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Things to Know Before Using Henna Hair Dye

coloring hair with henna

Having tried all colors of henna, from bright red to black, and being often asked how to color hair naturally and safely, I enjoy talking about henna as hair dye. 

What is henna?

The henna you see for hair coloring is likely in powder form. Henna itself is a flowering shrub. It's when the leaves are dried that they're turned into a powder. If you see a "henna" product in any other form than powder, it's combined with other - often many - ingredients, read the ingredients panel carefully. Henna bonds with hair, not merely coating it, with no chemical reaction. It can be blended with herbs that can help condition hair.

Henna has been a colorant for centuries.

Using henna as a hair coloring option is far from a new concept. It's been used as a colorant for centuries. It is still around and arguably increasing in popularity because people like you and me need natural, effective alternatives to the toxic products commonly found. 

Preparing to use henna.

  • It may require unique preparation steps. The directions will guide you.

  • Distilled water, boiled, is typically needed, so have a jug or two on hand. 

  • Many brands indicate the need to use glass or ceramic, not metal in this process, including utensils.

  • Henna can be messy, messy, messy - prepare your work area with protective coverings and use a quality organic oil on your forehead, neck, and other surfaces to help deter any henna from coloring your skin.

  • When mixing the henna solution, you'll be looking for a consistency similar to pancake batter.

  • As it works its magic, the henna mixture can start to dry a bit and feel gritty, and sometimes chunks fall off your hair and onto the floor, so the floor covering is very helpful.

Henna hair dying takes time.

  • The dying process can take hours, we're talking from two to up to five or six hours! 

  • Again, it's bonding with hair, not merely coating it, and we're dealing with a ground-up shrub's leaves, so let's be sure not to expect a speedy chemical reaction here (though you will feel your hair start to heat up throughout the process, but it's nothing you can't handle!).

Henna is purportedly a safe alternative for coloring, but it has two notable downsides as if the messiness and long prep and cure time weren't enough of a deterrent.

  • Henna behaves differently than chemical reaction hair dye.

  • Henna will not 'lift' hair if you're aiming to go lighter, henna may not be for you. 

  • Henna can enhance tone, add dimension, impart red or auburn or black to make your hair look more vibrant, but it will not turn black hair to light brown hair or brown hair to blonde, and so forth.

  • If your hair were two-toned, it would not bring the shades together to blend them. This distinction goes back to the previous point - henna will not lift a hair to a lighter shade, so if you have multiple tones now, prepare to have multiple tones after. This can look great, still, but know what to expect.

What if I don't like my color after I use henna?

Henna as a hair dye can be a great choice when wanting something as raw as it comes to change or even enhance your hair color.

However, a big turn-off to many considering using henna is that if you don't like the color resulting from your experience with henna, limited options exist. You could try a darker shade of henna if that suits, or you could go to a stylist, but - trust me from personal experience - no stylist will shrug her shoulders and say "no biggie" upon hearing she's helping you color over henna.

Why use henna?

Henna is a time-proven hair dye that does not use harsh chemicals or toxins. The long process and messiness can be worked around for a healthy, rewarding way to safely darken or enhance your hair color. 

Anything else?

When choosing henna, avoid what is referred to as black henna in of itself (this differs from a mere shade - e.g., a reputable company selling the shade "Black" within their henna range is different and likely fine). Black henna product is often used for temporary henna tattoos and contains paraphenylenediamine, which can cause reactions and is not natural henna.

Omiana offers safe, pure, fun cosmetic colors, albeit not hair dyes. On the note of clean, safe products, enjoy choosing among Omiana, which has one of the best reputations for being a go-to for even the most sensitive skin and ingredient-smart people. Happy non-toxic living!