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Henna: my new (but very old) beauty secret…

May 19, 2010 by lolkitty: Kaela

What do you mean I’m no natural redhead? This color *is* all natural, it’s henna!

After being a platinum blond for many years and loving it, my hair was not. And being fickle like I am, after being one hair color for a while I get bored no matter how much I like it.

The boyfriend voted for red hair. My facebook friends voted for pink. Guess who won.

Going from blond to red isn’t easy, since you have to build up the color, and what worked before might not work again, since it had been a year or so since I attempted red. (I was stuck with Ronald McDonald orange for about a month before I bleached it again, damaging it so bad I had to cut my hair to a bob!)

I’ve been pretty tired of using all these chemicals all the time, and after researching different ways to go from blond to henna red, I was pretty sure I could pull it off alright.

Actually, America’s favorite redhead, Lucille Ball was once a blond who used henna for her vibrant red. This, of course, appealed to my 1950’s preoccupation. Let alone rumors of other notorious historical women like Cleopatra.

henna paste

Henna mix

My first batch of henna was with “Light Mountain” brand in the shade “auburn” since I knew I had to build up the brown tones in my hair before using the red. I didn’t anticipate how much my hair was actually going to soak up the color, and my hair was almost exactly my natural brown after one color set (overnight).

The pics in this post are from my third coloring. My last one was with pure red henna and this current color treatment was as well. Pure henna is *much* more fun. It’s very easy to work with, compared to any other “plant” hair dye that contains other plants to make the henna darker. (If you haven’t heard before, NEVER use henna that isn’t 100% plants, in the US it’s not very common to find for hair dye but always read the label that you’re only getting pure plant powders).

Steps I like to use for good henna application:

1. Boil water and mix in the henna slowly (just get out all the lumps!) Once it’s the consistency of toothpaste I add in an essential oil like Tea Tree Oil (my favorite) or Eucalyptus. Those oils are supposed to help enhance the color and they make it smell really good too.

henna on hair

Keep your application neat, and it will make rinsing easier!

2. Let the mix sit for 1 or 2 hours (this helps “activate” the henna so it’ll dye better).

3. Brush out your hair and part into sections. Apply Vaseline to your ears to keep them from getting dyed. Use an applicator bottle to apply the henna. Part your hair, apply to roots, and part again with the nozzle until you’ve done your whole head.

4. Pull the color through, cover every bit of your hair until it’s soaked, trying to keep it neat and not tangling it (you’ll see why when you rinse).

5. Put on the plastic cap and use a blow dryer on low or even wrapping a towel over the plastic will heat your henna enough to help bring out the color. (I think this helps more than any other tips I’ve read online).

6. Leave in for at least 4 hours. I leave mine on 8 hours (overnight).

7. Rinse in warm water and be patient. I don’t shampoo until next wash (so wash your hair before you apply!) I usually have to run conditioner through my hair 3 or 4 times to get all the little henna particles out. (If you get most of it, when you blow dry your hair, the rest should brush out ok, it will just leave your hair a little heavy until next washing.)

8. Voila! A redhead.. naturally!

henna in my hair and on my skin

When you have left over henna, you can use it for body art!

And if you’ve tried to keep your hair red with usual dyes, you’ll probably be really pleased with the results. You’ll see it does leave your hair much more “natural” looking and healthy looking than any dyes I’ve bought at beauty supply stores, or had applied professionally.

So I’ve read that by the third or fourth coloring, the henna will be completely saturated as far as color. I’ll have to see how this fades, but my red is much more brilliant after this last coloring.

So henna is much easier to use than chemicals, since if you leave it on too long, all it does is enhance the color.¬† (My last one I did more watery and it dripped everywhere and didn’t color as well). The henna is really gritty if you’re used to dying your hair, it feels strange like you’re putting a mud mask in your hair.

Henna is so much fun that after I was all finished putting it in my hair, I got a little plastic back and poked a hole in it to apply some henna body art. It was a less than ideal tool, and I think I’m going to pick up a proper squeeze bottle with a fine tip to do much more intricate work. After the color “matured” over a day, the body art was very¬† beautiful. I think I’m going to use it as an indicator of when I need to recolor my hair. It should last about 6 weeks.

henna color

This is a fairly accurate pic of the color

I tried to get a pretty accurate photo for the color result. This is the color over several previous henna applications, and bleached blond hair underneath. The great thing is, though, this is the *exact* same color as my roots! It blends in beautifully.

I’m not the sort of girl that usually goes all “herbal” and “natural” whenever the opportunity arises. But I’m glad I gave henna another chance.

There are just a few things that make henna difficult to find, or use in America. Unless you live in a big city, or have a large health food store nearby it might be hard to find henna. I’ve looked at buying bulk henna from several places but I’m always weary when I can’t see it or feel it in person. Because henna is a plant, the quality can vary widely.

The final henna results

Henna hair and henna art

If you buy online, you can get Light Mountain brand, which I’ve been using for all my recent applications but I have tried other henna brands (once with GREEN results!!) so you have to be careful. It’s the only brand I recommend unless you know a friend or a source for mehindi quality henna.

One thing I’m pretty certain of is that henna treatments will also make my hair accept pin-curling and other wet-set styling better. It seems to have a side effect of making my hair feel thick and full. With pin-curling or wet set styles you will sometimes lose a little body depending on the style and that’s always bothered me. After letting my hair curl naturally, I noticed that it almost looked *too* big! So I’m sure those evasive Andrew’s Sisters and Peggy Lee styles that are just sky high won’t be out of my grasp now.

My hair has never been healthier since I’ve been using henna. It also seems to have an astringent quality that keeps my hair from looking greasy by the end of the day like my natural hair can do. Also the texture is a little “straw” like, which I’m sure some girls don’t like, but that was my favorite thing about bleached blond hair, because it’s actually easier to control when it has a little bit of texture to it.

Henna is my hair’s new best friend! I am really surprised at how underrated henna is…

That’s my two cents on the subject, I’ve had a lot of girls asking about how I get my hair red the way it is. If you have questions, feel free to comment!


  1. Michelle says:

    Hi! Loved your review. I have a question about which colors you used. You started with the brown for a base and the. Which two colors did you follow up with next? I could have just missed it buy if appreciate knowing which. I recently picked up Mahogany and chestnut but an considering auburn before the next two darker colors.
    Thanks a bunch,

  2. Em says:

    Next time do not use tea tree oil, you probably noticed the scent was overwhelming, some people may like it BUT this oil will overy dry your hair out. Instead stick with lemon juice, honey, egg, yohgurt, olive oil…but not tea tree oil!! And even if you do need it for oily hair, just a little bit.

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