7 Common Mistakes When Using Henna For Curly Hair

7 Common Mistakes When

If you’ve been following me here on the blog for a while or if you get my weekly newsletter you know I dye my hair with henna since I started transitioning to natural hair and frankly, I recommend it to anyone. I love it, it’s just great! However, after doing henna for curly hair for a while, I still hear a lot of people complaining about not seeing the results they want or worse saying they hate it. Therefore, I decided to address some of the common mistakes when using henna for curly hair.



First of all, I’d like to quickly say that henna is a natural plant dye, which leaves release a red-orange translucent dye that binds with your hair. Its use permanently changes your hair colour and the colour you get will vary according to your own hair colour. It is a great hair conditioner and will strengthen your hair as it will fill the “holes and cracks” you have on your hair.


Anyway, I have written a few posts about henna and you can read and learn more about Henna For Hair Care, you can get hold of My Henna Hair Dye Recipe and, if you want to Achieve Different Colours With Henna,  you  can even download  a Henna Guide to help you out, click the image to have access to it.


Henna A Natural Hair Dye


Enough intros now… let’s get to the juicy stuff, or should I say the messy stuff?! Well, let’s just get started, right?




#1| Not Using BAQ Henna 

First of all, you should make sure the henna you get is Body Art Quality (BAQ). This basically means your henna is 100% natural, it is not mixed with other plants, metals or chemicals and that no pesticides have been used.


Unfortunately, many commercial brands do mix other ingredients and chemicals that render regrettable results like getting a greenish hair colour. Henna can only dye your hair in different hues of red-orange. This will be more noticeable, or not, depending on whether your hair is a lighter or a darker shade of brown. Don’t fall into commercial marketing!


Achieving different and darker tones with henna is be possible by mixing it with Indigo, Cassia or other plant dyes. Again, make sure no metals or chemical are mixed as you can get shocking results, especially if your hair was chemically dyed. Download your free Henna Guide and if you need a good place to buy your henna, do it like I do, buy it at SheaButter Cottage.

BAQ Henna



#2| Not Letting Your Henna Dye Molecule Release

The amount of time it takes for the Henna red-orange dye molecule to release with a cold liquid will depend on its surrounding temperature. As an indication, if the temperature averages 100˚F or 26˚C your henna will be ready in 8 to 12 hours.

You can try and speed this up by placing your henna in a warmer location, but you should not microwave it or anything crazy like this. If you mix your henna with a near boiling liquid it will be ready to use immediately, however, you will get a brassy/vibrant orange tone. I like to rest my henna 12-16  hours just to make sure it’s ready to use.



#3| Mixing Oils Or Pre-Pooing Hair Before Henna Application

I know us naturals like to sprinkle some vegetable oils whenever and wherever we can, and your henna paste looks like the perfect opportunity to do it, right? I thought so too. However, doing this will interfere with how well the henna dye will bind with your hair and you’ll end up with a washed off colour.


As for applying oil on your hair right before your henna, this is something I’ve recently read that people do. People pre-oil or pre-poo their hair to avoid getting the dry hair at the end of a henna treatment. However, as you may know, vegetable oils, whether penetrating or sealant, are occlusive. They will create a barrier around your hair strand that will prevent proper henna uptake.


The best thing you can do to revert the dry hair syndrome is to do a moisturising deep conditioning treatment after you rinse out the henna paste. Despite the initial dry sensation, henna is very conditioning to your hair, as it binds to your hair and “mends” any imperfections making it smoother and softer.



#4| Mixing Yoghurt and Eggs

I’ll raise my hand and say, “I’m guilty of this too”.  Listen, I’m a bit of a DIY’er. I like doing my shea butter mix and leave-in concoctions, so it’s normal for us (DYI’ers) to add to a recipe thinking we can improve it. In some cases this is true, but in this particular one… not so much.


Eve though I was warned that it could interfere with henna results, the truth is I didn’t have adverse results (due to using BAQ Henna) so I mixed in my yoghurt. I only did it twice, but when I stopped doing it I did notice my hair was shinier.


