Facts Checked By Freewill Beauty Experts - Written by Sritama Dutta (Medical Science) on 28th Sep 2020

Everything You Need To Know About Henna For Hair Coloring

An Efficient Hair Dye

Many women dream of those thick, luscious hair that reminds them of Rapunzel. And why not, after all, your hair is the richest ornament that you may wear. So, it's okay to obsess about it.

Experimenting with your hair is your birth-right, isn’t it? You can easily spot women around you with beautiful, colored hair. Coloring not only changes the way you look but is an effective way to cover the greys.

But what if we tell you that this humble desire for dyeing your hair comes with the threats of hair damage? The synthetic hair dyes, which are so popular and readily available in the market, actually have several chemicals that can damage your hair and skin.

So, what’s a safer alternative to those chemical-laden hair colors?

The answer is henna - the most popular herbal hair dye. It’s not only safe to use but is highly beneficial for your hair.  

Henna: What Is It?

Henna is a dye obtained from a woody shrub called the Lawsonia inermis. It is also known as the mignonette tree. Henna has been used in the Arabian peninsula, the Indian Subcontinent, the Middle East, and some parts of Africa for ages.

Henna leaves are collected, dried, and crushed into a powder. The henna’s lawsone molecules bind to the protein of the epidermal layer of your skin or the keratin of your hair and release dark, lush red color.  

Did You Know?

Henna has a rich cultural and traditional history. Henna’s color has been found to be used in ancient cave arts. One such henna painting can be seen on the walls of the Ajanta Caves in India that dates back to 400 BC! 

Why Should You Choose Henna Over Synthetic Hair Dyes? 

The greying of hair is an inevitable phenomenon. You can delay it to some extent, but there has been no proven way to escape grey hair. Hair follicles have melanocytes that produce melanin, providing color to your hair.

As you grow older, the melanocytes lose their ability to produce melanin pigment, and they gradually die. The hair strands that grow from those hair follicles lose their color and turn into grey or white strands.

You can never reverse the grey hair process to gain back your natural color, but you can simply cover those silver strands by dyeing your hair.

But the conventional synthetic dyes that you find in any local shops have some toxic chemicals. And the continuous use of such dyes can cause severe damage to your hair and skin. This is why you could benefit greatly from a natural hair dye like henna and minimize hair damage.   

5 Harmful Ingredients in Synthetic Hair Dyes That You Must Know About:

Here are a few of such toxic ingredients that you should know about before you consider hair coloring;


The use of ammonia-containing hair-dyes can damage the cuticle and reduce hair’s natural moisture, making the hair brittle and frizzy. It can cause irritation if it comes in contact with your skin and also causes infections. Toxic ammonia fumes, if inhaled, can cause lung problems.  

Hydrogen peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide in hair dyes also damages the cuticle, the outer layer of hair, that causes breakage of hair strands, split-ends, and makes hair frizzy. It also causes early hair loss.


Para-phenylenediamine, also known as PPD , can cause mild irritation on your scalp or skin. PPD can cause bluish stains on your nails. It can also cause skin infection like dermatitis or eczema. Plus, it may also result in respiratory tract infection or even renal failure if used continuously. 


A high concentration of this chemical can cause skin irritation and may also induce dermatitis.


Resorcinol is a skin irritant. If it comes in contact with the eye, it can cause severe eye irritation. And its continuous use can cause endocrinal problems too. 

Considering a safer option for coloring your hair, like Henna, will be good for your hair and skin. Pure henna, which is herbal, does a lot of good to your hair health.

How is Henna Beneficial for Your Hair?

Henna offers several advantages when it comes to your hair health.

Here are five ways in which pure henna can benefit your hair.  

1. Henna Improves Your Hair's Health

Henna has an innate ability to repair the hair cuticle, which strengthens the hair. It acts as an excellent conditioner for your hair, increases the shine, and makes your hair silky smooth. It is also a natural treatment for dandruff. 

2. Henna Promotes Hair Growth

Henna has a natural property to boost hair growth. It replenishes the natural essential oils in your hair and can control the excessive sebum production in your scalp. It nourishes and rejuvenates the health of your hair that steadily promotes hair growth. 

3. Henna Reduces Hair Fall

Henna has a replenishing property. It improves your hair follicles’ health and can also restore their natural pH. This can significantly minimize hair fall and prevent hair thinning. 

