Henna gives women an eco-friendly, chemical-free option for coloring grey hair, but it’s by no means an easy medium to use. Coloring grey hair with henna is more an art project than a dye job, and it takes a certain amount of finesse to make it work well. Frustration with henna itself can keep many women from giving it a try, but it’s a very safe option for coloring grey hair that shouldn’t be ignored because it’s so tricky.
Henna as a grey hair dye
Henna is a popular natural dye because it works well. Tattoo enthusiasts know it because it will impart semi-permanent tattoos on the skin. That’s very important information for any woman who wants to use it as a grey hair dye. Learning how to work with henna is the secret to using as a successful grey hair treatment. You can’t dye your hair with henna the same way you dye it with the chemicals that come in friendly boxes with step-by-step instructions.
- Staining. Henna will stain skin and clothing, so you have to be very careful when applying it. Cover your clothing with dark towels to protect it from the natural dye, and don’t expect the henna to wash right out if you do get it on your towels and clothes. Wear gloves on your hands to prevent them from becoming dyed, too. To keep the henna from straying outside your hairline, try placing lotion around the edges of your face and neck. Otherwise, you may end up with a henna halo that will make your grey hair treatment the least obvious thing about you.
- Mixing. Henna is available in any color you like…as long as it’s red. Even the very dark and very light shades of henna will have a slightly reddish cast to them; that’s the nature of henna. When you’re dyeing hair that is more than one color — grey hair color mixed in with your original color — the henna will color the grey in brighter tones than the surrounding hair. Henna comes to you in powder form, and is mixed with a liquid into a paste-like consistency. Instead of using plain water, mix henna with black coffee to tone down the brassy red tones and give your hair a more even color.
- Painting. You can’t simply dump your head in a bowl full of pasty henna and expect that to work. You have to smear henna on sections of your hair; a paintbrush is one of the best methods for applying it.
- Setting. Once you’ve covered your hair in henna paste, the grey hair treatment has only just begun. Cover your henna-smeared locks with plastic and let it sit for at least one hour, but you can let it set for up to five.
- Washing. The henna dye may look extremely bright the first day you color it, but this will tone down after you wash it once.
Learn additional grey hair treatment options in our free special report, 7 Keys to Grey hair treatment after 50: Best hair care products, and tips for styling and coloring grey hair whether you choose to cover or embrace your grey.