Natural Hairdyes


Three basic ingredients:

1. Red henna (latin name Lawsonia inermis) is the only true henna and will always add redness to the hair. Black henna (Indigofera tinctoria) can be used as an alternative however the colour molecules will not “stick” as well to the hair without some true henna (red) being mixed. Neutral henna (Cassia obovata) can be used to condition the hair without colouring or to reduce the deepness of the colour of the dye.

2. An acidic liquid such as lemon juice or vinegar.

3. Water to make the mixture into a paste.

This mixture will give you a red semi-permanent hair colour.

You may add other ingredients to modify the colour achieved.

How To Use Henna

  • Typically 2-3 tablespoons of hair dye is required for an application. However the longer and thicker you hair the more you will need.
  • Mix the henna powder and liquid in a bowl. For the 2-3 tablespoons of hair dye, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar will be sufficient, diluted down with water in order to make a smooth, slightly thick paste (about the consistency of toothpaste).
  • Cover the bowl and let this stand until you see dye release (normally 12-24 hours). On most henna powders you will see the colour turn from greenish to brownish as the dye releases.
  • Add some more liquid – water or a liquid of your choice chosen from the list below – to create a consistency like soft yoghurt or softly whipped cream.
  • Apply to clean dry or damp hair – if you apply it to damp hair you may want to have a slightly firmer consistency to avoid dripping.

Note: Henna does not only dye your hair, it also dyes everything else it touches; skin, towels, walls, carpets.  Ensure the area where you are applying the dye is protected from spillages and consider getting someone to help you. It is useful to put some thick cream, ointment or wax on the skin around the hairline and on the ears to prevent the skin from being stained.

How to adjust the colour of the henna

Your ultimate hair colour depends on many factors: the original colour of your hair, the herbs used in your hair dye, the length of time you leave the hair dye on the head.

You can slightly alter the final colour outcome of the henna by adding different ingredients to the mix. Remember that the basic hue will always be some form of red, but you can push this colour slightly more towards brown, golden or even redder. You can also get black by mixing red henna and black henna (indigo). Adding neutral henna does not make the hair go a lighter colour, but does dilute the red colour of the henna used.

To get a redder colour

Ground cloves

Beetroot Juice


Brighter Red

More “true” Red

Brighter Red

To get a browner colour

Strong Black Tea

Strong Black Coffee

Red Wine

Walnut Leaves

Adds brown to golden hues depending on the tea and your starting colour.

Browner result (can be substituted for lemon juice).

Brings final colour towards chestnut (can be substituted form lemon juice).

Darkens to a brown dye
(test a little on the scalp first as some people are sensitive to walnut leaves).

To get more golden results

Lightens the final result.

A more golden colour.

A brighter yellow.

Lightens the final result.

To go blacker

Indigo (black henna)  must be applied with red henna in order to get the black colour to ‘stick’ to the hair. Some people mix the two colours together, while others find it best to dye the hair initially with the red henna, then add the black. A very strong black tea added to the red henna can darken the dye considerably.                  

To darken grey hair

The best way to darken grey hair is to regularly use sage infusion as a final rinse.  Walnut leaves may be added too. Remember if it is mixed with red henna the hair will turn a red colour, this will be very bright on grey or white hairs, therefore will be a very obvious red colour. If colouring a grey or white hair using henna make sure that you test the hair colour initially.

To Improve the condition of your hair

Rosemary added to your shampoo or conditioner as an essential oil.

Vinegar diluted in water and used as a hair rinse.

Beer (external use!) incorporated into a hair masque or diluted as a rinse.

Fermented Rice Water used as a hair rinse.

Coconut oil warmed and used as a conditioning treatment.

Neutral Henna is used in a similar way to henna dye – it conditions hair without adding colour.

Please feel free to let us know any other things that you find work and we can include them on this page. To alter the colour of the hair dye you can try one or several of these additions to your paste.