4. Henna Helps Prevent Dandruff

Henna helps in removing the excess grease and dirt from your scalp. It can effectively cure your dandruff problem and also stops it from coming back. It also has inherent antifungal and antimicrobial properties that can soothe scalp itchiness and gives a cooling effect.  

5. Henna Repairs Split-ends

Henna can deeply nourish your hair and help retain the natural moisture of your hair. This helps to repair the damaged hair and also prevents split-ends. It can also penetrate the hair cortex and strengthen it - giving you thick, lustrous hair.  

Did You Know?

Use of henna as a hair dye dates back to as far as 3400 BC! The mummy of Egyptian Pharaoh Rameses II, when discovered and examined, showed traces of henna in his hair.

Ancient Egyptian scriptures also revealed that they used ointment made of henna for protecting skin from sun rays and sunburns.

Medicinal Properties of Henna:

  • Henna has unique healing qualities. When used topically, henna can cure headaches. It is used to treat burns, open wounds, and even athlete's foot.  
  • The lawsone in henna has impressive antifungal, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and even anti-carcinogenic effects. It has also shown antitubercular as well as antimalarial properties.
  • Henna can also act as an insect-repellant and can also be used as a sunblock to prevent sunburns.

What Harm Can Henna Cause? 

100% pure Henna usually does not have any side effects on your skin or hair. But there have been some instances of dermatitis, itching, skin burns, scalding, swelling, or even blisters. A few severe allergic reactions have also been reported with symptoms such as a runny nose, wheezing, and asthma.

It is wise to have a patch test of henna on your skin before applying it to your hair.

Did You Know?

Henna has been found to have dangerous effects on children with G6PD deficiency and can induce hemolytic anemia in them. 

On another note, when buying henna for your hair, make sure to check whether it is the black henna or the natural one. The black henna is derived from Indigo, which can have certain chemicals that can have harmful effects on your skin and hair.

Black henna also contains toxic chemicals like PPD, causing severe allergic reactions and even dermatitis, scarring, and skin burns.

Expert Advice from Minimalist:

A myth says adding lemon juice to henna paste for hair dyeing can make the color long-lasting.

But the truth is mixing the acidic lemon juice to henna can be damaging. It can diminish the natural oil and moisture in your hair and make it brittle, counteracting the beneficial effects of Henna. As an alternative, you can make the henna paste in warm water, which will help in releasing more dye from the paste and make your hair color last longer. 

5 Smart Tips to Apply Henna Without Making a Mess: 

Dyeing your hair can create clutter, but you can color your hair mess-free if you follow some tricks.

ProTip 1: Surely, you wouldn't want your clothes to be stained red by the henna color. Just wear an old T-shirt or drape some old robe over your clothes to protect them from the stubborn stains.

ProTip 2: You can use disposable plastic gloves while dyeing your hair, but the better alternative is to use a pair of reusable rubber gloves to avoid adding to the plastic waste.

ProTip 3: Those loose hair strands that you see after applying henna can leave stubborn blotchy stains if they come in contact with your skin. Remember to pull up your hair on top of your head and secure them with plastic clips and a shower cap. It's wise to apply petroleum jelly on your hairline to prevent the henna from spreading.

ProTip 4: Henna color takes time to set on your hair. As an alternative, you can leave the henna paste overnight to oxidize in a warm place in an overnight container. This will cause the lawsone compound to break down and release more dye, giving you a richer, longer-lasting color.

ProTip 5: More importantly, never dye wet hair. This will cause the henna to be diluted and produce an undesirable result. It is recommended to color your hair when it is dry. Comb through your hair while applying the henna for proper distribution, and begin with the hair’s roots to get a more voluminous appearance. 

Expert Advice from Minimalist:

Never use a metal bowl or container to mix the henna paste in. Metals like aluminum, copper, and iron can react with henna and release harmful compounds. The only exception is stainless steel. You can also use glass or ceramic containers as an alternative. They are inert to henna and are easy to clean too.  


Centuries of experience can't be wrong, does it? Natural, unadulterated henna can be the best alternative to the toxic chemical-loaded synthetic dyes.

We hope this article has helped you gain useful information regarding all you need to know about henna and its amazing properties. And the tips and tricks on how to color your hair with henna will help you save your precious time.

Bring this all-natural hair dye in your hair-care regime and see it do wonders to your hair health.