Mixing Your Red Henna
These are the basic instructions for red henna, and also the step 1 instructions for black and brown shades. Here are some other blogs you may find helpful:
Let's get one thing out of the way: ALL henna is red. When we say things like "brown henna" or "black henna" we mean that it's going to be red henna mixed with indigo powder in different ratios to create that color. There is no such thing as "black henna" by itself and anyone trying to sell you black henna that doesn't involve a two-step process probably has some unsavory ingredients in the mix. "Neutral henna" refers to Cassia powder, which is a different plant, and "blonde henna" is cassia powder + chamomile and marigold.
Start with your Morrocco Method henna powder. These mixing instructions will be used for all henna kits that include red henna. Our Henna Hair Dye Kit may be helpful as well if this is your first time!
One pack of henna should be enough to dye shoulder length hair. If you’ve got tight curls, use more than the recommended amount to compensate for the actual length of your hair. These are approximate amounts and depending on the thickness of your hair you may need more or less than the recommended amounts. It’s better to mix too much than not enough. There are no trickle-down effects in henna. It will only dye the hair it's touching.
We recommend mixing in glass or crockery bowls with a wooden spoon. Henna should be mixed with enough liquid for the consistency to be thick and spreadable—think thick Greek yogurt. Go slow. You can always add more liquid, but it’s hard to correct in the opposite direction unless you add more henna powder.
DO mix with:
- Room temperature or cold liquids. Liquids that are too warm can cause uneven dye release in your mix, which can lead to uneven results in your final hair color.
- Fruit Acids—Citric acid is cheap and with only 1tsp per 100g of henna, a small bag will last well over a year for most people. Stir citric acid into distilled water or herbal tea (mixture should be slightly sour) before adding to your henna powder.
- Fruit Juice—Super convenient and cost effective. You can use it full strength or dilute orange or lemon juice with distilled water down to where it tastes like a mild lemonade. Apple juice is the gentlest of the fruit juices on your hair, and thanks to an enzyme in apples, it will hasten your dye release. If you’re using apple juice, check on your mix at 4-6 hours depending on how warm your mixing area is.
- Apple Cider Vinegar—Apple Cider Vinegar is a gentle vinegar that contains the acid you need to release your henna dye. It's also great for your hair!
- Amla—Can be used to tone down the red in your henna resulting in cooler reds, browns, and blacks. Stir the powders together. Stir in distilled water until reaching the desired consistency. No additional acid is needed as Amla is acidic enough on its own to cause the dye to release.
If the earthy smell of henna is something you’d rather live without, ginger powder neutralizes most of the scent, and cardamom adds a spicy sweet scent. Mix 1TB of powdered spices per 100g of henna after the dye has released, right before you put it on your hair.
DO NOT mix with:
- Hot Liquids—As mentioned above, room temperature or cool liquids work best. Liquids that are too hot can damage the molecular structure of the henna and lead to unpredictable results.
- Tap Water (if you can avoid it)—It’s not the end of the world if this is all you have available, but in hard-water areas, the minerals in the tap water can cause your hair not to take the dye as well. Distilled water is the preference because it creates the most consistent results.
- Coffee—Some people think mixing their henna with coffee will change the color of the henna. It will not. Remember that what goes ON your body goes IN your body and caffeinated henna mixes are a good way to give yourself a headache or make you jittery. If you're sensitive to caffeine, stick to fruit acids, juices, or amla.
- White Vinegar—Technically, it’s acidic enough to use, but it’s quite the smell to endure for hours. There are effective and far more pleasant-smelling things to mix with your henna powder.
Oil—Using more than a couple teaspoons per henna packet will inhibit dye uptake in your hair. If you want to do an oil treatment – do it the week prior to your henna hair dye. If you are trying to cover gray hair, skip the oil completely.
Once your henna is thoroughly mixed (no lumps hiding dried powder) cover it loosely with plastic wrap (or a shower cap) and let it rest until dye release is achieved.
Timing is everything
Time your red henna dye release to get the best color possible. Base your time on the temperature where your henna mix is resting (inside vs. outside).
Use within 1-3 hrs after mixing
Use within 8-12 hrs after mixing
Use within 12-24hrs after mixing
Use within 48hrs-1 week after mixing
Test your mix for dye release by smearing a small spot on an inconspicuous place, like the palm of your hand, and let it sit for 5-10 minutes. When you wash it off, if the skin is orange, your dye has released, and you are ready to apply.