Henna is a wonderful hair color for those who want to cover gray or desire a non-fading hair color. Henna is ideal for those who have chemical sensitivities or very sensitive skin or skin ailments. It protects the hair from sun damage and damage from styling with hot irons and blow dryers. Henna, also called Mehandi, nourishes the hair from root to tip, filling in damages, smoothing out hair strands, and thickening it. With the right conditioning oils, hair is softer and more manageable after henna treatments. Supplies included, the initial cost is $20 to $30. BUT, the repeated cost is $1 to $2 per month!
Double this recipe for hair longer than shoulder length – this one is sufficient for hair an inch to 12 inches long.
- ½ cup Henna Powder (or mix as pictured)
- ½ cup hot water (or coffee, tea, etc.)
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice or Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon (optional for color and scent)
- 1 teaspoon ground or fresh ginger (optional for scent)
- 5 drops Vatika Hair oil (or coconut, sunflower, olive, almond, etc.)
- 1 Terry Towel Turbin ($1 and reusable)
- 1 disposable Plastic Shower Cap
- 1 pair of disposable latex or vinyl gloves
- 1 wide elastic hair band (reusable)
- A glass bowl ($1 and reusable)
- A pan, tea kettle, or coffee maker
- A wooden or plastic spoon resistant to heat
- A zippered sandwich bag
- A pair of scissors
- A towel that can get stained
- A kitchen timer
- A comb
- A brush
- A drinking glass
- Jaw clips if hair is long
- Start with hair that has been freshly washed within the last 12 hours, and preferably with a clarifying shampoo. I use my trusty Dr. Bronner’s Magic Liquid soap straight up and rinse with apple cider vinegar.
- Measure out henna into the glass bowl about 3 times its size.
- Heat water using a tea kettle or sauce pan. If using coffee or tea (see tips below), make tea or coffee like you normally do. I simply run water through used coffee grounds. (Herbal teas will add scent!) Make a little more water than you need in case the paste is too dry and you need more.
- Add the hot water (or tea or coffee) to the henna and add the remaining ingredients. Stir gently until smooth and creamy and only slightly thicker than ketchup. Smash big lumps of dry powder against the side of bowl until none remain.
- Line the drinking glass with the sandwich or zippered sandwich bag and turn the bag over the rim to keep it in place. Fill this glass with the henna paste, pressing out air bubbles as you go. Squeeze product into one corner and seal off bag. Snip that corner to provide a squeezable tube.
- Put on the gloves. Standing over a protected surface, ideal linoleum or a towel, part hair at the back and begin applying at the roots. Keep parting hair and applying at the roots, the same way you would do a chemical treatment.
- Once henna is covering the scalp, add more and work it through the hair, wadding the hair up to the scalp and keeping it moist. Work quickly before the henna begins to dry.
- Cover hair all the way to the outer hair line using the plastic shower cap (in a pinch, I use a grocery or vegetable bag). Press out all air bubbles to keep hair moist.
- Place the hair band around hair to cover and further seal the edges of the hairline and shower cap.
- Wrap hair in a towel or terry shower turban to help keep it warm, which opens the hair shaft and helps the hair hold more color.
- Set the timer for at least three hours. I have let it set up to 6 hours. The hair color was stronger and deeper, but not darker or brighter.
- Rinse hair out with warm water in the shower using the comb to gently comb out the paste. DO NOT WASH THE HAIR! The henna will strip all hair products from the hair and clean it fully.
- Feel free to use your own hair conditioner and use it as directed. Be warned though, chemical commercial hair conditioners will strip hair of moisture and color in the long run and does dull the henna color through its use of parabens, sodium laurel sulfate, and other chemicals. I only follow this up with a hot oil treatment, where I apply Vatika to my dry hair after the henna and leave it wrapped in a bandana for 72 hours.
- WAIT a minimum of 48 hours before washing hair with shampoo or applying products.
- Commercial shampoos, conditioners, and hair products will dull hair color. Even when using chemical colors or henna use natural hair products or home made ones void of sodium laurel sulfate and other chemicals or switch to a shampoo made for colored hair.
- Lemon juice and vinegar will brighten hair color; for instance, a deep red henna will look more pink and burgundy with the use of acids like lemon or vinegar.
- Coffee, tea, and cinnamon will darken the color; deep red henna will turn out more of a deep auburn red.
- Herbal teas will have varying effects on hair color, and scent outcomes and are best experimented with caution.
- Essential oils will also change the hair color effects. When I added lavender oil, the hair color almost didn’t stick right. But washing it with oil-based shampoo with essential oils like Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap has no effects.
- Keep hair brighter longer and prevent it oxidizing to a darker color by regularly rinsing with lemon juice or apple cider vinegar. This will also keep hair more manageable, silky, and tangle-free.
- Replacing the hot water with hot beet juice will add pinker undertones, and using hot carrot juice will add copper undertones
Hair Care Tips
- Add gingili oil to promote hair growth and reduce hair fall-out of hair falling out is an issue. Make an oil out of henna and gingili oil by boiling henna powder in ginili oil and then straining it after it cools. Use this oil treatment on the scalp two to three times per week for several months.
- Reduce hair loss and dandruff by mixing 2 cups henna powder with 1 cup amla powder, 2 teaspoons hibiscus powder, 2 tablespoons methi (fenugreek) powder, and 1 tablespoon orange-peel powder. Bring them to a low simmer in about 4 cups of your favorite hair conditioner. Allow to cool and then strain.
- Reduce dandruff by adding henna powder and lemon to the dye paste or add henna, fenugreek (methi), and lemon directly to your hair conditioner.
- Dabur – Vatika hair oil (under $3 for a few ounces and one bottle lasts me about 5 years) also conditions hair and reduces hair loss. It contains amala, coconut, lemon, and henna oils and is extremely nourishing to both hair and scalp. Use this for deep conditioning hair treatments or to add to your own shampoo or conditioner for its beneficial effects.