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Henna for Hair Keep Gray at Bay the Natural Way

Updated on September 6, 2016
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I’ve been using henna for hair for over 10 years so I have a lot of great advice for you.

I very rarely go to the hairdressers, mainly because I can't spare the cash, but also because I like long hair and hairdressers always want to cut it – short. Have you noticed that?! That's my hair in the photo above, I've just hennaed it and this how I did it.

I have very sensitive skin and I am not ready to go gray so I have to dye my hair. Box dyes give me allergic reactions like burning and itching so I ditched them a long time ago and started using natural organic henna instead. Although it is messy and takes about 4 hours from start to end, I'd say that it's really worth it.

These are the reasons I think henna for hair is only dye we should be using:

  • Other hair dyes are full of all kinds of chemicals, which our scalps absorb and this is not good for your health.
  • Henna for hair fades naturally so you don't get an unsightly line around your hairline as your hair begins to grow out. This cannot be said for the hair dyes you get in boxes.
  • It is natural and organic and it has been tried and tested in countries like Persia and India for thousands of years. Always check the box to see if it has no chemicals in it because some hennas do!
  • It covers my light to medium gray hair very well. It actually makes the gray sparkle a golden hue. I’m afraid I can't comment on how well henna dyes very gray hair, but I have read that if you are around 40% gray the result will be an extremely vibrant look.
  • Because it fades naturally you don’t have to keep doing your hair - you can afford to just wait till you feel like doing it. Your hair sort of tells you when it’s time! I used to box dye my hair every 3 or so weeks! Now I can wait for much longer.
  • Depending on what natural color your hair is, henna put tinges of red, black, gold and brown into it, highlighting and making it glow especially when the sun shines. It is very pretty. If you choose red henna it will turn really auburn. If you buy henna mixed with indigo herbs and coffee it will make your hair black or brown with a hint of red.

PLEASE DO A STRAND TEST THEY ARE ESSENTIAL:

Whatever you do you must do a strand test before you start to use henna for hair because it may react to the chemicals that are in your hair from other products. Make sure you include some gray strands in your test. All you do is add very hot water to a small amount of henna and make a paste, add a strand of hair to it. Wear your rubber gloves and rub it in the hair. Leave it for a couple of hours. Then wash and dry. That's it! If you like the color then you're ready to go. SKIP THIS STAGE AT YOUR PERIL! The color keeps developing for 24 hours after you apply it. So it's worth being patient and waiting.

If you don't like the color, wait a few weeks for the other products to fade and try again.

My natural hair is medium to light brown, sort of chestnut with lighter strands in it, henna makes it darker brown with tinges of red and gold. Some people really love the red or auburn colors, I don't like them on me, but they look fabulous on many women - so why not give it a go! Ditch the chemicals.

A word of warning; I have never tried using a box product after using henna so I don't know what would happen to my hair if I used a box product now. If anyone knows the answer to this please leave a comment.

Image credit: Henna For Hair copyright 2015 adventuretravelshop

Time required: 4 hours

Difficulty: medium

Cost: approx $10

Materials:

  • natural organic henna for hair powder
  • hot water
  • Natural organic shampoo and conditioner

Tools:

  • rubber hairdresser's gloves
  • bain-marie ( pot of boiling water with a heatproof bowl in it.a comb
  • Metal Spoon. It will dye your wooden spoon
  • An old or dark towel
  • Some Vaseline or screen cream to protect your temple and ears.
  • MirrorCling film (essential) - hair cap (optional)
  • Newspaper to cover the floor
  • Someone to help you pick up the crumbs as they fall - useful but not essential!

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Instructions:

1. Here's my gear - not very pretty but it works!

2. Boil some water in a saucepan and put a heat resistant bowl over it. Put the henna in the bowl and cover it with boiling water. Not too much! The henna will absorb the water and turn into a paste. It should be creamy and thick - not runny or the mess will be horrendous! It won't stick to your hair. It must not be too dry either - think Goldilocks: this henna's too hard, this one is too soft, this one is just right! It must be hot, hot, hot. But obviously let it cool a bit before applying it to your head!

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3. Heat it until it changes color. It should not be green. It should turn creamy and brown. Remember this is not the color your hair will be in the end. In fact the color develops over a few days - it will get better and better as it oxidizes.

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4. Here's the length of my hair. One packet of henna weighing about 100 g will cover my hair. But if you are starting from scratch and you have long hair use 2 boxes. Cake it on. When you think it's enough, then add more! AND RUB IT IN THOROUGHLY




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5. This is the amount of gray I have. Not sure if you would describe that as light or medium! So here's a close up for you. Before you apply the henna to damp clean hair, smear some cream on to protect your hairline because the henna will dye your skin.




