mature woman with greyish hair

The Ultimate Guide to Using Henna to Cover Up Your Greys

People go through a lot in order to make their hair beautiful.

But why should you have to suffer the potentials of dry, brittle hair, thinning hair, or myriads of harsh chemicals just to get the color that you desire?

You shouldn’t. And you don’t need to with henna.

It provides the same grey coverage in an all-natural way.

But what exactly is it, and how is it used?

We’ve put together this ultimate guide to henna hair dye to answer all of your questions.

We’ll show you that this ancient dye really is the answer to all your modern hair color problems.

Table of Contents


What is Henna?

Henna is an all-natural hair dye that has been in use for thousands of years.

Cultivated from the leaves of the henna, or Lawsonia inermis plant, it produces a red-orange dye, that has been used for dying as far back as ancient Egypt.

Because it is from a plant, henna removes the use of any harsh chemicals that are found in commercial hair-dyes.

Not only is this much better for the environment, it is also much better on your hair.

Henna really will dye anything, which is why it is perfect for covering up grays.

As it fades from your hair in a natural way, your roots won’t be as noticeable when they start to grow out.

This means that each treatment will last for much longer than if you got it done at a salon.

Covering your roots is also very simple, as you’ll need very little henna to to-up your color.

While the henna plant produces a red orange hue, it can be mixed with other plants to produce a full range of colors that are popular for hair dye.


Indigo is made from the powdered leaves of the indigo plant.

Sometimes called black henna, it is often confused for a chemical filled brand of henna that can cause dangerous reactions.

Proper indigo is known for giving a black color, but it is actually blue.

This is why it needs to be mixed with henna to form the desired hue.

Indigo darkens the henna so is perfect for those looking a lovely brunette.

Mixing half henna and half indigo will produce a medium brown, with more indigo giving a darker shade.


Cassia on the other hand lightens henna.

It comes from the leaves of the cassia plant and with it you will get strawberry blonde hues as well as bright autumnal copper.

Sometimes known as ‘neutral henna’ it is a great conditioner for your lock and helps to keep them looking healthy.

When added to a mix of both henna and indigo, cassia will give you golden blondes that are perfect for covering white-grey hair.

Indigo or Cassia instead of Henna?

Neither indigo or cassia work as hair dyes on their own, instead, each must be mixed with at least a little henna to coat the hair correctly and get the desired result.

They are additions to henna that change the shade you are dying your hair, not alternatives!


Benefits of Henna on Hair

There are many benefits to using henna to dye your hair, which is why it has been used by the great and the good for so long!

Henna never damages your hair, making it perfectly safe to use.

Henna Protects Your Hair

One of the wonderful things about using henna to cover up your grey hair is that it doesn’t damage your hair. It protects it.

The henna dye coats the hair, instead of soaking into the stands themselves.

This forms a protective layer that can revive and restore tired and over-dyed hair.

It Prevents Hair Loss

Henna tightens up the hair follicles at the scalp, meaning less hair loss as the hair is strengthened.

It’s great for people with thin hair, as it can give it a thicker and more luxurious appearance.

All-natural Product

Henna is an all-natural product, so it’s less likely to cause an allergic reaction.

While it is still always important to do a patch test before use, is nourishing on your scalp.

Henna even gives your hair UV protection, so it is shielded from the worst sun-damage.

Disadvantages of Henna

Henna isn’t without some downsides, so it’s important that you carefully consider these before committing to dying your hair.

It Stains Everything

Henna can get a little bit messy if you’re not familiar with dying your hair at home.

It’s important that you rub your ears and forehead with petroleum jelly to ensure that your skin isn’t dyed, and that you always wear gloves.

Because it is such a good dye, there is the possibility that it can stain your floor if you don’t have a covering down.

Many people ask a friend to help them the first time that they dye so they know what to expect.

It’s Hard to Get an Exact Shade

You can mix henna with other natural plants to change the color that you end up with. But it’s still hard to know exactly how it will turn out on your hair color.

It may take a little bit of trial and error to get exactly right.


How to Pick the Right Henna Color for Your Hair

Picking the right color for your hair is the first step, and once you know a little bit more about it, you’ll be able to choose the color that will produce the perfect shade for you.

What is Your Natural Color?

It’s important to consider your natural shade, as this can affect not only what henna is best for you, but also what the end result will be.

Always remember, henna doesn’t dye your hair, it covers your original hair. So, the color that you achieve will be a combination of your natural hair and the henna.

As getting that perfect hue can take a few attempts, it’s important that you document the mixes that you use exactly.

That way you’ll be able to replicate it a second time, or you’ll be able to increase or reduce the amount of cassia or indigo by small and precise amounts.

Buy Smart

Make sure you buy your henna from a reputable stockiest, store it in the fridge, and use it within a few months.

Good quality henna won’t clog and will have been sifted multiple times to produce the perfect product.

What Color Should You Pick?

Deciding what color, you should pick comes down to what your natural color is, as well as your skin tone.

Remember that you can always go darker on a second attempt, but henna will take a while to fade out.

For Grey Hair

Cassia, or blonder tones, is the best henna mix to cover up those unruly greys. It looks natural, and your roots will blend in more as they grow out.  

