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DIY Henna gloss treatment, 101

7U6A7019Hey there guys. How are you all? I’m pretty good. I’m just sittin in my little blogging corner in the window of the gallery at Vain Beautyworld, waiting for my next client to come in for a touch up trim. I just took a sip of my coffee and their was a long hair floating in it. #hairdresserproblems

Today, I have some info to share with you about Henna.

My first henna experience was a disaster. But it was not the henna’s fault. I can blame no one but myself. I put henna on top of my hair that had been bleached with Sun-in and permed, and henna turned my hair green.

I have shied away from the fine green powder since then. I’ve encountered henna-d hair in the salon many times, and had to explain to clients that when you want to color over henna, there is just no telling what can happen. Sometimes, it is no problem. Sometimes, hair melts off. A strand test is a MUST.

The outcome of henna on previously colored hair is totally dependent on several things……. Is the henna pure or cut with other ingredients? ( If it is advertised as anything other than ‘red,’ it has other ingredients that can react strangely when applied on hair that has been previously color treated.) Does your hair have buildup from very soft or hard water? has your hair been treated with other chemicals in the past? Again, a strand test is a MUST when using henna over color treated hair, or when trying to color over henna. It is not impossible to have good results, but it is better safe than sorry. #strandtest

For the first time in my life my hair is all natural, with a tiny bit of bleach on some ends. I had been reading a lot about henna on Natural Hair blogs. I liked what I read about using henna as a gloss and moisturizing treatment rather than a color. What finally got me on board was Curly Nikki,  who swears by henna treatments to strengthen and add shine to her curls. She convinced me to try it in her book Better Than Good Hair.

henna color“….Henna also helps protect hair from sun damage. As a matter of fact, Henna has gained commercial leverage as a hair conditioner and to stimulate hair growth; scientific studies have even proven that Henna is a better hair conditioner than other commercial conditioners. Regular use texturizes hair, giving it more body and making it visibly fuller.”

-Mountain Rose Herbs

How does henna work?

Henna is another name for a Lawsonia plant. When activated with water, powdered Lawsonia produces a red-orange pigment that bonds to the cuticle of the hair and coats it, much like a protein treatment with added color. The longer it stays on the hair and skin, the more pigment it leaves behind, thus the redder it will be and the longer it will stick around. Here is a bit more on the subject.

Screen Shot 2014-02-21 at 10.53.44 AMA light henna treatment will coat the hair gently to strengthen it and leave behind a subtle, translucent red gold shade. To the experienced hair color-er, a good solid 8WG.

I decided to try a henna gloss treatment. Here is what I learned…..

Henna is kind of magical. Henna is messy. Henna will stain your hands. I like how it smells, you might not. Henna is weird to apply, and next time I will use conditioner instead of oil to give it more slip for an easier application.

beforeAll of this said, it was an adventure, I felt like Cleopatra applying herb paste to my head, and I loved the results. I have done it 3 more times since! Here is a before and after, which shows you the subtle red prettiness and shine that the henna imparted which was the perfect winter hair perk up. The color has faded back to my natural with just a whisper of extra gold, which I’m totally cool with. I did a little ombre on my ends the other day, and It was no problem. BUT, I did do a strand test first, to be sure:)

What you need for a henna gloss treatment?

Step 1.

A plastic color bowl and brush.

Apple Cider Vinegar.

A measuring spoon or scoop.


Your favorite hair oil ( I used my Beautiful Curls hair oil which I love.)

Hot water.

Saran wrap or a processing cap.

A scrub brush for your hands.

Henna ( I used Avigal, which is a great quality henna that comes in many shades and is easy to mix. I ordered it from Amazon, and it came 2 days later in a 17 oz can that was lovely to behold. )


 How to do a Henna Gloss treatment


Step 2. Use your scoop to measure 3 tablespoons of henna powder with 1 tablespoon of hot water.

Step 3. Mix in your color bowl with your color brush.

Step 4. Measure 1 tablespoon of hair oil.

Step 5. Mix it into your henna.

Step 6. Measure 1/2 tablespoon of Vinegar. Mix it in.

Step 7. Measure one spoonful of honey.

Step 8. Mix it in.

Step 9. Mix everything into a smooth thin paste.


Applying Henna

hennaapplyFolks, It seems there is no easy or mess-free way to apply henna. Don’t let that stop you though, just be prepared for a bit of clean-up and have a good scrub brush and soap ready to thoroughly brush your hands off after applying your henna so that they don’t get stained!

