Using Henna As Hair Dye

At the beginning of this year, I decided that as much as I liked having dyed red hair, I really didn't like the damage being caused by the over-the-counter hair dye I was buying. The color was great, but losing hair every time I did it, and then dealing with the fade-out was just not worth it. I'd heard a bit about using henna to dye hair and looked into it.


I found a few websites and learned a lot of information about just how damaging commercial hair dye is. When I found the website I decided I'd try their henna. It wasn't cheap the first time because I had to buy 4 packets of henna to dye my hair, which is halfway down my back. I suppose it didn't cost anymore than a salon job though.

I will never go back to commercial hair dyes. My hair is a lovely rich red now. People always tell me it looks natural. It also doesn't fade, so when it's time for a touch-up, I literally only have to retouch my roots, I don't have to re-dye all the rest as I did before. has other information too on dying your hair brunette, black, or giving it a blondish sheen, all with plants! The henna thickened my hair a bit, which I needed, and it has not been this shiny and lustrous since I was a kid!

Plant dyes are also totally safe for pregnant women, unless of course you are allergic, but allergies to henna are rare. Anyway, worked so very well for me that it would be a crime not to share it!

By Natalie from Washington D.C.

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Henna as a natural alternative to harsh chemical dyes is making a comeback. And more and more of us are having troubles with allergic reactions to what we use to color our hair.

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7 Questions

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I am a 69 year old woman with salt and pepper hair (leaning more to the pepper). I would like to color my hair but the last two times I have done so I had an allergic reaction to it. My scalp itched and one time it flaked after using. Is there any product I could use that I will not get a reaction to that is effective?

I understand Henna would work but have no idea where to buy it and really don't want to buy it online. I did buy Garnier Nutrisse but have not opened it yet. A woman standing near me when I was looking at the hair color suggested this one because it is gentler. But if someone has a better suggestion, I can return it.

By Elaine from IA


November 17, 20090 found this helpful

Yes, you're going to want to use henna- Do not try to use the Garnier Nutrisse- it has the same chemicals in it that the others do, and if you're already having allergic reactions, be assured, it will only escalate from here. The scary part is, there's no way of knowing if the next time will be the one that literally kills you! (The ingredients in the dye are the kinds of toxins that humans have a worse reaction to, each time they're exposed to them, kind of like how a bee sting reaction can be suddenly fatal, the third time someone gets stung.)

OK, that being said- I use henna, and have for a couple of years now, and I would never use anything else! For excellent information on how to use henna (and other herbs, for variations in color), copy and paste this URL: . This is the best site on the web to learn about henna as a hair color, period.

As to where to get henna, you can get OK-quality henna products in pre-boxed form (kits) at health food stores- many carry Light Mountain Henna products, though there are a few others out there. Look for FRESH boxes, if you can. The other option: although you had said that you don't want to shop for henna and the like online, there is ONE place that I would recommend, and that is From Nature With Love ( their URL is ), and they have, hands-down, the best price for bulk henna and other dyeing herbs, anywhere.

I am an INCHA Certified Natural Henna Artist- so you can trust me on this one! You'll find that mixing your own hair dye is not only safer, it's cheaper, and it will condition your hair beyond anything you will have thought possible. Really. Good luck, and if you have any questions about henna use, either for your hair, or for mehndi (temporary tatooing), feel free to contact me thru the site. :o)

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November 17, 20090 found this helpful

Please do not be frightened that you could die from regular hair color on your scalp! There's just as much of a possibility of that happening as using Henna! Henna might be a natural product but people can be allergic to it too!

If you really have your heart set on coloring your hair then simply use a 'true non-invasive to the hair shaft' wash out temporary color like Roux Fanciful Rinse (you can purchase at Sally's Beauty Supply) or partially color your hair (whether man made color or henna) via a highlighting cap or color weaving where the color doesn't touch your scalp!

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November 17, 20090 found this helpful

My experience with henna is that it is fine when your hair is its younger color...mine was light brown; but it doesn't transfer well when your hair is gray. A friend told me that I had orange hair. I agreed, though I wouldn't call it orange. Now, I was using natural henna from the health food store or from an Indian store. It's possible that American-made henna is different. The kind I used felt like mud when it went on, was messy, but on naturally colored hair gave a really nice red tint.

