Henna: A Confessional Part 2

It's been two years since my first henna tutorial post- or confessional rather. I finally admitted to you (and myself) that my hair was no longer the vibrant orange from my youth. I can remember the very moment that I became aware of the change my hair had ever so slowly made. So slowly in fact that I wasn't sure if it was my eyes playing tricks on me. They weren't. It had changed. I was having coffee with a new acquaintance and I mentioned something about being a redhead. "You're not a redhead!" he said. That was it. That was the moment. I had spent my whole life identifying as one of the 2%. I had the freckles, the skin, and up until then the hair. I had suffered through the nicknames and the jokes, and now this person had the audacity to say that I didn't have red hair! I wont relive the horror of my first dye attempt after this revelation. You can refer to the original confessional for that. However, shortly after was my foray into the all-natural world of henna. Now, two years later, I stand by my choice. 

So why henna?  Henna (Lawsomia Inermis) is a flowering plant whose leaves contain a natural orange/red pigment. Because it is such an effective dye, people have been using it to stain their skin and hair for thousands of years. While salon and drug-store hair dyes are full of nasty chemicals that damage your hair over time, henna is all-natural. In addition to depositing color, henna actually nourishes and revives your hair. After using henna, people notice more bounce and silkiness. Also, unlike other hair dyes, I find that henna fades slower and lasts up to 8 weeks before I feel the need to touch-up the roots. 

How to use henna? I use Henna King in natural red, because it's good quality for a good price (about $12). It comes with gloves and a shower cap, but I recommend getting better gloves for more freedom of movement. 

Step 1: Combine the henna powder with water and mix it into something of a paste (not too thick or too watery- think pancake batter!). Everybody has their own set of recipe tricks when it comes to henna. Some add olive oil, sugar, etc. I just use as-is. 

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 dry hair and make sure you get the roots. I recommend putting some oil 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: Now it's time to wait. You can keep henna in for up to 3 hours but no less than 1 hour. I find that any longer than 2 hours and it comes out a little too bright for my liking. So I aim for 1.5- 2 hours.

Step 4: Wash it out and Voila! Henna has been described as smelling like hay in a barn so you will be tempted to wash with shampoo- don't! Wait at least 24 hours before your first real wash in order to allow the color to set. You will smell like a dirty hippie for a day or two. 

This is a photo of me a couple days after I touched up my hair. If you decide to give henna a try, let us know how it goes!


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Penny June 16 2022

I’m so excited to see so many of us ‘ highlight’ our already red locks with henna. I am 73. I’ve used henna since I was in the 5th grade because it gave my hair such body. We’ll, all my red headed aunts were using it so they rounded us all up one day and loaded us up with henna and the rest is history. I didn’t use it much till I was in my 20’s but have been a regular ever since. I color every 3 months or so. Used to use Nestles Egyptian Henna from the drug store but switch 10 years ago. I get my henna from Tap Dancing Lizard…what a cool name. They are full of information about all aspects of henna from hair dye to skin dye. I use henna with Cassia to get a lovely red. I have permed over it with no bad results for years and years (so I have curls AND red hair). I have a light dusting of grey around my face and the henna comes off that in 2 or 3 washings. It looks SO NATURAL! You know if you blow your hair dry with a heat it deepens the color. My teenage granddaughter came to me a few years back and said she’d had enough! She wanted to be a redhead too. She uses henna on her waist long hair every 2 months!

Cathryn November 3 2017

I have been using Cinta henna colour shampoo for over 20 years to brighten my natural copper red hair. I have pale freckly skin and blue eyes. Now I am in my early fifties I use JFR henna as I am fading to a sandy strawberry blond around the edges. JFR henna comes in a few different shades and I mix champagne and strawberry blond together to blend the sandy blond hair back in. I still use the henna shampoo as well when the henna starts to fade after about 4 weeks. It works really well.

Carr September 20 2017

Your hair looks beautiful with the Henna too.

Carr September 20 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.



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?


Sharon September 17 2017

Same experience. I have turned a blondish brown, having started out with incredible strawberry blond with auburn streaks.

I did the henna. It had indigo in it. I am now a super dark auburn, and feel a little weird. It is too dark. Fortunately my hair grows really fast!

Kate July 31 2017

Thanks Rachelle!

Rachelle Wells July 30 2017

Same experience here! Mine happened in my early 20s. Took me 7 years to finally do henna and I am SO glad I did. I had the dreaded “not a redhead” moment too, it was awful. So yay henna! Looks great on you.