Starting a Henna FAQ

Okay, I know I'm not the only one that has a lot of questions about henna. And I know that despite the fact that I have been constantly researching henna for months, watching youtube videos of people using henna, using the search function on this forum to see the transformations, I still have a lot of questions. I want this thread to be a resource for people who are thinking of hennaing their hair and that want answers from people with first-hand experience, not just websites. Maybe this thread will flop, maybe it will become a great resource. I'm hoping for the latter, but I hope that anyone who has experience with henna is willing to impart her knowledge of the subject.

Okay, now for some of my questions that I've come up with while researching.

1.) How much does henna change your hair texture? How long does it last? I have hair that isn't fine, but isn't course, and solidly 3A, will I have a significant change in texture?
2.) How many grams is enough for extremely thick, slightly past shoulder length hair?
3.) What do you mix in the henna for the best results? Or what do I mix in if I don't necessarily want that massively vibrant red color? I want to be ginger, but I want it to match my pale, pale complexion.
4.) What hair products should you avoid in order to avoid henna changing color, fading, or just doing something funky in general?
5.) Will glycerin laden products affect the color at all?
6.) How do you go about storing leftover henna for touch-ups?
7.) Will stainless steel cartilage piercings get in the way of application?
8.) How long must you keep the henna on?
9.) How do root touch-ups work? How often should you touch up?
10.) Can you give your hair to Locks of Love if you have hennaed?
11.) How do you do a test sample? [I have hair that I kept when I trimmed my hair, do I mix up a big batch that I plan on using on my entire head, and just saturate those strands in a small amount, or do I buy a sample size and just make a tiny batch to test. Should I leave different samples in for different times? Will how long I leave the henna in determine how vibrant the color is?]
12.) I know where to buy henna, [mehandi], but I don't know which mix I should get. Can anyone help me out there?

I'm sorry if this is annoying, I don't mean to be, but I just have a thousand questions. I want answers from the lovely ladies on this forum, who I trust with hair related things far more than I do than random people on youtube.

Also, if you have questions about henna, ask away. I know I'm not the only one. I'm sure once some of these are answered, I'll have more to ask.
Hi there,

I think this is a great thread and I've seen a lot of henna mentions in the coloring your hair section. You might want to cut and paste this thread in there, too, because I think you'll get responses and some from very experienced henna users!

I used to use henna but I really don't have many answers to your questions because I would just buy one of the big boxes of it at the health food store and use all of the contents each time mixed in a big plastic bowl. They did come in a variety of colors, and I'm sure there's more of a ginger color you would like- plus they do fade but they maintain their red.

What I didn't like was that I could never seem to really lighten my roots very much so the rest of my hair kept getting brighter and brighter when I tried to touch up my roots. Over time, I wound up with a very multi colored look (I am naturally very dark brown.) Ironically, a henna friend of mine had switched over to red hair color and the results looked so much more natural on her than the multi colored henna look, so I switched over too and have never gone back.

I'm sure other people in the coloring your hair section will have lots more input for you that will be more helpful!

3a (
with 3b)
Fine texture/
Normal porosity/Medium density
Low Poo
(Aveda's damage remedy); Styling: Aveda's: Color Conserve Daily leave in+ Be Curly Style Prep+ Phomollient (mixed w/ Defining Whip)
Finishing: Aveda's Texturizing Creme or Defining Whip; Eufora Pure Polish Drops
Color
Maintenance:
Aveda's Madder Root condish+Clove condish
It lasts forever. It is absolutely permanent.

I tried it a couple of times, but I found it to be drying, and the color too neon for my taste. It felt like a permanent protein treatment. I'm a dishwater, dark blonde, almost light brown naturally.

I'll stick to my chemical color.


Sent from my iPhone using CurlTalk
Kiva! Microfinance works.

Med/Coarse, porous curly.
I found it very drying, too, I had forgotten to add that part. Ironically, I got compliments on the health of my hair as soon as I switched to hair dye.