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November 18, 20090 found this helpful

If you're allergic to one, you'll probably react to most of them. Henna can turn your hair a weird orange and it doesn't wash out well. You might check with your local health food store; they may have something without the harsh ingredients. I'd go to a reputable salon before trying anything myself.

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November 18, 20090 found this helpful

Although I have bought henna, I have never used it, because my other options work so well. I also have chemical sensitivities & I have used strong coffee for my greying temples (& you could use a warm coffee rinse). I have also read about using sage tea to color brunette hair. I have light brown/blonde hair and use colored shampoo - blonde + 1/2 red for me (plus red/blonde conditioner). There are also brunette shampoos out there (even John Frieda samples)- so you might try that to see what results that brings- (You have to sit with it under a shower cap for 10-15 mins. to set it.)
There are also Roux rinses/mousse at the beauty supply store, but they can run (I sweat a lot at my scalp...). All of these options will wash out after a few shampoos, which makes it easy to experiment.

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November 20, 20090 found this helpful

Quote from Deeli: "Please to not be frightened that you could die from regular hair color on your scalp! There's just as much of a possibility of that happening as using Henna! Henna might be a natural product but people can be allergic to it too!"

I beg to differ. Allergies to natural henna are extremely rare. Most people who have reported reactions to henna have actually been using or exposed to what is called "black henna", which is made of (are you ready for this?) Black hair dye. The ingredient which causes these horrible burns, allergic reactions, lifelong health problems, and yes, DEATHS, is called PPD, which is the main dyeing ingredient in all commercial hair dyes, other than the purely herbal ones, such as Light Mountain. PPD's are derivatives of coal tar, and will cause heightened reactions with each use, once the user has exhibited a reaction to the product- this is why there are so many warnings both on the boxes, and in the directions- the producers of these dyes do so to avoid litigation! When buying henna, be sure to read the packaging- make sure that the product that you're buying is 100% natural- if it contains anything else (other than herbs, we're talking chemical components here!), do not buy it. That's where the danger lies.

For those of you who have had strange colors, as a result of henna- try mixing your coloring paste using a 50/50 mixture of lemon or orange juice (even pure cranberry juice will work- not the cocktail kind!) and water- whisk in enough henna powder to make it a yogurt-like consistency, and then seal away from air. (Easiest way to accomplish this is to mix it up in a rubbermaid or tupperware bowl, then put a lid on it.) Allow it to rest somewhere warmish, like the top of your refrigerator, for 12-24 hours, to allow the dye to release from the henna- you'll be able to tell, by scooping a bit off of the top of the paste- if the outside layer is brownish, but the paste underneath is green, it's ready. Apply the paste to your hair, and let it sit for at least 1 hour, or however long you would like (some folks leave theirs on for 8 or more hours- they sleep with the stuff on! I don't- 1 to 1.5 hours gives me a dark, lovely red, and I'm a natural ash blonde!) Then, rinse out as much as you can in the shower- once that 's been done, put conditioner in your hair, leave that on for a minute or two, and then rinse it all out. That should remove all of the henna paste. The initial color, in the first couple of hours, is NOT the color you will wind up with- it will darken and generally tone down a bit in the next 12 hours, so don't panic if it's too bright, at first! Then, do not wash your hair for a day, to maximize the henna's effects. While it may sound like a lot of work, with a few tweaks to your technique (example: I mix the paste in tupperware, and then decant the finished paste into a dollar-store ketchup bottle, to apply- and then freeze the leftover for the next time, right in the bottle! You can also add things like coffee or teas to your mixture, to alter the color), I think you will find that henna beats the heck out of the commercial stuff, hands-down- it doesn't burn, stink, or wreck your hair like the other stuff, and it's so much safer. I even do my eyebrows with it, and can do so with no fears of being hurt, maimed, or blinded- I'd like to see ANY of the other dye-makers out there make the same claim! ;o)

Below is a picture of me, with my henna'd hair- my natural color is light ash-blonde, with bits of grey in it. This is what pure, natural henna can, and does, do for me. As you can see, I'm a pale critter, and I have sensitive skin. Thanks to having developed an allergy to commercial hair dye, I was forced to learn about henna- and I will never look back! Good luck to you, and please, have a look at the Henna for Hair site- they might just save your life! :o)

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November 21, 20090 found this helpful

Please don't spread unnecessary fear when you truly don't know all the facts and all the research! :-(

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November 21, 20090 found this helpful

Please do read the 'henna for hair' link leopardstripes left in her original post which has sublinks one of which is:
It explains how a temporary Henna tattoo can cause severe reactions to synthetic hair dye, among other substances, for the rest of your life.

