How is Henna Made? What is the Process?

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Henna is one of the most popular forms of dye on the market today. It can be used on both the hair and the skin, and can produce spectacular results.

Despite this, few people are aware of how is henna made and what gives it its vibrancy. 

How is Henna Made? What makes it such a powerful dye?

  • Henna is made from a plant.
  • It contains chemicals that react with our skin, causing it to bind.
  • It can be made at home.

Are you curious about this magical process and how you can learn it for yourself?

Then read on. 


Henna 101 

Henna Powder

If you spend a lot of time with your tattoo artist, beauty specialist, or have friends from South Asia or the Middle East, you have likely already heard of henna. It is an all-natural dye that has been praised for its many health benefits in addition to its long-lasting, vibrant effects.

Unfortunately, much of this particular product’s information has been unintentionally obscured, giving henna a certain mystique that we will attempt to dispel.

In purely technical terms, henna is a plant-based dye that is extracted from the henna tree (also known as the Egyptian privet or mignonette tree).

The leaves of this fairly rare tree contain a natural coloring pigment that has made it popular in the composition of many products, including nail polish, body art supplies, fabrics, and hair dye. 

It is an all-natural dye that has been praised for its many health benefits in addition to its long-lasting, vibrant effects.


How Is Henna Dye Made? 

Henna has been used as a dye for thousands of years. Even after all of that time, the process of transforming henna into a dye has remained relatively unchanged.

To start, the henna leaves are left to dry for quite some time before they are ground up into a paste. The grinding process is important because it releases lawsone, the chemical that allows the henna to stain.

Once it has been ground, the paste is left to dry more to eliminate moisture and preserve it for longer. 

Of course, this process has some variations, but this is perhaps the most ubiquitous version. 


Can You Make Henna Dye Yourself? 

Because the process seems so simple, you may be wondering whether or not it is possible for you to make your own henna dye in the comfort of your own home.

And the answer is…

Yes! Provided you are equipped with the right tools and knowledge.

You can make your own henna dye at home with just a few materials and ingredients. 


How Do You Make Henna Dye?

Making your own henna dye can be a fulfilling endeavor, provided you are prepared to wait for the results. There are actually two ways to make henna dye at home: using a powder and using unaltered henna leaves.

As a newcomer to this process, it is recommended that you start with a premade henna powder.

Vitamatic Certified USDA Organic Henna Powder 1 Pound (16 Ounce)
  • PURE HENNA POWDER - Vitamatic organic...
  • NATURAL HAIR COLOR - Our Henna gives a...
  • 100% Pure Lawsonia inermis (Henna Leaf)...
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As a newcomer to this process, it is recommended that you start with a premade henna powder.


What Are the Different Kinds of Henna Powders?

There is an incredible variety of henna powders to choose from. But in order to get the deepest stain possible, you will want to choose one that is one hundred percent natural, certified organic, and fresh. 

In general, the brighter shade of green the henna powder is, the fresher it is.

Less fresh henna powders have a brownish tint and no aroma.

You will also want to ensure that the henna powder you purchase is completely natural – avoid products labeled “black henna” or “blonde henna,” as these have artificial colorants added.

If you are looking for henna to make tattoos, it is often easier to purchase pre-made henna cones that contain everything you need to tattoo, including the cones.

Zenia 12 Pack 100% Natural Ready to Use Henna Paste Hair Color Hair Dye Cones Reddish Brown Color
  • ALL NATURAL: Our Pure & Natural ready to...
  • REDDISH-BROWN NATURAL COLOR: One box...
  • PREMIUM QUALITY: Our henna is free from...
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For hair dye, you don’t need the cones and can stick with the raw powder.


How Do You Make Henna Dye With Powder?

Making henna dye with powder is relatively simple, but there are still a few tips and tricks that you should be aware of before attempting the process. To start, you will need to know about the different kinds of henna powders.

Making your own henna dye can be a fulfilling endeavor, provided you are prepared to wait for the results.

Note: always follow the instructions of the henna package you choose. But this is the basic outline of how henna is made.

1. Gather Your Materials

In addition to the powder you purchase, there are a few other supplies that you will need to get your hands on. They are:

  • A plastic bowl
  • A spoon
  • Sugar
  • An acidic liquid such as lemon juice
  • An essential oil such as lavender.

