Google Header -->
Skip to main content
Curly Nikki

The Abbreviated Henna Treatment

By January 27th, 202134 Comments
The Abbreviated Henna Treatment3 or 4 week old hair… after a dry bantu knot-out done solely to bun

Hola Chicas,

You can either take your socks off now, or I can knock ’em off for ya…

It’s official. As of last night, I’ve henna’ed two months in a row! Can you believe it?!

But as with everything else in my life, things are not the same. Now that Gia has been set loose upon the world, I’ve had to cut corners. Gone are the days that I could jump in the shower three times (pre-application, pre-deep treatment, post-deep treatment) for one henna session. The soundtrack that Boogie graces the house with when she feels ‘forgotten’, is well, shrill and unpleasant. I’ve gotta get in and get out, and so below, you’ll find instructions for my abbreviated henna treatment.

Abbreviated Henna Treatment –6 hours total (or more if you leave in overnight)

Whip it up and apply- 1 hour

  • Bring 2 cups of water to nearly boiling and remove from heat
  • Pick your acid– either add a tablespoon of orange juice or Apple Cider Vinegar to the water, or my personal favorite, steep a couple of bags of green tea
  • In a Tupperware container or glass bowl, mix the slightly acidic water with 200g of Jamila henna
  • Mix in a tablespoon (or more) of honey. The end result should look like thick mashed potatoes. It’s okay if it’s slightly runny, as it will make for an easier application.
  • Cover and proceed to the bathroom
  • Gently detangle dry hair with fingers (you can follow up with a wide tooth comb if you like)
  • Twist detangled sections (I usually end up with 10)
  • Put on a pair of plastic gloves and clip all of the twists out of the way, except for the one you want to work with. I always start in the back and work to the front.
  • Remove the twist, and apply henna in a smooshing motion. Layer it on thick like cake batter.
  • Repeat with the other twists
  • Gather henna filled hair and don a plastic baggie, placing stretched out cotton balls around the outer edge for comfort and to prevent drippies. Finally, throw on a pretty silk scarf so you don’t scare your roommate or significant other.

Apply heat source and allow to marinate– 4 hours (or more)

  • Sit under a hooded dryer or rock your micro heat cap on and off for the next four hours.
  • OR, you can go to sleep and allow your body heat to warm things up for 8-10 hours 🙂

Rinse and apply DT- 1 hour or more

  • Run bath water and kneel over tub, dunking your head. Gently massage your hair and work the henna loose. Allow the water stream from the tub faucet to run through your hair, rinsing it clean. Apply a slippery conditioner, run your head back under the water stream. Repeat until your hair is henna free.
  • Wring your hair and apply a moisturizing deep treatment in sections
  • Don a plastic baggie and apply heat source for 15-30 minutes
  • Finally, hop in the shower, rinse thoroughly, and style as usual!

Remember, four hours is the minimum amount of time that henna must be left in for you to reap the color and strengthening benefits. In fact, some argue that any longer than 4 hours is pointless because you’re already saturated at that point. In an ideal world, if you plan to do a quick treatment, you would allow the henna mix to sit and release for a few hours prior to application. But if you’re flying by the seat of your pants like me, just getting the opportunity to henna is better than nothing! That’s why I use the heat… to help it penetrate better.

Although I love the abbreviated version, applying and rinsing in the same day feels like a ridiculous amount of work. So, last night, I followed the above steps, only I started around 8pm, and left the henna in overnight. Then I woke up and continued the process. Makes life a little easier, and will probably be my routine from here on out.

Pros of the 4 Hour Treatment:
-Nearly the same results with much less time involved
-Fewer (if any) drippies since you’re applying to dry hair

Cons of the 4 Hour Treatment :
-Harder to rinse (it’s not as melted and pliable as it would be after sitting on your head for 10 hours)
-Time consuming- – applying and rinsing, deep treating, and styling all in one day!

I plan to do the 4 hour treatment only if I’m short on time, or have weekend plans. My new henna routine is basically identical to the old one (following the steps above), only I’ll be applying the henna to dry hair, and skipping the multiple showers.


