Henna Hair Dye for Covering Gray Hair

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This post is sponsored by Morrocco Method

When it comes to natural hair color, henna hair dye is probably the safest form of hair dye you can use. It even has some healthy benefits for your hair!

henna hair dye shower cap

After posting 6 Things You Should Know Before Using Henna Hair Dye, a common question I receive is how henna hair dye works for covering gray hairs. Considering the fact that I work full-time and have two kids… I’ve definitely earned a few gray hairs. So, I figured I would try it out myself and report back.

Before you dive into using henna dye on your hair, it’s important to know that not all brands are created equal. Soon after I tried using henna hair dye for the first time, I had a hair stylist tell me that I could NOT use permanent dyes on my hair until the henna grew out, because some henna brands use chemical additives that can actually “burn” your hair when you use chemical dyes over them.

Luckily, that’s not the case with Morrocco Method’s henna hair dyes, because their hair colors are made with 100% pure plant dye. There are no chemicals, metallic salts, or PPD added. They still recommend waiting 6-8 weeks after dying your hair before using henna hair dye, to allow your hair to detox from the chemical dyes.

You might also want to wait 6-8 weeks AFTER dying your hair with henna before attempting to use chemical dyes again, because the results could be unpredictable. Plant dyes don’t lift easily out of your hair and the chemical color will fade faster because henna makes your hair less porous and absorbent.

Think of henna as a permanent hair dye, just so you know what kind of commitment you are making.

How to Cover Gray Hair with Henna Hair Dye

After talking with the folks at Morrocco Method about my previously bad experience using henna hair dye, they were super-helpful in teaching me how to properly cover up gray hairs (and even highlights) using 100% natural henna hair dye. If you’ll recall, last time I dyed my hair with a different brand, my blonde highlights turned bright orange, so my hair didn’t look very even in color. (I was hoping for a more even brown color at the time.)

This time, I did it the right way, and I’m super pleased with the results.

Before trying this hair dye, I had highlights added to my hair for a wedding (I was a bridesmaid, so lots of photos!), and the stylist stripped out a little TOO much color from my hair, if you ask me.

So, this hair dye test was perfect timing, because I wanted to see how much the henna could even-out my hair color and cover up the strands that had very little color to them. (I have a few real gray hairs around my scalp area, too.)

Covering up gray hair with henna dye is a two step process.

  1. First, you give the gray hair some color by using a red henna dye.
  2. Then you can use any other color you like over that red to achieve your final desired hair color.

Keep in mind that when using henna hair dye, you can only go darker in color. Like many boxed dyes, henna won’t lighten your hair. Morrocco Method does offer a blonde henna hair dye for people who already have blonde hair and want to use henna for shinier, healthier hair without going darker, but it won’t lighten your hair if it’s already dark.

red henna hair dye

IMPORTANT: When using a 100% natural henna hair dye, the preparation process can take up to 12 hours before the dye is ready to use. I recommend mixing the dye the night before you plan on using it, so that you can dye your hair first thing in the morning.

You can leave the dye on your hair anywhere from 1 to 4 hours, so it’s a good idea to do this on a weekend, when your schedule is flexible.

henna hair dye kit supplies

Here’s what you’ll need to prepare a batch henna hair dye:

  • Glass or wooden bowl (avoid using metal)
  • Wooden spoon
  • 1 packet of 100% natural henna hair dye
  • 2 cups brewed black tea, cooled
  • 1-3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1-3 teaspoons ground cinnamon (for a pleasant smell)
  • Oil, for protecting your scalp
  • Shower cap
  • Gloves, to protect your hands
  • A towel to protect your shoulders and neck
  • Hair clips, for sectioning your hair


  1. Pour the packet of henna powder into a large bowl and add in the apple cider vinegar and cinnamon. The more vinegar you add, the deeper the end results will be.
  2. Slowly add the black tea to the red henna and stir until it’s the consistency of yogurt. The mixture should not drip from the spoon, but should be easily spreadable. (You might not need to use all 2 cups of tea.)
  3. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap (I used a shower cap), pressing on the plastic to remove any excess air, and let it sit for 8-12 hours. If you used all 3 tablespoons of vinegar, it’s a good idea to let it sit for the full 12 hours. You’ll know the dye is ready to use when it turns to a darker brown-red color from its original green color.
  4. To apply the dye, section your hair with 3-4 hair clips and cover your shoulders with a towel. Apply oil to your hairline and ears to protect them from staining, then use gloved hands to apply the henna to dry hair.
  5. Wrap the dyed hair in a shower cap to keep the henna moist and warm, then leave the mixture in your hair for 1-4 hours. Do not leave it in overnight.
  6. Unwrap your hair and rinse with water. Do not shampoo your hair until 24 hours after the henna process for best results. The full color will appear after 72 hours, and the color will last 8-12 weeks.

