Henna Hair Coloring

Henna is naturally red in color.
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Henna hair coloring comes from the leaves of the Lawsonia inermis, a flowering plant. The color is more concentrated in the leaves, which are ground into a fine powder, mixed with water to form a paste, and then applied to the hair. Henna colors the hair by coating it, much like a semi-permanent hair color product does.

History of Henna Hair Coloring

It is believed that henna hair coloring was first used to color hair by the ancient Egyptians around 1500 B.C. and remained one of the main sources of hair color until the 19th century. Because of its natural appeal, henna is enjoying a resurgence of popularity and is the preferred choice of many people around the world. Henna powder can be purchased in health food stores as well as certain beauty supply outlets.

Benefits of Henna

Besides coloring the hair, henna also has conditioning benefits. It imparts a brilliant shine and a smooth texture to the hair, and is effective in removing tangles. It may also have anti-fungal properties which can help prevent dandruff. Henna is a natural product, free of the side-effects and the allergic reactions sometimes caused by commercial hair dyes, and you can apply it yourself.

Coloring Your Hair With Henna

  1. If it is your first henna hair coloring application, it is wise to do a strand test first to make sure you're not allergic to the product.
  2. Depending on the amount and length of the hair, put a sufficient amount of henna powder in a plastic bowl.
  3. Add some warm water and lemon juice and mix until a paste about the consistency of yogurt forms.
  4. Cover the bowl and let it sit overnight to allow the dye to fully develop.
  5. Wash and dry your hair, then apply the henna paste. Wear gloves to prevent the henna from staining your hands.
  6. After the henna is applied to the whole head, check frequently until the desired shade is reached, leaving it on for up to an hour or two.
  7. When the paste starts to dry out, shampoo it thoroughly from the hair and allow the hair to dry naturally.


  • Remember to wear old clothes and gloves when coloring your hair, as henna will stain anything it comes in contact with, including skin and nails.
  • Henna will react with metal, so don't mix the paste up in a metal bowl or use a metal spoon.
  • Henna is difficult to completely remove once it is on the hair, so be very sure that you are ready to color your hair before you apply it.
  • Henna that contains other dyes may also contain metallic salts, which do not mix with the ammonia and peroxide in commercial hair color. If you plan to have your hair colored in a salon, be sure and tell the cosmetologist about all the previous hair color formulas you have on your hair, even if it's been a few months since your last application. Even though it will fade, henna stays on the hair until it is cut off or chemically removed.

Removing Henna

Although henna is difficult to remove from the hair, there are some home remedies that may give good results, including this one:

  1. Apply 70% alcohol to hair shaft
  2. Leave on for 5-7 minutes
  3. Apply mineral oil on top of alcohol and rub in
  4. Put on a plastic cap and sit under a medium dryer for 30 minutes
  5. Without rinsing, apply a shampoo for oily hair
  6. Let sit for 3 minutes and then work into the hair
  7. Rinse with warm water and repeat if necessary

Natural Henna is Best Choice

Although natural henna is red in color, some hair color products contain other dyes and ingredients in combination with henna powder and produce other shades as well. By combining henna with amla, indigo, walnut, and rhubarb, blonde, brown, mahogany and auburn shades can be achieved. However, these formulations are no longer 100 percent natural henna, and may contain ingredients that are damaging to the hair and cause the color to fade into unwanted tones.

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