How to dye your hair with henna

How to mix henna for your hair

It is necessary to mix henna with a mildly acidic liquid for two reasons. The cellulose in the henna powder must be dissolved to make the lawsone available (more in the article About henna – what you should to know). This is known as dye release, and lemon juice does this effectively. The hydrogen atoms on the corners of the lawsone molecule must be kept intact until the lawsone binds with the keratin in your hair. That will make the henna stain dark and permanent. If the hydrogen atoms do not stay attached to the lawsone molecules until the henna is in your hair, the stain will more orange and will fade.


Mix henna with enough lemon juice to make a paste as thick as mashed potatoes. Bottled lemon juice will work just as well as squeezing all those lemons. If your skin is sensitive to lemon and is itchy after using henna, use orange juice, grapefruit juice, or some liquid less acidic than lemon juice. Vinegar and wine work, but they’re very stinky! Don’t use yoghurt; the protein will interfere with the dye release and uptake. Mildly acidic herbal teas with some lemon do just fine. If your liquid is as sour as lemonade, it’s sour enough.
Do not mix your henna with coffee. It won’t change the color, and it will smell bad and give you a headache. A little clove powder may intensify the color, but may also irritate your skin.
Don’t mix your henna with boiling water. The stain from henna mixed with boiling water will fade to a lame brassy orange. The stain from henna mixed with lemon juice will gradually darken into a rich, natural deep red color. If you feel that lemon juice is harsh on your skin, mix half lemon juice and half distilled water. You can use other clear fruit juices or acidic teas, but do not use tap water. As long as your mix is about as sour as lemonade, it will do a good job.
Cover your henna with plastic wrap and let your henna paste rest overnight at room temperature, 70 F or 21 C. As your henna rests, it will release dye. The dye must be released from the plant leaf so it can migrate into your hair. This slow, acidic release will get you the best results. If you’re in a hurry, put it in a warm place, but NOT a hot place! Your henna will be ready in two hours at 95F or 35C. When you are ready to use your henna paste, stir in a little more lemon juice or a fragrant tea to make the paste about at thick as yoghurt.

How do you apply henna to your hair?

You can safely apply body art quality henna dyed, bleached, and chemically treated hair. You can apply synthetic dyes, bleaches and treatments over body art quality henna.


  • Don’t be stingy with the mix. Thicker, longer applications mean richer color.
  • If you like, you can do the roots only a few times between full hair applications.
  • Wear gloves because this will stain your hands. If you don’t wear gloves, you’re going to have stained hands for a month.
  • You can most easily rinse your hair if you run a bathtub full of water, then lie down in the water and swish your hair around. Then, rinse the rest out in the shower.
  • This works on beards and moustaches, too!

How much should you use?

  • 100g will dye short hair.
  • 200g will dye collar length straight hair.
  • 300g will dye shoulder length straight hair.
  • 500g will dye waist length hair.

Wash your hair and dry it before you put in the henna mix. Comb your hair so you can section it easily.

Apply the mix thick into the sections, like putting frosting on a cake. Make sure all your hair is thickly coated with the mix, clear down to the scalp. This technique is very different from chemical dye application.
Don’t be afraid to get messy. Don’t be afraid to use plenty of henna. This process is relaxing, cooling, and
there is medical test evidence that henna can soothe headaches. Henna can feel heavy on the head; during the application, its fun to pause and massage it into the scalp, and when done, take a nap. When women had their hair hennaed in North Africa and the Middle East, it was a day long process including entertainment, food, gossip with friends, several baths, and a full body massage.
When all of your hair is full of mix, wrap plastic wrap around your head, clean off your hairline and ears,
and rest for 2 – 4 hours. If your hair is very resistant to dye, or if you are trying to completely cover gray, you can keep it on longer, even overnight. Find a comfortable spot and take a nap. Put a towel over the pillow.
Then, wash the henna mix out of your hair. If you have very long hair, and have a hard time getting all the
henna out, lie down in a bathtub full of water and soak for a while. Then it will rinse out easily. You can shampoo the last of the henna out. You don’t need to use any particular shampoo. Some people love the smell of hennaed hair. Some people hate it. If you hate the smell, mix a tablespoonful of powdered ginger into your henna. Ginger eliminates the henna scent.

After dying with henna

At first, henna may seem coppery bright. Don’t panic. This will darken during the next several days if you used an acidic mix.
Body art quality henna dyes hands and feet easily, but not your ears and nape of neck. If you wiped off the henna quickly, you won’t see anything at all. If you didn’t clean up, the stain will fade in three days.
Your hair will take 3 days to settle into the true color. This is an oxidation process like a cut apple turning brown when left out in the air. Be patient and do not panic.
You can henna your hair as often as you like. Henna is good for you and your hair.

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