Laura Billings / flickr

Laura Billings / flickr

I’ve heard some very mixed opinions about henna.

Since I’ve put color in my hair (it’s actually 7 months grown out), I’ve been wondering about color treatments that are less harsh on the hair.  I’m aware that henna is a pretty permanent step to take (once you henna, its not wise to go back to chemical dyes, rinses, color treatments, ect) — but I have to admit, most of the henna treatments I’ve seen have come out so vibrant.

While doing some research on henna, I found a helpful article by Wahine at that lists some pros and cons of trying henna:


  • 100% natural
  • Cost effective compared to a trip to the salon
  • Will not damage hair
  • Easy to upkeep
  • Beautiful highlights


  • Limited color selection (recipe section later in article)
  • Color depends on natural shade of hair
  • Messy
  • Dyes skin in addition to hair (temporary)
  • Henna prevents future use of chemical dyes and perms, due to it’s unique coating of the hairshaft. This can last months.
  • Time consuming depending on the desired intensity of color

If you do your homework to find a legit seller, henna can curtail a lot of stress and damage to your hair (compared to using most store-bought hair dyes). Natural henna powders/treatments can  give your hair more shine, less curl shrinkage and wonderful dimensions of color.

HOWEVER, henna is not for the impulsive!! Buying the wrong brand or applying the wrong way, can set your hair health way back (henna application can be wearisome – especially if you want to produce certain shades/colors that are further away from the red spectrum).

So when looking for effective coloring alternatives, do your research to avoid disappointment!

Have any of you tried henna? Do you know someone whose had beautiful results or a henna nightmare? Please share.

Henna Sooq / flickr

Henna Sooq / flickr

Wanna read more on henna color treatments?? Click the link – How to Henna Your Hair


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14 Responses

  1. Sindhu says:

    Henna treatments are very popular in South Asia. I used to indulge in one from time to time during my college days, and I’ve always loved it. It gives the hair a very subtle deep reddish brown tinge and an additional (albeit short-lived) luster. It’s definitely a great alternative to chemical dyes.

    Henna is cooling so you might not want to apply it when you’re having a cold/feeling feverish etc. And it is true that it dyes the scalp too, but that goes off in like, a day or so. And if you get it done at a place where they know what they’re doing, they’ll usually make sure to be extra careful about the way they apply it.

    But like I said, it is an indulgence because getting treatments done can be fairly expensive. I’m not sure how much they cost here but they used to be like 100 singapore dollars a session. But it was always worth it.

    If you’re interested, you might want to check out Indian beauty salons in the city – I’m sure they offer the service and are familiar with how to do it. There’s one on West 4th Street (and broadway) near the NYU Bobst library that seems to offer good service at affordable prices. I’ve never actually gotten a henna treatment done there (though I am considering it) so I cannot vouch for it completely.

    • Danielle says:

      Thanks for the info Sindhu!

      When I decide to color again, I will probably look into doing a henna treatment at the salon.
      I usually like to experiment – and do it myself – but I know how messy henna applications can be….and i dont want to risk getting that dye everywhere, when it stains your skin (and prob everything else) so easily.

      This treatment definitely sounds like its worth the money though….and i’m pretty anti-chemical now, so I’m not too worried about getting color through any other means.

      *Great info*

  2. Boutique says:

    Henna is so economical why would you pay a salon to do it ?

    A 100gm box can be obtained for under $10 (I even carry it in my gift shop) and it can be applied in 10 minutes with nothing more involved than adding some lemon juice.

    I am hooked on henna these days because I was having terrible reactions to my regular color (I have been doing auburn for about 20 years now) and my scalp was itching, and sore for weeks.

    The color is perfect because I am looking for an intense auburn/deep red and this is the most stunning shade I have ever had. The shine is wonderful.

    Applying henna on black hair is not going to result in a vibrant color, more of a rich, red highlight – especially in the sun. If you have greys, they will color quite bright though. Henna is a stain so it will reflect the base color through the red.

    The best results are obtained by leaving it on a LONG time, so you definitely want to do that at home. I do between 4 and 5 hours to get the maximum penetration and depth.

    A little bit of preparation and it is really pretty easy.

    Just cover the sink and surfaces with newspaper or old towels and wear good plastic gloves.

    My last application I got it all over my ears and around my face but a quick wipe with some face cream and it was gone.

    I even squish it all over and the scalp stain is not even noticeable and gone in a day.

    The only difficult part is setting aside time to do it – so I will prep the mix on a Sunday morning (it needs to be mixed, then left to sit in a warm place for 3-8 hours to get the dye release) then apply it early evening – wrap it good with a cap and towel to hold in heat, then get ready for a movie fest.

    I am doing a little series on henna use and applicaton at my blog. I have a photo of the first time application, with more to follow in the next installment.

    Email if you have any questions about use, or application. I would be happy to answer.

  3. ~Back to Curly~ says:

    I’m still on the fence about henna as well…I have some color in my hair that I’m trying to grown out, but my gut tells me it’s going to take a while. Do you know if it’s safe to henna over existing color?
    The mess factor scares me as well…if I were to to it I’d need some hand holding or a good CD to get me through…

  4. Danielle says:

    Thanks for the info Angela!