3a (
with 3b)
Fine texture/
Normal porosity/Medium density
Low Poo
(Aveda's damage remedy); Styling: Aveda's: Color Conserve Daily leave in+ Be Curly Style Prep+ Phomollient (mixed w/ Defining Whip)
Finishing: Aveda's Texturizing Creme or Defining Whip; Eufora Pure Polish Drops
Color
Maintenance:
Aveda's Madder Root condish+Clove condish
I cross posted it in the Coloring Hair section just now, so I'll maybe trying to compile the list somewhere...
And RCC, I've come to the point where I'm perfectly okay with the dye being permanent, so that isn't an issue for me. I figure, I'm at the stage in life where you're supposed to experiment with your hair, so why not? If it's awful, I'll have some embarassing pictures later in life. Also, my hair isn't prone to drying out. I can have perfectly moisturized hair just from Suave Coconut, so do you think it will still dry me out?
I'm no expert, but i will answer the question as best I can!
1.) How much does henna change your hair texture? How long does it last? I have hair that isn't fine, but isn't course, and solidly 3A, will I have a significant change in texture? My curl pattern seemed to lossena bit. I wanted to see if it was permenant, so i haven't hennaed in a few months. my curls went back. so based on this, i think if i contiuned to henna every month, i will keep the looser curl pattern that i had as a child. my hair also seemed courser as well.
2.) How many grams is enough for extremely thick, slightly past shoulder length hair?I had thick almost BSL, tha last time i hennaed. I mixed 200 grams, and only used about half adn froze the rest for next treatment. My hair is now BSL. i will do my usully 200 grams adn what ever is left will freeze. i rather have a lot left over and not enough
3.) What do you mix in the henna for the best results? Or what do I mix in if I don't necessarily want that massively vibrant red color? I want to be ginger, but I want it to match my pale, pale complexion. i use lemon juice and water, about half and half. I have brown hair and really did not mind how vibrant the red was. i noticed that now after months of no new henna, more people have asked me if i colored my hair. don't know if henna is resposible or if my hair is starting to get lighter with the season like it use to. i think if you dont let the dye set as long you wont get much dye release. i let mine set over night, for max release of dye.
4.) What hair products should you avoid in order to avoid henna changing color, fading, or just doing something funky in general? Cant help you with that.
5.) Will glycerin laden products affect the color at all? I don't know
6.) How do you go about storing leftover henna for touch-ups? freezer bags in the freezer
7.) Will stainless steel cartilage piercings get in the way of application?pass
8.) How long must you keep the henna on? at least 4 hours up to over night.
9.) How do root touch-ups work? How often should you touch up? i usually do an all over treatment. i never none just a root touch up. but i would imagine it would be like doing any other dye touch up??
10.) Can you give your hair to Locks of Love if you have hennaed? i think so, but don't quote me.
11.) How do you do a test sample? [I have hair that I kept when I trimmed my hair, do I mix up a big batch that I plan on using on my entire head, and just saturate those strands in a small amount, or do I buy a sample size and just make a tiny batch to test. Should I leave different samples in for different times? Will how long I leave the henna in determine how vibrant the color is?] I just out the hair in the henna after mixing up a little bit and let it set. i use more then one test strand. set at diffenernt times.
12.) I know where to buy henna, [mehandi], but I don't know which mix I should get. Can anyone help me out there? i buy the henna for red hair kit. its cheaper and you get 200 grams instead of 100 like in most of the kits.

HTH. i know i didnt answer all your questions, but i guess this is a start. by the way, i love henna. i'm going to start hennaing again this month.
I think I might have some advice/wisdom to offer...your natural color and mine are VERY very similar, as are our complexions :P my biggest concern using henna was winding up with Ronald McDonald hair, so I get ya there

1.) How much does henna change your hair texture?
It doesn't seem to really affect mine much. The first time I dyed, and did my whole head, my curls were a little droopy for a few days but they perked back up with some added moisture.

