The temperatures are sizzling, and so are the popular colors for natural hair! Red hair is back with a vengeance, and you’re more likely to see women with russet, scarlet, or wine-colored streaks in their hair this season. But what about women with natural hair, or for those of us who may be concerned about the damage hair dye can bring?

Henna for Natural Hair

For natural hair, there’s henna – the flowering plant that’s been used to dye everything from skin to cloth since the Bronze Age. Henna has been embraced by the natural hair community for being natural, potent, and a generally beneficial treatment for hair that needs strength, shine and color. But if you’re a newbie to henna, where do you begin? There are some great online resources for anyone with questions. Here are my top favorites.

Curly Nikki is an amazing site for anyone with naturally kinky, coily hair – and over time her site has evolved into an invaluable resource for anyone interested in henna. Just visit her site and click on the henna tab right at the top, and you’ll find all the benefits, tutorials and recipes you need!

The Henna For Hair site is a complete online source for everything you need to know – from the history and science of this natural plant based dye, to warnings, and where-to-buy links. Anyone about to embark on the henna experience should download the free e-book, How To Henna Hair.

YouTube is the ULTIMATE resource for just about anything you want to learn, and henna is no exception! You can find awesome videos by popular vloggers – hennapage, lovelyti2002, and tonidaley80 all have great tutorials and that’s just the beginning. If you’re looking for a special review of a henna product, here’s the best place to look.

So now that you’ve got insight and advice on what to do with henna and your natural hair, where do you buy it?

Many naturals prefer the Mehandi variety, and their site is also remarkably informative. Lush sells a range of henna that promises stunning color – it comes in shades ranging from brown to black, all pressed into lovely blocks reminiscent of Russian tea (as seen in the photo above!). And on the indie haircare tip, there’s Henna Melts by TheHairShebang on Etsy. In addition to the step-by-step melts, Hair Shebang also offers a Selah Moisture Spray that offers hydration to the thirstiest strands. E mail her for more info.

Are you a henna head? Share your tips and experiences in the comments!

Originally posted over at BV Hair Talk.

I’m gonna be hennaing my hair SOON, so please let me know your best tips! Any advice from anyone with natural hair who’s done this?

