Henna: My hair dying experience

As a child, I was one of those kids with the bleach-blonde hair and blue eyes. As I got older, my eyes darkened, as did my hair. I started to be more conscious about tanning and skin damage and all that jazz, so I stopped spending as much time outside in the sun. As a result, the blonde in my hair faded and went to this dull mousey brown/ash blonde colour. My hair itself was very shiney and healthy, but the colour just wasn’t very exciting.

I then spent some time browsing the internet, hitting forums, Google Images, Pinterest in search of advice about dying hair with henna.
I posted on my Facebook status that I was thinking about dying my hair with henna. Wow! What a blow up that turned out to be! I got a bunch of people all commenting and telling me how bad henna was and that I would regret dying my hair. A few people warned me that this was permanent and irreversible if I didn’t like it.
Between all these negative comments were one or two people saying that they never had any issues with henna and actually loved it.

I was initially quite discouraged at this reaction. Not nice wanting to do something & have everybody tell you what a bad idea it is!
After getting over the initial discouragement I set about to do even more research about henna. I found this incredibly helpful blog post about henna: Click here

I recommend reading that link as it talks about real henna vs other things that are dangerous and bad for your hair.

I had dyed my hair previous in 2010, and the colour faded and just generally looked “blah” after 2 months, so henna sounded like a good option.

One of my friends, Roxanne, helped me with doing my hair (she helped with the initial 2010 experiment, too). Roxanne and I have been friends for the last 10 years, and when I told her I wanted to dye my hair with henna & asked if she could help, she winced and then said ok, she’d help. A great friend – she knows telling me “no” would just make me more determined. πŸ˜‰ (I found out later she just winced because she had no idea how to use henna)

As no post from me is complete without photos, here are they:

Before hair. This was taken months ago. Around May 2013.

These photos were from a shoot I did with a good friend & fellow photographer, Adele Kloppers for use on my website. She also curled my hair like this! (I’d have her curl it every day if I could…)


Had my hair cut at Neil James salon. (nicest hair cut I’ve ever had!)


Random back yard shot taken the week before dying my hair.


VERY IMPORTANT: I did a test strand first! I took a tiny bit of hair & dyed it with the henna to see how it would react & to see what colour it would go. This was the result:

It’s important to do this incase your hair reacts badly with the henna. You never know and it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

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I don’t have any photos of what the henna looked like in the pot, but mine came out quite brown instead of the green colour that many other’s reported.

I looked this up & figured out that henna can go stale & can turn brown as it gets old. Since mine had the right texture and smell, didn’t burn my hair off, I figured it was alright.

Henna goes the lovely texture of mud when you start to put it on. This makes it incredibly messy and difficult to apply. Get a friend to help out.


I wrapped my head in the towel & cling film for 4 hours. We watched series, spoke crap and ate a lot of food. (I went to the shop in this towel… :/ ) I also smeared Vaseline all over my hairline to stop my head from dying. I checked on it every now and then to make sure it was ok.


I then removed the towel & we washed my hair while kneeling in the shower. Not very glamourous. Roxanne then dried my hair with a hair dryer.

And ta-da! (there’s Roxanne in the background!)


Still slightly wet, in the sun immediately after: It was MUCH MUCH more orange than this. It was scary orange at first. However, henna does take a few days to “settle” and come to it’s true colour.

IMG01812-20140110-1750 IMG01813-20140110-1750

The next day:


And now, the truer colour: It is actually darker than this in person, but it’s SO difficult to get the colour right on camera compared to what my eyes see.


Check out that shine!!


A quick pros and cons list of using henna:


* No chemicals! True henna doesn’t have any chemicals or additives.

* You can use it repeatedly. Because there are no chemicals, you can use it a lot more often than conventional dyes.

* Makes your hair healthier & shinier. Also strengthens hair.

* It doesn’t make your hair darker/lighter, it just changes the colour of the hair by adding red/orange.