Additionally, you will want to store your powder in a fairly cool place that is out of the sun to keep it as fresh as possible.

2. Mix the Powder Into a Paste

At least one day before you plan on dying your hair, you will need to mix your henna powder into a paste. This is to ensure that the henna has enough time to release the dye stored within.

3. Add the Powder to a Bowl

Simply pour some of the henna powder into your plastic bowl. It is important to ensure that the bowl is plastic as other materials could negatively react with the henna.

4. Add Your Acidic Liquid

For every 20 grams of henna powder that you use, you should use a quarter-cup of your acidic liquid of choice. (If you use 100 grams of powder, add one and a quarter-cup of the acidic liquid).

This will ensure that the powder releases its dye effectively.

5. Add Sugar

Add one and a half teaspoons of sugar for every 20 grams of henna powder that you use to ensure that the mixture retains its moisture and sticks to your skin better.

6. Add an Essential Oil

For every 20 grams of henna powder that you use, add one and a half teaspoons of essential oil. This will enhance the vibrancy of the color, as well as make the mixture smell really nice.

7. Ensure the Mixture is Smooth 

Finally, stir the mixture until it is as smooth as possible, then allow it to sit for at least 24 hours before you use it to ensure it releases all of its dye.

Remember to store it in a cool, dry place that is out of the sun. 


What Is the Henna Plant, and Why Is It Used?

The henna plant is native to North Africa, though it can now be found in various other parts of the world, including South Asia, North America, and Australia. The plant grows best in climates that average around 95 degrees Fahrenheit and upwards, though they can also survive under cooler conditions of less than 50 degrees. 

The plant’s pigment is determined by various factors, such as the region it grows in and the size of its leaves. However, all henna leaves contain lawsone, a stinky reddish-orange compound that binds with the keratin in our skin, making it stain. 

Of course, other colors can be extracted, from deep shades of burgundy to purple.

The quality of the stain (its vibrancy and longevity) depends on where the henna plant was grown and the mixture that was used to create the dye. 


What Are the Benefits of Henna? 

Despite its use in various products, henna is perhaps most popular in the form of a hair dye, thanks to its numerous benefits.

But what exactly are those benefits?

For starters, henna hair dye is completely organic and contains no miscellaneous chemicals*. The process of dying one’s hair with henna dates back thousands of years – as such, the process is completely natural.

Because of its earthly nature it can also treat damaged hair, resulting in a much softer feel. 

The process of dying one’s hair with henna dates back thousands of years – as such, the process is completely natural.

Additionally, henna can be used to dye not only your hair but your eyelashes, beard, or mustache as well, which gives it a great variety of applications and uses. 

* Note that many henna products suggest they are pure henna, but end up with other chemicals in the mix as well. Check your brand to make sure that it really is 100% henna, without additives, preservatives, or dyes. This can be important when you want to do something like, say, bleach hair after applying henna.


What is the Timing Like?

Perhaps the main obstacle to overcome when dying your hair with henna is the massive amount of time it takes for the process to be complete. The lawsone found in the henna takes a lot of time to bind with your hair protein. 

It’s much slower than a regular hair dye process.

It’s much slower than a regular hair dye process.

Although the exact amount of time varies depending on the mixture used as well as the hair itself, it is not uncommon for henna to take as long as a full day before being completely bound to your hair. 


What Are the Pros and Cons of Henna?

Many people strongly disagree with using natural-based solutions like henna over tried-and-tested methods like your standard boxed hair dye. You can see all of the pros and cons of using henna below.

Pros

  • The color of henna hair dye is much more natural.
  • Henna can heal damaged hair.
  • It can also strengthen your hair.
  • Henna contains many antiparasitic and antifungal properties, both of which can help treat dandruff on your scalp.
  • It will soften your hair and improve its elasticity. 

Cons

  • Henna may not be suitable for everyone due to its organic nature.
  • The dye is permanent and will not fade away without a lot of effort.
  • Applying henna can easily take up to 24 hours.
  • The variety of colors is more limited compared to boxed hair dye. 

Conclusion

Henna is pretty easy to make. If this is your first time, it’s best to stick with a pre-ground powder. If you’re doing tattoos, either get some cones or purchase pre-packaged henna cones. And if you’re dying hair, make sure you purchase 100% certified organic henna.

Beautiful hair and skin designs await!

Written by Kayla Young

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