Tips & Tricks for Applying Henna to Your Hair

Last updated on April 22nd, 2017 at 11:51 pm

henna root touch up

I’ve been a henna head for a little over two years now. I was first introduced to henna when I joined Kim Coles Grow Out Challenge co-sponsored by Curly Nikki and hosted by a few years ago.  At the time, I was on a serious hunt for ways to thicken up my puny strands (sorry fine haired ladies, you may not consider yours puny but mine certainly are).

When I first started using henna I didn’t see the big whoop but so many henna heads swore by it’s goodness I had to press forward to see what benefits my hair would receive from regular applications. Fast forward and my strands are not only healthier but I’ve found the best way to cover up all these grays that are popping up all over my 44 year old head!

Some of what I discovered may be unique to my hair but it may also be useful to you when you do your henna applications.  Let’s get right to it.

fresh henna

Tips for Mixing Henna

  1. Get the itchies during/after a henna session? It’s taught that for the lawsone content of henna to be able to bond to the keratin in your hair, it has to be mixed with an acidic liquid like caffeine-free tea, lemon juice, apple juice or even citric acid. Well, I tried each of those to mix my henna (except the citric acid) and while my henna stain was rich, I also suffered from the worst itchies ever! I thought I might be allergic but there was no redness or rashing. That’s when I decided to try mixing my henna (against expert advice) with just filtered water. Guess what? I got the SAME results without all that acid on my scalp. Booyah! Score! Yippee! (sorry I’m really excited. I don’t know how long I would have been able to continue using henna with my scalp on fire).henna-covered-greys
  2. Forgot to mix your henna early on? Chile, I do it all the time! My henna sessions are rarely planned. They’re more impromptu which isn’t typically recommended since it takes time for the dye (lawsone content) to be released. That’s why many ladies allow their henna mix to sit over night. Well, I aint got time for all that LOL (truthfully, I just forget to mix it up in advance). However, I’ve discovered that if you have a good brand of henna with a high lawsone content, you can let that mixture sit for an hour or so and then apply it to your hair.  Tightly covering your hair with plastic will help that lawsone to release right in your head! I get my henna from Mehandi (the Henna for African Hair has the finest sift of any henna I’ve experienced…ever. It’s even finer than Jamila). No residue or little flaky pieces of henna left behind.


  3. Dread the time it takes to henna your hair? It’s common to leave henna in your hair for anywhere between 4 hours to over night. Well, I discovered it don’t take all day!…. If you’re going for gray coverage, 2 hours is usually sufficient. I still get a nice rich stain and don’t have to spend my entire day getting it. If you want to speed up the conditioning effects, sit under a heating cap for the 2 hours.
  4. Does henna loosen your natural curls too much? If you have a looser curl pattern, you may notice this to be more of an issue. Just henna your roots. This will provide the conditioning needed to your “new growth” while also covering up your gray roots (if that’s a concern). You can opt to do a henna gloss on the remainder of the hair if you like.

fuller hair after hennaI get the fullest twist outs on this fine hair after a henna session

Rather you’re new to henna or a long time pro-user, try one or more of these henna tips and tricks to see if your henna session becomes more productive. And as always, please don’t forget to only use BAQ (Body Art Quality) henna. That mixed crap you find in many beauty supply stores (been there, done that) isn’t worth it. (ex: black henna).

Do you henna your hair? Got any tips or tricks to share?


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  1. When is the best time to henna low porosity hair? It is Fall now, and while I want to fortify my strands, I’m thinking that the Spring would be the better time to start since I don’t want to make my hair to dry from the treatment. What would you recommend?

    1. hi Lambie, I don’t pay attention to the seasons when using henna in my hair. I live in NY and we get all 4 seasons. I use henna year round with no issues. If you’re concerned, you can always follow your henna treatment with a moisturizing deep conditioning session. Alternatively, you can add aloe Vera powder to the mixture after the dye has released. This will help with retaining moisture

      1. Thanks Michelle, I did my first henna treatment, and it was a success. I did the 2 step henna and indigo treatment to cover my greys, and it came out great using Henna Sooq’s products; and I did add aloe powder to help with the moisture, and amla powder to protect my curl pattern. I am mainly doing this to strengthen my fine hair strands, but I love the color results too. How many full strength treatments do you recommend before doing only touch ups to the new growth. I don’t want to over henna. I’m about to do a second treatment, and I find I really need it because my strands seem so fragile, and I only finger detangle and comb my hair. I want it to be stronger. I used oil in my first treatment. Should I do it without oil this time so that it better fortifies? Sorry for all the questions, but I really want to strengthen my hair. You are always such a great help to me, and love that you are a sister in Christ!

        1. I did a full strength every week for a month just to get my hair strong. I never worried about the curl loosening because it’s temporary. You can just do it once a month x 3 and then just do the roots. Also, always add the oil after the dye has released vs. all mixed at once. I’ve never found the oil to matter with regard to fortifying. I also have done henna or dry hair and on freshly washed hair. The more porous your hair is, the easier the henna takes to it. I’m happy to help 🙂

  2. Thank you very much for these no nonsense tips and helpful hints. I am a natural girl with fine hair. And I have been wanting to try henna on my thin hair to strengthen my strands, but have been a little fearful. But after reading your advice, I am ready to get out of the boat and walk on those “henna” waters. God bless you, and thank you for sharing!

  3. I’ve been using henna for almost a decade now but my naturally curly hair (caucasian hair) was losing it’s curl pattern going a bit frizzy. Someone suggested that instead of using an acidic mix that I just add one part Amla powder for every four parts Henna then just mix with distilled water. My curls are back and the Amla really makes my hair feel good too.

    1. thanks for sharing that. I don’t do full strength hennas regularly. Only about 3-4 times a year. I haven’t had any significant loosening of my curls. In between full strength treatments, I do henna glosses

  4. I also love henna very much , but i always apply henna on my hands as henna designs . I am a big fan of henna designs .

    1. I’ve never had henna done on my skin but I want to try it in the summer

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