Want to learn about the chemistry behind henna? Check out “The chemistry of henna.”

Henna Hair-Dying Tutorial

For 99 cents, one would expect to get an awful dye job. Yet after over a year of dying my hair with henna, I can give nothing but compliments: I don’t wind up with an ear-splitting, chemical-induced headache the next day; the conditioning effect actually lasts more than a week or two; my hair maintains its red color longer; henna is dead cheap.

The only downside is that you will have to prepare the dye a day in advance. You’ll also need to let the dye set for several hours (typically around five) before washing it out.

Every couple of months, I spend $1.98 on two boxes of henna plus the price of a paltry bottle of lemon juice. My hair is naturally dirty blond in color, though I suppose you wouldn’t guess it; I’ve been dying it since I was around the age of 13.


Despite how spiffy henna is, there are surprisingly few English tutorials available online, so I’ve decided to present you with my tried and true methods. Please comment if you have any questions.

Step One: Gather Your Ingredients

Step 1: Gather Ingredients

The amount of henna you need will depend on the length of your hair. My hair currently lies four to six inches past my shoulders and I have been using two 100-gram boxes (200 grams total) of henna powder, which always results in leftovers. For chin-length hair, 100 grams should suffice.

Don’t buy “henna dye” — you just want simple henna powder, which is usually marketed as a skin decorator. In most cases, the box will be marked with “can also be used on hair.” Aside from henna, you will need:

Lemon juice
Tupperware container with lid
Spoon for mixing
Disposable gloves
Shower cap or plastic bags

Step Two: Mix Henna and Lemon Juice

Step Two: Mix Henna with Lemon Juice

Empty henna powder into your container. Mix lemon juice into the henna powder until a yogurt-like mixture is achieved. Don’t worry if there are small lumps.

Step Three: Cover Overnight

Step 3: Mix and Cover

After yogurt-like mixture is achieved, cover your container and leave it overnight.

Step Four: Rehydrate Henna

Step 4: Rehydrate Henna

By the next day, the henna powder will be slightly less hydrated. Add more lemon juice to achieve the yogurt-like texture yet again.

Step Five: Look Funny

Step 5: Look Funny

This step is by far my favorite, as I happen to consider myself quite skilled at looking funny.

Put on your gloves. Spread the henna mixture all throughout your hair, making sure to get between every crevice. Wipe henna off of your skin, as it dyes with indelible ferocity.

Step Six: You Gotta Bag Up

Step 6: Look Funny Even More

Once you’ve finished, place a shower cap or plastic bags over your hair. Be sure to look particularly silly.

Now sit back and relax. I typically wait about five hours for the henna to work its magic, but have waited as little as three and as much as seven with fine results. Once finished, hop in the shower and rinse it all out. You can use shampoo if you don’t appreciate the earthy smell of the henna, but I usually wait until the next day to do so.

Your hair will be bright red for the first couple of days after dying it, but it will deepen in color afterwords.

The result

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