The henna dye molecule naturally binds with your hair’s proteins, but if you make your paste with yoghurt or eggs (some people do), the proteins in them will be the first available proteins for the henna dye to bind with and your end result won’t be as vibrant as it can be. Therefore, you should leave these ingredients out if you want better results.



#5| Using Only Tap Water

Henna can be mixed with water, however, to release the lawsone dye it needs to be slightly acidic. Water regulations here in England limit water pH between 6.5 and 8.5, this means your water is not acidic enough. At its lowest concentration water pH is basically neutral, but it’s generally mostly alkaline.


To fix this, use some lemon juice instead or, do what I do, and make a really strong black tea and add some lemon juice. Some people also like to use coffee or wine (if you can tolerate the smell).



#6| Build-Up On Hair

Build-up happens as a result of hard water minerals, product residue and even the use of naturals ingredients such as vegetable oils and butters. This happens to all of us, and it needs to be removed as it creates a film around your natural hair that will prevent its moisture intake, will interfere with your products performance and will make your hair not act like itself.


As expected, hair build-up will also interfere with your henna hair dye treatment. Therefore, you should wash your hair with a shampoo right before your henna application or you can use a clarifying shampoo to really remove all “muck” out.  I like to pre-poo the day before and clarify my hair on the day of the application or, if you’re afraid of the drying effects (I haven’t had any bad results), you can clarify a week or a few days before.



#7| Henna + Indigo Mix Didn’t Work Well

Contrary to henna, indigo is a quick release dye that only needs water to activate it.  As soon as you make its mixture you have a very small window of time (20-30mn) to use it or it will oxidise.


Therefore, only mix your indigo paste with your henna paste as you are about to start your plant dye application. I like to apply my henna paste first, rinse it out and then apply my indigo. I admit it’s double the work, but the results are better.  Remember, you don’t need to wait for your indigo to activate, use right away and leave it for an hour or two before removing.


These are some of the common mistakes I’ve seen or read people make online. Because I have been using henna with such great results for a couple of years now, I want to help people achieve these same type of results. Yes, I’ll give in and say it’s messy and a bit laborious but it’s totally worth it and with time it will be easier and quicker.


I believe I have covered some of the most common mistakes, but it is possible that your particular doubt or problem is not found in here. If that is the case, please leave it in the comments section and I’ll do my best to help you.


Don’t forget to read my previous posts on henna and maybe venture in trying my recipe. Try downloading the free Henna Guide if you want to achieve different colours for your natural hair? I know you hardcore DIY’ers will love it, but anyone can use it. Click the image below to get access to it.

Henna A Natural Hair Dye

 What were your results using henna? What difficulties have you found?

46 thoughts on “7 Common Mistakes When Using Henna For Curly Hair

  1. My hair is very dark brown I’ve been using red – medium brown semi and demi dyes for years to cover gray. When I had just some gray that was great as I mostly got highlights from the color. Now with all grey roots I get that reverse ombre look which I don’t like. A couple questions. Can I transition from the dyes to henna without harming my hair significantly? Any idea how the henna over the reddish brown dyed hair may turn out? I have been thinking of lightening to get a more even tone, but maybe I’ll read up some more and try Henna instead I’ve had issues with dryness so I’ll have to pay attention to that, great article.


    1. Hi Trinny< It's great that you're considering going from chemical dyes to henna. Although it is a bit messy, you'll be doing your hair a big favour. As long as you are using body art quality henna you can use it on your chemically dyed hair without any problems. There is a link on this post to the store I buy my henna from (I don’t get any commissions). Henna has a red-orange colour and I believe your existing hair colour will be more intense. But you can play a bit with the colour you want to achieve. Read this post I wrote a while ago about achieving different colours with henna. One last thing, with henna you won’t be able to lighten your hair, that is only possible if you bleach your hair, which will damage it. For more about henna read this post and this one for a recipe. I hope this will help you Trinny.


    2. Hi Monica, these are great tips, thank you!! I’ve been using Henna since January (2020…I’m a henna newbie!) , you just taught me that I was doing my indigo incorrectlt…I knew none of those things, I was mixing it with the henna at the same time. Now I know!

