How To Apply Henna For Gray Hair

Written by Jyotsana Rao

Covering your gray hair with commercial hair dyes leaves your hair vulnerable to chemicals that may damage your hair. Have you considered using a natural alternative like henna for gray hair? Henna, commonly known as mehendi, colors hair in an enchanting reddish-orange shade. It is traditionally used to keep hair thick, and has antimicrobial properties that keep your hair and scalp protected and healthy (1). Keep reading to know how to dye your hair with henna to ensure full gray coverage.

What Is Henna?

Henna leaf or Lawsonia inermis is cultivated throughout India. It is popularly used as a hair dye, for body art, and is known for its medicinal and therapeutic properties (2). Natural henna leaves an auburn color on the hair. However, the color may differ as per the variety of henna leaf used.

It gives an instant cooling effect and has antimicrobial properties. Henna extract is effective against the acne-causing S. aureus bacteria and may help minimize scalp acne.

Traditionally, mehendi or henna is believed to strengthen the hair, promote hair growth, and add luster to it. However, there is no scientific proof for these claims. Henna is commonly used to cover gray hair and is a popular alternative for chemical hair dyes.

Does Henna Cover Gray Hair?

Yes. Henna can cover gray hair and leave an auburn or reddish-orange tint on the strands. However, the results may differ depending on your natural hair color.

Adding other herbal ingredients like jatamansi, kuth, kattha, and amla (Indian gooseberry) and coffee with henna can produce a significant coloring effect and cover gray hair effectively (3). The next section explains how you can use henna to cover gray hair.

How To Cover Gray Hair With Henna: A Complete Guide

Gather the ingredients that you may need. They include:

  • 1-2 tablespoons of black tea leaves
  • 2-3 tablespoons of henna powder (adjust the quantity)
  • 2-3 cups of water
  • ½ teaspoon of lemon juice
  • Applicator brush
  • A mixing bowl
  • An old T-shirt

Step 1: Boil Black Tea Leaves

Boil the black tea leaves in water for a while. Once it starts bubbling, let it simmer on low heat until the water reduces to half. The water should be in proportion to the quantity of henna powder you use. Always use natural henna powder rather than those which come with a developer.

Step 2: Prepare A Henna Mask

Soak the henna powder in water for around 8 hours or overnight. Mix the henna paste, black tea, and lemon juice. You can also add some amla powder to this mixture. However, this is optional.

Step 3: Apply The Mask

Wear the old T-shirt to avoid staining and then section your hair. Use the applicator brush to cover the section from root to tip. Repeat with all the hair sections. Wear a disposable shower cap to keep the hair intact and wait for at least 30 minutes for the hair to absorb the paste.

Step 4: Wash It Off

Rinse off the paste with cold water. Ensure to wash thoroughly and apply a conditioner to the hair. Do not shampoo right away and let the color settle. You may shampoo your hair the next day. You can apply henna once or twice a month.

Check out this video for a better understanding:

Henna is considered safe for the skin. Animal studies show that it may treat androgenetic alopecia (4). However, you may experience a few side effects.

Side Effects Of Henna

Henna may cause allergic reactions, and you may experience the following symptoms:

  • Itchiness
  • Dryness
  • Sore and red eyes
  • Redness
  • Blisters

However, these side effects are rare and often caused by commercial black henna containing synthetic ingredients. If you observe any of these side effects, consult your doctor without any further delay.

If you are applying henna to your hair, here is a set of precautions you need to follow.

Precautions To Take While Applying Henna

  • Do a patch test to prevent allergic reactions.
  • Do not apply henna if you have existing scalp conditions or blisters or wounds on your scalp.
  • If you have a cold or fever, do not apply henna. It has a cooling effect and may further aggravate your condition.
  • Ensure that your hair is tangle-free. The henna paste may cause tangles and may be difficult to wash off.
  • Always use a glass bowl to mix the paste as metal bowls may react with the ingredients.
  • Coat the hairline and skin near the nape with Vaseline or petroleum jelly to prevent staining.
  • Always wear disposable plastic gloves before applying henna to prevent staining.
  • Do not apply henna on oily hair as the oil may prevent color absorption.
  • Do not leave henna on your hair for more than 45 minutes. If it dries out completely, it can be difficult to wash it out.
  • Apply cucumber slices or cooling eye pads if you experience a burning sensation in the eyes post henna application.

To Conclude

Henna may or may not give instant results (depending on your natural hair color). But if you use it regularly with necessary precautions, you will see visible results with minimal or no side effects.  You can add more ingredients to your mix to intensify the color. So, go ahead, and try this natural hair dyeing alternative today.

Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions

Can you use henna on blonde hair?

Yes, you can use henna on blonde hair to give it a reddish color.

Do you need to wait before using henna again?

Yes, you may have to wait for at least 2-3 weeks before reapplying henna to your hair.

How long does henna stay in your hair?

It depends on your hair washing cycle. If you wash your hair twice a week, henna may stay vibrant for about 4 to 6 weeks.

What is the difference between natural henna and black henna?

Natural henna is green and does not contain chemicals. However, black henna contains synthetic dyes (p-paraphenylenediamine) to give it a dark color. It may cause chemical burns.

Can I use henna powder on chemically treated hair?

Yes, you may apply henna on your chemically treated hair. However, ensure it is natural henna and apply it 6 to 8 weeks after the chemical treatment to avoid interaction between the chemicals and henna.


Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. Antimicrobial Efficacy of Henna Extracts
  2. Modulatory effect of henna leaf (Lawsonia inermis) on drug metabolising phase I and phase II enzymes antioxidant enzymes lipid peroxidation and chemically induced skin and forestomach papillomagenesis in mice
  3. Study of colouring effect of herbal hair formulations on graying hair
  4. [Therapeutic effect of Impatiens balsamina Lawsonia inermis L. and Henna on androgenetic alopecia in mice]
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