How to Dye Hair Naturally with Henna

How to Dye Hair Naturally with Henna

In my quest to make my life healthier, and kinder to myself, the Earth and all its species, I recently decided to dye my hair with henna. I’ve used plenty of bleach and ammonia based dyes, but I wanted to stop using those products and find a natural,vegan and cruelty free way to color my hair.  I’ve used “henna hair color” from the beauty supply store before, but this was the first time I used pure henna to dye my hair.  Of course I did my homework before I took the leap, because henna is forever.  And it only comes in one color – red.

My results

I started out with very chemically processed hair.  I had an ombre effect with the darkest part of my hair being my dark brown roots with some “salty” pieces, and the lightest part being the caramel blonde colored ends.  Since henna is a plant based hair conditioner, it is not only safe for use on chemically treated hair, it helps condition and repair split ends.

Before – over processed ombre color with dark brown and grey roots

I found a wealth of information online about dyeing hair with henna, and to be honest it left me feeling overwhelmed and not quite sure what to do.  I decided to take the leap anyway and I ordered a six pack of Jamila superior quality henna for hair.  I bought my henna on Amazon, and it was the least expensive hair color I’ve ever purchased, at less than $3 a box.

Superior quality henna for hair by Jamila

I saw many different “formulas” and recipes for henna mixing – some using different acidic liquids like coffee, teas, citrus juices and some using herbs, spices and/or essential oils.  Since I am a beginner myself, I kept my formula super simple.

The vast majority of what I read about mixing henna suggested using lemon juice, so I did use the juice of one lemon in my mix.  The instructions on the package itself simply reads: “Mix required quantity of henna Jamila with warm water and form its paste.  After 5 hours, apply the paste on hair and wash with fresh water when the paste is completely dry.”  I did not exactly follow the instructions.

This is how I dyed my hair with henna


  • Pure henna powder – I used 200 grams (2 boxes) and had plenty left over after covering my fine hair which is about 3 inches below shoulder length.  The amount you need depends on the length and thickness of your hair.  You want to make sure to cover all hair thickly, so don’t skimp!  If you make too much you can freeze left over henna for future use.

I froze my unused henna for next time

  • one lemon
  • hot water
  • a glass or plastic bowl
  • a wooden or plastic spoon for mixing
  • gloves – I used two pairs
  • vaseline
  • plastic wrap
  • a shower cap or plastic bag
  • a ratty old shirt and towel

Mixed henna, plastic wrap, gloves and petroleum jelly are needed for the application process


  • 200 grams henna (2 boxes)
  • Juice of one lemon
  • hot tap water

Warning: Henna has a distinct smell, which you will discover at this point.  I personally like the smell, but some people don’t care for it.  It is a plant and it smells like grass, or hay. It reminds me of being in the country.

I mixed my lemon juice into the henna powder first, then added hot water little by little to form a pudding like consistency.  Some things I read online left henna to sit overnight, and the box instructions said to sit for 5 hours, but I am impatient so I mixed mine up, covered with plastic wrap and let it sit for 3 hours, then I applied it.

After 3 hours the greenish mixture darkened to a reddish brown on top – this is called dye release and this is when henna can be applied for best results


This part can get messy so wear an old shirt and have an old towel or two on hand for clean up.  The most important part of henna application is coating each strand of hair.  I began by putting vaseline around my hairline to prevent staining – henna will stain your skin.

I started my application by again going around my hairline with henna.  Starting in the front I took small sections (about 1 inch) and coated them thoroughly from root to tip.  Application should be very thick, like you are frosting a cake.  As I finished each section, I coiled them around the top of my head until I had one big Jimmy Neutron style lump of henna coated hair atop my head.

Section by section, pile hair on top of head, then wrap in plastic to prevent drying.  Yes, it looks like poop now, but it will look great later.

Once all my hair was covered in the henna paste, I wrapped it with saran wrap, then plopped a plastic shower cap over that.  Then I waited again.  Three more hours.


After leaving the henna on my hair for three hours, I took off my shirt while the plastic was still covering my hair and got into the shower.  I rinsed it with water for a few minutes and got out as much as I could.  I then used conditioner to work the rest of the henna out.  I did not wash my hair until the following evening.

The Results

My hair looks better than I had expected and I am totally hooked on coloring naturally with henna now.

After dyeing with henna

Not only did I end up with rich mahogany color, my hair is now much shinier and healthier than it was before dyeing it with henna.

The dry, split ends are visibly healthier after the henna treatment

I love henna because of its rich color results and conditioning treatment of my hair.  I don’t yet know how to use the henna I’ve frozen, but I will be sure to post an update when I use it, telling the how to and showing the results.

What do you think of my new look?  Have you ever colored your hair naturally?

In the sunlight the color is especially vibrant

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