Self-Care Ideas: Henna Hair Dye

Valentine’s Day is for all kinds of love, and I hope you are with someone you love this week, even if you are by yourself. I’m so glad #galentines has become a thing! In fact, self care organization can be a really important part of your happy life. How are you ever supposed to stay organized and healthy if you don’t take time for self care? This week I’m sharing three of my favorite current self care tips, and the first is about henna hair dye. You might wonder how this fits into my general organizing theme, but you’ll see the money-saving and time-saving aspects as you read on.

Henna Hair Dye to cover grays

My hair is a medium brown color, but the years and two kids have taken their toll, and I’ve had to start thinking about hiding some (premature!) gray hair. I did the salon treatments for a time, but they were pricey, chemical-laden and time-consuming. Also, there was an unfortunate side effect of always ending up with blonder hair. I think the stylists just can’t help themselves. They can’t believe that not everyone wants to go blond.

I started looking for a miracle cure for grey hair, and my research led me to henna for hair and Whole Foods (this was before the Amazon buyout). What did I have to lose? Only about 10 bucks, so I gave it a shot.

The big reveal? My henna hair dye routine is now my favorite new self-care tip, and even my hair stylist approves!

If you are thinking henna hair treatment = red hair, you are mistaken. I am able to get a nice, rich medium brown for my hair with or without a reddish tint. But you can go red if you choose.

How to Use Henna For Hair

I got my first batch of henna hair dye at Whole Foods, but have since bought the very same items at Amazon. This post includes affiliate links for everything I bought that you might want to try. I’ve tired two henna powders: Rainbow Henna, light Brown shade and and Surya Brasil Henna, Golden Brown shade. More on how they compare later. I thought I was getting a cream in the Surya Brasil product, but I ended up with the powder instead. Maybe I’ll try the cream product next time. Be aware of what you order.

Update: I have since tried the Surya Brasil Henna Cream, and found it a LOT easier to apply. But I kind of like the control I have mixing it myself as described in this article. For now I’ll stick with the powder henna.

henna hair dye brands - self care idea (24)

The first application was a little intimidating, just because it was new, not because there is anything particularly tricky about it. So if you are interested in trying henna hair treatment, dive right in.

Rainbow Henna gave specific instructions on how to prepare the henna powder to address gray hair, and I followed the instructions closely with good results. It says that you should get good results if your hair has about 10% grays or less.

You don’t need to wait for previous dye processes to grow out. My lengths were lighter than my roots when I started, but right away I got a nice overall color, with no unintentional ombre pattern.

How to Prepare Henna Hair Treatment

Read through your henna powder instructions a couple of times before trying it. They might have specific instructions for your hair type.

For the brand that came in the plastic jar, Rainbow Henna, I used about 1/3 of the henna powder per application. I wasn’t super specific about the amounts of anything. It’s a lot more forgiving than commercial hair dye.

henna hair dye otems needed for mixture

First, I brewed a cup of strong, black tea. This is a great time to use up that awful black tea that comes with Chinese takeout. Brew it as you normally would, and let cool just a bit.

Mix about a cup of strong black tea with the henna powder.

Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. I found this to be really important. Without the oil, it can be really hard to work the henna hair treatment into your hair.

Add 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. This is supposed to help the henna hair dye affect the gray hair more accurately.

Mix all of this together in a plastic bowl. It should be the consistency of thick creamy yogurt. I suppose the amount you need will depend on whether you have short or long hair. My hair is longer than shoulder length, and this amount worked just fine for me. I tried a couple of different utensils, and found that a rice paddle was the best applicator.

henna hair dye powder mix

How to Apply Henna Hair Treatment

Gather the rest of your supplies together. I recommend an old towel or two, rubber gloves and a heated gel cap. This is a misnomer since it isn’t electrified. You put it in the microwave for a couple of minutes to warm up the gel before you use it.

henna hair dye powder supplies - self care idea (26)

By the time you start applying it, the mixture will be warm, but not hot, and definitely not cool.

