Is Henna Good for Your Natural Hair? Pros and Cons

henna for natural hair

Henna is becoming an increasingly popular choice for people who want to add some colour to their natural locks. For centuries, different cultures have used it as a natural dye to colour hair, skin, and nails. But is henna good for your natural hair? What are the pros and cons? This article will explore the benefits and drawbacks of using henna on natural hair. We will also discuss using henna to achieve the best results for your unique texture and curl pattern. So, if you’re curious about henna, keep reading!

What is Henna?

Before we dive into the pros and cons of henna, let’s first take a moment to understand henna.

Henna (also known as Egyptian privet and mignonette tree) is a plant that contains a red pigment called lawsone.

Lawsone is a reddish-orange dye that gives henna its colour. When you apply henna to the hair, the lawsone molecules bind to the keratin (a protein) in your strands, leaving a permanent colour deposit on the hair shaft.

The colour of henna can range from red to orange to brown, depending on the quality of the henna and how it’s mixed. Henna can also be mixed with other natural ingredients, like coffee or indigo, to create different shades.

The stain of henna depends on two main factors:

  • The quality of the henna leaves. Henna trees grown in hot and dry weather produce a higher lawsone content, which results in a darker stain.
  • The length of time you leave the henna on the hair. The longer you leave the henna on the hair, the darker the colour will be.

Now that we know a little bit more about henna let’s explore the pros and cons of using it on natural hair.

Variations of Henna for Natural Hair Purposes

Three main variations of henna include natural, neutral and black henna.

Natural Henna

Natural henna (red henna) is a pure extract from henna leaves with no added chemicals or dyes.

Depending on your natural hair colour, it will leave a red, orange or brown stain on the hair.

Neutral Henna

Neutral henna is also known as ‘cassia obovata’ and ‘senna obovata’. It comes from a different plant called Senna Italica and doesn’t contain lawsone.

This henna will not stain your hair or skin, but it can be used as a deep conditioning treatment to add shine, volume, and softness to the hair.

Black Henna

Black henna is not pure henna at all! It’s a mixture of henna and indigo to create a black hair dye.

However, some black henna products also contain other synthetic dyes, like PPD (para-phenylenediamine), a chemical that can cause severe skin reactions.

We do not recommend using black henna on your natural hair, as it can cause severe damage.

Now that we’ve explored the different types of henna let’s look at the pros and cons of using henna on natural hair.

The Pros of Henna for Natural Hair

There are several benefits to using henna on natural hair.

It’s a Natural Hair Dye

One of the most apparent benefits of henna is that it’s a natural hair dye.

It’s gentle and won’t damage your hair like chemical dyes can.

Henna is a great cost-effective alternative if you’re looking to avoid harsh chemicals and synthetic dyes.

Fades Evenly

Another benefit of henna for natural hair is that it fades evenly.

Unlike chemical dyes, which can leave your hair looking patchy and uneven as they fade, henna will gradually lighten all over.

This quality makes it a great option if you want to experiment with colour without making a permanent commitment.

It Conditions the Hair

You can also use henna as a deep conditioning treatment.

The lawsone molecules in henna will bind to the keratin in your hair. It locks in moisture and strengthens the hair shaft, resulting in softer, shinier, healthier hair.

Another benefit of henna for natural hair is that it coats the hair strands. This coating can help protect your hair from sun damage, environmental pollutants, and other harmful elements.

Makes Hair Thick and Lustrous

Henna can also add shine and volume to your hair. As it binds to the hair shaft and seals the cuticle, henna can make your hair appear thicker and more lustrous.

If you have dull, lifeless hair, henna may be able to give it the boost it needs.

Balances pH and Oil Production

Henna can also help regulate the pH levels of your scalp and hair.

If your scalp is too acidic or alkaline, it can lead to dryness, itchiness, and dandruff. The optimal pH level for the scalp is slightly acidic, between 4.5 and 5.5.

Henna will restore the natural pH balance of your scalp and hair, keeping it healthy and hydrated.

Henna can also help regulate oil production on the scalp.

If your scalp produces too much oil, henna will absorb the excess oil and leave your hair feeling clean and refreshed.

Relieves Oxidative Stress

Henna can also help to relieve oxidative stress on the scalp.

Free radicals cause oxidative stress, damaging cells and leading to inflammation.

Henna has antioxidant properties that help neutralize free radicals and reduce oxidative stress.

Improves Scalp Health

Henna has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, which can help soothe a dry, itchy, or irritated scalp.

A healthy scalp is the foundation of healthy hair, so using henna can help improve your hair’s overall health.

It’s Safe for Pregnant Women and Children

Henna is also safe to use during pregnancy and while breastfeeding.

It’s also safe for children, although you should always do a patch test first to ensure they’re not allergic.

Now that we’ve explored the pros of henna for natural hair let’s look at the cons.

Cons of Henna for Natural Hair

There are also some drawbacks to using henna on your natural hair.

It’s a Permanent Dye

One of the most significant drawbacks of henna is it’s a permanent dye. Once you’ve hennaed your hair, you’re stuck with the colour until it grows out.

Depending on your desired outcome, this quality can be a pro or a con.

If you’re looking to experiment with colour without making a permanent commitment, henna is not the right choice for you.

