How to Give Your Hair Henna Highlights

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About Henna and Natural Henna Products

henna hair color
Light Mountain Natural Hair Color and Conditioner. (c) Phylameana lila Desy

Henna is powder made from dried leaves of the Lawsonia inermis plant. The Lawsonia inermis shrub is also called Mehendi or henna plant. Henna powder is used to create a moist pasty dye that can be used in body art (temporary tattoos) and also for coloring your hair naturally without toxic chemicals such as ammonia or peroxide.

In this natural hair coloring tutorial the henna product used is Light Mountain Natural's hair color & conditioner for light brown hair. Inside the box is a four ounce packet of 100 percent pure botanical hair color, a blend of certified organically grown Lawsonia inermis leaf powder and Indigoferae tinctoria leaf powder. Detailed instructions for sensitivity testing, strand testing, and application are included, as well as a pair of plastic gloves and cap. Light Mountain Natural offers a range of hair coloring shades to choose from including neutral, reds, browns, and gray, and black.

Light Mountain Natural: Compare Prices

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Creating Special Hair Coloring Effects

henna hair color mix
Henna and Enhancing Ingredients. (c) Phylameana lila Desy
Have some fun experimenting with add-ons that will help you to create your own personal unique henna hair color. Henna does not lighten your hair color. However, if your hair is naturally light such as ash blonde or light brown you could add in something acidic such as lemon juice or vinegar to give your hair some golden or coppery highlights. Mixing in some plain yogurt or a raw egg will luxuriously condition your hair. You can also add in different spices from your kitchen for enriching red-brown hues. Choose from nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, paprika, or ginger. This photo shows the ingredients I chose for my henna hair treatment: green plant powders, three tablespoons of yogurt, one-half tablespoon of cinnamon. I also added in the juice from one large lemon.
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Mixing the Henna Hair Treatment

henna, natural hair care
Henna Hair Coloring Mixture (Henna goop!). (c) Phylameana lila Desy

Set aside 12 to 16 ounces of boiled purified water. Sift out any lumps (if any) from your henna powder. Stir in your add-ins (yogurt or egg, spices, lemon juice or vinegar) into the dried powder. Add warmed water, a little at a time and mix throughly. Use just enough water so that your henna paste is the consistency of not too runny, but not too stiff mashed potatoes. Place a sheet of plastic wrap directly on top of the henna paste, making sure no or little air to dry it out. Allow to set at room temperature for three hours.

While you are waiting for the henna paste to set, shampoo your hair. Rinse your hair thoroughly. Do not use any conditioner following your shampoo. You want your hair to be chemical free. Towel dry your hair.

When ready, apply the paste in sections to all of your hair beginning from the roots to the ends. Cover your hair with the plastic cap and wait approximately 45-60 minutes. You can use a blow dryer if you like to help bake the dye onto your hair strands, just be careful not to overheat and melt the plastic cap.

Rinse the henna goo thoroughly with water. Towel dry your newly colored hair. Do not shampoo for at least 24 hours.

Hint: Henna stains, so be sure to wear plastic gloves. It is also wise to apply petroleum oil along the hairline to protect your face, ears, and neck from discoloration. It is okay if you get a little staining on your skin. Stains on your scalp and skin should not last for more than a day or two. The dye on your hair should last four to six weeks.

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Before and After Photos

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Before and After Henna Hair Color Treatment. (c)Joe Desy
These before and after photos show the results of a henna treatment with yogurt, cinnamon, and lemon juice. The henna did not make a drastic change. But, it did bring in some reddish highlights and extra body. Henna coats each strand of hair which makes your head of hair look and feel thicker. What you cannot see in the photos is the "smell" from this natural hair treatment. No chemical smell! Instead, the odor is very similar to freshly cut wet grass or the smell of hay stored in the barn. No worries, the odor won't stick around after a couple of shampoos. However, henna is a semi-permanent dye and will wash out eventually. So, the fewer shampoos, the longer your hair color will last you.
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Coloring Your Silvers and Grays with Henna

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Before and After Henna Hair Coloring Treatment. (c)Joe Desy

In the previous step, there is a photo of the back of my head where I have very few grays growing in. My obvious "crone" grays are mostly visible along the hairline around my face. This henna hair treatment transformed the silver and grays strands into fiery orange-red streaks. If you do not like the idea of having red hair your best bet is to stay clear of henna. For brunettes who are wanting to cover their grays naturally a non-red dye alternative would be to look for a clove or walnut hair conditioner.

Dye Your Grays Away

Henna rinses are a natural way to dye your grays away. Henna is a plant-based dye which does not contain damaging chemicals. You can choose from henna hair color treatments or henna enhanced shampoos to give your hair more body and extra shine. Henna is a nice alternative for anyone who wants to stay on the natural route, yet likes the idea of going for a little glamour.

Postscript: Since I first wrote this tutorial more and more gray hairs have grown in. Because of this when I henna my hair about an half inch to one inch of my hair (mostly at the temples and also long the hairline on my forehead are ending up bright orange. This is not to my liking. But, I've found a solution. You can follow up your henna treatment with a mini indigo treatment. This can be done no longer than two weeks after your henna treatment.

Tame Firey Orange Henna Color with Followup Indigo Treatment

Indigo applied to henna-treated hair strands will give you a richer auburn, shades of brown, or black hair. The longer you keep the indigo paste in your hair, the darker your hair will turn out.

Warning: Don't indigo your hair without first doing a henna treatment. If I were to apply indigo to my virgin gray hairs (wow, virgin gray sounds like an oxymoron!) I would end up with blue hairs. No thanks!

Mix 1/2 cup hair conditioner with 1 to 1 and a half tablespoons of indigo powder and allow to set for ten to fifteen minutes. It will be a slightly gritty paste mixture. Apply with gloves to the orangey portion of your previously henna treated locks that you wish to tame down. Cover with plastic wrap. Allow to set 15 minutes for auburn, 20-50 minutes for brown, and an hour or longer for black hair. Twenty minutes is my magic number for rich medium brown hair with reddish highlights. Rinse out thoroughly. Blot dampened hair with a towel and allow your hair to dry naturally (avoid using a hair dryer, the dry heat brings out more red). Do not shampoo your hair for at least 48 hours, allowing the indigo to oxidize.

Tip: It has been suggested that a couple of shakes of the salt shaker can be added to the indigo paste before applying to your hair if you've discovered your hair doesn't absorb the color very well. I didn't have that issue, but perhaps this tip will help someone.