For further understanding of PPD, which is in many materials used every day, please read this article:

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November 22, 20090 found this helpful

Yes, well that is enough to see to decide I better grow old gracefully. My reaction was no where near that bad, just some itching of the scalp for about a week but the next time I might not be so lucky. Thank you for the information.

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I was thinking of using henna to color my hair. I was born a redhead but due to fading have colored my hair for years. Can anyone tell me if it is safe to switch over to henna? Also, where can I buy it? Thanks!

Carol from Lancaster, PA


March 31, 20080 found this helpful

Henna is a natural "stain" and can look exceedingly translucent and fluro on any grey hairs that may exist. As a hairdresser of 32 years (10 spent teaching), I would advise that you think carefully about this decision. Because of the mineral content in some Henna's, they present a chemical reaction should you ever wish to change back to a "salon" type colour eg ammonia and peroxide. My advice would be to seek a colourist (hairdresser) who uses organic hair colour - these are much more readily available on the market today and you may even find some in the health food store. Henna was in during the early years of my appenticeship and we used to mix coffee and beetroot and eggs to enrichen the mud smelling powder that is very hard to apply and even harder to remove. I do know they have liquid henna's available now, but I'd do some research regarding mineral content first. Good luck.

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April 3, 20080 found this helpful

I agree, Henna will give an overly vivid result on hair with a high percentage of gray; The only way to avoid that is to use a combination of brown and red hennas, but since your natural color is red it may take several tries with different ratios before you find the right mix. I also agree that once you use henna if you decide to go back to chemical colors, or even if you use a permanent wave or relaxer, there may be a chemical reaction between the henna and the chemicals. Not only are there substnces in the henna which cause the reactions, but the type of color it is plays a role too: chemical colors cause the outer layer of the hair shaft to open so the color can deposit inside, while henna is a cumulative color, building up outside the hair shaft. repetitive use of henna can also cause oversaturation of color on the ends and length of the hair. While I have seen some lovely results with henna color, these factors presented to you all bear consideration before you decide to make the switch. You can look online to find some good henna recipes-most cultures mix the henna with something other than just water before application.

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April 6, 20080 found this helpful

I have dark hair with lots of grey. Started using henna about a year ago after I saw a friend's hair. I can't say much as to whether it's safe. But I used to use regular bottle hair color before I switched to henna. It seemed to work fine for me. I got my henna from local Indian grocery shop. But for my indigo, which is another mixture to henna, I got it online. Indigo will make the hair color darker when mixed with henna. You can get more info on the web Good luck.

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April 7, 20080 found this helpful

Thanks for the good advise! Carol

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June 14, 20080 found this helpful

"Just for Redheads" is a great company! They have mascaras, hennas, makeup, and hairpieces all for redheads. I have found their shipping to be expedient and love getting the catalog in the mail. I have also ordered from Good luck!

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By Shei (Guest Post)
December 1, 20080 found this helpful

Check out, they have henna hair coloring in lots of shades with guides and tips for applying it. Henna is an awsome all natural alternative to hairdye and it is sooo much better for your hair and the environment! It is a little harder to apply, so you may want someone else to help you with it, if you get it on your skin it will stain much longer than regular dyes.

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August 21, 2019

I removed hair color. Can I now use black henna?

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June 5, 2012

My mom's friend wants to know if henna covers grey hair. What color will her hair be? She only wants the kind bought from an India store. The natural green powder kind. She has brownish hair with grey. How does she mix it? With water? And does anyone know how long it should stay on? Does she shampoo it out or condition it? And will it cover all her grey hair? Tyvm, any info would help her. Sorry she asking a million questions.

By Marjorie M.

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March 13, 2019

My hair is uneven now because of roots grown in, etc. I plan on dyeing it burgundy with henna, but I know henna won't even it out. I plan on using a non permanent box dye to even it all out 1st.

How long should I wait to use the henna after dyeing with non permanent box dye?

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