But henna may be a good option if you’re looking for long-lasting hair colour.

Stains Everything It Touches

Another downside of henna is that it stains everything it touches.

You can easily stain your skin, clothes, and surfaces if you’re not careful.

Henna can also be challenging to remove, so be sure to use it with caution.

It’s a Long Process

Henna is also a time-consuming process.

You’ll need to mix the henna powder with water and allow it to sit for several hours before you can apply it to your hair.

And once you’ve applied henna to your hair, you’ll need to leave it on for at least three hours.

This quality can be a significant inconvenience, especially if you’re short on time.

It can Alter Your Natural Curl Pattern.

Another potential downside of henna is that it can alter your natural curl pattern.

If you have loose curls or tight curls, henna may loosen them, making them wavy.

This loosening is not a permanent change, but it is something to be aware of if you’re considering using henna on your natural hair.

May Leave Your Hair Feeling Dry

Henna can also leave your hair feeling dry and straw-like.

This property is because henna seals the hair’s cuticle, preventing moisture from getting in.

If your hair is already dry or damaged, henna may further damage it.

A way to remedy this drying effect is to deep condition your hair after hennaing it.

This deep conditioning treatment will help rehydrate your hair and leave it feeling soft and healthy.

It’s Not Always Easy to Find

Henna is not always easy to find.

While henna powder is widely available online, it can be challenging to find in stores.

And if you’re looking for pre-mixed henna, you may have to order it online.

You also need to be careful as some hennas on the market are not pure and could include harmful chemicals.

It Only Really Works For Dark Hair

Henna only really works best for dark hair. It enhances the natural colour of dark hair, giving it a richer, deeper colour.

If you have grey or light hair, you may have more of an orangey colour than auburn sheen.

But it is worth keeping in mind that henna may darken your hair over time with repeated use.

Also, contrary to popular belief, henna will not lighten your hair. So, if you want to go lighter with henna, you’ll be disappointed.

How to Prepare Henna for Natural Hair

Now that we’ve looked at the pros and cons of henna for natural hair let’s take a look at how to prepare henna for your natural hair.

Ingredients & Tools


Step 1: The first step is to mix the henna powder with water.

There’s no way to tell how much henna powder or liquid you’ll need, as it depends on the length and thickness of your hair.

A good rule of thumb is to mix one part henna powder with two parts water.

So, if you’re using 100 grams of henna powder, you’ll need 200 millilitres of water.

Aim to achieve a consistency that is similar to that of yogurt.

You’ll need to use a non-metal bowl and whisk to avoid oxidation.

  • If you’re looking for a darker colour, use tannic liquids like tea or coffee instead of water. These liquids help enhance henna’s staining potential.
  • If you’re looking for a lighter tone, use water and add 2-3 tablespoons of lemon juice.

Step 2: Let the mixture sit. 

Cover the henna mixture and allow it to sit for at least four hours.

This process allows the henna powder to release its pigment and dye the liquid thoroughly.

You can also allow it to sit overnight for deeper colour penetration.

Now your henna is ready to use!

How to Apply Henna to your Natural Hair

To apply henna to your hair, start by gathering all the supplies you’ll need:

– henna mixture

– gloves

– old towel or cape

– applicator brush

First, wear an old shirt that you don’t mind getting stained. Henna can be messy, so it’s best to wear something you won’t mind ruining.

Next, drape an old towel or cape around your shoulders to protect your clothes.

Now, wear gloves to avoid staining your hands and nails with henna.

Section off your hair into four sections using clips.

Start by applying henna to the back section of your hair.

Use an applicator brush to apply the henna mixture to your hair.

You can also use your hands, but this can be messy.

Be sure to apply the henna evenly from root to tip.

Once you’ve applied henna to all sections of your hair, cover it with a shower cap or plastic wrap and allow it to sit for three to four hours.

The longer you allow the henna to sit, the deeper the colour will be.

After three to four hours, rinse the henna out of your hair with warm water.

You may need to shampoo your hair a few times to remove all traces of henna.

Condition your hair as usual.

And that’s it! You’ve successfully applied henna to your natural hair.

FAQs on Henna for Natural Hair

Q: Will henna damage my natural hair?

A: No, henna will not damage your natural hair. It can help strengthen and condition your hair.

Q: How often should I henna my hair? 

A: You can use henna on your natural hair as often as you like. Some people henna their hair once a month, while others henna it every few months.

Q: My hair is super dry. Will henna make it worse? 

A: Yes, henna can have a drying effect on your hair. This effect is why it’s essential to condition your hair well after hennaing it.

Q: I’m thinking of doing a henna treatment at home. Is this a good idea? 

A: Yes, henna treatments are perfectly safe to do at home as long as you follow the instructions carefully.

Q: Will henna make my hair lighter? 

A: No, henna will not make your hair lighter. Instead, it can help darken your hair.


Now that you know all about henna for natural hair, it’s time to decide if it’s right for you.

Henna can be a great way to add colour and condition to your natural hair. It can also help add shine and depth of colour.

However, henna can have a drying effect on your hair, so it’s essential to condition your hair well after hennaing it.

Henna is perfectly safe to do at home as long as you follow the instructions carefully.

Be sure to do a patch test first and take extra care to avoid staining your hands and clothes.

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