Cold Red Henna vs Hot Red Henna: How to get it?

I get a lot of messages about the difference between hot henna and cold henna , and especially how to achieve one shade or the other.

For this reason, I decided to do this brief study on cold red henna vs. hot red henna and tell you which herbal dyes you need to get close to the desired shade.

Cold Red Henna vs Hot Red Henna: How to get it?

Cold Red Henna vs Hot Red Henna

In recent years you have often contacted me to understand how to achieve a colder or warmer red tone and to learn about the various dyeing or reflexing herbs that can be combined with red henna to obtain the desired effect.

If you have chosen to read this article, it is because you are most likely also looking for the right mix for your hair. So I'm more than happy to share with you what I've learned from my research.

Where the henna comes from makes all the difference

Before delving into what to combine with henna and what are the more or less cold red shades , remember that the final result varies a lot

  • based on the starting color of the hair,
  • and based on the origin of the henna you are going to use.

In fact, the climatic conditions, the cultivation method and the soil on which Lawonia inermis (our henna ) grows, greatly affect the type of red pigment it will release during laying and therefore the shade that our hair will take on.

This is because inside the leaves of the Lawsonia plant there is a coloring molecule (the lawsone) in a variable percentage, precisely according to the origin of the henna.

To simplify, I can tell you that the warm henna that gives the hair a coppery tone comes from North African countries. The warmest of all are henna from Morocco and henna from Egypt , while henna from Iran, Pakistan and Yemen give the hair a cooler red hue.

The henna you find on the site, which comes from the Indian state of Rajasthan , releases a pigment that gives the hair an auburn / brick tone, somewhere between cold and hot.

Cold Red vs Hot Red: The starting color has the final say

The result depends a lot on the natural or starting color of the hair because as you may well know, henna colors tone on tone and fails to lighten the stem.

Based on its original color, your hair will tend to highlight one shade of red over another regardless of the type of red henna you use. In the end, she always has the final word.

Over the years I have seen cases of girls with light brown hair using cool red henna and getting an auburn red and girls with dark brown hair getting a purplish mahogany.

In the end, only by experiencing firsthand could we understand how one's hair reacts and whether it is possible to obtain a warm red or cold red shade. 

Henna - Warm Red Shade: How to get it?

I'll give you an example to make the concept clearer.

On light hair, to obtain an intense red, layering is necessary, i.e. making repeated close applications until the desired shade is reached.

So it may take several applications to achieve an intense red colour . Once you reach the coveted red shade you will have to be careful not to make further applications so as not to stratify the pigment and make your shade darker and darker.

Read also: Henna Preparation: Oxidation - Acidification of Henna - Yes or No?

I suggest you always start with a test on a hidden lock and in the video below I'll explain how it should be done

Remember that once applied, lawsonia never goes away. If you are looking for a non-permanent color that you wash out with shampoo, you can use madder which gives a beautiful warm red already in the environment naturally created by the plant.

So if you want a warm red tone layering should be avoided, applying henna only on the regrowth.

It is therefore easier to obtain an intense red on light hair by layering the pigment over time, while on dark hair you will only see reflections and never a lighter color than your natural one.

And since layering is really important, you'll have to pay attention to whether to apply only on the regrowth or also on the lengths.

Choose consciously because the layered pigment will tend to darken and that intense red shade that you liked so much initially will seem increasingly gloomy and dark.

Therefore, to avoid stratification, it would be better to apply henna mainly on the roots, protecting the lengths with transparent film so as not to have differences in color and tone.

On the lengths you can revive the red color with dedicated wraps using pure lawsonia or "diluted" with cassia , alternatively there is always madder. Instead of water, add conditioner to the batter to prevent the color from layering. The exposure time can vary from 30 to 60 minutes.

Henna - Shades Cold Red : How to get it?

As for the cold red shade, since it is natural herbs - using cold red henna - it is more probable to obtain a shade of cherry color or with cold purplish reflections , base color permitting.

Also, I'll tell you a tidbit.

If you add a pinch of bicarbonate or red clay and a low percentage (15-20%) of katam or indigo , you can enhance or achieve a cold red tone , while using Indian lawsonia which tends to be warm in tone.

This provided that your hair tends to get that reflection and does not stand out and turn into warm tones.

To answer that doubt that I'm sure has arisen in your mind, katam tends to give reflections that go towards purple / aubergine while indigo is colder, its reflections go towards blue.

Not to forget hibiscus and madder - which used in a basic environment created with a pinch of bicarbonate - accentuate the cold red tone.

Personally, even with very dark chemical dyes, my hair inexorably veers towards copper, so I already know that getting a cold red shade would be a challenge for me.

Further confirmation that the result depends very much on our natural color and on the shade that tends to stand out naturally.

That said, you just have to try, try and try again. Experiment until you find the right percentages and the color that feels most yours. It takes patience, but I assure you it will be worth it.

Read also: Preparation and Application of Henna and Dyeing Herbs: the Complete Guide!

But now I'm curious to know: if you had to choose, would you choose a hot red henna or a cold red henna ? 

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