How To Henna Your Hair

Answering your henna questions – to add oil or not to add oil to henna?  To add lemon juice to henna or not to add ? Henna on dry hair or wet hair?

Henna for hair is a greenish brown colour powder. When mixed with water it releases lawsone, the dye molecule which colours hair. The temperature of the water affects how fast or how long it takes for the henna powder to release its dye before it’s ready to colour your hair. This can vary from 15 to 20 minutes with freshly boiled hot water to 5 or 6 hours with cold water. You can apply the paste hot or cold to wet or dry hair. You can warm up cold henna in the microwave or on gentle heat on your stove in a double boiler. It takes between  30 minutes to 2 hours to colour your hair with henna depending on how strong and long lasting you want the colour to be.

For your first time henna application, we recommend applying henna to pre-shampooed, dry, grease free hair. We do not recommend that you add oil  to your henna paste. Many people, especially in eastern cultures, do successfully apply greased henna to their hair and get stunning hair colour results. Too much oil, however, may act as a barrier and interfere with colour stain. You may add a teaspoon or more of oil into your henna paste if you have exceptionally dry hair. Add it just before you use it. If it works for you, experiment by adding a bit more oil next time to see how much oil you can manage to incorporate into your henna mix without it interfering with colour take.

Some people prefer to apply henna to their hair just when it’s ready to be washed and this may suit you better if you have dry hair and you don’t want to risk putting oil into the paste. It’s all about what works for you and there are really no hard and fast rules.

You can apply henna paste to your hair the same way you would apply a home hair dye or any way you like really as long as it touches the roots and covers the hair; covering the hair helps to retain heat, and it keeps the paste moist as well as ensuring the paste stays in contact with the hair lengths.


woman with long henna hair
              natural  henna 


Where to Start the Henna Hair Colour Journey


Predicting your henna hair colour

how to henna your hair henna your hair for beautiful shades of auburn

woman with auburn hair with leaf in front of her face










Indigo after henna gives brown hair colour and black hair colour.

Lemon Juice or Water in Henna for Hair ?

People throughout the Asian sub-continent and elsewhere manage just fine to get dye release from their henna using just plain water to mix up their henna (cold, warm,and hot), and most have never heard of adding lemon juice to henna.

Henna Attains Best Dye Release with Water

Our trials indicate that henna does not need acidic liquid of any kind added to it to trigger dye release. Plain water works. Our trials show that plain water in henna works better and stains better than lemon juice ! However, acid can support henna dye release but it takes longer to work than water – at least double the time.

If you are not citrus sensitive, you can add something acidic such as lemon juice, lime juice, orange juice (* do not squeeze or handle oranges yourself if you are allergic to PPD as the dye in orange peel is high in PPD content), or organic cider vinegar if you want quick fix henna for hair to lighten the henna colour. However, for quick fix henna rich, deep, hair colour you need only water.

The addition of lemon juice to henna which is in hair for many hours carries the risk, potentially, of drying out the hair in the long run, and can increase the risk of photosensitivity (sensitivity to sunlight) so you may need to avoid direct sun exposure immediately after using henna mixed with lemon juice. We prefer cider vinegar in henna for hair to lemon juice. It’s naturally alkalising.

Our trials have shown that the addition of acidic liquid lightens the henna hair colour and you’ll notice the difference in colour just from a comparison of pastes mixed with plain water and mixed with water/acid – have a look at these photos :

henna paste mixed with plain hot waterhenna paste mixed with hot water and cidar vinegar
henna paste mixed with plain hot waterhenna paste mixed with hot water and cider vinegar

For the best henna dye release, we recommend that you use  henna with plain water.


Should you apply henna to wet or dry hair?

This is entirely up to you. It doesn’t make any difference to the end result henna hair colour. Go with the weather ! Try hot henna on dry hair in winter time, and freshly defrosted cool henna on damp hair in the heat of summer time.


Henna Hair Salons

We do not currently operate any henna hair colour salons. If you are not comfortable applying henna/indigo yourself, you may ask your hair dresser to apply it for you. Please refer your hair dresser to this site and tell them to feel free to get in touch to discuss any concerns or questions they may have regarding Renaissance Henna products.


More Henna Hair Questions ?

We recommend that you read through the Natural Hair Dye Library resources on this website where you will find answers to frequently asked questions.


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