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Patricec says:
July 6, 2010, 12:39 pm
I read up on Henna at Curly Nikki myself...Thanks for the reminder that Lush sells it, I was considering trying it for adding strength to my hair more than color, but good to know it comes in a range of colors.
enisio says:
July 6, 2010, 1:00 pm
Does this work on grays? That is my main trouble issue. I try to stay natural with almost everything I use but when it comes to covering the gray strands on my head, sadly I've had to rely on the chemicals.
fancy says:
July 6, 2010, 1:23 pm
i also want to use henna on my silvery streaks...any info if it works for naturally coloring silver/gray strands?
Charlotte says:
July 6, 2010, 1:35 pm
Wow~ I didn't know that Lush had a variety of color options for Henna. I have always wanted to try Henna, but was not interested in coloring my hair. I will br trying this weekend! Thank you Afrobella~
IrieDiva says:
July 6, 2010, 2:19 pm
So.....i'm not an afrobella, still on the creamy crack but this seems like a good option for adding strength since colour plus relaxer is so harsh i'm gonna look into it too even tho im a creamy
Ms Melissa! says:
July 6, 2010, 3:20 pm
Ok...soooo I LOVE Lush...the Chicago Store is my favorite and I was thinking about coloring my wavy curls.... Hmmmm
Lupita64 says:
July 6, 2010, 4:50 pm
I have used henna from Mehandi for about 3 years now. I have been natural for about 9 years and have kinky/coily/4B hair and it has GREAT grey coverage. It doesn't change the color of my hair--about a 1B. There is one streak of grey right in the center front--kinda like a reverse Cruella Deville, and it comes out nice and coppery red, a nice highlight. I use the "Henna for African Hair" from Mehandi since it is ground finely and is easy to mix smoothly. I had started using it when my daughter came (3 yrs ago). I went all organic/natural/no chemicals when she arrived. Before that I had dyed my hair at Aveda and Regis salons and had gotten a lovely copper color all over. Now I am a 1B all over with copper highlights due to my diffuse greys and the big streak in front. :)
SoFrolushes says:
July 6, 2010, 5:03 pm
last time I dyed my hair it was very drying. So I do wonder if Henna would be the better answer. I want to add streaks of colour and then enhance colour elsewhere. mmm maybe henna will give me something to do
Mzmillion says:
July 6, 2010, 7:28 pm
I am a henna girl, not serious though, after my experimenting with it, I found that henna melts and gloss' are the best way to go for my head and full strength isn't the way to go. I also advise a melt or gloss for anyone trying henna for the first time. It's fun, can be messy, and if you are looking for the best henna, check out Jamila, Punjabi Prime, Rajastani(the best) and almost all that are on though). You can check out me making and doing my own henna melt/gloss here:
alicia e. says:
July 6, 2010, 8:42 pm
I have been a redhead on and off for about 10 years. I have never tried henna though...I just might now. I have been be wearing my hair in its natural curly state for over 10 years also but I haven't had any problems with permanent hair color. Henna does seem a safer option for women that are preggers.
Chelle says:
July 6, 2010, 10:17 pm
Yes, it works on grays. I use henna to color my hair and I'm probably 15% or more gray and it gives my hair nice red highlights. Of note, there is a school of thought that henna that leaves colors other than red are not real henna.
Chelle says:
July 6, 2010, 10:18 pm
you can't mix henna with a relaxer
Drea J says:
July 6, 2010, 10:28 pm
While attending a natural hair event in Chicago, one of the young ladies discussed the benefits of Henna. I love trying new things for my natural state. Henna is definitely next on the list for me to try.
Margaret says:
July 7, 2010, 6:17 am
My aunt had a relaxer and she was a faithful henna user. Her hair was always beautiful.
UmmAmirah says:
July 7, 2010, 1:13 pm
great post. i was thinking of dying my natural hair to get that REDDISH look. Might be going to my local LUSH next week.
cdona says:
July 7, 2010, 2:44 pm
I'm pleased to be able to share that I did the BC on July 4th after starting my natural journey January. What a liberating experience!!....Ok back on topic:)I've always had my hair colored and streaked but was concerned about the coloring process for my newly natural tresses. Thank you for the information,it was right on time.
lacquerholic says:
July 7, 2010, 3:08 pm
I wish I'd read this before I henna'd my hair last month. I was shedding twigs out of my locs for weeks after!
Caitlin says:
July 8, 2010, 8:19 am
Henna works on grey hair- but perhaps a little too well. On brunette hair, Lush henna (the red shade) comes out a lovely auburn. On grey, it comes out BRIGHT BRIGHT BRIGHT RED/ORANGE. You see it sometimes on distinguished hippie ladies. I would recommend it though, if you are bold. Especially if you only have a little grey, not a full head- you'll just get highlights instead :) I've only used Lush henna, but in your case I'd just go with an hour at first, and leave your head un-saran wrapped (makes it browner) Good luck!
Caitlin says:
July 8, 2010, 8:22 am
Lush has directions for this- just make sure you use the henna AFTER the perm/relaxer :)
Caitlin says:
July 8, 2010, 8:22 am
Henna is super good for your hair, lots of products strip out the colouring component and use it as a treatment!
Umm Ayyub says:
July 8, 2010, 9:42 am
Henna does cover greys, and the shade of red/orange you get varies depending on the colour of the henna, and whether or not you let the henna air dry. In many middle eastern countries women and men use henna to colour their hair once they get greys.