henna hair dye mud in hair

You’ll want to repeat this process again 72 hours later, to allow the red color to fully develop, so that you can cover the red with your desired color, such as brown or black.

I recommend choosing one shade lighter than you think you want, so that in case you don’t like the resulting color, you’ll still have the option of going darker. (Remember, it’s hard to lighten your hair after using henna!)

I used the Medium Brown color (which is a mix of henna and indigo) after applying the red henna color, and I’m really impressed by how well the brown color neutralized the red hue. If you’re looking for a good non-red henna hair dye, I think this color worked well!

medium brown henna hair dye

And here’s a look at the full “before and after” transformation, from the lighter, highlighted hair to the medium brown shade:

Tips for Using Henna Hair Dye:

  • Be sure to follow the directions above, remembering to have gloves and a towel ready to protect your skin before the dying process. (Ask me how I know.) This process gets messy fast, so you might even want to dye your hair in a dry shower so you can simply rinse it down after you’re done.
  • Don’t add too much liquid to the hair dye. The first time I dyed my hair, the red henna stuck to my hair well under the shower cap, but the second time I added too much liquid and the dye was dripping down my forehead through the shower cap for over an hour. I would have let the dye sit on my head longer, but I couldn’t take the dripping any longer! So, add less liquid than you think you should, just to be on the safe side.
  • When I used the red henna hair dye, I didn’t realize that the dye was supposed to sit covered for 8-12 hours, so I ended up using it after only 4 hours of rest, and I think the color still turned out well. I’m not sure how different it would have looked had I let it sit longer, but I was happy with the result regardless! (And in the photos above, I only let the red color sit on my hair for 1 hour before rinsing.)

I hope sharing this process will help you naturally cover up any gray hairs, if that’s your goal, or to have fun trying a new hair color without using chemical dyes.

Morrocco Method Coupon Code

If you’d like to try the same henna hair dye I used in this post, you can use this coupon code AnyHenna15 for 15% off your  Henna Hair Dye purchase at MorroccoMethod.com. (Coupon valid through 12/8/17)

Reader Feedback: Have you ever dyed your hair with henna before, or would you try it now? 

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Morrocco Method, but as always, I will only work with companies that I would have used in my own home, anyway. 

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I use henna on my hair, too. I use a different brand, and I use Red henna-only color.
The method I use is a lot faster – I use very warn (not hot) water when I mix the henna, and let that sit for just 1 hour, covered. Then I apply it to my hair and leave it for 45 minutes and cover it with a shower cap. It works really well and doesn’t take as long.


I have dark blonde hair and tried henna once. I actually loved the red-gold color it gave me, but it did NOT fade. When I was ready to go back to my normal color, I had to simply wait and grow it all out (which took a couple years!). Just a word of warning for those with lighter hair!

Guille Brown

I have a lot of gray hair and my original color is black will the red be significantly noticeable? I would just like to dye it black.
Thank you for any suggestions.


    Megan Gilmore

    They have a black hair dye if you want to try that: http://shop.morroccomethod.com/Henna-Hair-Dye-Black?sc=43&category=6455

    I was really impressed with how non-red the medium brown color that I used turned out! I think next time I might try skipping the red step, just to see if I can cover grays without doing the two-step process. (But I can’t vouch for that method yet, since I did do the red first in the photos above.)


      Hi Megan,
      Did you try skipping the red and just go straight to the medium brown? And if you did, did it cover the grey hair? I have about 50% grey and my natural color is brown and I would love to try the medium brown as it turned out really pretty on you 😊

        Julia s.