2.) How many grams is enough for extremely thick, slightly past shoulder length hair?
I'm not sure in grams how much I use... but I'd say for my WHOLE head, I probably mixed about 2 cups worth of henna powder to make the paste. Now, since I just do my roots, it's probably more like 3/4 - 1 cup of powder. You can always freeze the left overs and thaw to use on your next touch up if you make too much.

3.) What do you mix in the henna for the best results? Or what do I mix in if I don't necessarily want that massively vibrant red color? I want to be ginger, but I want it to match my pale, pale complexion.
I mixed lemon juice the first time, and I think that's why my hair was dry. Since then, I just use water to get it to "mashed potato" consistency... let that sit for about an hour, and then add conditioner (suave or v05) until it's a pudding consistency. If you wanted it even less saturated, I imagine you could just keep adding conditioner. I think the key to not getting super bright isn't so much what you mix, but how long you keep it on your hair.

4.) What hair products should you avoid in order to avoid henna changing color, fading, or just doing something funky in general?
ACV will supposedly fade hair dye, but I never noticed it doing anything to the henna. In fact, nothing whatsoever has faded my henna. I imagine using something with a lot of metallic compounds would probably cause issues the next time you henna but I can't think of any products that would have that.

5.) Will glycerin laden products affect the color at all?
I haven't noticed it...

6.) How do you go about storing leftover henna for touch-ups?
Ziploc baggie, in the freezer Don't leave it sitting on the counter though... the henna dye WILL leach through the plastic and stain your countertop :/

7.) Will stainless steel cartilage piercings get in the way of application?
Uuuuuum i don't THINk so. Henna supposedly turns green when it contacts metal though, so maybe take it out or cover with a bandaid just in case?

8.) How long must you keep the henna on?
Some people do it for hours and hours... I leave it on 45 minutes to an hour and I get PLENTY of color. I also don't do the whole "let it sit for 24 hours to dye release". I let it sit 1 hour, put it on, let it sit on my hair for an hour TOPS and then rinse. And I get PLENTY of color.

9.) How do root touch-ups work? How often should you touch up?
As often as you like... I try to wait as long as I can stand it just for convenience... right now, I probably average about 3 months between root touch ups but my roots ARE noticeable. As far as actually putting the henna on... you just scoop some up on your fingers (gloved) and rub it into the roots, going in sections through your hair. Don't worry too much if it overlaps with already dyed hair... it blends itself really nicely, you won't be able to tell.

10.) Can you give your hair to Locks of Love if you have hennaed?
That I dunno, but I'm curious about...

11.) How do you do a test sample? [I have hair that I kept when I trimmed my hair, do I mix up a big batch that I plan on using on my entire head, and just saturate those strands in a small amount, or do I buy a sample size and just make a tiny batch to test. Should I leave different samples in for different times? Will how long I leave the henna in determine how vibrant the color is?]
I used the shed hair from the shower... balled it up (4 different balls) and tested on a paper plate. I didn't make up a huge batch, just small batches of each mix. 1 with lemon juice, 1 without... and I left the henna with lemon on 1 ball of hair for 3 hours, and for 1 hour on the other. Same with the mix without lemon.

Just figure out a few different methods and test them all. be sure to label so you know which is which

12.) I know where to buy henna, [mehandi], but I don't know which mix I should get. Can anyone help me out there?

I got the lowest dye content dye from hennaforhair.com (mehendi.com, whatever). Mostly bc I didn't want a ton of color. Sounds like that might be a good idea for you too. I also got some cassia to mix in, hoping it would dilute some of the color. Didn't seem to make a huge difference though.
CG/Mod CG (soap bars) since 8/12/08
CO wash/Cond: Kathymack & Flowermoon Castille soap bars, V05 Chamomile Tea, Suave Ocean Breeze, Biolage Conditioning Balm
Styling loves: DIFFUSING! CK, KCNT, KCCC, FOTE (on dry hair only), Re:coil, Proclaim gel
Not sure about: Boots, Tweek, KBB Milk, DMHJ
HATE: plopping, FOTE on wet hair, BRHG
Thanks for answering! =]
True, you're young enough to get away with pretty much anything, which is pretty nice!

