Last Updated on 17th August 2023 by Chauncey Morgan
As someone keen on coloring my hair over and over, discovering the natural chemical-free hair color called henna was life-changing for me! I immediately wanted to try it out, but there were a few questions I had that bothered me when it came to how to use it. One of them was how long to leave henna on my hair to get maximum color results.
After months of researching everything about henna and even trying it out on my hair, I can say with certainty that I have mastered this type of hair color and am now prepared to tell you all about it. Hopefully, after reading this guide, you will know how to use henna and how long to keep it in your hair before washing it out.
Henna is a natural hair color option that won’t damage your hair like chemical-based hair dyes on the market. It even has nourishing properties as it is rich in protein and antioxidants like Vitamin E.
As a coloring agent, it is quite forgiving. Even if you make some mistakes, it is easy to correct them without any problems. Do give henna a try so you can see how cool it is, but first, read on to learn more!
Table of Contents
What Is Henna?
Henna is a type of dye that you can use to color your hair or to make temporary tattoos on your skin. The dye is made from plants, so it is completely natural and safe to use. The only problem when it comes to using henna to dye your hair is that it only lasts a few weeks – it is not permanent.
Another thing you need to know about henna is that there is not a huge color palette to choose from. You can essentially choose between varying shades of red, brown, and black henna dye. But even though its color options are a bit limiting, henna is still a great way to color your hair if you want to steer clear of hair dyes full of chemicals. You can dye your hair again and again with henna, and your hair will even thank you for it!
How Long to Leave Henna in Your Hair
The process of coloring hair with henna is very simple. You only need to wash and dry your hair, mix the henna with lukewarm water until it turns into a thick paste, and then apply the paste to your hair. But what happens after you apply the paste – how long should you keep it in your hair?
Depending on what part of your hair or how much of your hair you are planning on coloring, you will need to wait for anywhere from 1 to 4 hours. Let’s talk about this in more detail below!
Coloring Your Roots with Henna
If you are wondering whether you can color just your roots with henna, you certainly can! Henna is great for gray coverage, and it is also one of the best ways to do a root shadow once your hair starts to grow out.
Once you start applying the henna paste to your hair, make sure you saturate all of the hair at the roots thoroughly. When you’re satisfied with the coverage, allow the color to process for about 2 to 3 hours, depending on the size of the area you’re covering and the thickness of your hair. You can check it periodically to determine if it needs more time to sit on your hair.
After you are done waiting, simply rinse your hair, condition, and check if any re-touching is needed!
Making Highlights with Henna
Henna highlights are a great way to add texture and volume to your hair. You can even use the darker henna dyes to make lowlights in a simple, completely chemical-free and damage-free way! For the best hair coloring results, I recommend that you divide your hair into small sections and then go over some strands with the henna.
Once you are done applying the highlights according to your personal preference, you should wait anywhere from 1 to 3 hours. The waiting time will depend on the amount of coloring you have done as well as the thickness and length of your hair. Basically, the longer and thicker your hair is, the longer you will need to wait.
Another thing to keep in mind is the desired intensity of the color – if you want your highlights to be very intense, keep the color on for longer. If you want them to be barely noticeable but still there, you should only keep the henna on your hair for an hour. Again, you can check the color every 20 minutes or so to determine if it’s processed to your liking.
When you’re happy with the color result, you should rinse and condition your hair to finish the process. Your highlights should be stunning even after one round of henna!
Full Coverage Color with Henna
Of course, there is also the option to color your entire head of hair using nothing but henna. I always recommend this type of hair color because it is completely natural, easy to maintain, and you do not have to wait long between colorings.
When coloring your entire hair using henna, you will need to wait for anywhere from 3 to 4 hours for the color to fully work its way into the hair cuticle. If your hair is shorter and thinner, you can keep the henna on for 3 hours and then rinse it out. However, if you have very long and thick hair, you can keep the henna on for 4 hours and maybe even a bit more.
Avoid Overprocessing with Henna
One more thing, I would like to point out that while henna is a great natural coloring option, you should not keep it in your hair for longer than 5 hours. That means no overnight coloring!
If you leave henna in your hair for more than 5 hours, it will not exactly damage the hair but drain the scalp from all its natural oils. Your scalp will become very itchy and uncomfortable as a result. If this happens to you, you can use water and vinegar on the scalp to soothe it.
An even better thing to do is do a patch test before coloring your entire hair or your roots. Apply a small amount of the henna to a small patch of your hair towards the back of your head, keep it on for a couple of hours, and then rinse it out. If your scalp becomes irritated from the color, you should reconsider coloring your hair, as some people can be sensitive or allergic to henna.
FAQs on Coloring with Henna
Now that you know how many hours the henna should stay in your hair when coloring it, you’re probably eager to get started with the coloring process. However, you may have a few remaining questions about henna and how it works. Here are the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about dying hair with henna.
What are the side effects of henna?
Henna should be perfectly safe for most people, but some people might be allergic to certain ingredients in this type of dye. If you’re allergic to henna, the side effects you might notice are redness, irritation, blisters, burning, scarring, and swelling of the skin.
If your hair or skin is having a bad reaction to the henna, you should immediately rinse the dye out and use some antibacterial soap to scrub it off of your skin. For more serious infections, you may need to see a dermatologist for further advice, but these severe reactions are quite rare.
To avoid these side effects, it’s a good idea to do a test patch first before dying large portions of your hair.
Can henna cause hair loss?
It is highly unlikely that using henna as a hair dye will lead to hair loss because it is a natural product. However, if you use the dye too often, are allergic to it, or you purchase a henna dye that has chemicals in it, you might experience slight hair damage and hair loss. Thankfully, this type of reaction is also very rare.
Can I apply henna on oily hair?
For most hair coloring processes, I would recommend that you go in once your hair is already a bit oily, such as a day or two after the last time you washed your hair. This is because your hair’s natural oils protect it from too much damage, since most regular hair dyes contain a lot of harsh chemicals.
However, coloring oily hair with henna is not something that I would recommend because the henna will have a harder time getting into the hair follicle if it is oily. You should always wash and dry your hair immediately before going in with the henna. The only recommendation I would make here is to put the conditioning part on hold until after you’ve dyed your hair and are ready to rinse it out.
How Long to Keep Henna on Hair = Solved!
After reading this guide, I hope you now have a better idea of what to do and what to avoid when coloring your hair with henna. Remember to keep the color on for less than 5 hours if you want to avoid getting an itchy scalp, and always do a test patch first to determine if you are sensitive or allergic to any of the henna’s ingredients.
Thank you for sticking with me through this guide. Let me know if you found my advice helpful or if you know of any other tips that I should have included. I can’t wait to read your comments and feedback!