        Indigo (the main component of black herbal dyes) is blue. Skipping the red henna and putting black straight on grey hair will turn out blue/green/purple and very splotchy. Unfortunately there is no way to combine both steps and dye your hair black because henna releases dye when acidic (hence the vinegar) while indigo works better at higher pH. So mixing them weakens both colors and results at best in a medium brown. Which is fine if you want medium brown, and white streaks to turn into slightly warm/golden highlights. I did that for a while but now my hair is going white and using only brown dye turns my hair dishwater blonde. So it really depends on how much white hair you have.


i have been using henna for 10 years now. I will never never go back. I would suggest trying the shampoo from henna hut. I have been using the aloe shampoo and green conditioner for about 8 years. It is awesome!!

    Iwu Sunny Blaise

    It depends on hair color, can one with black color use your recommendations?


I’ve been covering my gray roots for over two years with henna and indigo. First applying the henna. I leave it in for 6 hours then mix a little henna with the indigo and leave it on for 30 minutes. My hair is more an auburn color after using the henna for over two years but I actually like the color and get many compliments on the color. I once tried mixing both the henna and indigo in a one step process and leaving it in only 30 minutes but my gray turned blue from the indigo so you can’t bypass the henna step first. I guess thats just how hair absorbs the color.


    HI Jane, can I ask how much henna you add to the indigo?I can’t find a lot of info on how to get brown hair with the 2 step process:)


It turned out really nice. I would love to know where you got the beautiful sweater you have on, too!


Thank you for your experience and the steps! I LOVE Morocco Method! I use their henna hair dye and it took me a while to find the right combination for my very gray but previously naturally black hair. I did not want to go back to black as it can be harsh on skin tones as you age. I’ll note it here since I’m sure many readers may want to experiment with their own hair.

So my perfect combination is the following:
1. I soak the henna with amla overnight until dye release. Soak enough to have one third of the mixture leftover after applying to hair.
2. I put half to two thirds of the henna on my hair the next morning evenly covering all the hair and let it sit between 4-6 hours while I work or talk on the phone.
3. After I shampoo out the henna (I use a clarifying shampoo for this step), I soak an equal amount of indigo as the henna I have left into warm water and mix the two then apply to my hair. I leave this on for about 1-2 hours and then wash out but do not use shampoo this time, only conditioner. This got me the perfect shade of a deep brown that I absolutely adore and many have commented on!


    Dear NIV, do you use equal amounts of henna and amla?


    I did it all in one step. Amla is not necessary. Mix your ratio of henna to indigo based on how dark you want the brown add more indigo. Add salt and any herbs for enhanced color. Covered all grey, one step. 50-50 gives you a medium brown color. For dark brown add more indigo.


I have greys to cover too! I’ll definitely use this once my color grows out a bit.i have memories of my mom using henna dyes 30 years ago! Does this henna smell bad? I know you put cinnamon in for a better smell, but I’m still wondering if the smell is tolerable!

    Megan Gilmore

    The smell isn’t great, but it’s not too bad. (I think it looks worse than it smells.) The last henna I used I recall smelling MUCH worse, almost overwhelmingly so!! My husband actually said he liked the smell of my hair after I rinsed the dye out.


    I’m tempted to do Henna especially after your post but how does it hold up after several applications? Do you still do it? Is it still the same color since henna can be tricky ?


I’m so excited for this post! Ihave been putting off coloring my hair, because I’m too lazy to do research on a safer color system and how to color my hair without making a big ole mess. Thank you so much for the pictures and directions! Have a good weekend!


I have sandy blonde hair and I am looking for something to cover my gray in the front. What will work for me? Thanks


I used Lush Caca for years before trying a regular chemical hair-dye once and I regret that. My hair and scalp has not been the same.
Now I use Surya Brasil henna hair color cream but they have changed their formula. Supposedly better according to EWG.
I recently learned of Hairprint and am curious though there are a lot of steps involved.
Always interested in tried and true products, will certainly check out Henna Lab and Morocco Method.


I am a brunette and feel like a traitor to all our friends in the “brunette club” saying this but … have you considered going blonde? Your gray hair gave the illusion of blonde and actually looked the best on you.

Thanks for all the great step-by-step pics and tips!


Not a comment just a question? with the process are you supposed to use the red henna twice before using the next henna color?

rhodes john

I was truly awed with how non-red the medium darker shading that I utilized turned out! I think next time I may have a go at skirting the red advance, just to check whether I can cover grays without doing the two-advance process.


Hi Megan,
Thanks for this awesome tutorial. When I was younger I used henna but it’s been so long ago that I needed a refresher course. Similar to another reader, I have the same question… Do you use straight red TWICE, then go for your color blend of choice? Or use red henna once then blend second? Thanks so much!