There’s much debate as to whether henna dye uptake is more effective on dry or wet hair. The consensus is that your results will be the same either way. Obviously, if your hair is difficult to dry detangle, or is full of gel or lots of buildup, hop in the shower, and proceed with the wet application process. Remember, do what works for you. I can say, as a henna vet, after 2 dry applications, my results have been exactly the same as when I applied to wet hair.

Later Gators!


  • Anonymous says:

    Want to know how long can you kept henna after you have mixed it lemon juice?

  • Anonymous says:

    Can henna be used on relaxed hair as well?
    I am still relaxed and about to start transistioning, will Henna be ok for my natural color?

  • Anonymous says:

    i heard 'real' henna dye only makes hair red but if i henna my hair i would do a dark brown. In the picture her hir looks almost black so is pre or post henna app.

  • Texasgal77 says:

    I have finished my 1st henna treatment. I am very happy with color and the softness of my hair. Godreji nupur henna is nice.

  • Texasgal77 says:

    Hello Nikki,
    I have been reading your post and I am embarking on my henna journey tonight! Currently I sitting with Henna on my head. I went to the local Indian Store here in Texas to purchase my henna. I purchased Nupar Mehendi. I purchased this type of henna because it has 9 herbs and is for abbreviated treatment. I did not let the henna sit for 2-3 hrs prior to application. I will let you know how it turns out.

  • Anonymous says:

    Nikki, I truly appreciate the love you've shown all of us with your hair blog. I lost three full patches of hair five months ago diagnosed as being caused by stress related alopecia and an allergic reaction to a synthetic hair dye. At forty-something and fly, I've been using dyes to cover grey for at least a decade, and now I had bald patches in the front, crown and rear of my head. All the dermatologist could recommend was minoxidil or rogaine, or in the extreme, hair transplants to replace what was missing. Please hear me when I tell you that short of a life altering disease, loss of hair is as devastating as it comes for a woman. Determined to do everything possible to restore my hair and self esteem, I started doing research. Long story short, I used nioxin hair system (8), including the vitamins, plus 5000mg of biotin everyday with a lot of water and prayer to destress. I wore hair hats that my 7 year old daughter helped pick out and style – a wonderful bonding experience, smile. My hair did grow back by May and I did a BC to start over. I then used Joico deep conditioning and hydrating products while I researched how to naturally color my new cute and curly fro. I was blessed enough to happen onto Nikki's site, and dove into using henna for the past three months, twice a month. I have absolutely noticed that my hair is thicker and stronger. But the red color of the grey on the new growth looked patchy, so I wanted an common, all over color. As of last night I used CN's abbreviated version with a henna/indigo blend. (I used Jamila henna mixed with hot water and vinegar, and indigo that I ordered from I used equal parts henna and indigo, and since it was 2am by the time I started, I just put in on my dry hair, wrapped it up and went to sleep) I woke up this morning, rinsed, and teared up because it's absolutely lovely. My hair is fully back, restored and an even deep brown all over. It's definitely shorter than ever, but when I want to change up, I can always flip over to a hair hat, smile. At least I now have the option. Thanks Nikki. Your blog helped me empower myself, and control my own hair destiny. Naturally.

  • Anonymous says:

    I had commercial color put in my hair almost a month ago, but not happy with the results. Would love to try the henna process, but should I wait a few months before using the henna?

  • Andrea says:

    I was so glad when you posted this abbrev. Henna treatment. I had been wanting to try it, but with three kids (and a hubby), I don't have time to devote that much time. So I tried for the first time last weekend. And I loved the results! Although, it actually lightened my hair. I know you said it will never do that, but my hair is now a lighter reddish brown. Funny huh? But it's cool, I actually like it. Can't wait to do it again and see how my hair improves over time.

  • Anonymous says:

    Just did my 6th or so henna treatment this weekend. While it is very time consuming I am in love with the results.
    I apply my henna on dry (1 week old) hair apply a plastic cap, tie it up TIGHT! and sleep in it over night. My mixture consists of green tea, conditioner and Brahmi oil.
    The next morning I rinse with conditioner and do a shampoo wash before sitting under my hooded dryer with an intensely moisturizing conditioner. Sometimes I'll do an "extreme deep conditioner" (old school foil and flat iron to direct heat deep into the shafts of my hair – which hasn't affected my nap.. I mean curl pattern).
    Afterward, I rinse my conditioner, apply a leave in and style as usual.
    Since I only do it once a month, I don't really mind the time so much, but splitting it into two days helps a TON. I also love the color and believe it or not, the straw-like smell too! HAHA

    Oh and BTW – It hasn't stained my sink, shower or bath yet, however as a precaution I always spray with clorox clean-up immediately after and let it sit juuuuust incase 😉

    Happy Henna'ing ladies 🙂

  • Anonymous says:

    Check out a great new, up and coming natural hair blog!

