Coating your gray hair with commercial hair dyes leaves your hair vulnerable to chemicals that can damage your hair. Have you considered using a natural alternative like henna for gray hair? Henna, commonly known as mehendi, colors the hair in an enchanting red-orange shade. It is traditionally used to keep hair thick and has antimicrobial properties that keep your hair and scalp protected and healthy (1). Keep reading to learn how to dye your hair with henna to ensure full gray coverage.
What is henna?
Henna leaf or Lawsonia inermis is grown all over India. It is popularly used as a hair dye, for body art and is known for its medicinal and therapeutic properties (2). Natural henna leaves a chestnut brown color on the hair. However, the color may differ depending on the variety of henna leaf used.
It provides an instant cooling effect and has antimicrobial properties. Henna extract is effective against the acne-causing S. aureus bacteria and can help reduce scalp acne.
Traditionally, mehendi or henna is believed to strengthen hair, promote hair growth and give it shine. However, there is no scientific evidence for these claims. Henna is often used to cover gray hair and is a popular alternative to chemical hair dyes.
Does Henna cover gray hair?
Yes. Henna can cover gray hair and leave a auburn or red-orange tint on the strands. However, the results may differ depending on your natural hair color.
Adding other herbal ingredients like jatamansi, kuth, kattha and amla (Indian gooseberry) and coffee with henna can produce significant color effect and cover gray hair effectively (3). The next section explains how to use henna to cover gray hair.
How To Cover Gray Hair With Henna: A Complete Guide
Gather the ingredients you may need. They contain:
- 1-2 tablespoons black tea leaves
- 2-3 tablespoons henna powder (adjust the amount)
- 2-3 cups of water
- ½ teaspoon lemon juice
- Applicator Brush:
- A mixing bowl
- An old T-shirt
Step 1: Boil black tea leaves
Boil the black tea leaves in water for a while. Once it starts to bubble, let it simmer over low heat until the water is reduced by half. The water should be in proportion to the amount of henna powder you are using. Always use natural henna powder rather than those with a developer.
Step 2: Prepare a henna mask
Soak the henna powder in water for about 8 hours or overnight. Mix the henna paste, black tea and lemon juice. You can also add some amla powder to this mixture. However, this is optional.
Step 3: Apply the mask
Wear the old T-shirt to avoid staining and then part your hair. Use the applicator brush to cover the section from root to tip. Repeat with all hair sections. Wear a disposable shower cap to keep the hair intact and wait at least 30 minutes for the hair to absorb the paste.
Step 4: Wash it off
Rinse the paste with cold water. Make sure to wash thoroughly and apply conditioner to the hair. Do not shampoo immediately and let the color soak in. You can wash your hair the next day. You can apply henna once or twice a month.
Watch this video for a better understanding:
Henna is considered safe for the skin. Animal studies show that it can treat androgenetic alopecia (4). However, you may experience some side effects.
[Read: Ashwagandha For Hair]
Henna side effects
Henna can cause allergic reactions and you may experience the following symptoms:
- Sore and red eyes
However, these side effects are rare and often caused by commercial black henna containing synthetic ingredients such as PPD. If you notice any of these side effects, tell your doctor immediately.
If you are applying henna to your hair, here is a series of precautions to follow.
Precautions When Applying Henna
- Do a patch test to avoid allergic reactions.
- Do not apply henna if you have existing scalp conditions or blisters or wounds on your scalp.
- If you have a cold or fever, do not use henna. It has a cooling effect and may further aggravate your condition.
- Make sure your hair is tangle free. The henna paste can cause tangles and can be difficult to wash off.
- Always use a glass bowl to mix the paste as metal bowls can react with the ingredients.
- Lubricate the hairline and skin near the neck with petroleum jelly or petroleum jelly to prevent staining.
- Always wear disposable plastic gloves before applying henna to avoid staining.
- Do not apply henna to oily hair, as the oil can prevent color absorption.
- Do not leave henna on your hair for more than 45 minutes. If it dries out completely, it can be difficult to wash it out.
- Apply cucumber slices or cooling eye pads if you experience a burning sensation in the eyes after applying henna.
Using henna for gray hair is an excellent and healthy alternative to synthetic and harmful dyes. It gives the gray hair a red-orange hue while improving the health of your hair and scalp due to its antimicrobial properties. You can also add more ingredients to intensify the color. Although henna is considered safe for use, it can cause minor side effects such as itching, dryness and red eyes. However, these are usually associated with hennas that contain synthetic ingredients. Do a patch test before using henna to avoid the risk of side effects.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does henna last on gray hair?
Once you’ve colored your gray hair with henna, the color should last for about 7-9 weeks.
How often can I make my hair with henna?
You can dye your hair with henna once a month.
Can henna be removed from hair?
Henna is a permanent color. If you want to remove it from your hair, apply plenty of warm oil to your locks (until it drips). Wrap your hair in a shower cap. Leave it for a few hours or overnight. Then wash it off with warm water and shampoo. You may need to repeat this process a few times to remove the color. You can also use a baking soda rinse to lighten henna-colored hair.
Key learning points
- Henna gives a auburn color to the hair strands and effectively covers your gray hair.
- Apply a mixture of henna, black tea, lemon juice and water to hide your grays.
- Although side effects are rare, commercial black hennas can cause allergic reactions.
Articles on Health Related Information are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputable organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy for more information.
- Antimicrobial Efficacy of Henna Extracts
- Modulating effect of henna leaf (Lawsonia inermis) on drug metabolism phase I and phase II enzymes antioxidant enzymes lipid peroxidation and chemically induced papillomagenesis of skin and forestomach in mice
- Study of the color effect of herbal formulations on graying hair
- [Therapeutic effect of Impatiens balsamina Lawsonia inermis L. and Henna on androgenetic alopecia in mice]