By Jarmelia of DIY Hair Care Blog 

Hen­na has some unde­ni­able ben­e­fits for hair, which is why so many peo­ple use it and love it.

Some of these pros include:

1. Stronger Hair - The law­sone (dye) mol­e­cule pen­e­trates the hair shaft, bind­ing with the ker­at­in in the hair. This makes hair stronger, but also is one of the qual­i­ties that makes hen­na removal near impos­si­ble. Hen­na also coats the hair and fills in rough spots on a frayed cuti­cle. This adds a sec­ond lay­er of strength, but it DOES NOT lock out mois­ture.

2. Smoother, Shinier Hair - Hen­na, as stat­ed above, does coat the hair, but it is a per­me­able coat­ing that does not lock mois­ture out. The hen­na helps fill in rough spots on the cuti­cle. With the cuti­cle rough edges smoothed over, the hair feels smoother and the cuti­cle takes a lot less dam­age dur­ing comb­ing and manip­u­la­tion. It takes sev­er­al days for Hen­na to sta­bi­lize. It becomes more flex­i­ble and durable as it oxi­dizes and cures–it is in fact a plant resin that is flex­i­ble and sol­vent enough to pen­e­trate the hair at the cuti­cle, car­ry­ing pig­ment with it.

3. Non-Fad­ing Red — Any­one that has used red chem­i­cals dyes knows how bad­ly they fade. Hen­na may fade a lit­tle after the first appli­ca­tion, but after the sec­ond appli­ca­tion fades very lit­tle.

4. The Absence of Chem­i­cals — Chem­i­cal dyes are not only VERY dam­ag­ing to hair, they can also cause scalp burns, aller­gic reac­tions, and recent­ly stud­ies have linked long term use to can­cer. 

While there are benefits, there are also some drawbacks as well:

1. Appli­ca­tion Process — Hen­na can be hard to apply even­ly on your own, can be a huge mess, and is tir­ing on the arms and neck. It also has to be left on for a longer time than com­mer­cial chem­i­cal dyes (4–12 hours), so more time has to be slat­ed for the process.

Henna for natural hair

2. Exper­i­men­ta­tion — To find your ide­al mix, dye release time, appli­ca­tion time, rins­ing method, etc. all require some exper­i­men­ta­tion. It is not out-of-a-box col­or, and it may take some tweak­ing to find your ide­al results. Your per­fect col­or is nev­er a guar­an­tee.

3. Dry Hair - Some peo­ple report dry hair after using hen­na. It mim­ics a pro­tein treat­ment and you MUST fol­low up with a mois­tur­iz­ing deep con­di­tion­er.

These may be pros for some, cons for others:

1. Loss/Reduction in Curl — Many users of hen­na report a loss of curl. This is by no means a uni­ver­sal effect, and should be nei­ther dis­count­ed, nor count­ed on. It seems that wavies (s curls) are the most sus­cep­ti­ble to this, though some curlies are as well.

2. Can­not Light­en Hair — Hen­na can­not light­en your hair, ever. On some col­ors of hair it may appear to bright­en it, but you should count on any col­or you get with hen­na being dark­er than what is already on your head.

3. Dark­en­ing with Mul­ti­ple Appli­ca­tions — Hen­na will dark­en with mul­ti­ple appli­ca­tions. If one wants to keep a lighter col­or, only the roots should be touched up, and repeat­ed whole-head appli­ca­tions will pro­gres­sive­ly make the col­or less orange and more bur­gundy.

4. Cost — Depend­ing on your mix, how much hair you have and how often you hen­na, it may either be more or less expen­sive than chem­i­cal dyes. Though that doesn’t fac­tor in one very impor­tant thing… the price your hair pays on chem­i­cal dyes. Many peo­ple find that they only need to do a full-length appli­ca­tion one or two times, and the because hen­na doesn’t fade much, they can save a lot of cost by only redo­ing the roots.

5. The Smell - Some peo­ple love it, some peo­ple hate it, but the smell of hen­na lingers in your hair for awhile after the appli­ca­tion, often reviv­ing when your hair is wet. Some herbs, such as gin­ger, can be added to shift the smell of the mix, but noth­ing will elim­i­nate it entire­ly. Most peo­ple feel it has a smell some­what like grass or hay.

