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How to Henna Your Hair in Under an Hour and a Half

Updated on August 22, 2014

When I was looking online to figure out how to henna my hair, I kept running into all sorts of articles that explained to me that I should leave the henna in for anywhere from six hours to over night. I was told to "luxuriate" and "give yourself some time just for you!"

In my mind's hopeful eye, I was seeing something a bit like this... me, stretched out on a bed, relaxing with a fluffy spa towel on my head while some random guy who looks like Fabio except with way shorter hair sat around feeding me grapes while another random guy who also looked like Fabio but different fanned me with a palm frond.

Reality set in when I realized several things: a) There were no hot men waiting to fan or feed me; b) I don't own any spa towels and I buy all my towels at Wal-mart; c) henna actually looks a lot like goose poop that you smear on your head and therefore cancels out all hopes of looking luxurious or anything related to that.

I do not want to be seen by anyone while I have henna on my head. In fact, henna needs to be covered with plastic, so not only do I have goose do on my head, I also have a plastic bag. At the exact moment I will put that on my head, the dog will ask to go out and the baby will start screaming, and my head will be covered in goose poop and I'll go outside and some really hot guy will run by with no shirt and some really nice running shorts and he'll be horrified.

I don't know about anyone else, but I have spent just about all the inner-hippie-ness I have actually using henna and "wearing" my baby in a sling. There is no leftover hippie-ness to wear henna on my head for 6-12 hours. So I searched online for hours and pored (not poured - get the vocab straight) through websites for hours until I found the technique sorta kinda used back in the 1940s, when women went to beauty shops to get their heads henna'd. If you read this far, congratulations, you're about to figure out how to do that.

You Will Need:

  • A box of hair henna like the ones in the sidebar or body art quality henna (I use Light Mountain brand in Light Brown, and I mix it 1/2 and 1/2 with Jamila henna)
  • A non-metal bowl and spatula
  • Rubber/latex gloves
  • A towel
  • Boiling water
  • A shower
  • Shampoo/conditioner


  1. Boil water and add it while boiling to enough henna to cover your hair. It gets more voluminous as you add water, so you don't need as much as you think. The consistency should be that between pudding and creamy peanut butter...exactly the texture and color of goose poop.
  2. Put on a shirt that buttons down the front.
  3. Cut the handles of the plastic bag at the very edges of each handle, as shown.
  4. Put an old towel around your neck (I use a binder clip to hold it because I'm a teacher and I have millions of them). Put on latex gloves.
  5. Stand on an old towel or sheet in front of a mirror.
  6. Apply globs of henna to your head (obviously if the henna is still boiling hot, wait a few minutes...duh... seriously). Smash all your hair into it and pile it on top of your head. Smash more onto your head until it looks like a green mud helmet.
  7. Remove gloves and take the plastic bag. Put the bag on your head with the cut side of the handles forward. Bring the handles, now straps, and tie them around the front of your head. Yep, that's hot! If I have to tell you that you should tie the bag merely around your hair and not covering your nose, mouth, and face, you shouldn't be handling boiling water, either.
  8. Take the blow-dryer and blow dry over the plastic bag on hot setting. Clearly, if you do this too close to the bag and your head, bad things will happen. Be intelligent about this, please.
  9. Very quickly, cover your hot hair and bag with the towel. Wrap everything in the towel.
  10. Every 15 minutes for an hour (so three more times), unwrap the towel, use the blow-dryer to heat your plastic head cover and reapply the towel. The last time, do not reapply the towel - just get undressed and head for the shower.
  11. Take off plastic head cover in the shower, get hair wet, and put conditioner on your head. Let it stand a few minutes and then rinse. Shampoo. Rinse. Shampoo. Rinse. Repeat till all the green stuff is down the drain.
  12. Clean all the green bits out of the shower; use a squeegee if you have one.
  13. Get out of the shower and blow-dry your hair.

See? Looks pretty good!
See? Looks pretty good! | Source

OK - that should be pretty much it. Your hair should stay henna'd for at least a month or two before you see roots growing in. If you get really good at the whole thing, you should be able to do this without a whole lot of mess, and hopefully no one will see you luxuriating with a plastic grocery bag on your head. Now go find yourself a grape-feeder...


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