Pros and Cons: Should You Try Henna Hair Dye?

Have you been flirting with the idea of changing your hair colour, but the chemical factor of synthetic dyes has you turned off? You’ve heard plenty of dye job horror stories and aren’t too jazzed about the kind of upkeep that’s required to restore bleached or synthetically dyed hair. Luckily for you there’s henna. Traditionally used as a temporary tattoo in India, but doubles as an all natural hair dye. If you’re up for a DIY challenge, consider these pros and cons before testing out henna hair dye.



1. No dangerous chemicals

Pure henna has no chemical additives and will dye your hair red. Watch out for pre-mixed hennas that will help you achieve other hues like brown or black, as they may contain metallic compounds or other synthetic additives. If you are interested in achieving a different shade naturally, consider Lush’s Henna Hair Dye. They are loaded with cocoa butter and natural ingredients to give a variety of colours. Since henna is natural, it’s even safe to use during pregnancy.

2. Conditions and strengthens

Henna penetrates the hair shaft and closes off the cuticle. The result is smooth, thicker and more manageable hair. Henna hair dye also seals the natural oil in your hair, which leaves it feeling soft and conditioned.

3. It lasts

No matter how “permanent” a product claims to be, it will still gradually fade when it comes in contact with shampoo, chlorine, heat styling, etc. Henna hair dye stays rich and vibrant for four to six months because it is a single-compound that coats the outer shaft. We won’t get into the science of it, but its lasting power is because of the way it bonds to the hair. Henna hair dye responds well to layering with each application deepening the base colour.

4. Affordable

Compared to commercial permanent hair dyes, henna is more economical. A large box of henna can be $25+, but there are many more applications in one box. The DIY factor is also huge. Applying henna hair dye at home has better results than people who dye their hair at home with chemical products.



1. Unavoidably messy

Henna hair dye is thick and will fall out of your hair in clumps while you apply. It will coat your floor, shoulders, cheeks, bathtub – wherever you go, a henna trail will follow. It is a bit of a hassle getting your hair completely coated, so make sure you prepare your bathroom/application station before with newspaper. It’s also a good idea to wear old clothes and use old towels.

2. And it stains

As henna is traditionally used to tattoo skin, it will dye your hands and fingernails orange. Make sure to use gloves and a protecting balm on your face and neck to prevent leftover orange stains. It has the same effect on furniture, tile and ceramic. You’ve been warned.

3. What’s that smell?

Henna does have a distinct smell that lingers even after you wash your hair. It is a natural smell (kind of like dirt). Some people hate it and others aren’t phased by it.

4. Time consuming

Unlike chemical hair dye which processes in under an hour, henna can take anywhere from one to four hours to oxidize and set. Some people cover their hair in saran wrap to keep the heat contained and speed up the process. Not only does it take a while to process, but because of its thick consistency, it can be difficult to make sure that your hair is completely covered. You might want to book off an afternoon to complete the henna hair dye process.

Other things to consider before using henna hair dye

1. No bleach option

Henna does not lighten hair.

2. Henna does not mix well with synthetic hair dye

Once you decide to henna, it’s not advised to dye over it with synthetic products. This is because henna coats the outer shaft and synthetic dyes enter the hair shaft to alter it. So when you put synthetic on top, it forces the henna colour into the hair cuticle. The result? Very unpredictable and sometimes unwanted.

Knowing the pros and cons of henna hair dye, would you be willing to try it?

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  1. Henna is the only way to go for me. I have sensitive skin and the box dyes burn my scalp. So when I started seeing the silver strands I looked into a smarter safer alternative. My hair is long so I knew I would need help applying it. So I told my guy who trims my hair, you cut it, so it’s part of the job to color it. He checked YouTube videos and we set up the process on the patio anticipating the mess. Net result; my hair looks fantastic, great shine and feels so soft and silky. I have him do it every three months and he touches up my roots every six weeks. Cost is under $40 for me as I get my hair trimmed every other month to keep the ends neat and remove the splits for FREE and my guy does the application rather then spend over a grand a year to have the salon use their stuff and ruin my hair.


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