Umm Ayyub says:
July 8, 2010, 9:43 am
Yes you can.
leelei says:
July 8, 2010, 2:45 pm
I hennaed over the weekend. Product was called Jamilla. It really attached itself to my grays at my temples more than anything. I now have bronzey temples. The other gray strands in my hair are now bronze as well. My actual hair color remained the same ol' brown/black (#2) color. I would do it again. OH, it can be a really messy process guys.
Mishara says:
July 9, 2010, 2:38 am
Natural ladies and Henna users, please give me some feedback. I currently have pink and platinum highlights in my natural hair. I LOVE them. But they are's been over 3 months. I want some fresh VA VA VOOM in my hair and am not a fan of subtle looks. I would like to try henna and have been thinking about going bright red for quite some time. I am slightly nervous about what color my hair will turn out because I have noticed the majority of natural sistas have dark brown or black coils before trying henna. I however am extremely light skinned and have naturally dirty blonde colored kinks. Since my hair is so light it easily took the platinum and pink highlights. What effect would you say henna would have on dying my hair red? I dont want it accidently bleached lighter or dyed darker brown. I want a mixture of red and blonde.
Nia says:
July 9, 2010, 11:20 pm
After trying Knot Today & Kinky Curl Custard my hair became super dry. So, I tried Light Mountain Henna Neutral Color(Cassia) to help condition my hair. Its been over 2 weeks and my hair has not recovered. Does anyone have advice on using henna yet retaining moisture?
SM says:
July 10, 2010, 2:21 pm
Nia: I have used Mehandi's Henna for African Hair twice. The first time, I mixed it with lemon juice and found it to be a drying. The second time I used apple juice without a problem. Next time, try mixing it with apple juice instead. It's less acidic. Hope this helps.
lina40 says:
July 11, 2010, 4:16 pm
Mishara - expect your blonde tresses to be a coppery to ginger auburn shade. Your hair may be quite red, but will darken over time as the color oxidizes. You can use other herbal powders (if you are a do-it-yourself gal) to push the henna away from the intense red or closer to it. But yes, the initial color of your hair will dictate the end color. Permed/relaxed/color-treated heads will tend to have higher henna dye release -- meaning possibly brighter more vibrant colors. If you tend towards dryness, use apple cider vinegar, orange juice, apple juice or even yogurt as a milder acid for your henna paste. feel free to email me with additional questions at: Custom henna powders and melts are my specialty. Blessings and Happy Hair! Lina
lina40 says:
July 11, 2010, 4:18 pm
the more times you apply henna, the more color deposit you will receive. Expect to see some more reddish highlights as you continue to use it.
lina40 says:
July 11, 2010, 4:23 pm
fresh Henna works especially well on silver grey strands - deposits are usually coppery red, ginger-red or even orange, depending on how long its left on the hair. you may be able to push the color towards brown by adding clove powder or cinnamon powder. but if you are less than 20% grey, the deposit seems to be very becoming to most, especially those with dark hair. For others, adding indigo to produce a more brown to black deposit is suggested. Blessings and Happy Hair! Lina
AJ says:
July 11, 2010, 10:10 pm
my advice, is to make sure you aren't allergic to it. a henna allergy is very rare, but it happens, and the last thing you want is to find out you're allergic to it once you put it all over your hair. I would to a test area, wait at least 48 hours, and see how you're doing. if it is at all inflamed, henna is not for you. trust me, I learned the hard way. I had (okay my parents) had to spend a lot of money at the doctor and the dermatologist, as well as cutting a lot of my hair off. No one wants to sit by, or work with the girl who is scratching all day. Just trying to save someone one a little pain. happy hennaing! :)
lina40 says:
July 12, 2010, 9:01 pm
oh yes, for sure -- PLEASE DO A PATCH TEST -- sometimes natural products can create a reaction :( Blessings and Happy Hair! Lina
jjay says:
July 13, 2010, 8:51 am
Hi Ladies, weiging in on the gray strands....I've been henna'ing for over a year now, I think I've got my routine down "pat." It makes my grey strands a lovely deep burgundy color. I took a tip from Curly Nikki, I sleep overnight in my henna, rinse it out in the morning and wha-la.
paradisebird says:
July 13, 2010, 4:13 pm
I henna since 5 years and like it very much. My brand of choice is the khadi henna (very fine, super sifted) and the lush cacas. If you want to give the lush cacas a try just ask for a sample in the shops (you can do a starnd test w/ collected hair from your brush or comb)to play it safe. Happy hennaing! I plan to get a henna tattoo (mehandi) this summer on my feet or legs or both :-)like this....
Nia says:
July 14, 2010, 1:20 am
SM-thanks, I will give it a try.
felice says:
July 15, 2010, 5:09 pm
Have you tried Lotus Shield by Avon? just a penny sized dab rubbed between your hands then smoothed on to your hair leave its looking fantastic. And also excellent on colored hair. I am offering a free gift with your first online purchase for free shipping use code REPFLYER happy shopping!
MisMis says:
August 20, 2010, 7:35 pm
