Last Updated on 1st February 2021 by Chauncey Morgan
Henna has become a very popular, all natural alternative to chemical hair dyes. At the same time, the amount of people wondering how to remove henna from hair has increased as much. The truth is, Henna may be natural and kind to hair, but it’s also difficult to remove. But it can be done, and here are a few ways to try to remove henna from hair.
What is Henna?
Henna is a dye made from the powdered leaves of the Lawsonia inermis shrub. It has been used in Asia to give hair gloss and reddish tones since Antiquity, and it’s considered great for the health of your hair. There are also other henna-like dyes made from the Indigo plant (Indigofera tinctoria) and often other vegetable pigments and oils are mixed in. So far, so natural, and this is why it’s a favourite among people looking to dye their hair minus the chemicals.
However, the problem with removing Henna is that often other ingredients are mixed in that can cause a reaction when commercial dyes are applied. If your Henna dye contained metallic salts, and you apply dye on top, the reaction will cause heat. And possibly scalp burns and damage.
Henna itself is resistant to bleaching or lightening, so if you want to go back to your natural color or even dye on top of it most hairdressers won’t dare to help. So you are left trying to figure out how to remove henna from hair without having to get a buzzcut.
Removing Henna From Hair With Oil
First a word of warning. If you have been applying Henna faithfully for years, this method may take many uses. This is because Henna works by depositing color on top of the hair shaft, so if you have dyed your hair with Henna many times there will be a lot of color to remove.
Removing Henna from hair with oil is generally considered a gentle method of henna removal and it shouldn’t damage your hair, but if you have curly hair you may notice your curls dropping shape a bit.
What You Will Need
- Argan Oil
- Olive Oil
- Coconut Oil
- Clarifying shampoo (a micellar shampoo may be gentler for sensitive scalps and curls)
- A good conditioner
- A shower cap.
Henna Dye Removal With Oil Treatment
This can get messy so wear an old t-shirt and cover any surfaces you don’t want stained with oil.
Start with washing your hair really well with the cleansing shampoo. This will remove any styling products that could prevent the oil from removing Henna dye effectively.
Make a mix of the three oils in equal parts, and apply to hair. Really soak the hair with it. Your hair should be dripping oil.
After your hair is totally soaked with oil, cover it with a shower cap and leave it on for as long as you can. Overnight is best. Heat helps the oil pull as much dye as possible, so use a hair dryer to heat up your hair or sit in a warm room or in the sun. A deep conditioning heat cap is even more convenient, and if you have low porosity hair you probably already have one.
After this, wash your hair really well with the cleansing shampoo. You will most likely need to shampoo at least twice to avoid limp, oily hair. Apply a conditioner afterwards if you feel your hair needs it, though the oils should have worked as a deep conditioning treatment.
You will need to repeat this process regularly until all the Henna is gone from your hair.
Pros And Cons Of Removing Henna Dye With Oil
If you have been colouring your hair with Henna regularly it can take months to regular applications to actually get your natural hair color back. To the point where it may be unrealistic and you are better off using a different method.
However, oil is the Henna removal method that is less damaging to your hair. It won’t lighten the hair underneath, and so if you get all the Henna out you’ll be left with your natural hair color (or whatever was there before you started dying with Henna).
How To Remove Henna From Hair With Alcohol
Yes, alcohol can be used to neutralise the metal salts present in many henna mixes, and remove Henna from hair. This method works best if you intend to dye afterwards and just want to make sure your hair is safe and there won’t be unwelcome heat reactions.
This method can be used before a hot oil treatment to get quicker results and improve the degree of Henna removal from hair.
What You Will Need
- Clarifying shampoo
- A shampoo for hard water
- A good conditioner
- Vodka or other high-graduation clear alcohol
Henna Dye Removal With Alcohol Treatment
Wash your hair twice using the clarifying shampoo to make sure you remove as much residue as possible from your hair. Then apply vodka with a sponge to the hair until it’s fully soaked. Yes, you will smell terrible but vodka will break up the metallic salts that could be present in your Henna dye, and will render your hair safe for recoloring.
After 15 minutes, wash your hair with the the shampoo for hard water. If you have been using Henna for a long time, a clarifyng treatment to remove mineral salts from hair may be helpful. Leave the shampoo on your hair for 5 minutes to make sure all the alcohol is out and Henna is stripped out as much as possible.
After this your hair will feel dry and straw-like so either do a hot oil treatment as above to get rid of even more Henna deposits, or apply a really good deep conditioning treatment.
At this point your hair should be safe to color with an oxidative dye but it’s worth doing a strand test first as the results can be surprising. Bleach will most likely turn your hair a strange shade of orange, or even blue, but again it’s worth doing a strand test just in case you managed to remove enough Henna for dye to work correctly.
Hopefully this article has helped you figure out how to remove henna from hair without damaging your hair. My last bit of advice. Henna can be very unpredictable, particularly if you have used ready-made commercial mixes, so always do a strand test before bleaching or coloring.
Be sure to read our guide to hair color levels, including our handy charts!