Grey hair provides a clean slate for henna. This means that the color you get will be close to the original henna color, and not a mixture of your natural color and henna.

If you do want a darker color, be careful not to use too much indigo. This can result in your hair taking on a blue-tinge if it is naturally grey and can look uneven.

It Doesn’t Lighten

Henna isn’t a lightening agent, so if you have naturally very dark hair, you can get a red-tint to your hair, but you won’t be able to lighten it to blonde.

Henna can however be used to give you a rich, warm, shiny look, that will leave your hair looking and feeling healthy.


How to Mix and Apply Henna on Hair

Mixing and applying henna on your hair is really straightforward, although if you are worried we’d advise that you ask a friend to help with application the first time.

Just follow our simple steps, and your hair will look even better than if it had been done by a professional stylist with commercial dyes.

How to Mix Henna

You will need 50g-100g for short hair, around 100g for medium and around 200g for longer hair.

There’s no need to be exact, as it will go further than you might think and spread out evenly.

If you have bought a pre-mixed kit, don’t try to add any other color mixes to it, as per-mixed kits can also include other ingredients.

Black henna is usually best avoided as usually has a number or chemicals added to it can be dangerous.

For dark to jet-black hair, a mix with a lot of indigo added will give you the desired result.

Always ensure that you conduct a patch test on your skin before jumping in to dying your hair.

This will ensure that you won’t have any reactions to the henna.

Don’t Add Anything Else

There’s a lot of advice given regarding adding other common ingredients to gain the color that you desire. These include coffee, lemon juice, and even red wine.

We don’t recommend using anything than other proven plant dyes such as cassia or indigo however.

This is because any other ingredient isn’t designed to be a dye and can water down the henna.

You also won’t get accurate results with it, and your dye could end up being streaky.

Step One

Make sure you are wearing gloves and mix the henna on a surface covered with a towel. It can get very messy, and the mixture will stain anything it touches.

Step Two

In a glass, plastic, or stainless-steel bowl, slowly mix the powder and the water together.

While you can measure out the henna mixture in the advised gram ratio, it’s hard to tell how much water you will need.

Take your time and keep adding until it has a thick consistency like yoghurt.

Step Three

It’s time to wait. Cover your mixture up and let your henna develop overnight for the best results.

It should go from a green color to a dark brown. You’re now ready to apply.

How to Apply Henna

Applying henna isn’t as hard as you might think! For your first attempt, you might want to get a friend to help you out.

Step One: Wash your hair

Henna is best applied on product free hair, so if you need to, wash and dry it.

Make sure that it is thoroughly clean and dry and don’t add any extra product to it.

Clean hair is the key to good henna and it’s recommended you wait six months if you have had your hair dyed commercially.

This will help to fix the henna to your hair. Comb your hair out so it is completely tangle free.

Step Two: Cover Up

Time to cover up. Put newspaper down on the floor, wear old clothes, and rub your forehead, ears, and the back of your neck with petroleum jelly to prevent staining on your skin.

Remember to always wear gloves when you’re applying henna, it’s not for nothing that it’s also used as temporary tattoos!

Step Three: Time to Apply

Working in sections, carefully apply the henna pate to your hair.

Work on the topmost layer of your hair first and stick the dyed coils to the top of your head as you go.

It’s important that you concentrate on the roots and insure that all parts of the hair are covered.

As the paste is thicker than store bought dyes, it will be harder to spread.

Step Four: Wrap and Wait

Once you have covered all of your hair, it is time to set the henna.

Wrap in in plastic, and then a towel turban, but it’s important that you try and keep it warm, so the color develops.

Keep it on for 2-6 hours, depending on the color that you wish. 6 hours will give you the deepest shade.

Step Five: Rinse

Rise out all the henna and make sure that you give your hair a good conditioning treatment at this stage.

The color will take 48 hours to completely developed, so don’t be shocked by how it looks straight away!

Tips to Make Henna Hair Dye Last Longer

The life-span of your henna depends on a number of factors. One is how often you wash your hair. The less you wash it, the longer that your color is going to last.

There are however, a few tricks that you can use to keep your color for longer.

  • If you have to shampoo, use shampoo for colored hair. This will help lock in the color molecules and prevent them from washing down the sink.

    No shampoo however, is still the best.
  • Use argan oil on your hair. This natural golden oil protects your hair and gives the henna an added protective coating to prevent fading.
  • Wash your hair with cold water as heat can cause the color to fade. Let your hair dry naturally whenever possible.
  • It is also recommended that you keep your hair out of direct sunlight as the sun will lighten it. We recommend covering it with a hat.


Henna has been loved by women since ancient times to cover up greys and achieve the hair color of their dreams.

It can be mixed with other plants to achieve a whole variety of shades and nourishes hair instead damaging it like chemical hair dyes.

Check our infographic below for the key points!

While it can be messy, once you get the hang of mixing and applying it, you’ll never go back.

Your hair will seem thicker and look shinier and healthier due to the plant power that’s packed into henna powder.

Have you ever tried henna on your hair? If so, what mix did you use to achieve your perfect result?

Let us know your experiences with this all-natural ancient hair dye technique.


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