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13 Things You Should Do to Avoid a Henna Hair Dyeing Disaster

If you’re uncertain about trying out henna, here are 13 tried and tested things you can do to avoid a disaster when dyeing your hair with henna. These tips help eliminate the chances of hair loss, damage, and breakage. 

Women are divided on dyeing hair with chemicals or with henna with a lot of arguments for and against both methods.

Personally, I prefer henna and indigo and usually do a treatment every 4 – 6 months when the henna begins to wear off.

Henna and indigo don’t damage hair. They strengthen hair and elongate the curl pattern which increases manageability.

Read A Comprehensive Guide for Dyeing Hair with Henna and Indigo.

13 Things You Should Do to Avoid a Henna Hair Dyeing Disaster

If I’m protective styling, I do it in-between styles. It’s natural and doesn’t damage my hair. While the process is a bit long, I still prefer this to chemical dyeing.

However, some women have complained of several henna disasters ranging from orange hair to increased hair fall.

This isn’t always the fault of the henna and sometimes has to do with some other treatment done prior to or during the process.

Below are my 13 best tips to follow in order to avoid a henna and indigo hair dyeing disaster. 

13 Things You Should Do to Avoid a Henna Hair Dyeing Disaster

1. Get the Right Type of Henna

Right type henna for dyeing hair
Get the Right Type of Henna

You should always buy body-art quality (BAQ) henna. This type of henna is made of dried and powdered Lawsonia Inermis leaves.

It is natural and pure and has been cleaned and sifted thoroughly. It will make your hair softer and stronger and protect it from damage.

I have made the best henna and indigo recommendations below based on my testing and experience.

2. Conduct a Strand Test

Even if you’ve dyed your hair a million times before, always do a strand test before you dye with henna. Do the test at least 72 hours before you dye your hair.

You can see how the end result will look on your hair and if you don’t like it, you shouldn’t go through with it.

Use the strands of shed hair in your comb or brush for the strand test.

3. Conduct a Patch Test

Conduct a Patch Test Before Henna Application

If you’ve never used henna before, you should conduct a patch test. A patch test can help rule out potential allergic reactions.

If a significant amount of time has passed since your last henna application (12 months or more), you should conduct a patch test as well.

4. Prepare the Dye Beforehand

Mixing henna for best results
Mixing Henna for Best Results

Mix the henna and lemon juice at least 48 hours before you’re ready to dye your hair.

The acid will allow the henna to release its dye so it can stain your hair adequately and lead to a rich and shiny end result.

Read How to Color Curly Hair with Henna and Indigo for instructions on how to mix henna and indigo properly for the best results.

5. Protect Your Hands with Gloves

Protect hands with gloves before applying henna
Protect Your Hands with Gloves Before Applying Henna

Wear gloves before you apply the henna and indigo mix to your hair. They will protect your hands from being stained orange.

Additionally, the smooth surface will allow you to distribute the henna evenly through your hair so that every strand is thoroughly coated and if you have chipped nails, they won’t snag on your strands. 

The Safety Free Nitrile Exam Gloves (100 pack) and MedPride Powder-Free Nitrile Exam Gloves (100 pack) are good recommendations. 

 6. Cover Your Ears

disposable ear caps
Wear Disposable Ear Covers Before Applying Henna

Disposable ear covers prevent the henna and indigo from bleeding onto your hair and staining them. The stain isn’t permanent but it will take some time to wear off.

If the dye accidentally gets on your ears during the process, wipe it off immediately with a wet towel.

You can also dab some petroleum jelly on your ears. This disposable ear cover pack from Annie works well.

If you don’t have ear caps, you can apply petroleum jelly or Aquaphor around your ears to prevent staining.

Related Hair Care & Hair Growth Resources

7. Follow the Instructions

This will depend on which brand of henna you buy. Don’t improvise or remove anything. The instructions are there to protect your skin and hair from a disaster.

If you plan to improvise in some way by adding other ingredients, do it during the strand test and allow a week afterward to see how the strands look before you proceed with the rest of your hair.

In particular, remember to give the henna mix time to sit and release the dye. The longer you wait, the better the staining effect on hair.

8. Have Everything Ready

Before you start henna application, you should have all your supplies on hand – shoulder towel, comb, gloves, disposable cap, hair clamps, application towel, etc.

If you stop halfway to get something, it will be even messier than it already is.

9. Apply Henna in Sections

Section your hair into at least 4 parts or more before you start applying henna. Applying henna without sectioning hair can lead to tangles.

Use clamps to hold the sections in place. Do not use bobby pins.

10. Don’t Shampoo Less Than 24 Hours Before

Your hair shouldn’t be dirty with a lot of build-up as that will be counterintuitive. The henna and indigo penetrate better when your hair isn’t freshly washed. 

However, if your hair is very dirty, shampoo 48 hours before you apply henna and indigo. 

11. Do Not Leave Henna Residue in Hair

Rinse as much as you need to make sure you get all the henna out of your hair. The co-wash step should help remove all the henna.

If you leave henna residue in your hair, it can lead to dryness.

12. Do Not Shampoo After Henna Application

Do not shampoo your hair for at least a week after applying henna. If you shampoo too soon, you’re basically removing the staining effects of the henna.

And when you start shampooing again, avoid frequent washing. Once every 2 weeks should be fine.

13. No Heat Appliances After Henna

No Heat Appliances After Henna

Do not use heat appliances for at least a week after applying henna. Heat appliances like blow dryers, curling irons, etc can affect the henna staining.

Following these 13 tips ensures your hair comes out looking great every time after dyeing with henna and/or indigo.

By the way, you don’t have to follow up with indigo if you’re ok with a deep brown color.

If you want your hair bluish-black then a follow-up with the indigo is recommended. My henna and indigo recommendations are below:-

Best Henna and Indigo Recommendations

Merlin Naturals Organic Henna Leaves Powder

Merlion Naturals Organic Henna Leaves Powder


The Henna Guys Henna Powder

The Henna Guys Indigo Powder

The Henna Guys Indigo Powder

If you have any questions about dyeing your hair with henna and indigo, ask in the comments section. 

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Interested in more articles about henna and indigo and seeing before and after pictures? Check out the related content below...

Abi is a curly hair expert who delved into the world of natural oils after severe hair loss issues. Through her research, study, and testing, she was able to regrow her bald spots & a healthy head of hair. She is the founder of Healthy Natural Hair Products & Ade Ori Hair Care, and the author of the highly-rated Healthy Hair Care Series. She continues to study hair science, Ayurveda, and natural and healthy solutions for hair and skin. Learn more about our Editorial Guidelines

This post contains affiliate links which means I will make a small commission if you purchase through those links. Read full disclosure HERE.

Francine Long

Monday 10th of May 2021

Hi, After making your henna paste and the dye has been released (12 hours), can you refrigerate it if you’re not immediately ready to apply? Thanks

Haircare | Fitness | Beauty

Monday 10th of May 2021

If you're not using it immediately, freeze it. You can freeze henna for up to 3 months. When you're ready to use, just thaw and mix with a little bit of lemon juice before application.

Louise Fletcher

Friday 22nd of May 2020

I am allergic to.ppd...which henna do you reccomend, I have black hair. I have tried lush henna in the past but it doesnt I doing something wrong. The henna must be 109% natural

Haircare | Fitness | Beauty

Thursday 3rd of September 2020

You can find my best henna recommendations at the bottom of the article or HERE.