Picking a henna hair color can be tricky. Unlike traditional dyes, which simply coat the hairs in harsh chemicals to achieve an exact color, henna hair dye works like glosses of paint, in that the end-result color is largely a combination of the dye color and your base hair color. For example, medium brown henna on red hair will produce a different result than the same dye on blonde hair.

So how do I pick a henna color that’s right for me?

The color result of any henna application will be highly individualistic due to differences in base hair color, thickness and texture. An important henna dyeing tip is to always select a shade lighter than the color your are hoping to achieve, especially if you’ve never done henna before. As an example, if you wanted dark brown hair, then the best color to start with is medium brown henna. The reason for this is because you can always go darker with multiple applications; you can’t, however, go lighter.

Sometimes to achieve the right color, or to get rid of henna’s inherent red tint, multiple applications are necessary. You can reapply henna as often as you like, giving at least 72 hours between each application. The 72 hour window is there so that the henna has enough time to oxidize in your hair. Henna rapidly oxidizes following the initiation application and will often deepen in color during this time window.

Morrocco Method Medium Brown Henna

What if I want to be extra sure?

Do a strand test! A strand test provides an exact indicator of henna’s coloration by utilizing shed or excess hair. First, start by gathering hair from a brush or a previous haircut. Then mix a small amount of henna and apply it to the hair strand. Let the strands sit for 72 hours to get the exact result.

For complete instructions on how to do the strand test, navigate to our Helpful Henna Tips section in our Education Center and select instructions for the henna color your are looking to test.

Creating custom henna hair shades

Creating custom henna color shades is simply a matter of changing the ratio of henna and indigo. Adding more henna will result in a lighter, redder color. Adding more indigo will result in a darker color. You can go in either direction, starting at these base ratios:
  • Red: 100% Henna
  • Light Brown Henna: 2/3 Henna, 1/3 Indigo
  • Medium Brown Henna: 1/2 Henna, 1/2 Indigo
  • Dark Brown Henna: 1/3 Henna, 2/3 Indigo

If you also want to minimize henna’s reddish tones and create darker, cooler colors, you can use amla powder. When mixing henna, use amla powder as your acidic ingredient, mixing ¼ amla to ¾ henna with room temperature water and letting it sit for 12 hours for the dye to release. This will help the indigo bind better with hair and create richer, longer-lasting colors.