I have a local Indian grocery store near me so I buy my henna there. I get a nice brown burgundy color (more burgundy than brown)....must say I always get comments on how red it is in the sun LOL Love it. Anyway I use... 1 pckg of henna 3tbps of honey 4 green tea bags & 4-6 red hibiscus flowers (boiled in 1 1/2 cup water) 2tps of lemon juice this is my mix my hair is really thick (had a few greys and they are now red) and i use the entire mixture I have left my mix on for at the most 11hrs but a little as 6hrs ( i saran wrap it before napping/bed). more time better color seems to be the way to go. ive only done henna 4times so far. the henna i purchase actually has mixture suggestions on the back of the pckg like what to mix if u want red/burgundy (my pckg says u can use beetroots or the hibiscus flower- i happen to have this pretty red flower growing in two bushes outside my house) or dark brown hair (i believe it says reg orange peoke - forgive my spelling - and coffee but since i dont mix for this color im not 100% sorry. I just kinda tweaked it from what i read on curlynikki and what the package suggested... I have a coworker that is indian and she swears by henna for her hair to cover her greys. thats how i got started.
sahar says:
July 6, 2011, 1:07 pm
Is there anyway to use henna on grey without them turning to red? Red doesnt suit my skin color at all. I bought the broun.Henna from lush and I m kind of skeptical to use it for my grey area. not to mention that I know about henna since I was kid -Im persian so it s quite normal in my country to use henna and I used to watch my mum using it on her hair/gray but never saw red on her hair not to mention that Henna in fact is in Green color over there which is the natural form- Do i have to add more indigo to the bron/Henna from lush in order to avoid the redness on my greys? wouldnt have indigo in there harm my hair? I personaly prefer to get the henna powder and mix it myself but couldnt find the natural one yet, went to a indian shop and bought the henna powder where they swear by it, but when i opened it the powder was kind of khaki/brown color which i knew is not natural and definitely mixed with other thing so i didnt use it. Any help grealy appreciated.
Sasha T says:
July 12, 2011, 7:25 am This video is short and helpful. The olive (normal) colored henna doesn't seem to a red color.
Courtney says:
July 16, 2011, 9:27 pm
I've never tried henna from Lush but has a free ebook that has lots of info about henna including how to dye hair without getting a bright red color.
Linda says:
November 1, 2011, 10:30 am
Is there a specific color of Jamila Henna or is one box for all heads?
Linda says:
November 1, 2011, 10:39 am
Taking the plunge this week! I will probably sleep in mine too! Thanks for this suggestion. I am 95% sure that I'm going to try Jamila henna. Are you familiar with this brand and if so, do you have any tips for someone who is trying hemma for the first time to cover grey streaks? Any help possible will be deeply appreciated. Also, is there a specific color of Jamila henna that I should buy for my dark brow-black natural hair? My goal is to cover up the greys!
Vicky says:
November 4, 2011, 4:05 am
I have a query. Which would be the best type of Henna product for my hair. Going back to natural afro hair from a perm but have lots of grey. Only want black dye to cover grey but have had past bad reaction to dye before (ie. severe facial rash, eyelids, etc). Which Henna product would be best to avoid allergic reaction?
BJ says:
February 4, 2012, 11:11 pm
The Henna may not have been fresh in the store. It does get old. I recently bought Jamila a 2011 crop. If you don't want your grey to turn bright red, you should mix it with Indigo. Mix the henna first. Let the dye release overnight and add the Indigo about 15 minutes before applying the henna. The Indigo and also amla powder when added w/ henna deepens the red. Indigo with henna can actually color your hair black.
BJ says:
February 4, 2012, 11:18 pm
Don't use henna compounds. Henna doesn't produce any other color but red. You have to mix henna w/ other powders such as indigo, cassia, amla, or teas, coffees to darken the red. Use body art quality henna powder such as Jamila. It's finely sifted and it doesn't contain in metals. when you make your mixture, add some olive oil or coconut oil. Apply your henna mix to damp hair and when it's time to rinse, the oil makes rinsing easier and your hair won't feel dry. Also apply a deep conditioner after rinsing henna, to moisturize the hair.
BJ says:
February 4, 2012, 11:25 pm
I use Jamila. I had to work on finding my perfect henna mix. I mix mine with amla powder or indigo to deepen the red. I add coconut oil and some other oils, not much, but I have long hair so I use a whole box of henna and 1 box of indigo so adding a teaspoon of oil just makes the rinse out so much easier. I also rinse out w/ conditioner. You should not use a shampoo freshly hennaed hair, you should wait a day or two in order to allow the color to settle. I also apply a deep conditioner after rinsing out. It took me a fews attempts to get it right for me.
Dazz says:
June 11, 2012, 7:00 am
I read that the Jamila henna is permanent. Is that true? so basically if i wash it out the color stays?
Ciri says:
August 16, 2012, 8:49 am
I dyed my hair before I started my transition last year in Jan and started my transistion in Apil 2011 and BC'd in Feb 2012, so now I have all natural hair no relaxer and the color is still there. My ends are the dyed color and I want it gone and I would love to color my hair with Henna. My question is, can I use Henna on my hair even though I still have the dye on it? Or would I need to continue to grow it out first? Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Julie says:
December 31, 2012, 12:06 am
Henna Maiden has a strawberry blonde that you could try. It is available at amazon and its own site.
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