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What color will my hair be if I use henna?

What color will my hair be if I use henna?

Henna is a plant-based dye that has been used for centuries to color hair and skin. When henna is mixed with water and applied to hair, the lawsone molecules in the henna bind to the keratin in the hair, creating a staining effect. This allows for semi-permanent hair coloring ranging from orange to burgundy red tones. The final color that results from henna application depends on several factors.

Natural hair color

The natural color of your hair will influence the end result when using henna. Those with dark brown or black hair will see their hair turn a darker reddish color when henna is applied. Blonde and grey hair will usually turn a brighter ginger or auburn shade. Medium brown hair can expect a subtle brightening with hints of red.

This is because the lawsone in henna mixes with and blends into your natural pigment. Darker hair has more pigment for the henna to blend with, creating deeper red hues. Lighter hair has less pigment, so the henna shows through more vividly.

Hair texture

The texture of your hair also impacts how the color takes. Henna gives the most intense color results on thicker, coarser hair. People with fine or thin hair may find the coloring is less visible.

The reason for this is that coarser hair tends to be more porous and absorbs more of the dye during application. The rougher texture also provides more places for the lawsone molecules to bind. Finer hair with a naturally smoother cuticle does not absorb the dye as deeply.

Henna quality

Not all henna powder is created equal. Higher quality henna contains lawsone levels between 0.5-2%. This is the compound responsible for binding to keratin and depositing rich red tones. Lower quality or adulterated henna may be diluted or contaminated with other ingredients, lowering the lawsone content.

100% natural, body art-quality henna free of additives will provide the best hair coloring results. Look for Rajasthani henna, which is known for having high levels of lawsone. Avoid henna marketed as “neutral” as this often means the lawsone has been chemically removed.

Preparation and application

To get the deepest color deposit, it is important to properly prepare and apply henna. Here are some key steps:

– Mix the henna powder with lemon juice, strong black tea, or other acidic liquids to help release the dye molecule. Avoid water as this dilutes the color.

– Let the paste sit for at least 6 hours sealed to allow dye release. Some wrap the mixture in plastic and leave overnight for maximum color.

– Apply the paste generously from roots to ends until hair is fully coated.

– Leave the henna on for 2-4 hours before rinsing thoroughly with water. Avoid shampoo for 24-48 hours.

Allowing the dye to properly release and saturate the hair will produce better results than quick application.

Existing chemical treatments

If you have chemically treated hair, this can affect the final henna color. Hair that is color-treated, bleached, permed, or relaxed will usually absorb more of the orange-red pigment from henna. The porosity is increased so the color is often brighter than on virgin hair.

If you have blonde highlights or ombre coloring, the henna will blend more with the darker roots. The lighter ends will remain mostly unchanged. Perms make hair more porous so curled hair tends to take the color faster. Relaxers leave hair straighter which can make the coloring more intense.

Number of applications

It often takes more than one application to achieve your desired shade of red with henna. With each successive round of application, the color will slightly darken and intensify. The effects build up over time for a richer auburn color.

Here’s an overview of what you can expect with multiple applications:

Applications Color Result
1 Subtle copper orange tint
2 Noticeable red-orange hue
3 Deep auburn red color
4+ Intense burgundy shade

To maintain the vibrancy, you’ll need to re-apply the henna every 4-6 weeks as your hair grows out. Regular use deepens the staining over time.

Adding indigo

For darker brown to black results, some people add indigo powder after the henna treatment. This natural blue dye balances out the orange undertones, allowing you to achieve nearly black hair.

You’ll apply henna first, rinse, and then follow up with indigo within the next 24 hours before the henna oxidizes. The two dyes combine for stunning brown to jet black hues not achievable with henna alone.


In summary, many factors influence the final color that results from henna hair dye. Expect subtle to rich red tones depending on your natural hair color and texture. Proper preparation and repeated applications will help the color build. Adding indigo can provide dark brown to black colors.

While results vary by individual, most can achieve noticeable coloring from henna that lasts 4-6 weeks. It offers a natural alternative to traditional permanent dyes. As a semi-permanent option, you can let the henna fade or continue reapplying to enhance and maintain the vibrant red hues over time.

Experiment to see what effect henna gives on your unique hair. Keep in mind it may take a few sessions to accomplish your ideal henna hair color.

Henna has been used as a natural dye for thousands of years. With its skin-friendly properties and customizable hues, this versatile plant continues offering an appealing coloring alternative today. The potential to safely transform your look with vibrant red tones makes henna worth trying for yourself.

Why Use Henna?

There are many great reasons to try henna for hair coloring:

It’s natural

Henna is made from the powdered leaves of the henna plant. It’s completely natural with no harsh chemicals. This makes it generally gentle and safe for most hair types. Those with sensitive skin and allergies often tolerate henna well.

