Henna (Lawsonia Inermis) and Natural Dyes: 19 things to know before coloring your hair!

Henna (Lawsonia Inermis) and natural dyes

they are an excellent alternative to chemical dyes, a natural alternative increasingly taken into consideration by people in recent years. Driven by the discomfort of the aggressiveness of chemical dyes on the scalp and hair, more and more people are turning their gaze towards equally performing natural vegetable dyes .

I have compiled below a list with 19 questions and the most frequent doubts that people usually ask themselves when they approach henna and natural dyes for the first time ..

1. What is Blond Henna? What about brown henna? mahogany henna? jet black henna?

Well you must know that these dyeing plants do not exist! All these so-called "henna" are mixes of dyeing herbs which, when applied to the hair, give that color to the hair. Mixes that are improperly called blond, brown, mahogany henna, etc... But I spoke in depth about the difference between ready-made mixes and pure dyeing herbs in the article " Henné Brown: DOES IT EXIST? "


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2. Do we need to oxidize the herbal dyes beforehand?

Not necessarily. There are various schools of thought on the matter, but it is even better if natural dyes carry out their oxidation while they are in place on our hair, releasing the color directly onto the hair.

3. Is it necessary to add acidic ingredients, such as lemon juice, yogurt or oils, butters to make the hair color?

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My advice is to avoid adding anything other than lukewarm tap water to your mix. Any other ingredient you add, does nothing but interfere and film (in the case of oils, butters) and prevent the best color release on your hair.

4. Is it better to apply herbal dyes on dirty or clean hair?

I advise you to use natural dyes on clean hair, even better if it has just been washed. Dust, smog and sebum prevent the transfer of color to the hair. I talked about it in depth in this video .

5. Do herbal dyes stain the skin?

No, natural dyes do not stain the skin of the face (if it happens a little hot water and soap or a little lemon juice are enough to remove the stain), they only stain the hands so it is recommended to use gloves during application .

6. Is there any trick to ensure successful hair coloring?

In addition, it is important to carefully apply the transparent plastic film or the shower cap to maintain a high level of humidity. Also be sure to cover your head with a wool hat to keep your head warm. The favorable conditions for the release of color on the hair are in fact: high humidity and heat. And a very good quality of the natural tint, of course ;)

henna light brown medium dark white hair double pass

I invite you to read the Complete Guide: Preparation and Application of Henna and Dyeing Herbs if you want to know all the tricks necessary for optimal color rendering.

7. Do herbal dyes cover white hair?

Only lawsonia inermis , red henna covers white hair. If you apply lawsonia only, white hair will turn red, orange or copper depending on the type of lawsonia used.

red henna lawsonia inermis

This is the quality of LAWSONIA that you can find in the online shop : seasonally harvested and sieved 3 times, it has the fine consistency of talc. By adding water, it becomes creamy and easy to apply.

Depending on the mix (of lawsonia and another dyeing herb ) you apply, you can color white hair a light brown, mahogany brown, or dark brown .

If you first apply henna and then later, an application of katam or indigo, you can obtain, depending on the porosity of your hair (absorption capacity of colour) , black blue, black violet or raven black reflections . If you notice that you are finding some resistance to getting the black color, you can do multiple close applications of just katam/indigo until you get the desired color.

Plus I suggest you make sure you DON'T make one of these 7 mistakes that will keep you from getting great gray coverage .

8. What are the percentages to cover gray hair and obtain a brown shade?

For a light brown , you can start experimenting with 50% cassia - 25% lawsonia - 25% katam or indigo.

To get a medium brown , you can use 25% cassia - 25% lawsonia - 50% katam or indigo (but I invite you to do your own experiments to find the right mix for you). Remember that to cover white hair you need a good percentage of lawsonia in your mix (at least 30%)

The more lawsonia percentage increases, the easier it is to cover white hair and at the same time, the stronger the red reflections will be. The more the percentage of katam or indigo increases (click on the name to buy / visit the indigo profile) , the darker the final color will be.

indigo black henna

This is the quality of INDIGO that you can find in the online shop : seasonally harvested and sieved 3 times, it has the fine consistency of talc. By adding water, it becomes creamy and easy to apply.

For medium to dark brown and colorfast white regrowths - take the cassia out of the mix and apply a mix of 50% lawsonia and 50% katam/indigo.

Do you have doubts if you have correctly calculated the percentages of your mix of herbal dyes? My tips in the tutorial below:

Obviously, as I also say in my video tutorials, the percentages indicated above are only used as a cue, as a starting point.. no mix will be identical on the hair of 2 people, however similar their natural color may seem.

You can see various examples of BEFORE and AFTER henna photos with the percentages used in this article: Does Henna not cover White Hair? Photos BEFORE and AFTER

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There may be cases where the resistance of white hair to color is particularly strong so you will have to juggle with the percentages of lawsonia and katam / indigo to find the percentage that suits your hair.

Remember that the final color of the application will only be seen 3 days after application, when the colors finish oxidizing and fixing to the hair.

natural dyed henna

click on the photo to learn more about the instructions for use and/or purchase the Beautilicious Delights natural shades

9. Do herbal dyes remove colour?

Katam and indigo unload the color as you shampoo (the proof is the dark blue rinsing water) while henna (lawsonia inermis) unloads little, color permanently and never goes away. But I assure you that they will never download to the point of finding you red. You can learn more about the topic here: Indigo or Katam: which one to use in the mix of herbal dyes?

If you're worried about leaving a colored trail behind you when you go to the beach or pool, the advice I gave you in the video tutorial linked above will come in handy.

10. Does red henna (Lawsonia Inermis) layer and darken hair?

Yes, application after application, lawsonia tends to darken the hair. But there are pros and cons to this. I invite you to watch the video above to find out what they are.

