




For example:

Henna Recipe for Hair: for copper red to reddish brown colours

50g henna powder (50g for short hair – up to 300g for waist length hair)

Enough hot water to make a paste (the consistency of creamy yogurt) 1 tsp lemon juice or apple cider vinegar (more for brighter strawberry blonde)

1 tbsp of ground cinnamon or ground ginger (optional - for scent) 1 tsp oil (olive, coconut, or almond)


Indigo Recipe for Hair: to give black hair additional depth and sheen

indigo paste must be used within 15 minutes of mixing - plan your strategy! 100g indigo leaf powder (100g for short hair, 300g for shoulder length hair, up to 500g for waist length hair) Enough warm water to make a paste (the consistency of creamy yogurt)


Combining Henna and Indigo: for auburn to black colour

You can make separate pastes and combine them or you can do two separate hair treat- ments. For brown, auburn, or chestnut shades combine indigo paste with henna paste. Equal parts will give a mid-browns, more indigo will yield darker browns, less indigo will give so er reddish browns. Experiment to nd the colour you want. For rich black shades apply indigo paste over henna dyed hair.




Cassia Recipe for Hair: golden wheat colours on pale or grey hair

100g Cassia powder (100g for short hair, 300g for shoulder length hair, up to 500g for waist length hair)

Enough warm water to make a paste (the consistency of creamy yogurt)

My first experience with Henna was using an indigo mixture with henna to achieve a brown/ chestnut hair color. The composition of the paste is a small part henna (Lawsonia inermis) and part indigo (indigofereae). In other words, there are no additives, just pure plants.





The result was better than I expected, a very natural brown with slight chocolate tint reflections with complete coverage of my grey hair. I am always diluting the henna paste with boiled brewing black coffee + one spoon of apple vinegar, for a profound brown color and more nutrients for my hair.





However, you can add other liquids as you desire. Boiled red wine/red teas (hibiscus flower, rooibos) to highlight reds and their luminosity, chamomile tea to emphasize golden highlights, coffee/black tea for intensifying reddish browns or gray coverage, water, etc. Some people mentioned having a dry scalp after using the henna plant, which was never in my case. So you could add as well in very small amount, one of the following ingredients: yogurt, 1 egg, or 2-4 tbsp. olive oil, for conditioning and helping with the application and rinsing process.

At my first Henna application, I decide to let the paste sit in my hair for more than 4 hours (this was not mentioned in the product instruction), to ensure full coverage of my grey hair. I still remember the first time when I applied it. It was a beautiful summer day, a perfect day to sit in the garden and color my hair with Henna. I strongly believe that the natural heat from the sun improved the color. Actually, it is mentioned in many articles that for a better result you should have a source of heating close to the hair during the process. However, normally I am letting the paste sit for no more than 2 hours, as mentioned in the product instructions. But for the first time, while applying Henna, I prolonged the time.


The coating produced by the henna is naturally removed after 4-6 weeks with a natural shampoo, a cycle of 2x-3x a week.

Is it Henna safe to use after using a Chemical Color/Tint?

You shouldn’t use any permanent dye on top of the henna or shortly after using Henna. Before having my hair dyed for the first time with Henna I was waiting for around three mounts to completely clean my hair from the residues left by the conventional color products. When Henna is used over bleached hair, color results may vary including tint of orange or crazy red. A good reason to understand why people dislike Henna

Is it Henna for blonde hair?

While reading about Henna I learned that Henna is not designed for this type of color. By nature, henna will dye red/orange. Even combined with other plants, it will not be possible to have a lighter shade than red. So-called Neutral Henna/Henna for Blonde hair could be used to revitalize the hair, but in most cases, it will give a darker nuance. Neutral Henna contains a cassia abovata plant that has a low yellow dye molecule, that can color light grey and dark blonde.

Before using Henna for dying your hair you must be sure that:

  • You inform yourself, what type of premix- bland Henna match for you, how to use Henna for dying, etc. They are plenty of tutorials, articles, and books about this fabulous plant. Link

  • No chemical hair colorings should be used for the past 2 months. This could interact with the Henna's coloring performance.

  • Henna may be applied on wet or dry hair, but the hair must be clean and free of any hair sprays, gels, or conditioners. I am washing my hair on the same day with my homemade shampoo bar, for simple cleaning of the hair.

  • Allocate a few good hours of your time for dying your hair. Especially in the beginning, when in my opinion, you need a minimum of 4 hours for a proper dying process, especially for grey hair.

  • Have a shower cap/ plastic foil and old towels to cover the hair while the paste is processing. Moreover, the plastic wrap keeps the dye warm, and therefore, more effective.

  • Cover the area because it can get messy. Wear plastic/rubber gloves to avoid staining your hands.

  • Never use metal or plastic bowls/utensils. Preferably a glass or stainless steel bowl.

  • Always apply the paste from the roots to the end. Especially in the case of grey hair. Usually, I don’t add the product to the ends of the hair. Each month I am applying henna strictly to the roots to cover the problem and just a few times per year I am applying henna to all my hair.

  • Use just conditioner in the end while rising the Henna paste. Shampoo can affect the color. Rains with a lot of water or/and infusion plants.

  • For best results use a source of heating, dryer, heat lamp, sun, etc.

  • After dying your hair, wait few good days until the next hair cleaning. As a natural plant, henna needs more time to fix the color into the keratin.

  • Using non-toxic products for cleaning and treating your hair. get your hair accustomed to a holistic approach.

  • Don’t confuse henna with henna root (Alkanna tinctoria), also referred to as alkanna root.


Application of the Henna Paste

Divide the hair.

Once the henna mixture has a safe temperature (warm to hot), apply it to the scalp starting with a brush, applicator bottle, or by hand, from the hair root to the tips.



Continue until all the hair is covered with a thick layer of henna mixture.

Cover the hair with a shower cap/plastic bag/or plastic wrap to keep the henna mixture from getting everywhere and increase the heat for processing. Forward wrap a towel turban around your head.

Tips for greyhair (Amla/Amalaky plant).

In the Ayurvedic book that I just read, they mentioned the Amla plant, used for reducing hair greying. According to Ayurveda science premature greying usually occurs due to excess “pitta” (energetic force, consists of the elements fire and water and gives the body heat and food). Amla/Amalaki plant, English called Indian gooseberry, Latin called Emblica Officinalis, biologic called Phyllanthus Emblica, is a superfood for the hair. In traditional Indian medicine in particular in Ayurvedic medicine, Amla refers to the best anti-aging herb. It is used for centuries by Indian women as a natural conditioner, minimizes hair loss and greying, and encourages healthy hair growth. Alma also helps to renew pigmentation in hair and makes it darker. It can be used as an effective ingredient in natural hair dyes. Its properties are mentioned to be a rich source of vitamin C, an antioxidant great to neutralize free radicals. One of the causes of losing and greying hair. It adds texture, volume, wave, curl and shine to your hair. It also promotes hair growth, thicker, stronger hair strands. Tones down red with henna. Amla has a natural astringent making it good for facial cleansing.

My dears, I am optimistic that all this wisdoms aroused your curiosity. Furthermore, I am waiting for your thoughts and tricks.

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