      Secondly, I loooove how my hair looks with the henna on it; do you know of any products that I can leave in that will give the same effects? The heaviness and curl definition is what I’m looking for.

  2. Hi! I did a botox treatment on my hair 3 weeks a go. I would like to try henna to cover my grays. I haven’t dye my hair before. My question is if henna will take out the botox treatment that I already have.

    1. Hi Veronica,

      I’ve never done that treatment and don’t know what ingredients are in the one you just did besides a high number of nano proteins, however, I believe Henna will not damage your hair in any way. It is a natural ingredient and as long as it is body hair quality it will be safe. Henna works as a natural hair dye and conditioning treatment that smooths your hair as it fills any gaps in the hair’s structure. So in a way, it works as your botox treatment which is full of nano proteins.

      I hope this helps.


  3. I have heard that henna can stretch natural curls? Is there any truth to this? Also, I’m protein sensitive, should I avoid using henna?

    1. Hello Elaine,

      I have used henna for the almost 4 years and I haven’t seen my curls stretch. I do know some people claim it happened to them and I wonder if there aren’t other variables in play like heat styling tools, hair dyeing, lack of elasticity in hair… Theoretically, henna deposits in your hair which can height it down. But, I don’t see that happening to me. I guess you have to try it and see, I love it.

      Henna is a plant dye and can work as a protein in strengthening your hair, but it is not a protein. You can read this post or this for more info.


  4. Hi dear! I’m eleonora and i’m 15. I have got some white hair…..i have curly hair. I would like to cover white hair,but i heve heard that henna smooth curly hair,is it right?….i love my curly hair but i hate my white hair….. What are your advice for me?
    Thank you in advance
    I hope that you answer me. Thanksssssssss????

    1. Hello Eleonora,

      Henna deposits on your hair, over time with continued application some people have reported that it weighs their hair down and loosens their curl pattern. I haven’t noticed this on my hair and I’ve been using it for over 3 years. I believe people who claim this effect on their hair regularly use henna on the entire length of their hair, thus the effect. In your particular case, you only need to do this the first time to cover the full length of your white hair. After that, you only need to apply it on the roots as they grow. I don’t believe you would experience a loosening of your curls.

      Let me know if you have any more doubts.Thanks for the ?, back at you ?, Eleonora.

      1. Thanks a lot
        I have an other doubt to ask you. If i do henna on my curly hair and henna smooth my hair, hair that grow under will be curly or straight? So if my hair become straight after how much time my hair will be again curly? Or will i not have curly hair?
        You are fantastic….?

        1. Hey again, Eleonora!

          The hair that will come out of hair follicles will be curly. If the henna does loosen up your curls it will only affect the extension of hair on which you applied the henna. The same thing happens when a relaxer or hair dye is used. Once the hair grows you have to reapply the relaxer or dye.

          Thanks for the love, Eleonora! You’re awesome too.

          1. I used BAQ henna a few times, once on all my hair, then five or six times just on the roots to touch up the grey. I mixed it with strong bear boiling black tea and lime juice, let it rest for 10 hours, then applied it and left it on my hair for 2 hours. My 2a curls have loosened into a light wave, and look like a frizzy mess. My normal curly hairstyling products no longer work to define my curls. Is there any way to restore the curl matrix? I am afraid to continue using the henna, but I don’t want to use harsh dyes on my hair.

          2. Hello Bonne,

            Henna shouldn’t be mixed with boiling tea or you can risk an orange look, let it cool. Henna is known to ‘relax’ the hair and since you already have wavy hair you’ll notice even sooner. To have your 2a curls back you need to stop using it. However, you mention your products not working anymore and henna wouldn’t do that. You need to look at your hair regimen. How are you shampooing your hair, do you clarify, do you have hard water where you live?…

  5. Very informative article. You raise my hope to use henna. So How you apply henna to loose curl pattern? I have black hair, i don’t want reddish hair from henna. What can i do to maintain my hair color? How can i get dark brown hair from henna? Can i mix coffee water instead of tea water to get brown hair? Does using henna without egg or yogurt makes your hair dry? Last question if i use henna once in a week, it will hurt my protein sensitive hair? Pls reply i want to try it.