One of the tricks to prevent this from happening is to apply natural colors only on the regrowth, applying the whole hair every 2 months or another trick is to use cassia in the mix to dilute the final color goes to get.

11. Can hair be lightened with herbal dyes? Going from jet black to light brown, or from dark brown to blonde?

No, it's not possible, natural colors do not contain any lightening agents. You can at most get reflections on your natural color.

12. How can I take advantage of the healing properties of herbal dyes without dyeing my hair?

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Making wraps with cassia alone, which is not only hair strengthener, but also healing for the scalp.

READ also: Restructuring Volumizing Pack for Fine, Thin and Damaged Hair


This is the quality of CASSIA that you can find in the online shop : seasonally harvested and sieved 3 times, it has the fine consistency of talc. By adding water, it becomes creamy and easy to apply.

13. How many hours of installation are needed to obtain satisfactory results?

The longer you can keep the natural colors on, the more color they release. On the net you can read about exposure times that vary from a minimum of 4 hours to a maximum of 9 hours of exposure.

Personally I do not recommend exposure times which can vary from 1h to max 4h because there is a risk of sensitizing and irritating the scalp.

In case of irritation and itching in the head and scalp? Here's what to do!

14. Is the mix you're applying flying in pieces all over the bathroom and dripping endlessly? 

Your mix most likely contains sand. The 100% pure dyeing herbs added with water result in a creamy mix, easy to spread on the hair, which does not drip and absolutely does not dirty the bathroom.

15. If I apply herbal dyes shortly after having chemically dyed my hair, will I risk getting strange colours?

IF the herbal dyes are of excellent quality and especially if they are 100% pure and DO NOT contain chemical additives, you shouldn't risk any unpleasant surprises.

Often and willingly, the natural dyes on sale in the form of various ready-made mixes contain sodium picramate, a synthetic substance that enhances the color and enhances the red tones, but which could chemically interact with the previously made dye, resulting in strange colors. So always check the index of natural colors before applying to avoid unpleasant surprises.

16. Where and how to keep the herbal dyes?

Remember to always close the bag tightly after use. Store dyeing herbs away from air, heat, light and humidity. Absolutely DO NOT keep your herbal hair dyes in the freezer.

17. Can I use the shampoo after applying the herbal dyes?

The ideal would be to avoid using surfactants immediately after rinsing the herbal dyes because they tend to unload the color that hasn't yet fixed on the hair, especially the color released by katam and/or indigo. At most, use a small amount of conditioner to help detangle the hair. Or you can always wash your hair naturally with flour: chickpea flour and... , an absolutely natural and delicate method on the skin.

If, on the other hand, you notice that you cannot rinse the herbal dyes thoroughly from your hair, it is better to use a small amount of shampoo diluted in water than to find yourself itching the day after application.

18. How do I know what the final result of the mix of herbal dyes I have prepared will be? 

It's difficult to know exactly the color you'll get unless you first (and I recommend it!) test it on some locks of hair (hidden or picked up by the brush). Every color you get is subject to each of us's hair history, the natural base color, the hair's power to absorb color and it also depends a lot on whether the hair has been chemically dyed or not.

You can and must ALWAYS try the mix of dyeing herbs you intend to use, on a hidden strand or on hair gathered by a brush, before proceeding with colouring.

19. Can herbal dyes and henna be used during pregnancy?

Among the chemical dyes and natural dyes that nature has generously made available to us, the answer is obvious. No contraindications have been found in applying herbal dyes (obviously pure, without picramate!) in pregnancy, unless you suffer from favism. I recommend that you always consult with your doctor before using any type of dye, natural or not.

Later edit:

Considering how much silicones can affect color rendering, I recommend reading the article dedicated to detoxifying hair from silicones and/or viewing the tutorial published on the Youtube channel "Aware Beauty" linked below:

Remember to subscribe to the youtube channel for new tutorials on herbal dyes -->> SIGN ME UP

READ also: Silicones in Hair Care: Yes or No? Absolute Evil?

Real beauty treatments,

natural dyes are the ideal alternative to chemical dyes for all hair types, but especially for fine and flat hair because the coloring pigments wrap around the cuticle and bind to the keratin, filling the scales of the hair. The hair shaft is consequently much more full-bodied, thick and shiny, with much less split ends and always very natural shades.

And if you're still reeling from your decision to leave chemical dyes behind, you'll be happy to know that the color of hair colored with natural dyes varies greatly depending on the light . It's almost chameleon-like : under the sun and in the shade you'll have 2 very different colors, even if always natural and with unique shades.

If you have other doubts or questions that I missed, leave me a comment under this post. Otherwise, if you have suggestions that can help me and our readers, they are always welcome :)

henna light brown medium dark white hair

Before saying goodbye, I invite you to read the blog post " White hair ? Cover it naturally with henna and herbal dyes " or to watch the video tutorial where you can see various photos BEFORE and AFTER the henna and where you can see how even White hair can be covered naturally with natural dyes and henna .


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In the online shop you will find everything you need (including herbal dyes) to take care of your skin and hair in a conscious way. Click HERE to visit it!

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I totally understand all of your explanations with the exception of one point concerning percentages. If one has very grey roots, you say that a higher percentage of the red henna needs to be used. But if what I want as my overall color to be of a darker brown all over, how do I balance these percentages with enough to ensure the grey is covered yet not have that red tone if ultimately, I want the darker color anyway?


Ciao, e’ possibile colorare i capelli bianchi con colori strani, tipo azzurro, rosa, verde o altro, con le tinte naturali? Grazie mille!

Leyla Dolphin

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