6. Vari­able Col­or — Hen­na can and does shift in col­or depend­ing on the light the hen­naed hair is placed in. The same head of hair can go from bur­gundy to firey cop­per, just depend­ing on the light.

Where do other henna colors come from?

Go to any local health food store and you’ll see box­es and box­es of “nat­u­ral” hair col­or­ing prod­ucts claim­ing to be 100% hen­na. Well, we know that hen­na only comes in red, so what gives with all the shades of brown and blonde and black? Many nat­u­ral hair col­ors are a blend of hen­na, cas­sia, indigo, and oth­er col­or enhanc­ing herbs. Beware, though. Many “hen­na dyes” con­tain things oth­er than herbs, that can SERIOUSLY dam­age your hair.

What is Neutral Henna (Cassia Obovata)?

Cas­sia Obo­vata is often referred to as “neu­tral hen­na.” It is not hen­na and it does not alter the col­or of hair great­ly, though it may give more gold­en tones with repeat­ed appli­ca­tions. It has sim­i­lar con­di­tion­ing ben­e­fits as hen­na, but they are not per­ma­nent, and they dis­ap­pear with­out reap­pli­ca­tion.

Are you inter­est­ed in Hen­na? Have you ever used Hen­na? Did you like the results?

Black Girl With Long Hair

Leila Noel­lis­te, founder of Black Girl with Long Hair (April 2008). Social media, pop cul­ture and black beau­ty enthu­si­ast. bell hooks’ hair twin…

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54 Comments on "Is Henna Worth It? The Pros and Cons"

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I am Cau­casian, and just start­ed using hen­na on my 62+ old long brown hair. I hap­pen to love it! The first time I used it, I used just a reg­u­lar hen­na, with no speci­fic col­or indi­cat­ed. It turned my gray hairs “red­dish”, which looked a bit odd to me. Since I have nev­er dyed my hair, the red was a bit too pro­nounced for me.  The sec­ond time I did it, about a week lat­er, I used a dif­fer­ent brand, that was sup­posed to be dark brown. It cer­tain­ly was, and it turned my dark brown hair almost black, but… Read more »
I have been using Hen­na for the past year and it does a good job cre­at­ing bold bur­gundy that shows most­ly in the light, how­ev­er I have a good amount of grey so the died grey strands pop, cre­at­ing a nice affect. It makes my hair stronger, and I need this ben­e­fit because my hair is hav­ing lots of break­age. I will con­tin­ue to trim every 6–8 weeks and hen­na every 6–8 weeks as a col­orant and as a con­di­tion­ing, pro­tien treat­ment. I mix with vine­gar, olive oil, lots of Aussie Moist and green tea in place of water. I… Read more »

Is any­one wor­ried about poten­tial health haz­ards from hen­na? My hus­band googled it and found out that even though hen­na has been used for cen­turies in India and oth­er places, there are ele­ments of hen­na that are con­sid­ered tox­ic and even car­cino­genic. Appar­ent­ly the longterm use of hen­na in many parts of the world has led to hen­na bee­ing allowed in the US and Europe, decpite its tox­ic con­tent. I am no expert, so can’t say more about this, but it def­i­nite­ly made me think twice berore using hen­na on my daugh­ters hair.


I’ve been toy­ing with the idea of apply­ing a hen­na treat­ment but I’m death­ly afraid of los­ing my curl def­i­n­i­tion! My hair is text­book 4a curlies with a splash of 3c at the crown–any point­ers?