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6. I have tried all sorts of different ways of applying it and yes, this is a very messy process. My husband has helped me, as have my mum, sister, and various friends.

I have tried applying it while lying on the floor to stop the henna falling all over the place, but the way that suits me best is: Do it yourself and stand over the bathroom sink with a large mirror in front of you and plenty of natural light. It doesn't work if you apply it in the evening because you need to see very clearly.

Wear black! Using your coloring comb, divide the hair and apply the henna onto each side of each small segment. As you would with any other color. The difference is that henna is not a flowing liquid, so you have to really push it through the hair. Do it in small steps.

After that is done take the remaining henna and cake it on right to the tips of your hair and massage it in. It's like having a mud bath. If it starts to get too crumbly, add warm water to the henna on your head. Just a little will keep it tacky.

Magnification Mirror

Jerdon JP4045C 9-Inch Vanity Mirror with 5x Magnification, Chrome Finish
Jerdon JP4045C 9-Inch Vanity Mirror with 5x Magnification, Chrome Finish

I use one of these. When I look at my hair through the magnified side I can really see where the henna needs to be applied.

 
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7. Cake it on good and thick. Rub it right into your scalp with your fingers, then cake on more! The thicker it is the better. Then pile your hair on top of your head. It's at this point that I really envy people with short hair! I don't usually take photos of myself while I do this!




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8. Now you're ready to wrap some cling film around your head to keep the henna warm. This gives it more red in tone. Don't do this if you want it to be brown. Then put a cap on to stop it falling all over the place as it starts to dry!

Notice that I have left the front of my hairline exposed. The cap takes the henna off if you let it rub the hair at the front and you'll be left with gray hair right where you don't want it.

You could wash it off after 1 hour, but I leave mine for 3 hours. Any more is a waste of time! Rinse until the water runs clear, then use shampoo and conditioner as normal. You have to be calm and patient and a bit philosophical at this point because it takes quite a long time to get out - but it's worth it. After it's dry I put some coconut oil on it to give it a bit more love and attention.

Hair Wrap

Betty Dain Hipster Collection Mold Resistant Shower Cap, Tough Love
Betty Dain Hipster Collection Mold Resistant Shower Cap, Tough Love

You can see in the image above that I use something like this. But before I put this on I wrap my head in cling film. These help the henna has to stay where you put it and keeps it moist and warm.

 
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9. The big photo at the top of the page is what it looks like the next day. I love the color don't you? Notice that it's not too red, but has red tones in it. Here's a closeup - I hope you can see the way that it has highlights and that it's not just a block of color.









Good luck let me know how you get on

Here's a Hub I've written about coconut oil It is very good for you, your skin and your hair.

Thank you so much for your visit. Did thishelp you in any way? Will you be having a go at using henna and ditching the chemicals? Please let me know. Good luck with it. Remember to do it when you are in the mood and have a lot of time to pamper yourself while you're waiting for the henna to do its magic! and PLEASE do a strand test first.

© 2013 Giovanna Sanguinetti

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    • Adventuretravels profile image
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      Giovanna Sanguinetti 21 months ago from Perth UK

      Sorry about the delay in replying. I had a problem with my hair falling out too. About 2 months ago I bought some Biotin on Amazon. It is really good for hair, nails and skin! I took it for about 2 weeks and my hair completely stopped falling out. I have been taking it ever since. I don't know which brand to recommend because I'm in the UK and things are different in the US, but if you read people's comments on Amazon.com you'll see that many people are taking Biotin and it really does help. It has made my hair feel softer too. Black henna should work on your hair - I don't know if you have any gray in your hair, but black henna will certainly cover it. Make sure you're not sensitive to Indigo - it makes me feel really sick and brings on migrane so I am using red henna now - this has no indigo in it at all. I'm not sure how you can test this but if you use it once and it makes you feel unwell - change to pure red henna. Good luck let me know how you get on.

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      Maria 21 months ago

      Do you have any suggestions for a beginner? Meaning my hair is black with some red ends (prior bleaching) but my hair is so dark it doesn't take on color. Also my hair is falling out excessively and Ive been playing with oils and such to get it to stop. Any recommendations on buying henna or a start kit online with step by step instruction for black hair?

    • Adventuretravels profile image
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      Giovanna Sanguinetti 2 years ago from Perth UK

      I'm so soory but I have no idea what the 'towel technique' you want to use is. So I can't help you. Henna does make hair red be careful to choose a brown henna.

