Henna: How long to keep it on? How often can you apply herbal hair colors?

All of you who start using henna and herbal hair colors for the first time, ask me the same questions: how long do I have to keep henna on? How often can I apply it?

I want to answer all of your questions in this post, and I am also going to talk about the different cases that may occur.

The time you keep the henna mix on

can vary depending on the final result you wish for.

If you want highlights, they can be more or less intense depending on how long you'll keep henna on: from a minimum of one hour to 2 -3 hours.

Here you can find the video in which I talked about this topic:

The video tutorials are in Italian, but English subtitles are available!

If, instead, you are looking for a deep, intense color, or if you have to dye your gray hair, you may have to keep the mix on longer. I talk about this in the article: "The Ultimate Guide to Henna & Herbal Hair Dyes Preparation and Application".

Personally, I manage to get a good coverage of my gray hair by letting the mix sit for 3 - 4 and a half hours, even though I have a high percentage of gray hair. My case is the perfect example that, even though I keep the mix on for a short period of time, my gray hair is perfectly covered because I found the right percentages of henna and herbal hair colors for my mix.

Obviously, before I found out that the right thing for me was to let the mix sit for 4 hours, I tried keeping the mix on for 6 - 9 hours. Once I even tried sleeping with the mix on!

But apart from the fact that I don't like staying at home for so long or sleeping badly because of henna, the cervical was the key factor that helped me decide that it wasn't the right method for me. Letting a humid mix on my hair for so many hours only resulted in a trauma that I had to treat with painkillers.

Moreover, I didn't notice any huge difference after letting the mix sit for a long period of time, so I had no reasonable cause for keeping the mix on for so long .

What is the ideal time to keep henna on?

Well, what I am trying to say is that I don't suggest you to keep henna and herbal hair colors on for more than 4 - 5 hours, and here's why:

  • the bond between lawsone (Lawsonia's dying molecule) and cheratine, after a certain amount of time, becomes useless
  • keeping the mix on for a long time may cause skin and hair dryness (the more you wait, the more herbal hair dyes tend to re-hydrate themselves by absorbing water from the hair)
  • if you let the mix sit on your hair for a long time, the result can be irritation and sensitization of the skin. Even if herbal hair colors are 100% natural, it doesn't mean they're harmless.

If you don't want any of these problems, you have to keep the mix on for the right and useful amount of time, and, first of all, you need to know how your hair responds to henna, and how tolerant your skin is.

Henna Application & Preparation: How long to keep it on? How often can you apply herbal hair color?

That's why I always recommend you to do both a test on a hidden strand of hair and an allergy skin test. And, since prevention is better than cure, I always suggest you to keep the mix on for a shorter time, for your first applications.

For example, my mother had a case of irritation and sensitization of the skin because she kept her mix on for a long time (even though it wasn't so long, it was enough for her skin!). We found the solution after we lowered the time from 6 hours to 4 hours tops and we washed herbal hair colors away with diluted shampoo.

It's possible that, because of the surfactants in the shampoo, the color washes away a little. But if you want to be healthy and you want your hair to be healthy, you have to compromise, especially if you want to keep using herbal hair dyes. 

So, long story short: assuming that if you keep henna and herbal hair colors on for a short time you can't obtain satisfying result is wrong.

In the end, the decisive factor that helps you decide how long you need to keep the henna mix on, is given by how your hair responds to the mix: someone has more porous hair that is more receptive to the dying molecule, so they can let the mix sit on their hair for a short time; someone has more resistant hair, so they need to keep the mix on for a longer time.

The video tutorials are in Italian, but English subtitles are available!

The frequency of applications

depends on how fast our hair grows and on the color of your roots: if they are of a different color from your lengths or if they're gray.  

So, how often should a girl who has roots that can be noticed apply henna? Every three or four weeks. It always depends on how fast our hair grows.

If, instead, you are doing treatments for damaged hair with cassia obovata and other Indian herbs, you can apply them every two weeks.

Henna: How long to keep it on? How often can you apply herbal hair colors?

But, let's say that you apply henna and herbal hair colors and you don't like the results. It can happen that you don't get the percentages right, especially if you are a newbie to the henna world or if you try new combinations, like I do, years after my first henna and herbal hair colors application...

For me, every new application is an occasion to try new mixes with new percentages... there's no better teacher than our own experience, right?

Let's say that you have a result like the one in the photo up here... what do you do? You're going to wait 2 - 3 weeks before applying henna again? :))

I don't think so! There's no way we should keep a hair color we don't like or grey regrowth turned orange, instead of brown!

Fortunately, herbal hair dyes, unlike chemical dyes that need to be applied once every few weeks, can be re-applied immediately, on the same day of the first application or on the days after it.

A frequent application doesn't have to become the usual, obviously (who has the time or the patience to apply herbal hair colors every week, anyway??), because of what I said previously in the article about irritation and sensitization of the skin.

Let me know in the comment area below how long you keep the henna mix on in order to obtain satisfying results and if you apply henna more or less often than what I suggested in the post... every contribution is precious, because you can never stop learning :)

 ©Beautilicious Delights 

Take care of your skin and hair consciously. You'll find everything you need (even herbal hair colors) on our online shop. Click HERE to visit it!


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