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If you’re considering using henna hair dye as an all-natural alternative to traditional hair dye you’d use in a professional salon, there are a few things you should know before getting started. The first time I used it, I hadn’t done my research and regretted it!

I’m sharing these tips so that YOU won’t make the same mistakes I did.

before using henna hair dye highlighted hair

Here’s what I think you should know.

1. Is Henna Good For Your Hair?

Henna hair dye is considered a good conditioner for your hair, and as a result can make it stronger, thicker, and shinier. It may help to restore the natural pH balance of your hair and scalp, too!

applying henna hair dye

2. How Long Does Henna Stay in Your Hair?

Henna is a permanent hair dye. The color is most vibrant for the first 4 to 6 weeks, and in my experience it starts to gradually fade after that, but I’m not sure it ever goes away completely.

Keep in mind that if you want to dye your hair later, it may be difficult to go lighter in color. Henna is very hard to lift out of your hair later! (I found this out after the fact– and was disappointed that I couldn’t get my hair highlighted for nearly a year after dying my hair with henna.)

3. It’s Messy to Apply & Can Stain Your Skin

The first time I used henna, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I highly recommend working the henna through your hair in the bathroom– ideally standing in a dry shower, so you can rinse away any mess when you’re done.

hand holding henna hair die

When mixed together, henna has the texture of mud and it can feel a little awkward to apply. As a result, there’s usually some that drips on the floor, and down your forehead.

henna hair dye mud in hair

Before you apply the henna dye, protect your skin by using a thick balm or cream to create a barrier. I rub it around my forehead, ears, and neck.

applying lush balm on forehead

4. Henna Hair Dye Can Take a Long Time to Set

Depending on the vibrancy you want, henna can take 1 to 6 hours to develop.

henna hair dye shower cap

That’s a long time to have your scalp wrapped in a shower cap. (The shower cap keeps the dye warm, and therefore, more effective, while also preventing drips so you can walk around your house!)

I should note that I can only last 2 hours before my patience gives out, and usually my hair turns out well!

5. Henna Will Not Necessarily Even-Out Your Hair Color

In my experience, if you have roots or highlights when you start the process, you’ll still have roots or highlights when you’re finished. (Henna can cover gray hair, but it’s a slightly extra process.)

red hair color

I happened to have roots and highlights the first time I used henna (you can see before pictures of my highlights and roots at the top of this post), so you can see how the reddish color varies throughout my hair, where I had more blonde highlights. I was hoping for a more even color, so this aspect was a little disappointing for me. Without the noticeable roots, I think this would be pretty!

6. It Can be Difficult to Change Your Hair Color AFTER using Henna

Some brands of henna dye have metallic salts added to it, and as a result, you cannot use chemical hair dyes over them. (The result is a chemical reaction that causes your hair to smoke!) It’s important to let your hair dresser know that you’ve dyed your hair with henna before you get started, so they are prepared.

In my case, I was able to even out my hair color after using henna using a semi-permanent dye. My stylist had to apply it twice, however, because she said my hair was not receptive to absorbing the color after using the henna. (Normally, my hair takes to dye very quickly!)

before after henna hair dye

It should also be noted that my hair did not lift with bleach easily after using henna, so we had to go a shade darker, rather than lighter. I love getting my hair highlighted, so this something I wish I knew before getting started!

Which Brands of Henna Hair Dye Are Best?

There are always new brands entering the market, but I’ve only tried two brands so far. Most recently, I used Morrocco Method when trying to cover gray hair, and it worked really well! I love that it has no metallic salts added, so I didn’t have to worry about my hair smoking later if I got my hair dyed at a salon.

The very first time I dyed my hair with henna, I used Lush brand. According to their website, they add ingredients like lemon juice and coffee grounds to their henna, but I don’t believe they add metallic salts to their products, either.

I hope these tips prove helpful for anyone interested in trying henna, too!

Reader Feedback: Do you color your hair? Have you ever tried using henna hair dye, or would you like to?

Megan Gilmore leaning on her white countertop.

