How To Dye Your Hair With Henna: A Confessional

Full disclosure: I dye my hair red. Now to clarify, I was born a redhead and for most of my life I had natural red hair. But there is a curse in my family. A curse that is most evident when you look at 'then & now' pics of my dad. Once a full blown ginger in his youth, he now sports mousy brown hair. The only evidence of his glorious youth is a bright red mustache. I never thought it would happen to me. I was a redhead to the core, it was a part of my identity. Being part of the 2% does that to a person. You feel special, unique, even if it is just because you won the genetic lottery. But let's be honest, red hair is awesome. You stand out in the crowd and you get cool nicknames like 'Firecrotch'.... I mean, nobody cares about a blonde or brunettes pubes- we are special. 

When my fiery locks began to fade, I refused to acknowledge it. People would say that my hair looked less red, but I dismissed them. I was, after all, a redhead to the core. It wasn't until someone outright said that my hair was blonde not red that I realized the truth. The cold hard truth- the curse had won. This may sound dramatic but for the redheads out there (be you natural or bottled) you understand. There is something different about being a redhead. It's not just a hair color, it's a part of your identity. 

Well anyways, I instantly went to a hair salon to remedy the situation. If my hair was determined to betray me, then I would fake it. Three hours later and I was on my tenth shower, desperately trying to wash Ronald McDonald out of my hair. I'm not sure how "just a nice strawberry blonde... you know, like Jessica Chastain," translated to Ron Weasley x100. It was a disaster. My attempt to beat nature and defy genetics had just blown up in my face big time.

A few months later, after my hair was back to normal and I had psychologically recovered, I decided to try again. This time I would not only do it myself, but I would use Henna for the first time. Another potential disaster, but I thought it was worth it. Now, finally, the point of this post: Why/ How to use henna for your hair.

Henna (Lawsomia Inermis) is a flowering plant whose leaves contain a natural orange/red pigment. Henna comes in a fine green powder and activates once combined with water. Because it is such an effective dye, people have been using it to stain their skin and hair for thousands of years. 

Why henna? Well, for starters it's all natural. Drugstore hair dye is full of nasty chemicals that can damage your hair over time. Henna actually nourishes and revives your hair. After using henna people notice more bounce and silkiness. Henna is even used without the dying effects to deep condition damaged hair. Hell, if it's good enough for Lucille Ball, it's good enough for me.

How to use henna? I chose to use Henna Maiden, because it's good quality for a good price (about $10 + it came with gloves and shower cap). Although, Lush features henna combined with cocoa butter for extra nourishing effects. 

Step 1: Combine the henna powder with water and mix into something of a paste (not too thick or too watery). Everybody has their own set of recipe tricks when it comes to henna. Some add olive oil, sugar, etc. I just added a squirt of lemon to brighten it up. Note: It retains it's green color until you wash it out. So don't freak out if you find yourself resembling the Swamp Thing. 

Step 2: Apply to your hair and make sure you get the roots. I recommend putting some Vaseline around your scalp and ears so as to not stain them in the process. If you didn't make your paste too watery, the whole process will be easier.

Step 3: Wait.... for about 2-3 hours.

Step 4: Wash it out and Voila! Henna lasts up to 4-8 weeks, much like other hair dye. Note: henna has been described as smelling like fresh cut grass or hay in a barn. Regardless, you will smell like a hippie for a day or two. 


Let us know how it goes at


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Gina Otto 6 days ago

This was so helpful to my psyche! I have been a redhead my entire life. Bright red to start, then it turned auburn, which I liked better, but then as I aged it kept getting lighter and lighter and now it is mostly blonde with streaks of red. People refer to me as blonde and I feel annoyed by that. Even though I am shy and didn’t like too much attention, my hair was my identity. When it faded and I felt so bothered by it, I thought there was something wrong with my ego. I thought I was being vain, or that maybe I liked the attention more than I had thought. After reading the reactions of other fading redheads, I feel so much better about my response. I really is more than a hair color. It is a personality; an identity; a description of a whole person really, not just their hair. It’s nice to hear from others who feel the same way.

Nancy December 5 2019

If henna isn’t working for you, Redken 7CR copper red is a beautiful color. My hair stylist in Dallas who is a color guru (long time in the business) started me years ago with that shade of Redken when my hair was turning mousy and losing my coppery red. Because he’s also a very well-trained oil & watercolor artist, he’s great with color and adds blonde highlights into the copper that look incredible besides a beautiful shape. Men and women both stop me to say how beautiful my hair is…it’s worth the $‘s :) I can’t remember the blonde highlights formula but can look for it. They’re never yellow nor white.