Through several applications, I discovered that I needed to carefully apply it to my front hairline at the start of application. This, after all, is where I see my grays, and I wanted to be sure that I covered them, and they had enough time to take the color.

You pretty much can’t avoid getting a little of the mix on your skin. The Rainbow Henna powder didn’t affect my skin color at all, but the other one definitely did. Just make sure that you wipe off any excess henna hair treatment from your skin before the plastic bag step, and you shouldn’t have any stains.

Once you cover the hairline, flip your head upside down over the bathtub and start applying the henna hair treatment to the rest of your hair. It’s messy, but brief.

DO work in sections.

DO apply globs at a time.

DO massage the mixture into your hair roots.

DO NOT try to comb the henna hair treatment through your hair, or you WILL damage your hair.

There is no chemical smell, but it does smell like tea,  and I smelled that for a couple of days, but it’s not unpleasant.

Once you have evenly applied the henna for hair from roots to hair ends, pile your hair all on top of your head, if it’s long like mine.

henna hair dye - self care idea (26)

Cover your hair with a plastic bag. Where you are going to get the right plastic bag? Just use a regular old Target shopping bag.

henna hair dye - self care idea (39)

I clip it closed with a bobby pin or binder clip, and it works just fine. You can also use a bag from the produce aisle (see below). The point is, you don’t need more plastic in your life.

henna hair dye - self care idea -how to dye hair with henna powder

The one thing that you might decide you need is a warming cap. I didn’t have this the first time I used henna for my hair, but quick decided that it was a wise $15 investment, based on all the money I was saving with the rest of the treatment. You can also just wrap your head with a towel to keep the heat in, but you want to keep your henna hair treatment warm for about an hour, or however long you leave yours on.

henna hair dye -heated gel cap - self care idea (42)

With my warming cap on, I can go work in my home office for the next hour and be completely productive.

I don’t peek at the color or anything scientific like that. I just let the henna hair treatment work. Check your instruction sheet for recommended times for your hair type and color.

I left mine on for a solid hour, then removed the cap and plastic and rinsed. Henna hair dye might look like a mess in your tub for a minute, but it will rinse right off your bathroom surfaces, unlike chemical hair dyes.

henna hair dye - tub beforehenna hair dye - tub after

This is where a hand-held shower attachment is a Godsend. I love my handheld shower for any number of reasons, but it sure does make doing any at-home hair treatment a lot easier. Anyone can attach one of the newer handheld shower nozzles. You don’t need a plumber or special tools to DIY it.

Rinse, rinse, rinse. Henna for hair is ground herbs, so it’s very gritty. Once you have rinse it THOROUGHLY, then you can wash once with a shampoo and condition it. Skip the shampoo the next day to let the henna hair dye set.

Henna and Gray Hair (Henna and Grey Hair)

I started this whole process to deal with my gray hair. Did it work? Absolutely! The end result when using henna for gray hair is different than what you would get with a commercial hair dye. Here’s what I started with, before the very first time I used henna hair dye a few months ago. I tried to take this photo in full sun so you could see the (premature!) gray streaks. Honestly, not sure why my hair looks almost black here. It’s more brown, but you can see that the lighting is a bit off, which lets you see those (premature!) grays.

henna hair dye - self care idea (5)- before

In my case, the gray hair turns a bright gold with a henna hair treatment, so the end result is really fine highlights. My hairstylist was really impressed with it, and asked what my secret was. Below shows several weeks after using the Rainbow Henna, and just before I tried the Surya Brasil. It’s a nice, sunny brown color.

henna hair dye - self care idea (5)- after

This is after the Surya Brasil. Not sure if you can see the definite red tones here. The gold streaks were previously gray.

henna hair dye - self care idea (47)

henna hair dye - self care idea after


Other positives: You can reapply as often as you want. It’s not damaging to you hair. In fact, between the henna hair dye and one other new product I’ve started using on my hair, it’s definitely become healthier and thicker… for the first time in my life since pregnancy.