* Cheap compared to conventional dyes.

* Leaves hair feeling thicker & full of body


* Permanent colour. This is both a pro and a con because it means you have to wait for your hair to grow out. I have heard youΒ canΒ dye over henna, but I can’t vouch for that.

* Difficult to apply & very messy.

* Time consuming. I had to sit for 4 hours with the henna on my head, but I didn’t really mind.

* Can loosen natural curls (no idea why, I don’t have curls, but I have read that this happens.)

So there you go! For the people that told me not to do it… oopsy! Looks like I didn’t listen πŸ˜‰

I love the way my hair looks now, and when I decide not to continue with the henna, I will just let my hair grow out. I’m not fussed about that.

Have any henna experiences? Let me know below!

Here’s the pin-able photo: (Or click here to repin my pin)




  1. It looks lovely πŸ™‚
    I’m a complete henna convert, I’ve been using it regularly (at least every 6 months, and more often when I have the time) for about 7 years now. My hair is naturally dark brown, so it doesn’t really look orange on me, just makes the colour more of a rich reddish brown, and makes it really shiny.
    It’s actually possible to put it on yourself, with a bit of practise – I have a method that involves sitting on the floor on old towels/old newspaper, wearing a really horrible old t-shirt, and making my hair into two long henna-ey dreadlocks on each side of my head (I divide it into layers and do bottom, then middle, then top). Then I pile the muddy dreadlocks up on top of my head and wrap the whole thing in clingfilm. It’s actually not *too* messy, though it helps to have a mirror at floor level so I can see what I’m doing, and I cover my entire neck, ears, shoulders and arms in body butter beforehand to stop them getting stained orange by stray blobs πŸ˜‰

    1. Thanks for your comment!! When I need to touch up, I’ll definitely try doing it myself. πŸ™‚ I had visions of having very blotchy hair if I did it the first time by myself πŸ˜› (plus, it’s a good excuse to catch up with a friend!)

      How long do you keep the henna on your hair for?

      1. As long as I can. Usually 4 hours or more, if I have the time. I used to leave it on overnight, which is great if you’re going to have time to wash it off in the morning, but you do need to wrap your pillow in towels πŸ˜‰

  2. I’ve also box dyed or henna’d my hair since I was 16 and always loved Henna. I love the darker red tint you get on dark hair but this brighter colour is stunning on you! So surprised you got so much negative response before henna is always the herbal, safer (a.k.a better) version of hair dying so glad you did it anyway. πŸ™‚

  3. I think your hair looks great and I really like your cut. It’s so flattering. I think I’m going to give that hairstyle a try. πŸ™‚

  4. Thanks for sharing your hair henna experience. You look FANTASTIC! In addition to the color, that cut is perfect for your face.

    Kudos to you for doing your won thing instead of listening to nay-sayers.

    I also wrote a blog article on my hair henna experience, so I thought I’d share the link… http://blog.shopbeachcombers.com/2014/01/my-first-experience-with-henna-as-hair.html

    Full disclosure, this is my business blog and I sell natural henna, but the article above is about my first (and second and third, lol!) hair henna adventure. I typically go for crazy colors such as platinum blond, blue, or purple so going to something so natural looking was quite a switch for me!

    You asked someone else how long they keep it on their hair…I kept mine on anywhere for 2-3 hours. Multiple things can effect the color including, some henna has a high lawsone content than others, depending on how far along your dye release is with the henna can garner quicker or slower results, and the longer you keep it on the richer the color will be.

    I hope you’ll follow up with your henna experience as the color gets richer and more beautiful with multiple applications.

    1. Thank you for your comment!
      I read your post – very interesting to hear from somebody who wasn’t mad about the final result, but loved the effects of henna.
      I need to do a second application in the next few weeks – I can already see the regrowth πŸ™‚ (my hair seems to grow really fast!) & I might do a blog post on that again.

