Henna Happenings with Hoozey.

Howdy all. Long time, no blog. Sorry about that but "RL" got in the way- as in real life. I have been super busy which I will fill you in on in another blog but today's venture into henna hair color demanded a blog.

Silly me did not take a before photo. I meant to but in eagerness to try henna for the first time I forgot until it was too late. So I'll try to describe my before hair color- the bottom and back of my hair were intentionally darker- like a medium slightly ashy brown. The front and top were highlighted to make the gray blend in better as they grew in.

What drew me to henna was my daughter reading up on it because she has always craved auburn hair. She's been dying her hair with the demi-permanent hair colors for about 2 years and considers herself a redhead- that's what she feels is her true color- rather than the mousy brown she naturally has. She worried about the damage she may be doing to her hair by dying it and the roots always show up extremely green looking against the auburn so it only looked good at the very beginning. Plus everyone knows that red is the hardest color to keep from fading. She said that it actually makes your hair healthier. I worried about doing henna and it not working out right and never being able to go back to commercial dyes- you know how many say not to use on henna hair. That is actually a misconception on henna. You can go back IF you get 100% pure body art grade henna- it's those "hennas" that have metallic salts in them that are the bad ones.

So I started researching henna myself. First thing I learned henna is only red toned. All the henna kits that say brown or black colors are not just henna. That's not to say that you can't get brown or black hair using henna and other natural herbal hair dyes. Second I learned that henna will not lighten your hair- it will coat it with red pigment- so the color you end up with depends on the color of your hair to begin with. White hair dyed with henna will be vibrant red but dark hair will only have some red highlights in the sunshine.

Henna can strengthen, condition and thicken hair. It is also known to loosen curl pattern so frizzy hair can be tamed a bit by henna. It gives lots of shine since it only adds color without stripping hair like commercial dyes do.

Other herbs like Cassia Obovata (neutral henna) will add golden tones and shine. Indigo can be added to your henna regime to get brown and black results. There is also a long list of herbs for hair but I will focus on those for coloring hair naturally in this post.

I ordered body quality henna from Henna Sooq per Michelle's recommendation. I ordered almost every "color" of henna since daughter wanted red and I wanted browner results. The difference in these hennas is only in the amount of lawsone (dye henna contains) in the plant. The more lawsone in the henna the more intense red the results will be. I also ordered amla, indigo, bhringraj, bhrami and shikakai--some to make henna more brown, others just for their herbal haircare benefits. I'll blog about these as I use them but I was definitely interested since my hair has been described as "a forest of skinny trees" meaning I have a lot of hairs but they are baby fine- so my hair can use some fattening up.

The downside of henna is the time commitment- unlike commercial dyes- henna needs to be mixed in advance for dye release (about 12 hours) and then needs to be on one's hair for much longer than the typical 30 minutes (now some even only 10 minutes) of box dyes. It is also a learning curve to achieve the color you want and henna is permanent. The upside is that one is left with healthier hair and you don't have to wait for your hair to recover from coloring.

So I mixed 100g of the henna with the least amount of lawsone with ACV and strong coffee to make it the consistency of pudding the night before doing strand test- hair from my brush. I let this sit overnight for dye release. I also mixed 2 different 100g packages of henna with higher lawsone content for DD's use- she has thick, slightly longer hair so I knew she'd need more than one package since she needs 2 packages of traditional dye to get all her hair. I mixed these with lemon juice (bottled kind) and water until I got the pudding consistency and let it sit overnight. The next day I added a tiny bit of amla to my mix for one trial and just the henna mix on the other for my strand tests. I added a little paprika (for redder results) to one of DD's strand tests. Left these mixtures on the strands for about 4 hours (wrapped in plastic wrap.) Upon rinsing all the strand tests were definitely red-toned and no noticeable difference between the amla/paprika additions. I wore gloves for this- henna stains hands easily-- drier areas take the dye better than moisturized areas so I did apply moisturizer to my hairline to help prevent staining.

I placed the henna mixtures in the freezer for storage. Monday morning I got the mixtures out and placed in hot water to thaw while I mixed up about 3 tablespoons of amla with strong tea and instant coffee. I also mixed a whole jar of inexpensive paprika with hot water for DD's henna. I mixed the amla and henna together and placed in a carrot bag-- cake decorating plastic bag. I woke DD to help pipe the mixture onto my head. As predicted my hair was coated with less than the full mixture- I had about 1/3 left after application. We wrapped my head in plastic wrap then I topped with a cheap plastic shower cap and wrapped with a pre made wrap I found in the ethnic hair area of Walmart. Then I mixed paprika in DD's mix and applied to her head-- took the whole amount. We placed a little of the henna mixture on her eyebrows- one of the perks about henna is that it's safe to dye brows the same color. We wrapped her head in the same manner and put two small pieces of plastic wrap over her brows to keep the mixture wet. She then proceeded to go back to bed (she had worked at Steak N Shake the night before.) After 2 hours I checked a small piece of my hair and found that the henna definitely took. So I started rinsing it out of my hair. Most of the places recommended using an inexpensive conditioner to help rinse the muddy paste out so I did that. I rinsed many times this way- using about 1/3 of a big bottle of conditioner. After I felt like my hair was pretty clean, I packed on some heavy duty conditioner and placed a cheap shower cap over it to deep condition about 1/2 hour. Eventually DD woke and we rinsed her hair out after about 4 hours with the henna on it. During this time, my hair had dried naturally and I found it too red/orange for my liking so I thawed the leftover henna and mixed about 35g of indigo with hot water and let it rest for about 20 minutes for dye release. I then mixed the two together and applied to my hair, wrapped in plastic wrap & shower cap and waited about an hour. I repeated the rinsing process this time with another Suave conditioner (Coconut) which I found was actually a little better for getting the henna mixture out quicker. The results were much closer to my natural hair color although the highlights were ever so slightly green tinged from the indigo. Indigo is a can't go back choice because lightening it will produce frog butt green. Henna can be lightened. I was OK with the results with this second hendigo application-- I may do a henna gloss (henna mixture mixed with conditioner) to redden it up slightly. In the future I will probably opt for redder henna mixed with less indigo-- I'm OK with red tones to my hair but not ORANGE. I don't blame henna but more about all the stuff done to my hair before that made getting things right a little more challenging. I needed to get my hair darker all over with indigo addition but think in future doing just henna could look fine the next time around.
Henna only application-- too orange 
Highlights too orange with henna only.
After application of henna & indigo. Took down the orange
After Henna & Indigo- Indigo made it ashy/greenish but more natural than the orange

Henna Only- too orange in the previous highlights/grays


  1. sounds complicated... really complicated but the results look really good! Can't wait to see further experiments.

    what did ur girl's hair look like? was she happy?

  2. what a great indepth post hoozey!! so helpful!! i've thought about henna but never got around to trying it out.

    it all sounds very complicated but i'm sure once you've done it a few times it won't be as laborious?

    how is DD handling her red hair? any piccies to see? :D


  3. I'll post photos of DD's hair and my after henna gloss. I am LOVING it. So real looking and feel FABULOUS!! Totally worth the time. I think once I get the knack it will be easier than "regular" hair dye. What I really like is the thought of being able to do gloss and blend in the grays. =)

  4. I would LOVE to try this-- I think I am looking for a color a little more auburn than yours, but not RED RED... What do you recomend? I have medium/light brown hair.

    PS AWESOME detail, loving it!