It’s conditioning

In addition to coloring hair, henna can also improve hair’s thickness, strength, and shine. The mucilage content in henna coats the hair, protecting it from damage. This conditioning effect helps repair split ends and controls frizz.

It lasts

While not permanent, henna can provide color that lasts several weeks on hair. The coloring effect remains visible as your hair grows out since the henna permanently binds to the keratin protein in hair. Reapplication allows the color to be maintained long-term.

It’s customizable

Henna can be mixed into a wide spectrum of red, auburn, brown, and black shades. You can achieve different looks by adjusting application techniques, quantities, and henna quality. Combining henna with indigo offers further color versatility from burgundy to near-black results.

It’s affordable

Compared to traditional salon coloring services, henna is very budget-friendly. After the initial purchase, you can easily reapply it yourself at home as needed. Henna powder yields many applications for a low cost over time.

It’s safe

When using good quality henna free of heavy metals and other additives, henna is generally very safe to use on hair. It does not contain bleaches, ammonia, or peroxides that irritate some people. Always do a patch test though to check for any rare allergies.

How to Henna Your Hair

If you decide to try henna hair dye, follow these steps for best results:

Choose your henna

Look for 100% natural henna powder free of additives. Rajasthani or Jamila henna are quality options with high lawsone content. Opt for a body art quality henna if available.

Mix the paste

In a non-metal bowl, combine henna powder with lemon juice, strong tea, or other acidic liquid until a thick consistency is achieved. Allow to rest 6-12 hours for dye release.

Do a strand test

Before applying to your full head, do a patch test on a few strands first. Check for any irritation and observe the color result after 48 hours.

Apply the paste

Once mixed, apply the henna generously from roots to ends, coating every strand thoroughly. Leave on for 2-4 hours based on desired color intensity.

Rinse and style

Rinse all the henna out carefully until the water runs clear. Let your hair air dry, then style as usual. Avoid washing with shampoo for 1-2 days.

Maintain the color

Reapply henna every 4-6 weeks as your hair grows out to maintain the vibrant color. Repeat applications will strengthen the staining over time.

Common Henna Hair Questions

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about coloring hair with henna:

Does henna damage hair?

No, henna is actually conditioning and nourishing for hair. The mucilage content coats and protects hair strands while the lawsone bonds to keratin. It does not penetrate the cortex so it does not cause damage.

Can you undo henna hair color?

It’s difficult to remove henna entirely since it permanently dyes the hair shaft. You can fade the color gradually over several months with clarifying shampoos and anti-dandruff shampoo. Bleaching provides mixed results and risks damage. Growing it out is the safest bet.

Will henna lighten my hair?

In most cases, no – henna deposits pigment and makes hair darker. The only exception is using henna on gray or white hair. The orange tones can blend with white hair to provide a subtle brightening effect. But henna will not lighten already colored hair.

Can I do highlights after henna?

Yes, you can apply highlights over hair colored with henna. Bleached pieces will take the lighter blonde tone while the henna-colored hair remains visible around the highlights. The two coloring methods blend well together.

Does henna work on african american hair?

Yes, henna can effectively color and condition afro-textured hair. Natural hair readily absorbs the pigment for vibrant red hues. Henna is a traditional dye used for centuries in Africa and South Asia. Always do a strand test first to check your hair’s take-up.

Henna Hair Color Inspiration

Need a visual? Here are some stunning examples of different shades achieved with henna hair dye:

Dark copper red

Jet black hair takes on a rich, warm chestnut hue with henna applied over the top. The dark base allows bright red tones to peek through for a dimensional effect.

Natural auburn

Henna used on lighter brown hair provides a gorgeous natural-looking auburn shade. The red tones blend seamlessly for a subtle yet colorful pop.

Vibrant ginger

On bleached or lighter blonde hair, henna imparts a fiery orange-red coloring. The brightness stands out beautifully against the pale base for a bold ginger shade.

Deep burgundy

After multiple henna treatments, hair transforms to a dramatic saturated wine color. The dark intensity comes from repeated overlapping applications.

Fiery curls

Bouncing ringlets are elevated with henna’s vibrant staining. Red hues accentuate and enhance natural curls and coils for defined shape and texture.

Rich brown

Combining henna with indigo after rinsing produces a deep espresso brown. The two plant dyes work together for dark color minus the red/orange undertones.


Henna delivers beautiful semi-permanent color ranging from bright copper to nearly black. With its versatile hues, excellent conditioning properties, and skin-friendly ingredients, henna is a favorite hair dye alternative. Take inspiration from the stunning shades achieved through natural henna coloring and try it for yourself.