I’ve decided to make a henna hair treatmentpart of my first of the month routine, so just about the time that it starts to get dull, I can brighten it up again.

It’s a really good match to my natural hair color, so I’m never seeing any roots. Who needs that?

There’s no itching, tightness, burning or any other reactions that I’ve sometimes gotten at the hair salon during or after a color treatment. Of course, every person is different, so you should follow the package directions to check for allergies and reactions.

How Do Henna Powders Compare?

I’ve used two readily available henna powders, and liked them both, but for different reasons. I prepared them both he exact same way, using the black tea, olive oil and apple cider vinegar mentioned above. They both had the same texture of ground tea.

Rainbow Henna powder seemed to be a more natural brown result, with no real hint of red. It dyed my gray strands to a bright gold that blended in nicely with my warm brown hair. There was no stain left on my forehead or scalp. I felt this one had a very nice result, and was a safe choice, without a lot of risk of an unexpected final color. I liked that it came in it’s own jar, so I didn’t use all of it at once. I got three applications out of 4 ounces.

Surya Brasil henna powder came in a single use plastic pouch with 1.76 ounces, and so I used all of it at once. The color I chose was a nice match to my natural hair color, but it also had a definite reddish tint. It did stain my scalp along the hairline pretty noticeably, which you can see below, so you want to be sure to wipe it off as you apply it to the front. It wears off in a couple of days. The grays covered very nicely, but with more of a red color than gold. Also, very nice and nowhere near shocking.

henna hair dye - self care idea (47)- red tint

More about Henna Hair Treatment Self Care

Henna for hair can add color, but it will not take it away. if you are brown and want to go blonde, this is not for you.

You can also do the henna hair treatments that are clear, and add no color to your hair. Not sure what that’s about, but it’s an option.

There are different colors of henna hair dye, so look in your local store and online. If you choose a color and aren’t crazy about it, you can immediately apply a different color without damaging your hair.

You can use a shampoo and conditioner formulated to protect your henna treated hair, but I’ve stuck with my regular shampoo and styling products with good results.

Top Reasons Henna Hair Dye is Now Part of my Self Care Organization Routine

Let’s recap what I hated about salon hair coloring to fix my (premature!) gray hairs:

A) Salon treatments are pricey. Henna for hair color treatment costs about $10, including the henna powder, olive oil, tea bag and apple cider vinegar. For anyone who hasn’t had a women’s hair dye treatment lately, costs for that can range from $60 to $260 depending on where you are in the country. I could potentially save hundreds of dollars this year with this one self care idea.

B) Salon treatments are chemical-laden. Henna powder is made from herbs. That’s it. Be nice to yourself and go natural.

C) Salon treatments are time-consuming. Henna hair treatment at home takes about the same time as a commercial treatment, but I don’t have the hassle of scheduling an appointment and driving there and back. I only get my hair trimmed 2-4 times each year, so the henna hair treatment saves me a lot of time and hassle. To me, saving time is self care organization.

If you’ve read this far, you probably know that I’m a bit conservative, but not quite crunchy. I’m happy to change my routines to be a bit greener and safer, but I still love convenience and modern comforts. I used both cloth and disable diapers for both my kids, but I drive a gas guzzling AWD mini-van. I’m a study in contradictions, just like most people I know. Happily, this henna hair treatment gives me the best of both worlds at the same time, at least for now. I’m not sure if there will be a time when they grays overtake my brown hair, and whether I’ll be able to keep using henna hair dye at that point, but for now I’ll be able to save my pennies and be brilliant every day.

Have you tried henna hair treatments for color? Do you have any more questions for me?

Henna Hair Dye to cover grays

Other self care ideas:

Self care – best nail polish so far

Self care – Goat milk soap


This Post Has One Comment

  1. Kara Raudenbush

    Changing my life for the better again. Definitely trying. Thanks for being the guinea pig 😉

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