I think my dryness was due to my medium-coarse texture. Henna, to me, is essentially a hard core protein treatment that happens to add permanent color. I think that is a minority view, but there it is. It is touted as a healthful treatment to fix damage, which, to me, is essentially a protein treatment.

It can be a lengthy, messy, and smelly process, but so can other color, lol.

A strand test is a good idea, though I am no help on color choice and dye release and all that.

Oh, I also had curl loosening. Not everyone gets this though.




Sent from my iPhone using CurlTalk
Kiva! Microfinance works.

Med/Coarse, porous curly.
the first time i henna i used only lemon juice and it was drying, but after a dt my hair was fine. after that i used half lemon juice and half water. not as drying. but i still dt afterward.
I was hoping you'd answer, Mims! I remember you saying that our natural colors are similar, and you have the hair color I want!
Henna is definitely something that should be researched before jumping in. The best resource for henna info is hennaforhair.com and hennasooq.com.

It's almost impossible to acuurately anwser any of your specific questions about how henna will affect your hair. Every batch of henna is different, and every head of hair is different. The results you get from henna are contingent upon what henna you're using, what your hair properties are, your starting color,what you mix the henna with, how long you dye release, how long you leave it in, etc.

Henna is 100% permanent, meaning forever. It needs to be grown out and cut off to get rid of it. The benefits last as long as the color. I've read about a few very rare instances of henna not holding in someone's hair, but I suspect user error or pore crop quality is to blame.

As far as curl loosening, or a change in texture, looser curl types, basically wavies, usually experience this more so than curlies. If you don't want vibrant red/orange, you leave the henna on for a shorter amount of time, or use a weaker mix, which won't affect hair texture as much as a long processing time or stronger mix will.

What you mix your henna with is 100% personal preference. I've used plain tap water, lemon juice, and cooled tea. Tap water will dye release faster, lemon will give darker more vibrant results, and tea is easier on your hair.

Glycerin has no effect on henna, basically nothing will affect henna once it's fully oxidized. After you do a henna treatment, it takes 5-7 days to oxidize. During which time the color will deepen, going from Ronald McDonald orange to a more red color. Once this process is complete, henna is permanent. I've heard that if you use harsh shampoo directly after using henna it may help tone down the color a bit, but personally I haven't found this to be true. Once henna has touched my hair, it isn't going anywhere.

You can store henna paste in the freezer, in a ziploc for up to a year I believe.

Piercings aren't something I would worry about, I have multiple and have never noticed any problems.

Henna application time is a matter of personal preference. I used to leave it on for 2-3 hours, but I know people who sleep overnight with it in their hair.

Root touch-ups again, are personal preference. I never did them, I just did full head applications everytime. Most people don't do that because henna will darken with multiple applications. For roots, simply put henna paste only on your roots, and leave it on for the same amount of time you left henna on your length, so the colors will match.

Honestly, check out henna for hair, they have a great forum where you can get any question you have anwsered, and the moderators are super knowledgeable. HTH
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3a-b, fine & medium texture, medium-high porosity from years of damaging. I'm addicted to changing my hair color.
Cleansing: No-Poo, Elucence MBS, YTC Poo,
Conditioner: One Condition, JC Too Shea!, YTC Condish, Elucence MBC, Joico Daily, KCKT
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Last edited by smasters467; 05-05-2011 at 10:10 AM.
What do you mean by tea, smasters? As in, steep some tea and use it in place of the water or lemon juice? And if I don't want that vibrant, neon color, should I avoid lemon juice at all costs?
You could probably use any tea, but when I used tea I used chamomile or orange. I would prepare it on the stove, like I would if I were going to drink it, then let it cool and use it to mix my paste.