Step 1. Begin by brushing to the henna into your roots at your hairline. Avoid getting it on the skin around your face, it will stain.

Step 2. Apply it to the roots on the sides.

Step 3. Apply it to the roots along the back hairline.

Step 4. Starting in the front on one side, work henna through small sections of hair, starting at the roots, pulling it all the way through the ends.

Step. 5 Work your way around the head, applying henna through small sections.

Step 6. Once done applying it through small sections, make sure the ends are all well covered.

Step 7. Check all throughout, making sure there are no dry spots.

Step 8. Admire yourself for a moment. Not often do we get to rub mud on our own heads.

Step 9. Gather all the hair in the back and twist it into a bun.

Step 10. Cover hair with processing cap or wrap Saran wrap around your head.

Step  9. Scrub hands thoroughly with soap.

Now, put a beanie over your plastic wrapped head and let the henna sit for a 1/2 to an hour. Depending on how much color you want. For a very deep red, leave the henna on over night.

When you are ready, jump in the shower and rinse the hair really well. Use a castille soap like Dr. Bronners to wash the remaining henna out of the hair. Finish with an Apple Cider Vinegar rinse.

xoxo, HTHG

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  1. Beth V

    Great post and I’m now going to try the henna gloss. After committing one of the worst mistakes of my life (it involved a box of dark brown dye, two am, and instructions all in spanish and Portuguese with a realization that I don’t read Portuguese well) I found myself condemned to hair death with black hair. After trying chemical reds to scrub out the black (my hair is too thin, straight, and dry to dare bleach) I had finally had it. I wasn’t ready to commit to the awkward grow out and I was done letting chemicals take over my hair (which especially in sunny arid eastern washington is a dangerous fate). It was then that as my roots grew out I fell in love with henna. Henna has made my hair stronger, blended my hair with my skin color so it’s not as obvious I dye my hair, and I love the vibrancy of the color. I started out with henna tattoo kits but then learned it’s much cheaper to buy two pounds of henna in bulk (I re-henna once every six weeks or so). I’ve reduced the powerful smell by replacing eucalyptus oil with lavender and citrus oil. The citric oil still lightens the henna but reduces the WOW THAT IS NATURE smell that comes with the first two days of henna.

    1. roxie.hunt Author

      YES!!!! that is so awesome. heyyyyyyyyy. Is this my cuz?

  2. Courtney

    Hi HTHG!

    I came to your site because I’m looking for a great natural, DIY moisturizing treatment for my hair, which I just got ombréd yesterday. I’ve been Shamphree for almost a year now I think and I only had some old, grown out highlights before yesterday. Obviously my ends are drier than they were before and I’m a little freaked that I won’t be able to just get up and go in the morning with fuss free hair. This post caught my eye because the henna sounds like it could be a good treatment plus add a pretty reddish tone to my hair. Do you think it’s ok to do this to my hair since I just color treated it yesterday? Also any advice you have to keep my hair as healthy and moisturized as possible without using chemical gunk would be much appreciated too 🙂 I use a honey and coconut oil mask weekly and coconut oil on my ends when I wash my hair already. Thanks so much and much love for what you do!

    1. roxie.hunt Author

      First off, your hair will calm down. Post-ombre can cause end freak-out, but know that it will get better over time. It sounds like you are doing everything you need to to keep your hair healthy.
      Henna is great for strengthening your hair if it seems brittle, and it adds a lovely shine and red hue. It is always a little bit of a crap shoot putting it over pre-colored hair but if it is only bleach, you should be fine. I would wait a few weeks though. And like the post shows, don’t go all out with the color. Just mix it with oils, honey and vinegar and use it more as a conditioner. It should help:)

      1. Courtney

        Great, thanks for replying, I feel better now 🙂

  3. Wendybird

    It may have been the Henna’s fault when your hair turned green. When you buy boxed Henna you never know what you are going to get, many of them are made with metallic salts and are basically a conventional dye. If you bleach or dye over that then yes your hair WILL melt. The only way to get the real thing guaranteed is to buy a well known brand like Jamila, or to purchase from a reputable online resource that is willing to provide laboratory evidence of the purity of their product.

    As an experienced Henna-er I beg all of you do not buy a boxed brand of multi colored “henna” dye if you are looking for a natural hair solution after many years of conventional dyeing. It will all end in tears.

    1. roxie.hunt Author

      WOW! thanks for this info! Appreciate it:)

  4. Hayley

    So helpful! Just curious, about how often do you do the henna gloss?

    1. roxie.hunt Author

      I do it every 3-4 months or so:)

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