Megan Gilmore

Hi, I’m Megan. A former fast food junkie turned best-selling cookbook author. I create healthy recipes made with simple ingredients to make your life easier.

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  1. Hello everyone I have a question so browns blondes grays whites wanna go red, what about a natural redhead? What happens if I use henna on my already red hair what would happen my hair is more red orange brownish, not light light orange so what would happen I’m really scared of it coming out foolishly red? Any answers would help! I want to make my red hair more vibrant.

    1. I use Lush Rouge Henna over the top of my already red hair pretty often, it just takes out the really orange tones and makes it a lot more rich and vibrant.

  2. I don’t know how old this thread is but… I’m in my thirties, with long dark hair with LOTS of grey. I’ve been using henna for 4 years as I don’t want greys but I’m allergic to PPDs in regular hair colour. When I first began using henna I learned by trial and error, at first I used the Lush henna blocks but the following method give the richest colour and is most user-friendly as it only takes 15 minutes to apply. Use 100% natural, plain henna powder from an Indian grocery store, the stuff for mehandi designs is best. Mix powder in a plastic bowl using a plastic spoon with a squeeze of lemon, hot water and a dollop of almond oil to yoghurt consistency, cover and leave overnight for dye release. Warm in the microwave before applying. Section clean, damp hair and apply using gloves from the back to the front, smearing each layer of hair thoroughly with henna like icing a cake. Pile hair on top of your head, cover with a plastic grocery bag and wrap in a towel turban. Wipe up splashes with a soapy cloth. I sleep with the henna in for the best, dark amber result on my grey hair. Rinse in the shower, then use handfuls of inexpensive hair conditioner (inexpensive because you’ll need a lot) to ‘shampoo’ out the henna residue. Rinse thoroughly.

  3. has really great henna. You just mix with water, leave on for an hour or an hour and a half and rinse out. Then in 24 to 48 hours you shampoo after it has “set”. There are NO metallic salts and NO chemicals at all in it. Also you CAN dye over it if you decide you don’t like it (since there is no chemicals or metals to interfere with a new chemical dye its not a problem) They have a really fantastic forum and they answer any of your questions pretty quickly. I have been using their copper top for 6 months and am really happy with the copper brown I am getting.
    Not all henna is the same!

  4. I’ve used henna for years and considered myself somewhat pro, but I have learned a number of things on this thread! I always heard about the metallics, but never stopped to consider that this could mean HEAVY metals! I am definitely going to switch from my usual Light Mountain to something 100% pure. Whenever I wash out the henna, a concerning amount of hair loss occurs. I’ve always had thick hair, so didn’t worry much..But now at 36, my hair is thinning a bit. Does anyone know about henna and hair loss? Is it from the pulling involved in rubbing henna into the hair and washing out all the lumps and sticks, etc.?

    1. First of all make sure that U r using pure henna.
      Add a cap of castor oil, one egg, one or two tsp coffee
      Depending on Ur hair length. If u r prone to colds add a tsp of
      Ground cloves or two or four drops of Clove oil, contents of an iron capsule
      Strong tea liquor. Mix everything well & soak overnight in an
      Iron container. U can add egg white if u don’t like the smell of the yolk.
      Wash off after two hours for colour or half an hr for conditioning.
      Shampoo after 24 hrs. Before shampooing apply The oil which u normally
      Use with a few drops of mustard oil.Keep the oil on Ur hair for two hrs
      Or over night.If u apply henna like this,The grey hair will turn a bright red & the black
      Hair will remain black.Do try it out !

      1. I wanted to ask about this recipe because it sounds wonderful. I have yet to use henna although i really do want to try it. I can not really deal with all these hair dyes it really does a number to my hair. I have have dyed my hair a few months ago with perm in a box type hair dye…again too dry for me.
        I do not mind red hair in fact been looking forward to starting over again. however the up keep in a salon i feel is wayyy over budget for me especially that i have hair that touches my tail bone.
        I was wondering would you recommend this treatment u described above before after or during the henna. my hair is naturally drk brown/blk ( but ashy) it is now after dying black and on top lots of gray. my hair is very thinned out but I have a lot of hair and due to the length it no longer is as curly as it used to be. more straight top and slight curl to wave at the bottom.
        Again my concern and goal to get an all even economical healthy alternative to hair dye in salon or box. that i can do on my own for a long time.

