Loving my hennaed hair

Biggest response I got from comments after my post about my first try at hennaing my hair was "sounds complicated" or "too much work." As my daughter said, "It's more like baking fresh bread- takes a long time between start and finish but not all that much actual work involved." And like homemade bread- results are worth the wait time and little work that it actually takes. 

While working on yesterday's post I did a henna gloss to oomph up the red tone in my hair after old highlights/grays were slightly green cast after henna & indigo. This was super easy- I had mixed the henna (more lawsone content) the night before and let rest overnight for dye release. I grab the baggy of henna paste and added about 3/4 cup of (cheap- Suave) conditioner and about the same amount of henna paste. Slathered this on my hair with gloved hands, popped a cheap disposable shower cap on top with a bit of paper towel under the elastic to prevent drips, and wrote my blog while waiting a bit. A half hour later I rinsed well (easier to rinse gloss out than henna/indigo pastes) and eagerly looked to the mirror for the results-- PERFECTION!! The perfect brown with auburn slant that I was looking for but with bonus of thicker, silkier, stronger, shinier hair. My hair was really thin- more like invisible thread whereas I'd say now they are nearly double the size. 

Henna doesn't have to be as "complicated" as my first time. My problem was my starting color was complicated- my typical color routine was to dye my hair some sort of ash brown and then do highlights to blend grays and I always hated the way boxed dyes made my hair way too mono-chromatic... no matter how much they said "dimensional" they left it pretty much the same color all over which in my opinion is NOT natural on medium brown hair. The other reason my henna session was complicated is that with my skin tone, I had to be very picky about balancing the color- it could be auburn but not copper/orange with my olive tan skin color. 

So if your hair color is close to normal- the recipe for success doesn't take 3 attempts like it did me. If you can take more red toned hair- then just the henna session would have worked on you. If you had darker hair (no highlights) the henna session would have just provided you with lovely red highlights in the sun. If you had black hair to start with, you could have achieved lovely black hair by following freshly hennaed hair with indigo only- indigo doesn't take well to hair without a henna session first. Most of the video tutorials I found on henna/indigo were on African American hair- so that tells you something about the beneficial effects of using henna & indigo. For those wanting just to oomph color- a gloss like my 3rd session would have been perfect. Really not much more time than a box hair color other than the preparing the henna the night before. Plus the next time you want to gloss your hair all you have to do is thaw out the leftover paste. 

I will never go back to commercial dyes- my hair feels way too amazing and the color is totally me. Plus I know I can hide the grays easily with a glaze whenever I need to- no more need to wait to give my hair a rest between dying (drying) like before. After this first venture I have learned so much already- I only need a little indigo to tone down the red. I've even learned that the higher lawsone content in my henna is actually better than the weaker ones. My hair can take the red but the weaker ones tend to take it to orange which doesn't look right on me. I think from here on out, it's more maintenance glosses (30 minute sessions) rather than full on henna day- the total time I had henna/indigo/henna gloss on my hair was 2 hours/1 hour/30 minutes. Less than a typical henna session due to my hair being thin and taking up color easily. I can't stop stroking my hair since my henna sessions-- it's really that silky soft. I also notice another big change after henna- I used to shed like mad-- enough so that it kind of grossed out MIL when I would visit because my dark hair would show up on the pillows/bedding. I haven't found a stray hair since. I find this amazing because can't tell you how many times I'd be searching my shirt for a hair that was tickling my arm- I see this interpretive dance becoming less daily-- my brush (which was cleaned out to do strand test) had about 5 hairs in it since hennaing. That's a major deal to me. Plus you can henna your brows to make match your hair-- anyone that's ever gone red knows how wrong brown brows look with red hair-- but if you do with commercial dyes you could lose your eyesight. 

I leave you with these shots taken yesterday after doing the 3rd henna only gloss of 30 minutes. 
3rd time's the charm- after 30 minute henna gloss

Not too orange, not too green- brown with red flare and look at the shine- never got that with box dyes

Love the dimension the henna process has given my hair. This is what I've always been trying to achieve with traditional dyes. 


  1. LOVE how your hair turned out. I have dark brown hair with highlights & gray and I did 100% henna for 8 hours.. end result (olive skin tone, like you) -- Bozo red. I'm going to try to get it to your color... glosses of indigo?

  2. Hey 28moons- I would try a gloss by mixing equal parts indigo (after dye release- I just mix indigo with hot water & a bit of salt & let stand for about 20 minutes) with a thick conditioner. Leave on a couple of hours. That should take the red down. My first time took several steps because the chemical processed hair takes henna differently than virgin hair. Once you get the color right- I suggest root application vs. whole head as it will make hair dark. Henna doesn't fade like commercial brands. I've been doing henna & indigo ever since-- when I do roots now I mix Tbsp of indigo powder with hot water & salt & let dye release. Meanwhile I usually thaw henna (find one box does 3-4 touchups) Then I mix 4-5 Tbsp of henna into indigo & apply to roots only. I only leave henna/indigo on my hair 2-4 hours- I don't seem to need 8 hours. Once in a while I will put in some face framing highlights because my gray seems to be concentrated on part so the highlights help blend the grays a little more. Good luck. I get lots of compliments on how shiny my hair is now.

  3. Thank you so much for this post!!! I colored my hair auburn brown and it's too red for my olive skin. Going to try the indigo glaze today.

    1. Good luck with the indigo glaze. I haven't gone back to commercial dyes yet. Now my routine is mix up a batch of henna and divide into about 5 Tbsp amounts. I freeze these 4-5 baggies of henna and then mix up about 2 Tbsp dry indigo with salt and hot water. After indigo dye release I mix into thawed henna and apply to roots and leave on about 4 hours. My hair is so healthy since going to henna/indigo that at 47 my hair is longer than it's been since I was a child. Last time I went for a cut I said "You can take off 3 or 4 inches" to which my stylist says "NO, I like the length, I'm going to take off as little as possible." Then the stylist next to mine says "Well, that's not the typical conversation-- usually it's the client wanting the length and the stylist recommending more taken off."