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Home Spa Treatment: Henna Your Hair

Since I have dark hair, lemon juice doesn't do a thing to add natural highlights to my hair. I've even experimented with cranberry juice, but I never really noticed much of a difference. Many years ago a friend turned me on to using henna. It doesn't contain a bunch of synthetic chemicals, instead it is a plant based dye. The green leaves are dried and then crushed into a powder. You just add water to the powder to make a paste that you apply to your hair.

Despite what hairdressers say, henna is good for your hair. Not only is it a natural colorant (much better than chemical dyes), but it strengthens and conditions your hair, and as an added bonus, it gets rid of dandruff.

When I want to add a color to my hair, I use the pure henna powder you order online - it works much better than the Rainbow Henna you see at heath food stores. It's the same henna women use to decorate a bride's hands and feet before an Indian wedding.

Putting henna in your hair can be a bit messy, but the color is absolutely gorgeous. It creates shiny reddish highlights that look completely natural. Want to know how to do it, then

Wash your hair, don't condition it and then towel it dry. Place the entire box of henna powder (about 100 grams or 1 cup) into a glass or metal bowl. Then gradually add 1 cup of warm water. Use a metal spoon to mix it together to make a creamy paste similar to frosting.
Wear rubber or latex gloves (so your hands don't get stained - if you don't wear gloves, it's not a big deal - the stain will go away in a day or two). Using your fingers, scoop up some of the paste and begin to smear it all along your hair. I always do the hair around my face first and then work my way back. After all the henna is in your hair, if you hair is long enough, pull it back and then twist it in a bun.
Now place a plastic bag over your hair and tie it in the back. Then check your face, ears, neck, and shoulders and wash off any henna that didn't make it into your hair. Check the floor too.

The first time I did this, I only left the henna in my hair for 45-60 minutes. Then every other time, I increased the amount of time until I realized that I could sleep with it overnight. My hair is really dark though, so the longer the better. I would NOT recommend you do this your first time or if your hair is light.

When you are ready to wash it out, get into one of those shower/tubs. Turn the water on for the tub, squat down, and wash as much of the henna out as possible. Then you can turn on the shower part and rinse the rest of your hair and body. Don't wash your hair, just condition it once or twice - it makes your hair silky smooth and helps to get all the extra henna out. The water will be brown, so don't be alarmed. It'll probably be brown the next few times you get it wet too.

So that's it. I know it sounds a little complicated, but once you get the hang of it, it's just as easy as washing your hair.

Join The Conversation
hardtofigureout hardtofigureout 10 years
Thanks for the tip. I've used this shampoo before (, and I think it has henna in it, but it seems like it might be cheaper to make the henna mix yourself. Plus, I think the shampoo might be discontinued now or something because I haven't been able to find it anywhere except Amazon.
SweetE SweetE 10 years
LUSH also offers hennas in different shades that people seem to really like.
mominator mominator 10 years
Does it always give the red tinted highlights if you use this. I have dark hair (starting to gray in the bangs area ) and thinking by coloring my hair but I do not want it to have red highlights. I just want it to look like my natural color. I am scared because I have never colored my hair.
j2krelle j2krelle 10 years
Something else that's fun to do with henna is give yourself a little temporary tattoo. There are some great sites online that will tell you how to do it. It's super easy. You can also buy body-art-quality henna in indian food stores, but henna can lose its effectiveness over time so don't buy it if it looks like the stock never turns over.
Fitness Fitness 10 years
maryamrose - thanks for the tips! It's funny that everyone has their little secret recipes. I had a friend in high school from Egypt and she said to mix the henna powder with boiling water and then put it in the fridge overnight. Then you apply it the next day.
kungfubunni kungfubunni 10 years
i like how indian women sometimes have one or two bright orange streaks in their hair. what if you just want a couple streaks? is that done with henna too?
thehabra thehabra 10 years
I bought some really great henna in Zanzibar last year.I might try this.
isahrangme isahrangme 10 years
hmmm... so since i'm asian, with probably even darker hair than you, i can sleep overnight with it?
rubialala rubialala 10 years
OMG, what a mess. I'm so glad I just keep my hair natural.
maryamrose maryamrose 10 years
I apparently failed to notice the big orange "NOT THIS" label on the Rainbow henna. :D
maryamrose maryamrose 10 years
As a warning, the Rainbow brand henna pictured here is, to put it nicely, complete crap. Only choose body art quality henna like the kind sold at (and other vendors online). It's the only way to go. Also, the application directions here don't give you the full color benefits of the henna. Mix the henna with cool water and a splash of lemon juice, lime juice, or wine to a pudding-like consistency, lightly cover with saran wrap, and let sit in a warm area for at least 6 hours prior to use. And the longer you leave it on your hair, the more color benefits you see. If you'd like the conditioning effects without the color change, you may want to try cassia obovata.
girlboy girlboy 10 years
my mom loves this stff
imLissy imLissy 10 years
I used to use it, but after making a mess of my shower, I wasn't allowed to anymore, lol
cg2003 cg2003 10 years
hey can we see the after pic? want to see how this looks...feels like something i'd like to try
kalaloughary kalaloughary 10 years
I am a hairdresser and no henna will not damage your hair but you are not able to color over it or bleach it out so if you use henna make sure you warn your stylist before you get any chemical treatments i.e. perms, highlights and color.
jhuck jhuck 10 years
I did my school placement at a pharmacy that sold not-so-common items for my area and henna dye was one of those items. People loved it and it looks great!
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