My daugh­ter is a 3C w/3B in front, so we don’t want her curl pat­tern loos­ened there espe­cial­ly, but she loves the con­di­tion­ing effect of hen­na — to com­bat it, I actu­al­ly do a henna+conditioner appli­ca­tion in the front with full hen­na going to the rest. It’s weird — I know, but since we’re roots only now (I did whole head probs 4x when we start­ed), it’s eas­ier. By over­lap­ping (new growth for her is about 1/2″ month­ly, so each time we roots-only apply hen­na, we do 1.5–2″ to ensure old­er new growth gets hit mul­ti­ple times before they out­grow… Read more »
@Nina, I use hen­na and indigo for dark­er, black tones. The 2-step process works for me. No con­di­tion­er is added to the hen­na as the hen­na may not bind as well and that is what the indigo needs to real­ly bind and col­or the hair. I apply the hen­na let it sit for 4–8 hours, rin­se then apply the indigo. I add 1–2 tsp of salt for every 100g of indigo and it helps with stub­born greys. I rin­se it out then DC and I’m good to go. Some peo­ple lie to do a 1-step process and get a deep… Read more »


Why salt though? I’m think­ing about henning,but I just keep read­ing arti­cles about it,not sure yet. I do have greys also, but stub­born greys need salt to coat the strands.So there is a pos­si­bil­i­ty that if I hen­na with Indigo that my greys will remain w/o salt?! That is weird,and this is the first time I have heard of this.

@Uli, Salt enhances the col­or uptake and reten­tion when you use indigo alone on fresh­ly “henna’d” hair. If you are doing a one-step process and mix­ing the indigo with (pre-mixed) hen­na, then the salt is not need­ed. The first time I used indigo, I used very lit­tle salt and the col­or didn’t hold well for very long, espe­cial­ly on my gray hair (turned deep bur­gandy col­or). The sec­ond time around, I used more salt and it held after rins­ing and deep con­di­tion­ing. The salt real­ly did help with the gray hair. Indigo mol­e­cules are larg­er than the law­sone mol­e­cules in hen­na.… Read more »

I want to achieve a black colour (1b) and cov­er grey. How do I do this? I tried hen­na once on a rel­a­tive and it sim­ply would not cov­er the grey.


I would use Hen­na more often, how­ev­er, it takes out my fore­head edges. Any­one have a solu­tion for that.


may­be try adding cas­tor oil to that area before and after the treat­ment, always works for me

@Dananana I have used LUSH’s Caca Noir and found it to a an easy hen­na treat­ment. PRO: You just add water — and I also add two table­spoons of hon­ey as well) — the indigo (which I buy to get black) is already added. Gives the few grey strands I have good cov­er­age. It comes in a block of six cubes which gives you 2–3 appli­ca­tions depend­ing on the length of your hair so I found it to be good val­ue for mon­ey. It has shea but­ter mixed in so not too dry­ing though I still DC after­wards. The CON:… Read more »
Thanks for your reply! I just tried out the LUSH hen­na last night…and I loved it! It was wayyy eas­ier to mix than pack­aged hen­na pow­der, though I did use a cheese grater to change the block into a pow­der (pshh, double-boiler–ain’t nobody got time fo’ that!).  Also, unlike any of the oth­er hen­na brands I tried, I didn’t need to DC 62581251481 times to keep my hair from turn­ing into straw. I just DC’d once for 45 min­utes with L’oreal’s Inten­sive Smooth­ing Con­di­tion­er (the slip made it great for post-hen­na detan­gling), and presto-changeo, my hair was super soft, no rough­ness… Read more »

Do any of you ladies have expe­ri­ence with using the pre-mixed hen­na from LUSH? I’ve applied hen­na before with mixed results (most­ly good, my hair just HATES neu­tral hen­na), and I’m look­ing for a quick­er, less messy appli­ca­tion method. I just want to know if it’s worth it before I drop that kind of mon­ey on a hair pro­duct.


I used Hen­na for 2 months in July — August of this year. I made 8 appli­ca­tions to my hair. I found that it didn’t change my hair colour (which is what I want­ed), my hair tex­ture changed — loss of curl and my hair was notice­ably dri­er, even though I deep con­di­tioned often. 

I don’t like it and I am not sure when if I would do anoth­er treat­ment!!

Actu­al­ly I googled an Aphogee alter­na­tive and I found ( I did one treat­ment so far and I’ll use it to see if it strength­ens my hair!!