    1. Hello Anjali,

      Henna is said to loosen the curl pattern of some people with continued use, but everyone reports this. You’ll have to try it for a reasonable period of time to see if works like that for you. To achieve different colours with henna you can read this post, it even has a free guide you can download.

      To avoid dry hair from henna use a moisturising deep conditioner once you finish the treatment. Henna is a natural treatment and I’ve never heard of it doing bad for any one. However, you gotta make sure it is body art quality. Still, don’t use a full henna treatment every week. First, you have to get your hair used to it, then maybe do a monthly treatment. It is a strengthening treatment and it can work badly for you if you overuse it.

      Enjoy your henna session. It will be a bit messy the first time. 😉

      1. I have read that using amla powder with the henna restores curl.
        Using balsamic vinegar for dark hair instead of citrus is an option . Honey helps moisturise and helps the henna adhere to the hair .
        Also black walnut shell helps the dark stain

        As a younger woman, pre gray. I used a post cleanse conditioning and darkening rinse of boiled rosemary and sage . Was great .

        1. Hello Agnes,

          If the hair is permanently damaged there is nothing that can bring those curls back. However, if there is some mild elasticity problem they can be brought back to life and spring back. Still, I’m not sure henna and amla can bring them back as henna normally loosens curls. Thanks for your tips. If you want more options to colour with henna read this post.

  6. Very useful article. Plz help no color stay in my hair for longer. I have to colour every week . Even henna doesn’t stay longer. Even I have to cover my grey with henna every 8-10 days. Plz suggest something..

    1. Hello, Babita!

      There could be a couple of reasons your hair does not take colour. If your hair if low porosity chemical treatments, such as dyeing, may not work because this hair has it’s cuticle layers tightly closed together and so any treatment that has to pass that outer protective layer of the hair will have a hard time doing so.

      It can also be that your hair is full of build up and/or hard water minerals. To remove these you need to use a clarifying or chelating shampoo. Lastly, you have to make sure you’re doing any of the mistakes in this post.

      Hope this helps. 🙂

      1. Thanks Monica
        Very happy u have replied me . I will find clarifying shampoo. My new hair growth is very fast at the front. So very much upset that I have to dye my hair every week whether with henna or chemical dye.
        But I will try this option..
        May be I will get the solution
        Thanks a lot dear
        God bless you

          1. Hi Monica thanks for your support
            Could you please suggest me which clarify shampoo I have to use??
            Clarifying and purifying shampoo are the same?
            Thanks n God bless you dear

          2. Hi Babita,

            Clarifying shampoos can be labelled as clarifying, purifying or similar and they do the same. There are also chelating shampoos for those who swim in pools. Either one will do to remove build-up and hard water minerals. Chelating shampoos will help prevent blond hair/light coloured hair from turning green with all the chemicals in water pools. You can read this post for suggestions.

          3. Hi Monica which clarify shampoo I have to use??
            And clarify and purify shampoo are same??

        1. Same with mine.. grey roots every week. But henna is a very safe way to cover that! I’d hate to put noxious chemicals on the scalp each week!

  7. Hello!! Really interesting post. I have started with henna a few months ago. I have a question. I have read in many places that henna can straighten your curls. I haven’t noticed any changes on my curl patron and I even think is even stronger since I’ve started with henna.

    1. Hello Aida,

      Yes, it has been reported that henna loosens the curl pattern over a period of time. For fine hair, it will probably be more noticeable. However, some people don’t report this effect and I believe it has to do with the way it is used. If it’s only applied on new growth you won’t feel this change in curl pattern, but if everytime henna is applied on the hair it is put on its full length then you will notice this change after a period of time with several applications. I didn’t notice this change, but then again I mainly applied henna on new growth.

    2. Since my hair is longer and healthier, my waves are better. But you can add amla for curl retention or do a separate amla treatment bw hennas, as not to dull the color 🙂

  8. Hi Monica

    I have always used a permanent dye on my hair for years with a developer to help lift my natural color, can I use henna on the dyed portion of my hair? I have about 2-3 inches of virgin not dyed hair with resistant grays that is 3c/4A hair. Do I use the henna on all my hair including the dyed hair?