Doing Kyri May 25 2019

I’ve been feeling rather discouraged lately I recently had a daughter and she has nice vibrant strawberry blonde hair her father has brown hair but has recently gotten redder hair and red spots in his beard he’s 27 but my hair has turned from strawberry blonde to dirty blonde to red after I shaved it all off then I dyed it and shaved it all off again and now it’s the most ugly mousy brown and I feel incomplete empty and fireless I find myself jealous of all these beautiful redheads that haven’t lost that fire but henna is love henna is life and to henna I will sell this new soul too so I can go back to being the soulless RR redhead I am

Kathy K May 3 2019

Same here, Kate – as a child I had hair the color and shine of a new copper penny – it mellowed to a nice strawberry-blonde in my adolescence, but by 30 it was getting darker. Today (in my 40s) my natural shade is a light brown/blonde and I so miss those coppery locks. I keep a copy of my first-grade school photo on my phone just to prove my redhead-cred to disbelievers!

Lisa December 29 2017

This is exactly how I felt when my auburn hair darkened and faded to a mousy brown. Oh, I 100 % understand. Unfortunately henna doesn´t cover white hairs so I use chemical dye.

Carr September 18 2017

Here is another natural redhead who turned blonde in her early 20’s and now she uses henna to get her beautiful red hair back.

Another natural redhead posted in the comments on her blog that her natural red hair is also starting to fade and she looks young too,and the redhead who runs the blog,Strawberry Rouge,whose red hair turned blond in her early 20’s,said back to her,that most people don’t realize how common it is that natural red hair fades.

In another post on her blog,an 18 year old woman showed pictures of her natural red hair faded to blonde,and her beautiful red hair she now got back from using henna.

I also recently read comments to a youtube video about how to get red hair using henna,and one woman said that she was a natural redhead whose hair turned into an ashy brown,and she said nothing is worse for a natural redhead than for them to lose it and she said henna is the rescue. Another young woman said that she was a natural redhead and for some reason it turned dirty blonde.

Here a scientist gives a very detailed genetic explanation on a science page for young people,to the question a young woman asked,Why Is Red Hair And Brown Eyes so Uncommon?

Carr September 18 2017

I was born with beautiful orange yellow hair,no freckles,with very big beautiful deep set dark brown doe eyes and my mother had black hair, so did her father but he had red hair on his arms and beard,and he had red haired cousins,my father had medium brown hair like my older sister,but my father’s father had auburn red hair and his little sister had red hair and blue eyes.

By the time I was in my late 30’s my red hair was gone and turned into this dull,non warm toned sandy blonde color,which is common with natural red hair,it doesn’t go grey it often turns sandy blonde and then white,quite a few people thought I had dirty blonde hair! I have to color it with Natural Instincts and it’s very depressing because I have really lost a big important part of myself that so many people always gave me compliments on,saying what a beautiful natural red hair color I had.

I recently used this Henna for red hair that I bought in a local Russian super market,and it gave me the beautiful orange yellow hair back.

Here is information including how natural redheads usually turn blondish and then white.

sarah d lavender August 30 2016

Thanks for th he infor I’m only 32 and starting to go “blonde” from my beautiful red fiery locks. I’m going to try the henna thank you.

Once a Redhead Always a Redhead January 6 2015

I was born with bright red “Weasley” hair, which as I grew older, turned blonde (weirdly enough) and then finally settled on Auburn. As I’ve gotten older the red that I loved in my hair began to fade to a blah brown. When it finally became unbearable I turned to henna as well, and I’m so glad I did!

Kate December 7 2014

I’m so glad you all found this post so helpful! I just touched up my roots (months after I dyed it- which is fantastic) and I’m still in love with henna. If you want to see how it turned out, check out the About page.

Cow November 30 2014

I’ve used henna for 2 years to cover mousy brown (redhead years ago, like you) and quite a bit of gray. My favorite thing is that it takes a long time for roots to look like roots. For the first 2 months or so it just blends so beautifully that it isn’t noticeable.

Ellen November 26 2014

I am SOOO happy you wrote this! My hair is starting to fade too, and I’m only 27, and not to be dramatic or anything…but it feels like I’m losing a baby! Glad to hear I’m not the only one, and that there is a natural solution!!!

I’ve also considered getting a wig made of my own hair since you can’t dye it this color…crazy? Maybe. I think I’ll be thankful for it when I’m much older though.

Reut September 15 2014

Can you post a picture so I can see what color your hair turned?

pleaaaaaase :)

Kate Loveless September 3 2014

Hi Meg! Roots will usually start to show after 2-4 weeks (much the same as regular hair dye). To touch them up you need about 4 Tbl of henna. This is actually one of the really nice things about henna, you don’t have to use the whole package like other hair dyes. You can just take as much as you need and then store the rest of the powder for later. Anyways, make your usual henna mix and then apply it to the roots using a brush. In addition to covering the roots, go into the dyed strands an inch or so to ensure blending of the root coverage. Then wait an hour (which is about half the time for full hair coverage).
I hope this helps!

Meg Martin August 27 2014

Roots! How do you prevent/dye roots with henna?