Jo Somebody
I also love hen­na and have bare­ly any cons. I use Hesh from an Indi­an shop that costs about £1.50 for a 100g box and I buy a few at a time. I think I use about 50g? It is called Mehandi because it is meant to be used for the body, so it is Body Art Qual­i­ty and fine enough for me. I mix with Amla since this a) stops my curls loos­en­ing and b) pro­vides the ‘required’ acid­i­ty instead of lemon juice or acv, both of which dry my hair out. I;ve nev­er tried with­out some­thing acidy so I can’t… Read more »
Jo Somebody
CON ALERT — I know it takes a ded­i­cat­ed 5–10 min­utes of pure rins­ing to get most of the hen­na off my hair. This wastes water and annoys relatives/flat mates. I then co-wash with a con­di­tion­er from the £1-shop a cou­ple times. I could prob­a­bly skip this and the exces­sive rins­ing because of the coconut oil (‘always!’ lol), but why test it? I deep con­di­tion all day (if I washed the hen­na out in the morn­ing) or all night (if I washed the hen­na out before bed) and bag­gy with the DC. My DC must nev­er con­tain any pro­tein. CON ALERT —… Read more »
I’ve been using hen­na once per mon­th for 2 of the 2.5 yrs I’ve been nat­u­ral, and it is the BEST thing I’ve done for my hair. My hair is stronger, health­ier, and thick­er than ever, and I owe much of that to includ­ing hen­na in my reg­i­men. I noticed a dif­fer­ence in my hair’s strength after my very first appli­ca­tion. I start­ed heanna’ing for con­di­tion­ing prop­er­ties, so I don’t mind not get­ting much of a col­or change. I only have a notice­bale red tint in the light :) I make my mix with water, green tea, some con­di­tion­er, cas­tor oil, olive… Read more »
i guess im one of the few peo­ple to like hen­na. i dont find it too time con­sum­ing i’ll mix it all at once and freeze what­ev­er i dont use for the next time. it does­nt take me long to apply and its not messy for me. i put it in before i sleep. in the morn­ing show­er and rin­se. my ends were dyed red using a box colour over time the col­or has fad­ed to cop­per. but the hen­na has real­ly brought life back to my ends and to the rest of my hair because my hair already have… Read more »

Here in South Africa we love to use Hen­na. I use black Hen­na al my life,but what I do I mix my Hen­na with olive oil or any oil and then I wet my hair and than apply the Hen­na to my hair. The black colour stay in longer.


I love what hen­na does for me. I stopped because school has me too busy to hen­na. I’m at my wit’s end with my hair right now though — it’s thin and life­less and won’t hold any style I put in. I won­der if i should start hen­naing again, or if I should look for oth­er meth­ods to strength­en my thin strands.

Michelle@Radiant Brown Beauty

I don’t think hen­na has any real cons :-) Well, except the time. I found that it only takes my hair 2 hours to get a good stain though.

by the way But­ters n Bars is hav­ing a hen­na sale. 25% off !


I real­ly love hen­na treat­ments.



I used Hen­na and I liked it,my hair was smooth and detan­gled. I mixed whith spir­uli­na to add pro­tein and used 1 time a mon­th. My hair like it.



I hen­na my hair using Lush’s Caca Mar­ron. Yep, its a long process, but I just pre­pare for it. I deep condish my hair week­ly any­way so that’s not a big deal either. I LOVE the results and haven’t noticed any loos­en­ing of my curl pat­tern. The col­or is a deep red/burgundy/brown in the sun­light, and my greys are gold­en high­lights. Love it! Again, it all depends on what we want and what we’re will­ing to do. There’s no right or wrong answer.


That is right, there is no right or wrong answer. I love hen­na!!!


Can you describe your process and orig­i­nal hair colour? I am about a 1b in colour and I patch test­ed Mar­ron overnight for about 8–12 hours. When I rinsed there was no colour at all and my greys were a dirty brown­ish colour but most­ly still grey. I left the dye to release for about an hour pri­or. Anoth­er thing is, I do not live in a sun­ny cli­mate. At this time of year in the UK it is dark when you awake and dark by 4PM. Does hen­na only show up slight­ly and in the sun­light?

