No-bozo henna for grey

My henna recipe, so I don’t have to keep looking for it.

Read this.

1 cup Frontier organic henna (nice consistency, bright color resulted)
1 cup Cassia Obovata from Amazon
1 tablespoon organic turmeric powder
1 can warmed Natural Value coconut milk full fat.
1 tsp acacia powder (gum arabic)
Pinch ginger, pinch cloves

This made twice as much as I actually needed. I just mixed everything together (no vinegar, no honey because I forgot the honey) and glooped it on (thick paste which went where I wanted and didn’t drip at all) and then rubbed it in and wrapped my head in plastic and sat under a blanket for a couple hours to keep things warm, then rinsed, used conditioner, rinsed some more. No vaseline, no gloves, no packing the plastic wrap with bits of kleenex to stop the drips… Little bit of color around the edges of my fingernails, if it bugs me I’ll paint them.

Put the rest in a plastic bag in the freezer.

Dye release was instant. My scalp is not stained, my hair is. Vibrant, vivid color. Less nuisance than usual by a long shot.

Hair feels soft and not at all greasy or dry, doesn’t have the usual pickle or hay smell of henna either.

Thumbs up! I’ll give the color a couple days to oxidize in and then take a picture. It’s vibrant right now, but I know it will settle down in a day or so.


Now, some words to the wise about henna:

1. The color is “dynamic”, i.e. it takes a couple days to oxidize into a nice reddish brown and settle down into the permanent “glaze” of color.
2. It can tend towards brassy.
3. The stuff you buy in boxes or even in bulk at the health food store is usually crap. Find some body-art quality pure henna (none of that black crap), I get mine from our local alternative shop, Lazar’s Bazaar. However, pretty much the only place I can find “neutral” or “blond” henna is at the health food store, that’s cassia, and different from henna in all sorts of ways, but blends nicely.
4. It is a translucent glaze on the hair, not an opaque color, and it doesn’t penetrate the shaft unless the shaft is damaged.
5. Henna turns bright orange when used alone on grey hair. That’s why I add cassia. Others add coffee grounds to the dry mix for a browner color, or even chamomile tea for a more golden note. Cassia is a golden note too, but tones the bright bozo-orange of henna-on-grey perfectly.
6. Henna over chemically treated or bleached hair gives… unpredictable and occasionally profoundly unpleasant results. I use mine only over natural hair or hair which has been previously hennaed.
7. For best results, leave on for as long as you can stand to have your head covered with muddy gloop.
8. Henna stains skin. If you are not using some sort of gelling/thickening agent on the henna, you will end up with the occasional brown/orange drip mark. This is… not ideal. I don’t apply henna to clean hair specifically because having some oils on my scalp helps prevent my scalp from being dyed orange. Some people will cover their hairline with vaseline, I find that I end up “masking” some of the hairs from henna, not the desired result.
9. Henna has some natural UV blocking properties. If you get a henna tattoo, for example, you will find that your skin doesn’t sunburn there while the tattoo is visible, which can lead to some interestingly ornate tan lines. I find my hair tends to resist sun-fading with henna in it. Healthier, but maybe not always what I’m looking for.

My hair is almost dry, and I can tell that it’s well covered to the root, my hairline isn’t stained or missing color, and the color is a pleasant red which should settled down by Friday or Saturday into a color that looks just about what I had in high school.

For more on henna, I find the following site incredibly useful (but the coconut oil method is by far the fastest/best/easiest method of all I’ve tried.)

Henna For Hair


Some of the things I’ve used

Frontier Henna  is straight up henna, sifted, organic, and available from our local co-op. Good quality.

Body art quality henna also good quality, not organic.

Mehendi Powder brassy and bright, this is designed for dark hair as a brightener/conditioner and is not pure henna, but will give a “loud” result quickly.

Cassia Obovata “Neutral” or “Blonde”, this acts a lot like henna but is not the same. It mixes well, though, and can tone down the bold orange notes for a more natural result on lighter hair and grey

Other useful ingredients

Indigo is a dull blue black by itself, but mixed with henna in varying proportions can create rich browns up to rich, deep blacks.

Coffee can help tone down the orange

Turmeric plays up the gold undertones

Cinnamon helps it smell better and made help the red

I’ve used Hibiscus tea to push it more red-red, but not with coconut milk. Possibly grinding the hibiscus and mixing the ground hibiscus with the warmed coconut oil might work?

Ginger can also add nuance and a nice smell

The real lasting color is going to come from henna, indigo and Cassia Obovata (also known as senna italica or neutral henna). The other things help in the oxidation stage.

Henna often starts out very orange and deepens in color as it oxidizes over a couple days. The mehendi 9 herbs formula seems to stay the same color longer.

Layering henna over henna works pretty well.

Henna can over time affect the shape of the hair shaft by coating it, and will tend to relax curl over time. This may or may not be a desired result.


Posted in Home Remedies, Life, Recipes.

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