Check out this article my friend Joni wrote on hennaing her hair:

The text is copied here for your convenience – but you should definitely head to the blog itself for photos!:


I’ve always been envious of friends with red hair. I think it is beautiful. I’ve been coloring my hair red since I was thirteen. The first time I did it with koolaid. I soon graduated to the real stuff. The sucky thing about going red is that it fades SO fast.

Then a friend introduced me to henna.

Henna body art is made of a natural plant dye (latin name: lawsonia inermis) which stains the skin and hair a reddish-brown color. Henna is never-ever black. Henna paste should be made with body art quality, 100% natural henna. I mix mine with lemon juice and oils to make it into the paste that is applied to the skin.

I’ve been hennaing my hair for three years now. I love how it makes my hair smooth and strong- I have crazy frizzy/curly hair. I keep it long to pull a little of that down with weight. Whenever I wear my hair up I get this halo of frizz that sticks up all over my head. A few days after I tried henna for the first time I suddenly had these long pieces of hair hanging in my face, kind of like bangs. And the I realized those were my frizzies- all smoothed out.

The other neat thing? It doesn’t really fade.

I have a sweet deal with my friend Jessica- she does my hair for me and I do fancy henna designs for her. I briefly tried coloring my hair RED RED in March, but I missed how soft and silky my hair feels when treated with henna.

This picture is a little misleading… My hair is normally more curly. This is my hair after it was cut and blown out straight by my friend at The Wild Lotus *An Alternative Salon*

But it shows the color nicely.

How we henna my hair:

(Everyone has their own recipe and system, but this is what we do for my hair- written by Jessica)

Take a quantity of powdered henna sufficient to cover your hair (about 100 g for every 6 inches if you’re going for full coverage) and mix it with a little less than equal amount of an acidic liquid (vinegar, lemon juice, tea, etc.) until it is the consistency of mashed potatoes. Then cover it and let it sit over night.
-Dye release ( when the mix has little pools of brown liquid on top) may take less time if it’s very warm and humid or the henna is strong. The more dye that releases, the more that will be available to your hair and the deeper and more vibrant results you’ll get. So try not to rush the process if you can.

Once the dye’s released, add a bit more liquid (tea, water, rosewater, conditioner, etc) until the mix is about as thick and smooth as really thick yogurt. Thicker paste won’t drip as much while thinner paste will go farther. Err on the thicker side of things since you can always thin it down.
Comb out the hair and divide into four sections.
With a tint brush begin painting the henna on to the hair at the nape scalp line. Thoroughly cover the roots and don’t worry about getting it on the scalp- henna is good for dandruff.
Put more on the length of the hair until it’s covered- but not too much. Divide off the next inch up, cover the roots and the the length of the hair and repeat until the whole head is covered.
Make sure the little whispies are covered but try to keep the henna off your skin.
It won’t hurt you but may stain a bit. Some people put some cold cream along their hairline but I never bother.

Joni here: I feel the need to add that I, however, get all freaked out about henna on my skin and scrub and scrape my face and neck repeatedly until it is time to wash it out of my hair.

See? I’m miserable.
Jessica laughs at me. But I can’t stand that trickling, smelly, smushy mess.

Cover the hair with plastic wrap. I cut a plastic shopping bag down one long side and tie the loops on the back.
Cover with a scarf or towel for warmth and let it sit for at least two hours. Longer exposure will yield darker results. If you can sleep on a headful of mud and plastic go for it.

When you’re ready to wash it out, take a bath. Soaking the henna out of the hair in the tub is the easiest way. Once it feels like most of the henna is out work a few gobs of cheap conditioner into the hair and scalp. Rinse that out. You may have to do that one more time to get it all out. Don’t shampoo for at least a day.

Joni here again: Instead of a bath, I take a shower and alternate scrubbing furiously under the shower head with kneeling in the tub with my head tipped under the tub faucet. It is like a scene from Carrie- I swear.

I am not fond of the process, but I truly LOVE the result and it is worth all the annoying bits.