La Nita
I have great results from hen­na. As some of the oth­er ladies have stat­ed, a good deep con­di­tion­ing treat­ment will help your hair after any pro­tein treat­ment, but I have read about ladies being pro­tein-sen­si­tive. If your hair is sen­si­tive to pro­tein treat­ments, hen­na wouldn’t work for you. I love it! My hair is very fine, and hen­na treat­ments have strength­ened my hair con­sid­er­ably. As stat­ed in the orig­i­nal post, after mul­ti­ple treat­ments (only about 6 in the past 3 years), my hair is more of an auburn col­or, rather than the fiery red that I expe­ri­enced after my first… Read more »

Love my hen­na! It just takes forever to do — sched­ule an entire day.


I have a love/hate rela­tion­ship with hen­na but more love than hate.
I love how strong my hair feels after its use. I love the col­or too. It seems to col­or in cer­tain areas stronger than oth­ers but it looks nat­u­ral like its where the sun hits most. I do not like the way it makes my grays brassy but the ben­e­fits out­weigh the negatives.I some­times look for­ward to the process because it makes me stay in the house and relax


I’ve used hen­na a few times and it leaves my hair extreme­ly dry. Not to men­tion that it’s extreme­ly messy and takes forever to rin­se out. I went to a pro­fes­sion­al to get my hair col­ored (the reg­u­lar way) and my hair is doing fine. (I do steam treat­ments to main­tain mois­ture when­ev­er I wash/cowash my hair.)

Hon­est­ly, I don’t think that Hen­na is worth the has­sle unless you’re sim­ply again­st putting any chem­i­cals in your hair. I’d sug­gest just going to a great pro­fes­sion­al for col­or­ing to ensure you get the results you want and save your­self some has­sle.

When I first tried hen­na it made my hair dry too. I just did more research to find the best mix for my hair. I added coconut milk and hon­ey and coconut oil to the mix and it came out great. It took more than two appli­ca­tions for me to get the desired col­or that I was look­ing for. It has helped me to retain length by strength­en­ing my hair. I also add alma and brami for more con­di­tion­ing prop­er­ties. I buy my hen­na from the local indi­an mar­ket and it is inex­pen­sive. I think nat­u­ral is best, but if… Read more »

Per­ma­nent dye destroys my hair. I have tried hen­na twice for gray cov­er­age and both times not only was my hair super dry, I also got a major headache and nau­sea. I used the Godrej Nupur Mehendi brand with indigo.

I am will­ing to try one more time and was won­der­ing how much of coconut milk, coconut oil, and hon­ey to add in order to com­bat some of the dry­ness.

p.s. I did do a skin test and was not aller­gic to hennna although still clue­less as to why it makes me ill.

I say find a good pro­tein treat­ment. It is cheap­er, eas­ier to find, & less trou­ble to apply. I did not see any dif­fer­ence between this and Hen­na so I stopped using Hen­na. If you want col­or, I would say do a rin­se or go for per­ma­nent from some­one you trust. Hen­na drys out some people’s hair like col­or drys out some peo­ples hair. You are going to have to deep con­di­tion the tar out of it any­way, why not do the per­ma­nent solu­tion instead? Also, for some peo­ple, dye does loosen the curls a tiny bit the same way… Read more »

I just start­ed using hen­na. I decid­ed to hen­na for con­di­tion­ing properties–not col­or­ing. I fol­lowed method and it turned out great!. It wasn’t dry. My hair has an auburn tint to it but my hair feels great.

just like every oth­er hair treat­ment, hen­na isnt for every­one. you have to con­sid­er the needs of your hair and what you want. i start­ed using hen­na because of the colour­ing and curl loos­en­ing prop­er­ties. my hair is already thick as it is so that was­nt impor­tant. i have come across many types of recipes some of which are quite exten­tive. with some recipes, you have to be care­ful because it could end up doing more dam­age than good. i have always mixed my hen­na with coconut milk and coconut oil and nev­er had had issue with it dry­ing my… Read more »

I tried hen­na once and it turned my gray hair bright red. I could not do any­thing about it. Now I have hair that is half gray and half red…needless to say it looks like a mess. Plus it took forever to apply and rin­se out. O was hop­ing I would love hen­na because I real­ly want to be able to col­or my gray hair with­out all those chem­i­cals. I do NOT think I will be try­ing hen­na again; I will go to the salon and get it col­ored.


