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Henna Hair Coloring (Lawsonia Inermis)

Updated on July 17, 2019
Lady Lorelei profile image

Mother of 2 daughters and grandmother of 7, I strive daily to achieve an optimum level of health and happiness. Life is all about balance.

Red hair comes in many hues and can be enchanting in each.
Red hair comes in many hues and can be enchanting in each. | Source

Henna As A Hair Dye?

Henna is a natural hair and beauty product used by thousands of people throughout the world. The property found within Henna that makes it so desirable as a beauty product is the reddish dye molecule contained within the Henna plant's leaves.

The red Henna dye is used as a coloring agent for tattoos and also as a hair coloring dye. Found at its highest concentrations in the petioles or stems of the leaves of the Henna plant this deep red dye is often used to highlight or to darker hair.

The Lawsonia Inermis Plant Produces a Dye Often Used For Body Tattoo or Hair Coloring

Henna or Lawsonia Inermis is a tall shrub that generally stands between two to six meters in height. Henna has been used as a hair dye and a coloring agent used in decorative body art for centuries in the Middle East and India.

Its usage actually dates back to the Bronze Age but it is only recently that it has begun to have a tremendous influence in western society as a beauty enhancer.

Most commercially sold Henna products today are cultivated in India, Pakistan, Yemen, Iran, Sudan, Libya or Morocco. It is important to note that products sold as "black henna" or "neutral henna" are not actually made from the Henna plant.

These compounds may be derived from indigo or may contain other dyes or chemicals that are not derived from a natural source so when shopping for your hair care products be aware. Read the country of origin and list of ingredients on the label.

For Centuries Red Haired Beauties Have Charmed the Spirit

Woman with dark red auburn hair
Woman with dark red auburn hair | Source

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For Adding Natural Highlights to Dark or Red Hair

Henna is best used to highlight or dye hair that is of a darker color. With repeated applications it can create deep beautiful red highlights. Henna paste applied to the hair effectively coats the it with a transparent red hue which provides vibrant reddish highlights to even deep brown or black tresses thus creating a beautiful rich auburn instead.

When re-applied repeatedly it continues to deepen the hair's coloring with each application. Henna will dye blond or white hair red and turn reddish hair into a darker richer red color effectively creating a natural redhead look.

Note that Henna cannot be used to lighten hair color.

Dye Made From the Henna Plant is Commonly Used in Body Art

Henna tattoo hand art done for wedding ceremony.
Henna tattoo hand art done for wedding ceremony. | Source

How to Use Henna as a Natural Hair Dye

Touching an unbroken henna leaf will not bleed the dye onto your skin. The "lawsone molecules" will only act as a coloring agent when released from the henna leaf and combined with a source of moisture. This is how the dye or coloring paste is usually prepared.

The Henna leaves are first dried then crushed into a powder, which is then combined with an alcohol based liquid, lemon juice, essential oil or tea infusion. The resulting paste is then applied to the hair as a coloring agent or dye.

Among the many attractions to using Henna as a hair coloring compound are the benefits or elements found within the plant itself. Henna contains natural conditioning agents and anti fungal properties, so not only will Henna condition your hair as it dyes it, but it will also aide in the prevention of dandruff.

Although not a permanent hair dye, hair colored with Henna products tends to maintain its new coloring for a very long period of time. It can take up to nine months to a year after application for the henna coloring to be removed completely from the hair.

Henna Warnings

Although ill effects from the use of Henna are rare as in exposure to any product an allergic reaction can occur.

Symptoms of a reaction may include itching, shortness of breath, or tightness in the chest area.

Some children have shown severe reactive symptoms after their hair has been dyed with Henna products so care should be taken when using this product on younger persons.

© 2008 Lorelei Cohen

Do You Use Natural Beauty Products?

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    • Lady Lorelei profile imageAUTHOR

      Lorelei Cohen 

      6 years ago from Canada

      @RaintreeAnnie yes Henna is shown to also work on gray hair. Because of your allergies you should be very careful though. I also have a sensitive immune system and although I get along much better with natural products than chemical ones there are still some that I have issues with. Good Luck and thank you for stopping by.

    • RaintreeAnnie profile image


      6 years ago from UK

      I have thought about using Henna. I am allergic to many ingredients on most hair dyes and have very sensitive skin though so I am still not sure. My hair is quite light though does have some reddish tones but not really sure if it would suit me . Also does it cover grey hair as I have a little bit now. I would certainly need to do patch testing etc

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Flinnie, I definitely agree with you. I absolutely love using natural hair care products. I'm a henna junky, lol. I adore the reddish hue it leaves on my hair.

    • flinnie lm profile image

      Gloria Freeman 

      8 years ago from Alabama USA

      I like using natural products, they are so much better for you.Thanks for sharing this, I like learning more about henna.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I absolutely do use natural beauty products :) What a great henna page :) Blessed!

    • Lady Lorelei profile imageAUTHOR

      Lorelei Cohen 

      9 years ago from Canada

      @PromptWriter: Ha. I am surprised how many blondes I am seeing visiting this henna hair coloring article because Henna is generally used by dark haired individuals.

    • Lady Lorelei profile imageAUTHOR

      Lorelei Cohen 

      9 years ago from Canada

      @anonymous: I am too light haired to ever use Henna hair coloring too.

    • Lady Lorelei profile imageAUTHOR

      Lorelei Cohen 

      9 years ago from Canada

      @TonyPayne: It sounds like Henna is very popular in Indian culture. With their dark hair it would make sense that adding a reddish highlight would be beautiful.

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 

      9 years ago from Southampton, UK

      Good information, I have heard a bit about Henna products before, enjoyed the history lesson, it's always interesting to know how things originated and their uses.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I've always heard of henna for hair coloring but didn't know anything about it, now that's quite the process and interesting that children may be more likely to be sensitive to it. I've always preferred natural products but will probably never use henna since I'm blond.

    • PromptWriter profile image

      Moe Wood 

      10 years ago from Eastern Ontario

      I need all the endorphins I can get. ;)

    • Infact profile image


      10 years ago

      I have been coloring my hair with henna for over a year now.Love it!

      Thumbs up!

    • Lady Lorelei profile imageAUTHOR

      Lorelei Cohen 

      11 years ago from Canada

      @GramaBarb: This is really going to be one very goopy gooey soup that Hortence is creating.

    • GramaBarb profile image


      11 years ago from Vancouver

      Great lens! I am adding it to old-hortences-alphabet-soup. Thanks for adding my meatballs to your soup. :)


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