Henna Hair Dye: Your Guide To Dying Hair with Henna at Home

Woman running her hand through her brown hair

If you are reluctant to damage your hair with chemical dyes but still want to change up your hair or cover up grey strands, then henna hair dye is the way to go.

As far as hair dyes go, there’s nothing quite as natural or gentle as henna.

Chemicals dyes can possibly cause irritations and even damage the hair with excessive use.

But, henna is a great all-natural alternative for those who want to dye their hair without damaging it.

So, if you want colour vibrancy and shine without the damage, then this is the natural product you need.

Henna is made when the leaves of the henna plant are dried and ground into a powder to be used as a dye.

Also known as mehndi, henna has been since ancient times in Asia and Africa to enrich, colour and add shine to hair.

However, natural henna can be difficult to use, not to mention messy.

But if you follow this guide, we’ll show you how to choose, prepare and apply henna properly to ensure that you achieve optimum results.

What is Henna?

Women with henna on their hands and wearing yellow clothes

Henna is a natural substance derived from the plant which is native to the Middle-East and grows in hot climates, however, it can also be found in India, Northern Africa and Northern Australia.

It is often used to adorn the body for decorative purposes and to dye the hair.

It has been used for over 5000 years for hair dying and produces a reddish-brown stain when crushed, which is what gives your hair its colour.

As it is a natural plant, it only makes one colour, which is an orangey, reddish tone.

However, brands often add other natural ingredients to it to create more varieties of colours that can be used to dye the hair.

Why Is It Better for The Hair Than Chemical Dye?

Henna dyes when applied to the hair coat the cuticle and outer part of the hair shaft without penetrating the inner part of the hair.

So, it is a great alternative to synthetic and chemical hair dyes.

The colour will build after every application, giving it a more dense and rich colour after every use without changing the texture of the hair by sealing the shaft.

However, chemical dyes can actually harm the hair by swelling the shaft of the hair to allow the artificial ingredients in the dye to penetrate the hairs cuticle.

This can change its texture to cause impairment.

Unlike chemical dyes which can damage and dry out the hair, henna dye also seals the oils in your hair to leave it conditioned.

This will leave the hair smooth, strengthened and soft to touch.

Conventional chemical dyes contain allergenic preservatives and harsh ingredients that can irritate and cause reactions to the scalp.

What Type of Henna Should You Use to Dye Your Hair?

Green henna powder in a bowl with henna leaves near it

Many boxed henna products are produced by companies by adding synthetic dyes, metallic salts and other additives to it.

This is usually done to enhance or change the colour or the henna, but can also cause the henna to lose its quality.

Instead, for the safest, gentle and highest quality results, look for a 100% natural henna dye.

The best quality of henna you can get will be labelled ‘body art henna’, which has the highest content of natural henna.

This will ensure that you get the richest colour from the dye.

How to Ensure the Henna Works for Your Hair

The very last thing you want is to go ahead and dye your whole hair with henna and be unhappy with the results and not be able to go back to chemical dye until the hair has grown out fully.

Depending on the texture and colour of your hair, henna can work differently for everyone.

This also depends on the quality of the henna and the other ingredients and additives that have been added to it.

So, to make completely sure that the henna works for your hair and that you are happy with the results, always do a strand test first.

To do this, apply a little henna mix to a small strand of hair that will be hidden behind the rest of your hair.

Leave the mixture on for a few hours before washing it off properly.

Then, wait a few days to really let the colour develop to find out what colour you will really obtain.

Once you are happy with the results, you’re good to dye the rest of your hair.

How to Prep Before Applying the Dye

Woman preparing henna hair dye and pouring it into a bowl

You’ll definitely want to take a little time to prepare before you apply the dye.

Making sure that you prep your hair and the henna properly before the application will ensure that you get the best possible results from the dye.

So, keep reading as we show you what to do before applying the dye to your hair.

Start off With Clean Hair

Make sure your hair is nice and clean before applying the henna.

If your hair is slightly on the oily side, this can prevent the henna from staining the hair properly.

The smog, dust and oils that have built up on the hair certainly won’t help with the results of the dye.

This means that you could end up with patchy areas where the dye doesn’t catch well.

So, make sure you wash your hair with shampoo and let it dry fully before proceeding to apply the henna to your hair.

However, try and skip conditioner when you wash your hair as this can cause the hair to become slightly oilier, which can prevent the pigment from penetrating the hair properly.

Prepare the Henna Dye and Let It Set

Make sure you leave plenty of time before applying the henna to let it set, so make sure you plan in advance before deciding to dye your hair with henna.

Decide on the quantity of the henna you need depending on the length and thickness of your hair.

To prepare the henna, add warm water to the henna powder and mix well until you obtain a nice, yoghurt-like consistency.

Make sure you prepare it in a non-metallic bowl.

You also don’t want the mixture to be runny or too dense.

If it’s too runny, it can drain while you have it on, however, if it’s too thick, the mixture can be hard to apply.

Once the henna has been prepped and combined, cover it up with some cling film and leave it to develop at room temperature for around 12 hours.

This will really let the colour and pigment develop to give you a rich shade.

However, once you come back to the mixture after letting it set, it may have become incredibly thick.

But, don’t worry.

Just mix in some water a tablespoon at a time until the mixture becomes a smooth, spreadable consistency.

Protect the Skin Surrounding Your Hair

As henna has natural staining properties, it will adhere to the skin when it comes in contact with it.

So, before applying the dye, you want to ensure that the skin around your hair is protected from staining so you don’t get marks where you don’t want to.