    2. Do not rub the henna into the hair, add aloe vera powder to your mix, and sift your henna powder before use. Henna itself doesn’t cause hair loss, however, care must be taken during application and washing. To rinse out henna, fill a bucket with warm water and rinse off as much paste as possible, then apply conditioner and gently massage before stepping into the shower.

  5. I used Reshma femme henna. They had many color choices and said its 100% henna. Now that injera henna only comes in a red color I may read the ingredients again. Anyway I used a toffee color on my light brownish blond hair with grays coming in. I couldn’t get the mushy consistency to spread evenly so I got scared and only left it on for about 20 minutes. I was afraid of uneven hair color. So I only left it on for 20 minutes and it did deposit some color. And it was so pretty. This great brown. Not as dark as I wanted but a true toffee color. My hair was very dry frying to wash it out, but after conditioner it was better.
    I didn’t leave it on long enough to cover grays so I want to do it again but think I should go with regular dye.
    I’ve heard the semi permanent will be ok? Any thoughts

  6. I have med to dk brown hair, and a friend gave me a box of noorani chestnut color. would you recommend it and what color would the end result be do you think? what are the risks?

  7. There seems to be a lot of confusion here. Like several people have said, 100% natural henna will not damage your hair, even if you use synthetic colour over top of it. The only way this would happen is if you use the boxed ‘henna’ carried by a lot of natural foods stores – these are mixed with synthetic chemicals and usually metallic salts, and can damage your hair severely while applying or while trying to cover over. If you’re going to use henna, realize that it is a big commitment – while you can bleach it, it is very permanent and will likely take a few visit to a salon to totally remove it. If you still want to try it after thinking that through, do the proper research and use pure henna powder. It’s messy and can be time consuming, but it is so worth it. And I also never leave it overnight – I let the dye release for about 15 minutes, I test it by applying some to my hand for a few minutes, and if it is stained, I rinse it and put it on my hair. I also don’t use lemon juice, just coconut milk and usually an essential oil as henna is pretty strong smelling. I do usually leave it for 4 hours, and it comes out as a beautiful red. Also, keep in mind that it will continue to become a more vibrate red the more you color it, so you may only want to do root touch-ups. Anyway! Try it out, just don’t take shortcuts! 🙂

  8. I have very dark blonde hair, and used to dye it very bright red. I miss the color terribly and want to go back to it. Problem is, my hair started thinning about 7 years ago. It is less than 1/4 as thick as it used to be. I stopped dyeing it to see if that was the problem but there was very little change. It seems to have also dried out some, and what was once full of body and shine is dull and flat. I have gotten some new growth, which is encouraging, but also had to stop using conditioner, as for some reason it wouldn’t rinse out fully regardless of brand I used. I have heard marvelous things about henna and would love to try it, but there are no salons in my area that I can find that use it. I am hesitant to try it, so was hoping for some feedback (especially since everyone here seems to have other hair colors than mine.).
    Given all of this, would you guys still recommend using all natural henna? (I have also had my thyroid checked regarding the hair loss.)

    1. My hair was in a pretty sorry state,to much bleaching etc.was flat and dry too,henna was like a miracle my hair seems thicker and if so shiny.Definatly give it a go,i wish i had done it years ago!

    2. There is a henna for Blondes! Although, henna is fabulous to go red!
      I have been using Henna for almost ten years now. I have always done my henna treatment myself and I do make a day of it because of the length of time. So pick a day do your hair and nails etc.
      The henna is easy but messy. I have more hair, it is stronger and healthier looking. However, I will admit I do not use a hair dryer or other heat products on my hair. Fourteen years ago I decided to lighten my hair at a salon. The process took forever claiming my hair was just to healthy. By the time I gave up on the processing my hair color change was insignificant but my scalp stung for months and my hair felt like straw. Hair should be silky soft this was horrible and that is how I got to henna and have never gone back to the salon for coloring.
      Good Luck