How to Apply Henna
Tips and Advice for Using Henna to Dye Your Hair
Applying Henna Hair Dye is a different process from the store bought box dyes most DIY people are used to. Let's go over our best tips for using Henna to color your hair.
Apply to clean, dry hair that has been washed with a clarifying shampoo – Morrocco Method’s Clarifying Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo is perfect for this. For bonus points, use an apple cider rinse in your hair afterwards. Do not follow with a conditioner, you don’t want anything interfering with the color transfer between the henna and your hair.
Gloves are an absolute must. Henna can dye your skin and nails for weeks depending on how thin the skin is where it was dyed and how long it's in contact with your skin.
Prepare yourself for the idea that you might make a mess. Protect your clothes with an old towel or pick clothes that you don’t mind getting stained. Cover the floor of wherever you’re applying the henna. You can stand on a towel or use newspaper if you have it. Henna has the consistency of mud once it’s mixed and will splatter in the same way.
Protect your ears and hairline. You can use baby oil, petroleum jelly, or for ultimate skin conditioning, we suggest our Euro Natural Oil. If you have a lot of baby hairs that tend to grow along your hair line, start the oil in front of them. Oil inhibits the uptake of the dye molecule in henna and you don’t want to end up with whispies in a different shade. If you miss a spot and end up with a colored ear—don’t panic! The skin on our ears and forehead is so thin that any errant smudges can be wiped away with a warm cloth. If there's any stain left, it should fade in about a day.
Mixing henna for application is an important step. While many henna kits may come pre-measured, you can make adjustments and customizations that aren't possible with standard hair dyes.
At the minimum, mixing your Henna Hair Dye requires henna, clean water, and an acid to release the dye from the henna. Since there are different products you can use and different amounts to mix depending on your hair and the color you want, we have in depth articles on this topic.
You can learn all about the art and science of how to mix henna dye on our site:
Henna doesn't apply like liquid color you may have used in a salon or from a box dye. Properly mixed henna has the consistency of mud and is thick and heavy. It takes a little longer to apply and you want to be organized about applying it.
Work from the bottom to the top. We recommend working from the nape of your neck up the back of your head and finishing near your forehead, or from one side to the other. Front to back can be done, of course, but may be cumbersome, especially if you're applying the henna on yourself.
Work in sections. Section hair off with a comb and clips. The thicker your hair, the more sections you need. Start with a section at your starting point and apply henna from the scalp to ends on your first section, repeat with the next section and keep going until your entire head is saturated root to tip. **SEE BELOW FOR ROOT-ONLY APPLICATIONS/TOUCH-UPS**
Keep it covered. Wrap your hair in plastic wrap and cover with a shower cap, beanie, hair scarf, etc—the goal is to use your natural body heat to keep it warm (while also protecting your furniture and linens). The longer you leave your henna in, the richer your color will be. For deep reds, we recommend at least 4 hours. If you have hard to cover grays or are trying to live your best red-headed life, 6-8 hours is recommended. If your hair is long or thick, the henna can get heavy. Taking a nap is the perfect way to avoid neck strain. If you’re dyeing your hair a brown shade, stay on the lower end of the spectrum to keep it from getting too red.
**ROOT ONLY/TOUCH UP APPLICATIONS** Henna will continue to darken your hair until it reaches color saturation. Color saturation is as dark as your hair can get while using henna alone without adding indigo. If you have found your perfect shade and no longer want to darken the rest of your hair, root only applications are your best bet.
Mix your paste that same way you would for a full head application and section your hair out. Apply to the roots and about 1" (3cm) past that. Work in small sections, around 0.25" (0.7cm) to make sure that you have fully saturated your roots. There's no such thing as a trickle-down effect when it comes to henna, if the paste isn't applied directly to the hair, you won't get a good stain. Wrap your hair in plastic and cover. Leave on as long as your normal application and then rinse.
Rinse it out slowly. When you’re ready to rinse out the henna, we recommend using a tub if possible. Submerging your hair completely is the easiest and fastest way to loosen and remove henna, especially in long hair. If you prefer to shower, we recommend using a low-pressure setting to start so that you don’t blast your entire shower with henna speckles.
(Henna that's sprayed in the shower should rinse off walls and fixtures easily with water, but a magic eraser can also be used if it doesn't rinse away immediately.)
Rinse it completely. Rinse your hair until the water runs clear and you don’t feel any bits of henna left in your hair. Conditioner can be used to help it slip more easily out of the hair. Our Citrus Silk Conditioner Bar is great not only for helping the henna come out of your hair, but it also masks some of that 'fresh henna scent'. You can also use the Euro Natural Oil to help remove the henna, but make sure you rinse your tub/shower out thoroughly to avoid slips and falls, and skip the oil entirely if you're doing the two-step henna for black hair.
Let it rest. For the next 72 hours the henna will oxidize on your hair before settling into its final color. If it isn't your perfect color right away, give it time before you make any decisions about modifying it.
If you're doing the two-step process for black hair, you can apply immediately, or up 48 hours later. Waiting longer than 48 hours to apply the dark colored indigo may not leave a good stain.
Love Your New Color
Hopefully this gives you a better understanding of how to use henna to dye your hair and successfully get the natural color you've dreamed of. Switching from standard dye to henna can be daunting and might take a little work to find your perfect process, but we believe it is worth it to give your hair and body the best!