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Henna Hair dye

October 23, 2009

henna 003Mom Before

henna 001

Mom After (hair still wet, and out of focus, but you get the general idea)

I recently dyed my hair with henna, and though i failed to take before and after pictures of myself, my mom let me repeat the process on her hair. Here is the basic recipe:

Reddish brown, for short hair:


  • 1 oz “henna red’ (Lawsonia inermis)
  • 2 oz “henna black”. (Make sure what you buy is indigo dye, or Indigofera tinctoria. Some products labeled “henna black” are not indigo, but rather an extremely dangerous chemical, known as PPD. )
  • Water
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar (henna needs mixed with an acid. you can also use lemon juice, though I’m unsure if lemon juice will lighten hair in this application. )
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil (really helps dye to go on easier)
  • Vanilla (for smell and to add brown tones)
  • Lavender essential oil (for smell)


Mix henna red with 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons olive oil, and warm water until it reaches a yogurty consistency. Cover it and let it sit overnight in a warm place. I put mine next to our slow cooker. In the morning mix indigo with warm water until yogurt like. Keep indigo out of the light. Let it sit for 5 minutes, then mix in with henna mixture. Add more water if necessary so it’s a creamy, spreadable consistency. Wearing gloves, apply mixture to hair at roots, working out towards the ends. Make sure to apply Vaseline to hairline and ears to protect skin from dye. Mound hair on top of your head and cover with plastic wrap. Let sit for 3 hours, then rinse until water runs clear. Do not use shampoo for 24-48 hours as the indigo will need time to oxidize.


Henna will leave your hair dry at first, but you will feel the conditioning results of it after a day or two. It leaves your hair soft and shiny, and apparently promotes hair growth as well.

Henna smells too earthy for some, though i prefer it to the chemical hair dye smell any day. If you really hate the smell,  add some essential oils into your mix. Lavender is a good one, as its one of the essential oils that is extremely safe to use straight, or undiluted. We also added some vanilla, which supposedly adds a brown tone.

Color will deepen with time. Mine started out a brassy red then deepened over a week or so to a dark brown with red tones. Perfect!

The basic henna/indigo ratio is 1:2 to achieve an auburn color.

Covering grey is tricky, as grey hairs are wiry and resist color. Ive read that apple cider vinegar helps the color to set with grey hair. We did not get complete coverage over the grey, but in my opinion, it looks more natural that way…maybe more like a weave. Perhaps we will try the 2 step method mentioned on this site next time.

I really like how comprehensive this site is…there is a lot of advice for covering grey too.

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