    1. Hello Denise,

      Body art quality (BAQ) henna won’t do any harm on dyed hair, however, many of the commercially sold henna/henna mixes out there have metallic salts and other stuff mixed into it that often are not listed in the ingredients list. This is what causes problems. Here’s what my Henna Bible says about it:
      “Compound henna often reacts badly with synthetic hair dyes and other chemical hair products! If you use compound henna soon after you have done your hair with para-phenylenediamine dyes, your hair may be brittle, trashed, and may turn frog butt green or offshore sewage outlet black. Compound hennas have metallic salts which react disastrously with the ammonia in synthetic hair dye. Problem is … many pre-mixed henna powders do NOT have these ingredients listed! 90% of all products claiming to be henna are adulterated, contaminated, and some have no henna whatsoever.’ (hennaforhair.com)

      My advice is to make sure you buy BAQ Henna, then you can use it on all your hair. Hope this helps.

  9. Just wanted to say henna 100% made my hair less curly, and not in a good way, just a heads up for people wanting to try it as you keep downplaying this side effect that so many people report having experienced.

    It’s not people’s fault, or their routines, or the water, or the moon. If someone has the same routine for years and the only variable has been the henna, then it’s fine to assume it’s the henna. especially when so many people have had the same experience after using it.

    1. Hello Claire,

      I am not downplaying anything. This article for people who want to achieve good results with henna and haven’t been able to and as such the things I do mention here influence their results. This article is not about the pros and cons of henna. However, having said this, if you read through the comments in this post I do mention that Henna can loosen the curl shape.

  10. Hi dear, my hair is low parosity dry nd frizzy ..is henna good for it? I did dye my hair with henna today but scared of drying out my hair, I just washed it out.. am a diyers, I used black soap shampoo..

    1. Hello Ayomide,

      Henna is good for many things, but if you’re looking to use henna to solve dryness it won’t. You need to look at your hair regimen. Have you considered that you may have product buildup which is causing hair dryness?

  11. Hi Monica,
    Is there any way to stop henna from loosening your curl? I’ve read that amla powder may help with that. I’ve been using henna for about a year now and don’t want to give it up. I have fine hair and have definitely lost some curl.

    1. Hi Sarah, I honestly don’t know of any way, if it is possible at all. For henna to do its job it has to deposit inside the hair which, over time, will end up changing the curl pattern and be more quickly noticeable in fine hair.

  12. Hello!

    Can I achieve positive henna results on my hair if I mix the henna with canned full fat coconut cream? Or will that inhibit the henna (and how will it be detrimental)?

    1. Hello May, I know people do a lot of mixes with oils and similar to prevent the drying effects henna has once the treatment is made but this decreases the adherence of henna to the internal structure of the hair. In other words, you’ll still notice a difference in your hair but results won’t be the best possible. As for using oils and coconut cream to prevent dryness, just do a moisturising deep conditioning treatment. Henna works in a similar way to a protein treatment so it will strengthen your hair and if you don’t need this it will make your hair feel rough and dry. A good deep conditioning product will solve this. You can always try it both way (on different occasions) and see what gives the best results for you. Hope this helps. 🙂

  13. I naturally have 2C, low porosity, dark blond hair. I highly suggest that if you have light colored hair you DO NOT leave the henna to sit overnight before applying. I’ve been dying my hair with henna for more then 2 years. I apply it directly after mixing with only tap water, wrap my head in a plastic bag to increase the heat, and leave for only half an hour. It slightly darkens my hair so I have this lovely medium red color. Everyone thinks my hair is naturally red. Even the nurses at the hospital when I had my baby.

    1. There’s no need to leave henna on the hair overnight if the dye is left to activate before time. But you’re right, on blonde hair henna is a drastic change so, for some people, it may be better to make a different plant dye mix. There’s a post I wrote here on the blog about different mixes with henna. Thanks for your tips and suggestions. 🙂

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