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      Rhi 2 years ago

      I've had blonde highlights for years and decided last year to go back to a colour closer to my roots. I have tried to re-colour my hair at home without success and now I am left with auburn hair when what I want is brown. I cannot afford a visit to the salon and as I am at my wits end I will try this using the towel technique, what do you think my chances of success are?

    • Adventuretravels profile image
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      Giovanna Sanguinetti 3 years ago from Perth UK

      @silvia-arnezseitz: Hi I use brown henna. Wrapping it in cling film will make it redder. So wrap it in an old towel. Hope that's useful . Thanks for your visit.

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      silvia-arnezseitz 3 years ago

      What color henna did you use? I love your hair color because it didn't turn out very red and this is the color that I want to go for. Thanks.

    • Adventuretravels profile image
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      Giovanna Sanguinetti 3 years ago from Perth UK

      @Arachnea: Yes I wish I had short hair! Have a go and let me know how you get on. Remember the strand test! Thanks for your visit and comment.

    • Arachnea profile image

      Tanya Jones 3 years ago from Texas USA

      This is an interesting idea. I have a bunch of old henna I've never used. Since my hair is really short, I should be okay controlling the mess, right? Great lens.

    • Dhookraj Singh profile image

      Dhookraj Singh 3 years ago

      My wife uses henna.She uses an old toothbrush to apply it.

    • Adventuretravels profile image
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      Giovanna Sanguinetti 3 years ago from Perth UK

      @MammyPammy: That sounds so beautiful -a strawberry blond - I absolutely love that color. Shout Out - does anybody know where we can find this strawberry tint to add to non-tinting henna? Thanks for your visit.

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      MammyPammy 3 years ago

      I used henna many years ago, mostly as a conditioner. A non-tinting henna. I would sometimes mix a strawberry color with the clear as my hair was a natural honey blonde. Couldn't get it in the drugstores anymore. Thanks for the shopping list...

    • Adventuretravels profile image
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      Giovanna Sanguinetti 3 years ago from Perth UK

      @GabrielaFargasch: That's great to hear! I am so pleased that you like the color Burgundy is lovely! Just think no more chemicals - yippeeeee! Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment.

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      GabrielaFargasch 3 years ago

      I have just started using henna on my hair and I am 50% gray! The results were amazing!! I got a gorgeous deep burgundy color now to die for! I wish I had started sooner! :)

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      Giovanna Sanguinetti 3 years ago from Perth UK

      @delia-delia: Yes it is a mess but I think it's really worth it. I just did mine a week ago and it feels and looks really beautiful. Thank you for your visit and for leaving a comment.

    • delia-delia profile image

      Delia 3 years ago

      My mom use to Henna her hair...I remember the mess. Nice instructive lens!

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      Giovanna Sanguinetti 3 years ago from Perth UK

      @lesliesinclair: I didn't know that how very interesting. I suppose it's because it is a totally natural and pure product. Thanks very much for your comment.

    • lesliesinclair profile image

      lesliesinclair 3 years ago

      Did you know that henna is the only hair dye that Muslims can use if they follow Muslim practices? I'm happy with the white hairs growing in so I won't be using it, but it's sure popular with others. You've got a clear tutorial for anyone who wants an organic dye job, and your hair looks pretty.

    • Adventuretravels profile image
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      Giovanna Sanguinetti 3 years ago from Perth UK

      @Board-Game-Brooke: Yes chemicals are not at all good they don't even make your hair look good. Thanks for your visit and for leaving a comment.

    • Board-Game-Brooke profile image

      C A Chancellor 3 years ago from US/TN

      I'm not ready for color yet, but whenever I'm ready to take the plunge, I'll definitely consider henna. I'd much rather a natural solution than chemicals.

    • Adventuretravels profile image
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      Giovanna Sanguinetti 4 years ago from Perth UK

      @Mommie-Moola: Don't forget to do the strand test and then sit relax say Om and let the henna work its magic. Thanks for your visit. Let me know how you get on please.

    • Mommie-Moola profile image

      Mommie-Moola 4 years ago

      Very helpful - i just may have to try it

    • Adventuretravels profile image
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      Giovanna Sanguinetti 4 years ago from Perth UK

      @DawnRae64: I found your lens very informative. I am so glad that I could return the favor! I agree that the results of henna are fantastic. Good luck with it, let me know how it goes. Thanks a lot for your visit.

    • DawnRae64 profile image

      Dawn 4 years ago from Maryland, USA

      Thank you so much for visiting my migraine lens. I'm very pleased for your visit AND because that led me here. I'm so excited to find a way to find Henna again. Many years ago, I went to the salon to have my hair henna'd on a regular basis. The results were fantastic. Then it was no longer available to my knowledge! I'm so glad to find your shopping list!