How to Prepare Dry Henna Powder for Hair

Henna powder is green.
This is about the amount I use for covering roots.
Someone emailed me, "I just got back from Egypt with a bag of henna powder. What do I do with it?"

Henna takes time, so prepare an afternoon for a time out. 
Henna is messy so prepare to get messy.
With every application, the process get less messy but not less time consuming.

This is the typical routine I use for my hair henna treatment. The process begins the night before with mixing the henna paste and letting it rest for at least 8 hours, or more.

How much powder do you use?
· 100g for short hair.
· 200g for collar length straight hair.
· 300g for shoulder length straight hair.
· 500g for waist length hair.

Step 1: Mix the Henna with Lemon Juice
Always mix lemon juice in the henna to 
give your hair a rich, natural shade. 
Never-ever use boiling water, unless you like
the brassy orange look.

I mix henna with enough lemon juice to make a thick paste. Though I always squeeze fresh lemons, you can use bottled lemon juice.

If your skin is sensitive to lemon or your hair is really dry, you can cut half the lemon juice with orange juice, grapefruit juice, or a liquid less acidic than lemon juice. You can used distilled water, or a herbal tea with lemon, but don't use tap water or hot water. Less acidic additives can be wine or vinegar, but as you can imagine they will smell.

Do not mix your henna with coffee. It won’t change the color, it just smells bad.

Do not mix your henna with boiling water. As I have discovered the hard way, henna mixed with boiling water turns to brassy orange. By using lemon juice, your hair gradually darkens to a rich, natural shade of deep red.

Glass Bowl. Plastic or Wood Stir Stick.

I always use a glass bowl because henna stains plastics. I always use a plastic or wood spoon to stir the henna. I never use metal to mix or hold the henna. Metals interfere with the plant.

Step 2: After You Mix, Let The Henna Rest, Overnight is Best

When you are ready to use your henna paste, 
stir in a little more lemon juice or a fragrant tea to 
make the paste about at thick as yoghurt.
Cover the bowl with some plastic and let the henna paste stay overnight in a warm area, 21 C (70 F). Henna needs to rest, absorb the liquid and release the dye so it can absorb into your hair.

Henna can be used on bleached or chemically treated hair, but don't go the other way around.

Wash your hair and dry it before you put in the henna mix. 

Step 3: Next Day: Apply Henna to Hair

The application process is very messy. Prepare your surroundings and remove anything that you don't want to have stained. I do mine over the bathroom sink. 

If you need to wear a top, then cover your clothes with a hair cape or towel. Put old towels or newspapers on the floor. I can't repeat enough, henna paste is thick and messy. It will get everywhere and it will stain fabric and walls and floors. My husband think it looks like poop. 

Don't give up. The results are too good and you get better with practice.

Wear gloves. Get henna down to the roots.
I use the brush to get into the roots, but then
use my hands (gloved with rubber gloves)
to work the henna from roots to ends.
When you are ready to use your henna paste, stir in a little more lemon juice or a fragrant tea to make the paste about at thick as yoghurt.

Comb your hair so you can section it easily. Section off your hair in narrow sections. Henna won't trickle through your hair so you need to make narrow sections to get every hair thickly coated. Use plastic clips to hold your hair, not metal.

Put on your rubber gloves. Always wear rubber gloves because the easiest and best way to get henna into your hair is to work it in with your hands. Henna will most definitely stain your skin: hands, ears, neck, face, hairline.

Since I have been using henna for years, and almost always do it on my own.

My hair grows exceptionally fast (thanks God) so I apply just to the roots between full hair applications.

If this is your first time to henna, section your hair. Start with the roots, working around the head take the henna half way down the hair. Once you get all around the head, then spread the henna out to the ends.  I will push the henna into the roots growth. (especially the gray hairs.) This gets tricky because the henna is thick. Don't give up. Practice. In the end, it usually turns into a big glob, but I take my time to get every bit of the roots growth.

Use plenty of henna. Henna will start to feel heavy as you apply the paste. Take your time. Once you get it all applied, massage it into the roots. 

Step 4: Now You Rest: Allow the Henna to Absorb

When you have all your hair coated, wrap plastic wrap around your head. You want to keep the henna warm. Get the plastic firmly in place, then be sure to clean off your hairline, neck, and ears. Clean up any places that the henna dropped before you relax or it will stain.

Take a break and relax or meditate for 2 to 4 hours. The longer you leave the henna on your hair, the better especially if your hair is resistant to dye. If you decide to take a nap, be sure to put a towel on the pillow or you will stain the fabric.

My Egyptian friends make the henna process into a party including entertainment, food, and beauty treatments. During the wait, the invited beauticians give manicures, pedicures, sweet (hair removal) and massages.

Step 5: Wash That Henna Right Out of Your Hair

The last step is to wash the henna out of your hair. If you have long hair, like me, I find the easiest way to clean out the henna is to wash it out in the bathtub. I lay down into the water to submerge my hair and soak for a bit. I swish my hair around in the water and the henna rinses out. This seems to be very good for my skin too. After most of it is out, I do a final rinse in the shower.

Though I don't shampoo first rinse, you can shampoo the last of the henna out in the shower. I do use a conditioner. I like the henna smell. Some people, like my husband, hate it. If you hate the smell, rinse your hair with lavender or beautiful smelling shampoo. I usually take a few drops of lavender or rose essential oil and run it through after I've towel dried my hair.

Do not panic when you rinse your hair. At first, henna may seem coppery bright. If you used the lemon, the colour will darken over the next several days.

Important Points:

  1. Always apply henna THICK. Don’t be tight with the mix or the time on your head. A lot goes a long way. Thicker, longer applications mean richer color. Get it down to the scalp.
  2. Wear gloves because henna stains hands to a copper orange. Henna stains everything, so take care and prepare.
  3. It's easier to rinse your hair in a bathtub full of water. No bubbles or soap. Just water. Lie down in the water and swish your hair around. After you get most of the henna out, you can rinse the rest out in the shower.
  4. Your hair will take 3 or more days to settle into the true color. Be patient and do not panic.
I can't stress enough to Wear Gloves!

I found this henna on a trip to Aswan. Since most visitors to Egypt will visit Aswan or Luxor,
I thought I would post this particular brand of henna.
You can find all types of henna in Egypt, throughout the middle east and India.
Beware: some of the hennas will have dangerous additives and are not all henna.
Especially when they are labeled as coloured henna.

At first, henna may seem coppery bright. 
If you used the lemon, the colour will darken over the next several days.

Henna will make your hair healthy, strong, and blends with your natural hair colour.
(Maybe I should have combed my hair, but I didn't have a comb.)

Freshly henna hair starts bright, but darkens after a few days.

Any questions: Feel free to ask.

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