The neon color is unavoidable. Regardless of what you mix with, how long you leave it on, etc. For the first 1-3 days you're gonna have bright orange-red hair. It's just how henna works. It starts bright and oxidizes to a more red color.
How's My Hair?
Review: L'Oreal Evercreme Cleansing Conditioner
Review: Yes To Carrots Nourishing Shampoo & Pampering Conditioner + 35% off at YTC.com

3a-b, fine & medium texture, medium-high porosity from years of damaging. I'm addicted to changing my hair color.
Cleansing: No-Poo, Elucence MBS, YTC Poo,
Conditioner: One Condition, JC Too Shea!, YTC Condish, Elucence MBC, Joico Daily, KCKT
Styling: KCCC, LALPS, BRHG, Biotera Gel
SMB Photography
From looking at your Fotki, I'd suggest to leave the henna on a bit longer, to make sure it oxidizes darker. Your starting color is fairly light, which means your gonna end up with a very vibrant color to start with. Your best bet is to leave the mix on longer, or do multiple applications to deepen the color.
How's My Hair?
Review: L'Oreal Evercreme Cleansing Conditioner
Review: Yes To Carrots Nourishing Shampoo & Pampering Conditioner + 35% off at YTC.com

3a-b, fine & medium texture, medium-high porosity from years of damaging. I'm addicted to changing my hair color.
Cleansing: No-Poo, Elucence MBS, YTC Poo,
Conditioner: One Condition, JC Too Shea!, YTC Condish, Elucence MBC, Joico Daily, KCKT
Styling: KCCC, LALPS, BRHG, Biotera Gel
SMB Photography
But won't it be a darker red if I leave it on longer? Sorry for all the questions, but I have never dyed my hair in any way, shape, or form. Ever. So I'm rather ignorant on such things.
For hair with your starting color, you gonna need to deepen the color to get rid of the bright orangish red. If you don't mind it being somewhat bright, then you can leave it on for less time.

ETA: Personally, it my hair had been as light as yours, I would've started with a 3-4 hour application time.

There are pictures and mixes on hennaforhair.com, with before and afters.
How's My Hair?
Review: L'Oreal Evercreme Cleansing Conditioner
Review: Yes To Carrots Nourishing Shampoo & Pampering Conditioner + 35% off at YTC.com

3a-b, fine & medium texture, medium-high porosity from years of damaging. I'm addicted to changing my hair color.
Cleansing: No-Poo, Elucence MBS, YTC Poo,
Conditioner: One Condition, JC Too Shea!, YTC Condish, Elucence MBC, Joico Daily, KCKT
Styling: KCCC, LALPS, BRHG, Biotera Gel
SMB Photography

Last edited by smasters467; 05-05-2011 at 10:44 AM.
I think I'm not understanding what exactly you mean by bright. I wish I had color swatches or something.
Ronald McDonald hair. That's what henna looks like at first, super bright orange red. If you don't leave it on long enough, your hair won't oxidize to more red color. Some people want Ronald McDonald hair, but most don't.
How's My Hair?
Review: L'Oreal Evercreme Cleansing Conditioner
Review: Yes To Carrots Nourishing Shampoo & Pampering Conditioner + 35% off at YTC.com

3a-b, fine & medium texture, medium-high porosity from years of damaging. I'm addicted to changing my hair color.
Cleansing: No-Poo, Elucence MBS, YTC Poo,
Conditioner: One Condition, JC Too Shea!, YTC Condish, Elucence MBC, Joico Daily, KCKT
Styling: KCCC, LALPS, BRHG, Biotera Gel
SMB Photography
Yeah, that does not sound attractive...
I read somewhere that an acid is required to help the dye release, but Mims said that she just used conditioner. Could I just use conditioner?

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