I know some wom­en will FIRST col­or their lighter hair/greys with hen­na and then apply indigo over it to make the whole head black try this site: and look on page 41 :).

That site in gen­er­al shows you how to tweak hen­na to get the col­or you need its awe­some, I dis­cov­ered it via curly Nikki.


I have been tran­si­tion­ing for 8 months now and I don’t have any break­age. I tru­ly believe that this is all due to hen­na. Of course I have shed­ding but I have yet to see spots where the hair is just gone. Which is real­ly impor­tant to me since I’m just grow­ing my hair. out. My two cents:)
[imgcomment image[/img]


can you min­i­mize the pic


I don’t know how :( tech­no fail


I nev­er tried Hen­na because it just seemed too messy and time con­sum­ing. I feel like I can receive the exact same ben­e­fits of Hen­na from a pro­tein con­di­tion­er, just with­out the messy appli­ca­tion and change in hair col­or.


I mix my own hen­na + Indigo (nat­u­ral no chem­i­cals).… I mix it w/organic apple cider vine­gar and let it sit overnight. I mix w/moisturizer some­times and apply from 8 — 10 hours. It’s been near­ly a 2 year (every 2months) and my col­or is GREAT! I get many com­pli­ments. The few grays I have look gold­en-red and the rest of my hair is a rich auburn. 

*hen­na lover*

The prob­lem for me is pre­cise­ly point 2. I do not get colour from hen­na. I have tried lush mar­ron and a nor­mal pow­der hen­na which was a mix of hen­na and indigo and have not got that cin­na­mon caramel colour I want. I have a few greys that are notice­able in out styles so… Does any­one know what I am doing wrong or is there a big brand box colour I could use that would give me the colour I want? I do not wish to bleach but is that what all the­se cinnamon/caramel head­ed nat­u­rals are doing? Also… Read more »
Joan B. in S. C.

Hi @Zee. If you’re still inter­est­ed in hen­na, I would sug­gest doing some read­ing on the web­site They give a lot of detailed infor­ma­tion and pho­tos of what hen­na can and can not do. As oth­ers have men­tioned, it takes longer for the col­or to release in hen­na. I’m one of the peo­ple who makes it in the morn­ing to use that night.

How long do you leave it on your hair? the longer you leave in on the greater the colour release (6 hours is when you receive the max colour release). And do you let it sit for awhile after pour­ing water on the pow­der or do you put the mix­ture straight on your hair? Also what type of hen­na do you pur­chase? Body art hen­na tends to be the most effec­tive. I have nat­u­ral­ly dark­ish brown hair and i’ve nev­er bleached my hair, but i did find i noticed more colour after about 2–3 appli­ca­tions of hen­na, and now my hair… Read more »
Also, the longer you leave it in, the dry­er it makes your hair.…so be careful…you may have to deep con­di­tion for days to make up for it…Henna did not give me much col­or either and I used the best there was out there. Also, the lit­tle col­or I got did not stick and I did mul­ti­ple appli­ca­tions. I think it has to do with poros­i­ty and how well your hair absorbs things placed on it. Hair dye uses chem­i­cals to open up the cuti­cles for pen­e­tra­tion. Hen­na is nat­u­ral so it is pos­si­ble that your hair won’t open up enough… Read more »

Ok thank you both. Shan­na, my hair rings true to what you’re say­ing. I must admit I only wait an hour for dye release. This stuff just doesn’t work on my hair. I think I may have to look into com­mer­cial dyes.


You prob­a­bly need to wait longer after you mix before you put it in your hair. I mix at night, go to bed, then apply in the morn­ing.




No mat­ter how long or with what I deep con­di­tion after a hen­na treat­ment my hair is dry, thirsty, extra crispy. Hen­na hates me


What does your mix con­sist of? You may have to just tweak what con­di­tion­ing agents you are putting in your mix.

For the Love of Curls

May try the neu­tral hen­na done by a pro­fes­sion­al because Lord knows I do not have the patience for all that is involved.


Neu­tral hen­na doesn’t take as long as red hen­na. It’s half an hour to sit, up to a hour on your hair and then rin­se. That’s it! There isn’t much need for a pro­fes­sion­al to do it…