What’s your dream hair color? Although the majority of people who henna their hair choose to be red (because it’s hard not to love that deep henna red), many choose to go brunette, black or even a coppery blonde. The flexibility of henna allows you to go any of these colors with the right mixtures of cassia (a type of clear henna), henna, and indigo which is a plant dye that is mixed with henna to produce brunette and black shades. Henna Sooq has a great chart to illustrate this HERE.
For brunettes looking for less red undertones, mixing a bit of amla into their henna will tone down henna’s natural reddish hues. And for those who worry about losing their curls as a result of henna naturally process, adding some amla to the mix will prevent curls from relaxing.
It does not pay to buy lower quality hennas, thus I always order body art quality henna for my hair from companies that specialize in henna. This not only ensures quality henna, it gives me the peace of mind of knowing that any questions I may have will be answered by a professional. Two of my favorite sites to purchase henna are HERE and HERE. These sites provide extensive information on henna and offer exceptional henna which is characterized by its high dye content and fine sift. While I prefer to mix my own colours with henna from Henna Sooq, for those looking for premixed colors, check out Mehandi.
How much to buy?
While amounts may vary depending on individual needs and the thickness of hair, the following provides an estimate for the average person, though keep in mind that if you have exceptionally thick hair, you will need more henna to ensure an even coverage:
- 50 grams will cover hair to the bottom of your ears
- 100 grams will cover shoulder length hair
- 150 grams will cover hair that is mid back in length
Most henna’s require their dye to be released before they can be applied on your head which can take anywhere from one to twelve hours, depending on the henna you use. Please note that heat will speed up the dye release process and fresh henna powder releases faster than older powders. For those wanting to slow down the dye release process, adding an acid to the powder (like lemon juice or amla) is an easy solution.
To begin you will need:
- A glass or a stainless steel bowl
- Hot water (around 80 degrees C )
- A metal spoon
- Plastic wrap
- Lemon juice
- Amla - to keep curls or to cut down red undertones -1 TBS per 100 grams of Henna
- Organic Argan oil, Avocado oil or Olive Oil- can be added for people with extra dry, course hair- 1-2 TBS per 100 grams of Henna
I like to keep my henna mixture very simple, so I simply put the henna powder in a glass bowl and mix in hot water until it has the consistency of watery mashed potatoes. If you are going to add amla or oil to your mixture, it is best to add it during this step, but do not add indigo at this stage!
Once everything is mixed together, cover the henna mixture with saran wrap and leave it sitting making sure to avoid direct sunlight. I usually leave mine on my kitchen counter and check on it every hour or so.
Depending on the type of henna you are using, dye release can take anywhere from an hour to 12 hours!
You can always see that henna has reached its dye release point when it becomes oxidized, or slightly brown on top. To test if the dye is active, I like to take a small bit and dab it on the inside of my wrist then leave it on for a couple of minutes and wash it off. If there is a light orange color left on your skin, your henna has released its dye!
I always take a shower and wash my hair really well before putting on henna. Before applying henna, I only use shampoo, no conditioner! After washing my hair, I put on an old shirt and move everything to the bathroom where the floor is tiled. Henna application can be messy business, and like any dye, you do not want it getting all over everything!
If I am simply touching up my roots, I ask my incredibly patient and ever-loving, best in the whole wide world husband to spread the henna on my roots, starting at the back on my head. When he is finished, I clip the rest of my hair at the top of my head. While I can do this myself, having an extra set of eyes avoids missing any hard to see areas.
If I am doing a full head application, which I do every three to four months, I spread the henna evening throughout my head, similar to when using shampoo. If any of the henna gets on my skin – typically my forehead, neck and ears – I immediately wipe it off with a wet towel before it has a chance to stain my skin.
When I am finished applying the henna, I wrap my head completely with saran wrap and then tie a bag on top of the saran wrap. Depending on the type of henna you have used and how deep you want your red, henna can stay in anywhere from an hour to overnight. I usually keep my henna in for two and a half hours and am able to achieve a rich deep red color.
This is the truly messy part. I find the easiest way to do this is by simply standing under the shower, though at this point you will not want to use shampoo. I like to stay under the shower and let the water rinse off as much henna as possible until the water begins to run clear. To get the remaining henna out of my hair, I apply a good amount of conditioner, let it sit for a minute or so and rinse the remaining henna out of your hair. You will want to rinse until the water coming off you is as clear as possible. To finish it off and give my hair some shine, I like to use a mild apple cider vinegar rinse.
After applying henna, it takes anywhere from 48 to 72 hours for the henna to fully oxidize and settle into your final color. In other words, if your hair looks fiery red, don’t panic, as it will settle into a nice deep rich red or mahogany over the next couple of days. To give the henna time to oxidize and to set, I wait at least 48 hours before I wash my hair, though if my schedule permits, I wait 72 hours.