To do this, all you need to do is apply some petroleum jelly around your hairline, forehead and ears.

Don’t forget to apply it to the back of your neck too and this is the main spot where henna stains can occur.

This will create a barrier between the dye and the skin to prevent any leaks or drips from staining your skin.

But, if you don’t have petroleum jelly, then don’t worry.

Coconut oil, balms or lotions will work just and well and do the job.

Protect Your Walls, Floors and Clothes

Applying henna dye is a very messy process, so you need to prepare your workplace.

Henna can get on anything and everything around it.

The last thing you want is for the dye to stain your surfaces and clothes, so it is important to take precautions.

So, make sure you use plenty of newspaper to protect your walls and floors.

As this process is incredibly messy, you can get henna stains in places you don’t expect to.

So make sure your bathroom is fully protected, even the areas you think the stain will not reach.

Once henna stains on surfaces, it can be incredibly hard to get it off.

You don’t want your shiny, clean, white sink to have permanent orange stains on it, so make sure it is fully covered.

You want to keep yourself and your clothes protected from these stains too, so make sure you are dressed appropriately.

Make sure you are wearing old clothes that you don’t mind getting stained or ruined when you apply your dye, as there is a good chance that you will get some stains on it.

The henna stains cannot be removed with when washed.

Don’t forget to have an old cloth or tissues nearby in case of any drips.

If you spot or any, try and clean it as soon as possible to stop the tint from settling into any surfaces or your skin.

How to Apply the Henna

As the henna is a lot thicker than regular dye, it can be harder to apply.

Just follow our simple hacks so can make applying henna dye easy and fuss-free.

Cover Your Hands with Gloves

Don’t forget to wear gloves to cover your hands before you proceed with applying the henna.

This will prevent you from getting orange hands as the henna stains it.

Choose some thick, disposable gloves and simply throw them away once you have finished using them.

Section Your Hair

Sectioning your hair will make the henna dye easier to apply and ensure that you don’t miss any strands or sections.

Start off by combing your hair gently and thoroughly with a wide-toothed comb to get rid of any knots or tangles.

Then, section your hair into little bunches or strand and start working from the front and make your way towards the back of the head.

This will ensure that you get even coverage while making it easier to manage.

Remember to coat the products from the roots to the edges of the hair to make sure you don’t miss any areas.

Once you have evenly applied the dye to each section of hair, twist and wrap the sections into a bun with your fingers to keep it out of the way.

Repeat this to each section of hair until you have covered your whole head.

Work Section by Section

With a tint brush or your hands, distribute the product from the roots to the ends of each strand of hair.

Using a brush will give you more precision and ensure that every bit of the hair is coated properly.

Then, spread the dye evenly, ensuring that each bit of the hair is covered.

Work in small sections and apply the product on both sides, adding more dye when needed.

Cover the Hair with Cling Film

Covering your hair with cling film after dying the hair is the best way to ensure that you get the best colour release.

This will allow you to maintain the perfect humidity rate which this allows the moisture to set the dye slowly.

This will help the colour release easier.

Let it remain this way for one hour to four hours depending on how intense you want the colour to come out.

How Long Should You Leave the Dye on for?

Women with her hair tied in a top bun on top of her head

Henna is not a one-size-fits-all type of dye.

The amount of time you leave the dye in your hair is subjective to each person.

This completely depends on the colour and type of hair before the application of the dye.

However, the longer you allow the dye to set, the richer and deeper the colour will be.

Therefore, it is best to do this before you sleep and leave the dye on overnight.

This will let the dye achieve maximum vibrancy.

But, don’t forget to over your head with a cloth first to prevent the dye from staining your sheets.

To be extra careful, put an old t-shirt over your pillow too so the dye catches on it in case any manages to get into contact with it.

How to Wash the Dye Off

Once the product has had a few hours to set, you are ready to wash it off.

Step into the shower and thoroughly rinse the mixture from your hair.

This can be quite a long and messy process.

However, you can apply conditioner to the hair to help loosen up the henna, as it may have become quite solid once its set.

Keep rinsing the hair until the water runs clear.

Then, apply conditioner to the hair but give shampoo a miss as it may strip off the colour.

Don’t be disheartened if the colour of your hair doesn’t want you expected it to be once it dries.

Because it is a natural dye, the colour can take time to develop.

Henna can take up 48 hours to oxidize, so try and be patient until then to see what the true colour is like.

How Long Does Henna Dye Last?

Henna is a permanent dye, so you don’t generally have to worry about the colour fading over time.

However, this can typically depend on how often you wash your hair and also the hair’s structure.

When you layer the colour over, it builds after every application for a rich, dense, multi-dimensional colour while keeping your hair looking shiny and healthy.

This makes growing roots far subtler than chemical dye.

But, make sure you keep touching up the roots as the hair grows to achieve an even application all over your head.


Henna dye is pretty low maintenance, meaning that there isn’t much you have to do once the colour has been applied.

But, when washing your hair, try to use products that are intended for colour treated hair to maintain your hair colour and ensure it looks as good as possible.

What to Avoid

Do not use henna dye on chemical dyed hair or visa-versa as the results could be disastrous.

This is because henna and synthetic dyes can react with each other.

When you synthetically process the hair after or before using henna, it lifts the natural cuticles to push the henna dye inside.

This can cause an unpredictable and potentially disastrous outcome.

So, the best thing to do is avoid it.


Now that you know how to dye your hair with henna at home. keep reapplying the dye every few months to really build the rich, glossy colour.

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