      1. My hair grows really fast too. My stylist is always on me about coming in more often, but now that you mentioned it… I think I may be seeing even faster than normal growth since I’ve been hennaing. Perhaps it’s just he added thickness or lack of damage on my hair, lol!

  5. Love the hair and loved the bit where you say…. For the people that told me not to do it… oopsy! Looks like I didn’t listen πŸ˜‰ it so totally fits the new cut and colour. Kinda cheeky.

  6. Hi – I’m a little lighter blond than you and want to go dark for a fun change… What color did you use ? I’m looking at henna color lab and they have many- dark brown, auburn brown, mahogany, etc, don’t know which are best for blondes as there are much fewer reviews by blondes. Thanks!

    1. Hello! πŸ™‚ thanks for your comment! True henna has no colour besides red. It adds a red tint to hair. Any products that claim to have different henna colours are not true henna. True henna also doesn’t darken hair – although repeat applications can make it a bit darker. Literally just a red tint.
      Unfortunately, a lot of these “henna” products don’t list ingredients and they can be suspect. I can’t recommend anything besides the henna I get, which is just a green powder that smells like hay/grass!

      Good luck!! πŸ™‚

  7. Hi Alexandra! I loved your post, it’s very clarifying, I only have one doubt:
    About the part of being permanent, you meant that natural blondes won’t have to repeat applications or that it is almost impossible to have another hair colour after using henna?
    I’m a lighter blonde than you and I wanted to dye my hair with henna but only with I never have to repeat the application again. Do you think the colour will fade a lot at the point of my hair being blond again?
    And since you dyed your hair, have you applied henna again?
    Thank you so much for your post!

    1. Hi Mel!
      Thanks for your comment! πŸ™‚ The permanent part means that unlike conventional hair dyes, henna doesn’t fade or wash out. It literally has to grow out of your hair. A very skilled hairdresser COULD remove the henna, but a lot of hairdressers simply say no because it is a time consuming process and requires in depth knowledge on how hair is built (which a lot don’t have) You cannot bleach your hair after using henna.

      Like every dye, you will have to touch up your roots as your hair grows, so there is still repeat application. I do this every 2 months, and have since I wrote this post 2 years ago! I touch up the roots, and any leftover henna just gets put through the ends of my hair.
      The colour of your henna will vary, depending on the base colour of your hair. If you had black hair, it would just add a red sheen, but if you are blonde, it could go quite orange. Do a test strand and see. πŸ™‚

      If you have any other questions at all, just ask!!

    1. Hey there! πŸ™‚
      I usually just mix it with plain tea, in hot (not boiling) water. I have heard lots of mixes of different things – some people use beetroot juice, rooibos tea, cloves, normal water! I”m not sure how much of a difference it makes to the final product, but it’s worth researching πŸ™‚

  8. I hope it’s not too late to ask a question. How long did it take for your Henna to settle? I am a little blonder than you, and my result about 1 day later is still VERY bright. VERY. (cartoon Ariel hair). I like the overall tone, but I may have to try layering on caca brun or marron if it doesn’t lose a little of it’s vibrancy :S

    1. It’s never too late, thanks for the comment. πŸ™‚ I found it took a few days (maybe 3 or 4) for the colour to settle a bit BUT it changed a lot over the next few applications. You can see the colour on my instagram over at @alexcgraham – it’s much darker and looks almost brown sometimes now!

      1. I think now, 2-1/2 days later, my hair is still very vibrant, but no longer cartoon-like. Phew! Thanks for your response, it calmed me down a bit. I enjoyed your instagram photos — your hair looks lovely and your rats are adorable. If my hair tones down a little further, I might be able to pass for a true ginger, but I am not holding my breath on that one. Thanks again!

      2. Ah thank you so much. πŸ™‚ I was surprised when a real redhead thought I was a genuine redhead too! So it’s always possible… πŸ˜‰ THe henna does darken/deepen in colour with more applications though, so the more you do it, the deeper the colour will be. πŸ™‚

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