How Long To Keep Henna On The Hair

Written by Arshiya Syeda

If you wish to color your hair but steer clear of harsh chemicals, try henna. Henna is a plant-based dye that imparts a reddish-brown color to your hair. It is a potent coloring agent and works well in combination with other herbs to naturally color the hair (1).

Check out our article to explore how long you need to keep henna on the hair and other tips for a fuss-free hair dye job. Scroll down for more information.

How Henna Colors Your Hair

The dyeing property of henna is due to the presence of laws one, a colorant (2). This naturally-occurring chemical reacts with your hair’s keratin protein to leave a strong stain that tends to last until the skin or hair is shed.

Let’s now find out the ideal time to keep henna on your hair in the next section.

How Long Should You Leave Henna On Your Hair?

The ideal time for keeping henna on your hair depends on the final result you are aiming for. For highlights, you may leave the henna on your hair for 1-3 hours, depending on the intensity of the color you want. If you are looking for deep, rich color or want to cover gray hair, keep henna on your hair for 3-4 hours.

The time is taken for henna to stain your hair also depends on the mixture’s strength and how you prepare it. For best results, mix henna with lukewarm water and let the thick paste sit for a few hours before using it.

Note: Do not keep henna on your hair beyond 5 hours to prevent dryness and scalp sensitization.

Are there any effects of leaving henna on your hair for a long time? Find out below.

What Happens If You Leave Henna On Your Hair For Longer?

The longer you leave the henna paste on your hair, the more the lawsone molecules migrate into keratin to produce rich and saturated color. Generally, 5 hours are considered sufficient for maximum absorption of henna.

However, herbal hair dyes tend to rehydrate themselves by absorbing moisture from the hair. Thus, if you keep the henna mix on your hair for an unnecessarily long period, it may dry out your scalp and hair, leading to irritation.

Note: Test the henna paste on a small patch of your hair to find how it responds to the dye.

Wondering how long your henna hair color can last before your next application? Check out your answer in the following section.

How Often Should You Reapply Henna?

You can reapply henna every 3-4 weeks for full coverage. Typically, henna stains last until your strands fall off or your hair grows out. Therefore, the frequency of application depends on how fast your hair grows, especially if you are using henna to cover gray hair. You may also reapply henna on the same day after your first application as it is devoid of chemicals.

However, you need to apply henna on your hair correctly to get the best results. Read on to know the right way to do it.

How To Apply Henna On Your Hair The Right Way

  1. Shampoo and dry your hair before using henna. Do not condition your hair.
  2. If you want highlights, apply the mixture directly to the areas that you wish to highlight.
  3. For greater coverage, section your hair in layers and apply the henna paste.
  4. Tie your hair into a tight bun after covering all the layers.
  5. Wear a shower cap to avoid spillage. This will also keep the mixture warm and activate the dye faster.
  6. Wait for a few hours, depending on the results you want.
  7. Wash your hair with room temperature water or use a conditioner to rinse the dried paste.
  8. Reapply henna whenever the roots need a touch-up.

To Conclude

Henna is a safe and organic option for dyeing your hair. It imparts a rich color to your hair and can be used for highlights and covering your grays. However, ensure you don’t keep it on for more than 4-5 hours to prevent dry hair and scalp irritation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you leave the henna on your hair overnight?

No, it is not a good idea to leave the henna on your hair overnight, as it can dry out your hair and scalp.

Can I shampoo my hair after applying henna?

No. Do not use a shampoo within 48 hours after applying henna. However, you can opt for color-safe shampoos if it gets hard to rinse the dried paste.

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  1. Study of colouring effect of herbal hair formulations on graying hair
  2. Dyeing studies with henna and madder: A research on effect of tin (II) chloride mordant
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Arshiya Syeda is an editor and certified counselor. Ever the lover of the written word, she served on the editorial boards of her school and college newsletters. Writing articles on hairstyles, hair care, and nutrition helped her combine her love for reading, writing, and research. As an editor, she helps her team members deliver polished and meticulously researched content. Arshiya is fluent in English, Urdu, and Hindi and aims to become a multilinguist by learning German and teaching herself American Sign Language (ASL).