Natural Hair Color 101: Henna Hair Dye Tips

Natural Hair Color 101: Henna Hair Dye Tips

Henna hair color is a great option for anyone seeking out hair care products containing only natural ingredients. But henna differs from conventional hair color in other ways, too. From information about the application process to color- and condition-enhancing techniques, these henna hair dye tips can help you get the most from this time-tested natural hair color alternative.

What Is Henna Hair Dye?

Pure henna hair dye is made from the ground leaves of the henna plant, or lawsonia inermis. Lawsone is a hennotannic acid that provides the pigment in henna hair color. When used alone, pure henna powder produces an orange-red color. This is the color many people associate with henna, but pure henna can be blended with other herbs to create various shades of brown, black, auburn and red. 

What Is Indigo Powder? 

Indigofera tinctoria, or indigo, is a flowering plant grown around the world for medicinal purposes and to use as a natural dye. The same plant used to dye blue jeans can also cover grays or turn hair a darker color. Applied alone, it can leave hair with a bluish or greenish tint. Indigo powder is usually applied with henna as part of a two-step process to color hair. Replacing the water in your indigo mix with freshly brewed black coffee helps prevent purple tones. Mixing a teaspoon of salt with 100 grams, or 3.5 ounces, of indigo powder helps you achieve a beautiful brown or black hue.

How to Choose the Right Henna for Hair

Choosing henna for hair coloring can be tricky. Henna has grown in popularity as a natural hair dye, and consumers have a lot of options. The wrong ingredients can cause hair damage; avoid metallic salts if you want to leave yourself open to using conventional hair dyes or bleach in the future. This ingredient causes hair to fry when chemical-based dyes encounter henna-dyed hair. To ensure that you’re getting a quality product, look for henna that is:

  • 100% pure
  • PPD-free
  • Paraben-free
  • Free of metallic salts
  • Body art quality, or BAQ
  • Made in small batches for freshness
  • Triple-sifted to remove sand and impurities  
  • Ethically sourced and manufactured

While many henna brands source and produce indigo, henna and other organic or natural hair products ethically and without harsh additives, inferior products do lurk on warehouse and store shelves. Use our pointers as your guide to avoid buying a lower-quality henna product. 

Supplies for Applying Henna Hair Color

Most henna hair color kits contain everything you need to dye your hair. However, you will need a non-metal bowl and utensils, old fabric to protect clothes, furniture and other surfaces, and petroleum jelly or a thick cream or balm to prevent skin staining. A shower cap contains drips and helps color adhere due to the added warmth. Nothing but time can remove henna stains from your skin; oils and other liquids can actually darken stains. Make sure you have lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, tea or coffee on hand if you plan on mixing them into your henna dye. An optional hair-tint brush helps with a more even application. 

Henna Hair Dye Application Tips

The package should include instructions for applying henna hair dye, but there is a bit of a learning curve. Although learning how to apply henna doesn’t take long, it does require some preparation. Since henna doesn’t adhere as well to hair as chemical dyes, allow more time for the color to develop and the dye to permeate the cuticle. Apply henna to clean, dry hair.

Additives to Mix With Henna Hair Dye

The acid in apple cider vinegar or freshly brewed tea and coffee can help henna bind to keratin, a protein that provides structural support to the hair’s cuticle and cortex. Two to three teaspoons of apple cider vinegar are enough to help deepen color and reduce redness in the dye. Black coffee or tea in place of water helps darken the color.

How to Mix Henna Hair Color

Follow package instructions to the letter for best results. Most hennas work best when mixed with warm, distilled water; replace the water with freshly brewed black coffee or tea for a darker shade. Blend these natural ingredients into a yogurt- or batter-like consistency that’s thin enough to slide off a spoon but thick enough to stick to hair.

Two-Step Henna Application Process

While pure henna, pure indigo and certain henna blends call for a single-step process, darker henna hair dyes require two steps. If you choose The Henna Guys’ Dark Brown henna dye, for example, you’ll need to apply pure henna, leave it on and rinse it out before applying Dark Brown color and repeating the process. Pure henna helps ensure more predictable color results and assists in preventing dye from fading. 

How to Care for Hair Dyed With Henna

After-care is important when it comes to maintaining your new color and ensuring the health of your hair. These herbal hair products, available in powder form, can help with a variety of hair and scalp issues while helping your hair look its best:

Accacia: Cleans and cools scalp; aids in strengthening roots; helps reduce dryness and signs of damage

Amla: Enhances color; helps with weak roots, scalp health, pigment loss, manageability and premature graying

Bhrahmi: Boosts shine and color; helps with split ends, growth, dandruff, and scalp health; assists with root thickening

Bhringraj: Conditions; helps with scalp itch, growth, thinning, and restoring natural color

Cassia obovata: Helps improve manageability and scalp health; provides gray coverage; boosts silkiness, moisture, shine and volume

Fenugreek: Moisturizes; helps with hair fall, dandruff, dryness and damage

Herbal neem: Purifies; brightens; conditions; volumizes; strengthens hair; helps with frizz and scalp damage

Hibiscus: Nourishes; helps with growth, volume, gray reduction, weak roots, split ends and breakage

Katha: Conditions; boosts color, shine, volume, thickness and strength

Licorice / mulethi: Deep cleans; balances moisture and oil production; helps with dandruff and hair loss

Lotus: Boosts scalp health; helps thicken, strengthen, volumize and grow hair 

Manjistha: Stimulates roots and growth; boosts shine; helps with early graying 

Orange peel:  Cleanses scalp and helps with dandruff

Reetha: Boosts shine,  strength and silkiness; brightens color; helps with split ends and hair loss

Rose: Hydrates; boosts shine, silkiness and growth; helps with dandruff and other scalp issues

Shikakai: Nourishes; helps with growth, root strength, color maintenance and dandruff

Tulsi: Hydrates; purifies; improves scalp health and helps with dandruff

Turmeric: Helps with hair loss, dandruff and scalp health

Walnut shell: Nourishes; helps with hair strength, growth, shine, dandruff and hair fall

Other herbal hair treatments are available from The Henna Guys to help with all your hair goals. Shampoos and conditioners made from natural ingredients can help maintain your color and improve overall hair health. Look for formulas free of parabens, sulfates, phthalates and other harsh ingredients.  

More Henna Hair Dye Tips

Henna works with your natural hair color, so results may vary. Some henna users need multiple applications before their hair “takes” the henna. Allow extra rinsing time since henna is harder to rinse out than chemical dyes. Beards and short hair require less henna; store any leftovers in a baggie and place in a cool, dry area. Henna can also change the way your hair accepts conventional color. If you later decide to try conventional hair color at the salon again, let your stylist know you’ve been using henna.

We hope these henna hair dye tips help you achieve the perfect hair or beard color. Check out the wide selection of dyes, shampoos, conditioners and other natural hair products from The Henna Guys. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and Tumblr for the latest henna and natural beauty news. Contact us anytime; we’d love to hear from you!

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