    I think I will definitely keep henna in mind for the future. It will probably be awhile though before I contemplate coloring, since I’m currently growing chemical color out of my hair now (and going natural). I think I’ll wait a while before doing anything at this point.

    But henna is definitely an option… although I’m still weary of self-application.
    I can be a bit

  5. Boutique says:

    Therein lies the beauty of henna. Because is is a natural plant colorant you can use it over chemically colored hair with good results.

    My first henna was over permanent tint – it was dark auburn so the level and tone were the same – that made it an easy decision. I have been coloring my hair red for 20 years now, but keep it trimmed 2x a year and did not have light or damaged ends so my results were just perfect.

    Actually, they were better than I expected. I had heard that henna will not show outgrowth if you are putting it over a medium to dark base – even if you don’t reapply it as often as regular color, and darned if that wasn’t right on the money.

    I have one tiny patch of grey-white hair right in front – that section I knew would be a brighter red than the rest – but it mellowed to a nice shade. After a month’s time I could see my outgrowth starting to show in that one spot but the rest of my roots were barely noticeable.

    If it weren’t for the grey I could have gone for 2 months without redoing the henna, the blending was so perfect. That has NEVER happened with regular hair dye – there is always a marked outgrowth line that is quite unattractive.

    I think it has something to do with the shine factor.

    Unless you are coloring over a light shade or highly bleached hair then existing color it isn’t really a concern. If your hair is two distinctly different colors – light on the ends and dark at the roots the henna isn’t going to even that out because it cannot lighten the darker hair.

    Keep in mind – henna is a plant based stain – so whatever your base color is it will add a deep red-auburn tint over that color. Blonde bases will become a bright, bright red – light brown will be a vibrant light auburn, medium brown a rich auburn and dk brown an auburn highlight. Black hair will get a nice highlight in the sun, but may not be noticeable indoors under regular lighting.

    Regarding application: that is another beautiful feature of henna, you basically just “slop” it on and you are done.

    My second application should have been roots only but I started at the roots then just squished it all over and put the cap on and was done. The results were just as beautiful as the first time around.

    It is messy – but keep in mind, this is just ground up leaves, not chemicals. Yes, it will stain anything you drop it on just like a teabag will stain the counter if you leave it sitting there but it is nothing to be afraid of. Just cover the sink and floor with some newspapers and you are good to go.

    Wear good plastic gloves (not the cheapie ones in the clairol box) and wipe up any drips on your skin as you go and no worries.

    If anybody is ready to take the plunge I will post a step by step application for you.

    Try it, you’ll like it !


  6. Boutique says:

    PS – I have a page on my site that has a photo of my initial henna application. I am going to post some photos of my second and will post more in the future.

    After a few applications the henna reaches a saturation point so it doesn’t get any deeper red – the reapplying is just for conditioning and maintaining the color intensity.

    If you go to the Catalog page you will see the henna photo.


    Photos also on my blog

  7. blackstrands says:

    Is there something you’d like to tell us…
    you peddling henna??
    LOL j/k

    But really, I’m sure henna will turn up in my hair in the near future. I tend to get fidgety, and I like to experiment with my hair a lot.

    Thankfully, henna is natural…so I may stray away from my commitment…to leave my hair alone! ;>

    I would actually love a step-by-step, if you didn’t mind.
    I could actually put your post up as a reader recommendation.

    If or when you feel up to it… you can contact me at

    *BTW saw the pics, and your color looks great*

  8. Boutique says:

    Ah, one last thing.

    Do you girls use Shea butter for hair conditioning ?

    I use it on my ends and love it.

    From what I have read, it is the perfect conditioner for black hair types as it adds moisture, and suppleness without any bad side effects.

    I make a lot of body products for my shop and I specialize in using raw shea butter straight from Ghana (I have a dentist friend who is with Doctors Without Borders and imports it directly from the villages).

    There isn’t anything on this planet better for your skin and hair than raw shea butter.

    Check it out.


  9. blackstrands says:

    did a post on shea butter actually (among other oils)!

    But you’re right, it is a great way to moisturize your entire body….I’ve been thinking of doing a post on “ultimate” beauty products though..TBA

  10. Amina says:

    Growing up we used henna on our hands and feet all the time. But on my hair, it is a disaster because it just makes it sooo dry!!
    Please you have to leave it in for such a long time to see some “color” so i am back to using it on hands/ feet

  11. dr uzma says:

    i dye my hair almost every month and i would love to use henna instead of dye but i donot like that redish colour of henna any suggestion what should i do?i have grey hair as well.

  12. Kemet says:

    Dear Ladies ,
    Got my hair dyed with a chemical hair dye–It’s ichy scalp tonight and over-processed feeling—-I know in two weeks I will have some grey around the frame of my face showing and wondered if I can use a henna with indigo to cover it – I am preparing to leave the chemicals alone again— I used to use Avigal henna I think it came from a country we don’t trade with anymore
    Yes, Shea butter is the best for my skin-I brought back 50 lbs of creammmmmy shea from beautiful Ghana – I add a little Baobab oil at night for rejuvenation and in the day Shea with Kigelia to tighten my skin in the day –Although we African women always look younger then we are– Kigelia really makes 50 look 30 — The Chinese women are using it to tighten their breasts– Sub-sahara Africa was in the old days 3500BC called Placenta-Land I understand why (smile)

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