Should You Henna Your Hair? Hell Yeah! Use These 7 Tips
Henna makes our hair softer, happier, and vibrant with plant-based red hues. Chemical dye does this with chemical magic, but the long term effects of using chemical dye on our hair and skin are unknown. Henna has been used on hair for many many lifetimes. And we do not know the impact of chemical dye on our water supply when it is produced and washed down the drain. Henna comes from a plant. Many say that henna should not be used on hair that is already chemically dyed, but maybe you still can successfully.
Using henna to color my hair is more of a labor of love, and it’s worth it.
Here’s what I’ve learned from years of hennaing my hair in India and the US:
#1 Buy quality henna from reliable suppliers
There’s definitely a lot of chemical henna out there. You can also buy 2 year old henna that won’t color your hair as well, and that’s just a waste of your time. The good stuff contains nothing but the pure plant lawsonia inermis and is less than 2 years old. Go with a supplier who wants long term customers. I always get good quality henna and indigo from mehandi.com
#2 Schedule time to henna. Stay home for 4 hours if you can and enjoy it!
A spa day at home is not just a luxury – it also enhances your ability to deliver your special gifts to the world and glow while you do it. Do whatever you need to do to block off four hours for you. Ask for help. Guard your schedule. Say no to an invitation. You can make a four hour spa day happen once a month.
I mix the henna the night before applying it then get up early, mix the indigo, mix them together, apply the mix to my hair, wait 1.5-2.5 hours, and then take a nice bath with an Aztec healing clay face mask. So relaxing.
Sleeping with wet hair that has just been hennaed may stain your pillow case and pillow as well as your sheets. The best results come from hennaing hair first thing in the morning and letting hair dry fully after washing it.
You can definitely leave the house with henna in your hair. I saw a woman working in a restaurant kitchen in Nepal with henna in her hair and I respected her making it all work. You can wrap your head in saran wrap and tie a fancy turban with a scarf or put on a hat and go on your way without worrying about people wondering if you have mud in your hair. It can be really nice to just stay home and make your surroundings better while making your hair more beautiful.
#3 If it’s your first time, invite someone to help
Ask a friend to help you when it’s time to rinse the henna out. Maybe they can also be your wing man with application. Better yet, ask a friend who knows how to henna already to let you watch them or henna your hair when they do theirs. The hair stylists I have asked in the US were not willing to henna in their salons. Maybe the process takes too long and is too messy. In India it was always easy for me to find someone to apply henna. I think many people apply henna to their hair and skin at home in India. Family members and house helpers probably help.
#4 Experiment until you find your perfect mix
Monthly henna experimentation is good! Try different ratios. People add essential oils, citrus, etc. Citrus irritated my scalp when I tried it, so I just stick with pure water, henna and indigo.
For my brown hair speckled with silver, I mix 1 cup henna with just enough water to make it the consistency of frosting. I mix the henna at least 3 hours before applying it to my hair. In my experience, letting mixed henna sit at least 6 hours makes the hair color last longer. If you let henna sit mixed longer than 10 hours before applying, the color is not as strong.
After the henna sits mixed for 3-10 hours, I mix ½ cup of indigo with enough water to make it the consistency of frosting before I apply it. Then I mix the henna and indigo together and apply.
#5 Try the Buddha top knot
This tip is from a pretty little hair stylist that hennaed my hair in Rishikesh, India. As you apply the henna to longer hair, start a bun on the back crown of your head. Then as you go separate your hair into lines perpendicular to your face with a long ended comb, paint your roots with henna, and wind each chunk around the bun.
#6 Lay down to rinse
If you have to stand to rinse the henna off your hair by yourself, be prepared to scrub the walls around you and have a stainable towel or two ready to dry your hair and catch any color drips. If you can lay down in water in a tub, a creek, the ocean when it’s time to rinse the henna out, it’s much easier to relax and clean up afterwards. When I rinse henna from my hair in the tub I use earplugs for swimmers so the henna rinse water stays out of my ears.
#7 Prevent henna stains
Your white tub, sink, floor, walls, clothes, etc are all susceptible to henna stains. I mix henna in a glass bowl (not metal), wipe up any henna that gets out of the bowl or my hair immediately, and wash it all down a metal sink or scrub the sink and tub with Barkeeper’s Friend or Borax immediately after finishing. Designate a spatula for henna so you don’t have to look at a stained spatula in your kitchen. Some say avoid using metal with wet henna, so stay away from metal spoons and bowls even though they are nice and easy to clean.
**Thank you to Damaris Vasquez for filming the mermaid video and asking me to help her henna her lovely hair!