How To Henna

Henna for Hair Questions :

How to use henna? On dry hair or wet Hair? To add oil or not to add oil to henna?  To add lemon juice to henna or not to add ?

Whilst my personal preference is to apply henna to pre-shampooed, dry, grease free hair, and not to mix oil of any kind or quantity into it, I have to say that many people, especially in eastern cultures , do successfully apply greased henna to their hair and get just as stunning a result. Logically you’d think any grease, such as an oil, would act as a barrier and prevent or interfere with colour stain. But the miracle of henna is everlasting ! Some people do pre mix a teaspoon or more of oil into the henna paste. If you have really dry hair and you want to try that, I would probably say to mix the oil (try cold pressed bhringraj oil or neem oil for very dry hair) into your henna paste just before you use it. If it works for you, you can experiment and add a bit more oil next time to see how much you can get away with without it interfering with the colour take. The other thing is that some people will deliberately apply henna to their hair at that point when it’s crying out to be washed so it’s already got some good degree of natural grease in it – that may suit anyone with dry hair who doesn’t want to risk putting oil into the paste. It’s all about what works for you and there are no really hard and fast rules.


About Lemon Juice and Water in Henna for Hair

I started out thinking that acid was essential for henna dye release. Henna is acidic and so what some henna experts said about lemon juice or other acidic stuff being used to “trigger” dye release seemed to make sense, despite the fact that many people throughout the Asian sub-continent and elsewhere were managing just fine to get dye release from henna into their hair with plain water (cold, warm,and hot) and they’d never heard of such absurdity as adding lemon juice and the like. Since setting up this website, I’ve carried out my own trials, largely inspired by members of Henna Tribe. It’s always refreshing to meet open minds. Here are two varying sets of results:

Henna Attains Best Dye Release with Water

Henna Attains Best Dye Release with Lemon Juice

My own conclusion is that henna does not need acidic liquid of any kind added to it to trigger dye release ! Plain water works just fine, and in fact my trials show that plain water works better and stains better than lemon juice ! (But you may come to a different conclusion altogether.) Acid can support henna dye release over a longer time span – in other words: acid liquid works as well but henna dye release takes longer – let’s say double the time at least as you need with plain water). 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 ), or organic cider vinegar if you want quick fix henna for hair to lighten the henna colour, but for quick fix henna rich, deep, hair colour you need only water. My own trials have shown that the addition of acidic liquid lightens the 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 cidar vinegar

The different theories and ideas on lemon juice / acid are interesting, but as far as I’m concerned henna works best with plain water. Also, the addition of lemon juice to henna which is in hair for many hours carries the risk, I think, of potentially 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. I prefer cider vinegar in henna for hair to lemon juice. It’s naturally alkalising.


Should you apply henna to wet or dry hair?

As to whether you apply any of these pastes to wet or dry hair, it’s entirely a matter of personal preference. It doesn’t make a difference. 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.