page contents

living eco-friendly on a budget + ​natural parenting + fresh takes on theology

≡ Menu

Henna + Hair

One of my non-green hold outs has been hair dye. I’ve experimented with many hair colors over the years, but reds tend to be my favorite. I’d considered using henna in the past, but it seemed staining, unpredictable, and overwhelming. Then I read an amazingly informative document from Catherine Cartwright-Jones who is doing her dissertation on henna. It made dying hair red, brown, or black with henna and/or indigo seem so doable. Here is some of her work: short version or long version. I used the short version as my guide to dye my hair red with henna. Below are my observations and tips, but not a step-by-step as the details in the linked documents are comprehensive.

Dying Hair with Henna Lessons Learned


  • Use a sturdy spoon for stirring; the little plastic spoon didn’t cut it.
  • Use long dishwashing gloves to protect instead of wrist-length gloves. I ended up with a few stains on my arms before I made the switch to love gloves.
  • Put a cover on the henna as it sits for 8-12 hours. The instructions say to do this, but I forgot and the top layer got chunky. Also, henna has a distinct smell; covering it will help contain the odor. (I don’t mind the smell, hubby dislikes it.)
  • A shower cap worked just fine rather than using plastic wrap as suggested.


  • I took up a hearty glop of the henna mix in my gloved hands and smeared it in my sectioned hair. It felt like smearing really thick mud into my hair and it was pretty fun.
  • I did drop a few globs on the floor, but there was less errant dye than I usually leave behind after using the squirt-bottle applicator that comes with boxed dyes. Clean up was easy and nothing in the bathroom was stained.
  • Henna is green, so it is hard to miss spots. Anything not plastered with green mud is pretty obvious!
  • I left the henna on for three hours. I looked goofy with my shower cap on, but was able to things around the house without creating any mess. The henna stayed on my hair and under the shower cap.


Click on image to open larger view

  • It worked! Check out the before and after shots above (left side is before, right side is after)
  • Initial color is rich, vivid and monochromatic, rather than being a helmet of a single shade
  • Post-oxidation color: to be determined after 72 hours
  • Afterward, my hair felt dry and tangled more easily than normal. I’m guessing this is either from the lemon juice or some residual henna left in my hair.
  • It is cheap! A box of hair dye costs up to $10, a professional dye costs much more. The box of henna cost $1.79 (100g for short hair) plus the cost of lemon juice.
  • Henna definitely takes more time than dying: letting the henna sit after mixing (I did 8 hours, but 12 is optimal) plus keeping it in the hair for two to six hours. Active time in preparation and application is similar, though rinsing did take longer.
  • No burning or itching on my scalp like with boxed dyes.
  • A downside is unpredictability of final color, but I suppose that exists with boxed dye as well.
  • Longevity of color: to be determined


About More Green for Less Green

Hi, I’m Pamm. Welcome to my little slice of the web! As both a pastor and crunchy homeschooling mom, I’m never quite what anyone expects of me. But, hey, that’s what makes blogging interesting, right? Join me as I try to wholeheartedly parent my three little boys, slowly fix up the trashed foreclosure we bought in 2009, and live simply.

{ 4 comments… add one }

  • Anonymous May 16, 2010, 5:14 pm

    Does it cover gray?

  • Stacy May 16, 2010, 5:27 pm

    Where did u buy it? Can I find it at a store or do I need to buy online? I am in VA too!

  • P May 17, 2010, 12:48 am

    Stacy- I bought it at an Indian grocer. Here is a site for finding one:

  • P May 17, 2010, 12:51 am

    It does cover gray. Check out the chart on page 55 of the long document.

Leave a Comment