    Megan Gilmore

    I used the red hair color once, then I used the brown mix the second time a few days later.


Thanks, for your clear explanation. It’s a shame though you didn’t share a photo with the red Henna; just to see how red the red would be. And you don’t have grey hairs yourself then? So the outcome on real grey hair would be different I guess.

Kind regards,


    Megan Gilmore

    I did share a photo with just the red– it’s next to one with the brown hair, as a comparison for how much the brown one neutralizes the red. (It’s above the “before and after” photo.)


      Oh, ah, yes, … it’s not that red/orange as usual. Yeah, that looks great!


Your hair turned out fantastically. Thank you so much for sharing the article and pictures. I have used henna in the past (also MM) but my greys are getting more stubborn and planned on doing the 2 step method as you did but it scared me. I don’t want henna red hair and kept putting it off hating the greys that seem to multiply each time I look in the mirror. You have eased my mind sharing your experience. Thank you.

Danielle Miller

Thanks soo much for this article! I have a few wirey grey hairs that haven’t wanted to cover with my last two uses of henna! Going to try this!! So just so I understand right, do I let the red color sit on my head for 1 hour and wait the 72 hours before coloring with brown or do I let the red sit 1-4 hours and then wait 72 hours before using brown? Is the 72 hours necessary in between ? When coloring with my last brand it said I could color as many times and it would be ok? Is the 72 hours just for the red to fully develope and cover the greys? Thanks so much x

    Megan Gilmore

    I believe they recommend waiting because it does take up to 3 days for the color to fully develop. I’m not sure what would happen if you just skipped ahead, but I’d probably try it next time because I’m impatient! LOL

Brandon Eid

does it smell like grass? how long if??


Wow can we please talk about how gorgeous you style your hair! Do you have natural curls or do you curl your hair? How do you get it to stay awesome during a long and windy day? Please share your secret, I love your hair!


Am gonna try the Moroccan Method henna and shampoos because of your write up. Thank you for sharing the product review.

Liz K

Hey, would you suggest using the red henna all over or only on greys?


I’ve tried a few times to dye my hair with henna. My hair’s black, so I did the red dye first, then indigo second. Followed instructions to the tee to make sure the henna was activated. As much as I really wanted this method to work, it didn’t provide the coverage I wanted or last as long.
After dying my hair with the indigo, it would fade within a week.

Is there something special you have to do to get this to work on very dark hair?

Evangeline Elmendorf Greene

How long after I apply the red henna do I have to wait to apply another color (to color completely gray hair)?


As this post reveals the comments are years old do not know if I will get a reply but am feeling hopeful!.
I went to the Morocco Method website and am wondering if I should buy two packets of brown, two red and wondering about the amla powder ( if you have tried it) to get the results I am looking for, to have enough products in one order to tide me over for a month or more.
Lastly, how often do you repeat the process or did you find it too much trouble to keep up months, or now, years later?


For the two-step process in covering gray hair, I was wondering if in the first process instead of using pure henna, to mix maybe henna with cassia to lessen the dark red in the first step? And then the second step would be indigo and Henna? Do you need to just use henna by itself for the first step? Or can the first step be effective by using a mix like I stated?


Thank you for this post! I have a few questions and am wondering if anyone can help?

1) If I’m using henna for the first time and have grey roots, should I use the henna all over my whole head this first time (and not just the roots) so that the henna color will be uniform throughout my hair?

2) Do you have to wait 72 hours between the red and brown applications? I saw another video where the stylist did the red color, let that process for an hour, and then applied the henna with indigo/brown.

3) I like the look of some depth and dimension in hair color, rather than having hair that looks like one “block of color,” which is totally unnatural. Is there a way to achieve this? For example, maybe there’s a way for my greys to keep a lighter color as opposed to the rest of my non-grey hair?


I have white and black but more white and I want a little bit of black Hannah is when I want to go which color should I use the medium brown dark brown


Hi- I was wondering if you are still using henna or if there is a semi-permanent brand of hair dye you recommend? I have been using henna but it’s so unpredictable. I really want to use a semi permanent hair dye and get highlights but am afraid of the chemicals and hair loss.


I have for years dyed my hair with henna,I started using red teas with it, like it much better than black tea! Good article!

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