  • Anonymous says:

    i'm doing on now!
    i dont use heat tho, partly since i'm a tad bit lazy. I do a quick DC with Aveda dry treatment masque/Jessicurl WDT.
    I love it, my hair is stronger and i love the red tinge- great funky colour just in time for spring/summer!

  • Kimmie0810 says:

    I wonder about acid and the dye release thing. I've mixed mine with water & applied right away and still get the color. I dunno!

  • Hanna says:

    I've been thinking about adding henna to my regimen. my hair is naturally dry, do you think henna would help with the moisture balance and shine? Does any of the ladies who henna have had/or has dry hair and can relate?

  • Maria says:

    Nikki, when you used to post about how you'd spend hours upon hours doing a henna treatment… I won't lie I used to give you the side eye ahahhaa Because as a mom I just never had all that time. Now that you've crossed over to the mommy side you understand. I completely stopped using henna because I just don't have the time. I now just do Amla treatments. You should definitely give Amla a try! It takes an hour and your hair comes out lovely.

  • Anonymous says:

    Thank you Nikki!

  • Lorian says:

    Oh…and also something that works for me…I let coconut oil and shea butter sit on my hair the night before with a plastic cap…then use the same mix again after the henna treatment and just put my hair in a bun and life my life. Very moisture replenishing/deep conditioning and doesn't cause you to miss a single beat!

  • Lorian says:

    Hey Nikki…since coming to your site- this is the routine I've been doing all along. I thought that was how you did it already! hahahaha. Just a little tip…I find that doing the henna gloss (still use all the above ingredients, just add conditioner)makes it far easier to rinse out of dry hair. Just in case you want to add it to the mix next time for shorter rinse time but same color deposit! Thanks for the article…glad to know I've been doing something kinda right!

  • Anonymous says:

    Thanks for this CN! I'm going to do a shorter treatment tonight.

  • Jo Somebody says:

    I'm wondering if Rooibos/Redbush tea is acidic enough to be used for dye release. And since it's a red tea, could it also deepen the colour?

  • Dejah says:

    Any tips for the almost not so TWA sistas like myslef Nik? =}

  • Anonymous says:

    I don't mix my henna to the consistancy of cake batter anymore and let it sit for any amount of hours.. way too harsh for my hair. I now mix the henna/cassia (i alternate) in a quart bottle with very warm water and some avocado oil (don't use acid to release..henna will release on it's own) and shake until well mixed. I pour that watery mixture over my wet hair in kitchen sink. Once I saturate my hair, I squeeze out excess mixture and cover with plastic cap and tuck paper towels to catch drippies. I leave that on for 4 hours or less (i have fine hair). Rinse, follow with a dime size amount of Suave Shea and Almond shampoo and dilute it with water, helps get the residue out more quickly. After that, apply Aphoghee Balance Moisturizer, this gives my hair ph balance. Then lastly DC with Silk Elements Moisture Therapy mixed with Dove Intensive Therapy, Doo Gro Thickening Treatment, castor and avocado oil. I leave that overnight. The result strong thicker juicy detangled curls. My daughter says my regi is too long and laborous but I like to think of it as a spa day for my hair. =)

  • Anonymous says:

    I've just been doing new growth, like a relaxer touchup. Makes things go SO much easier and faster.

  • Anonymous says:

    I'm wondering the same thing guys. I want to henna so bad but I rent and I'm afraid to stain the tub or marble tile. Does it stain?


  • bonni says:

    Does henna stain your tub? My apartment complex has those plastic tubs and I am concerned.

  • Anonymous says:

    Forgive me if I missed something. Is CN's 4-hour henna being done on dirty hair?

  • mangomadness says:

    @CazRae: I'm sorry for your loss.

    @CURLYNIKKI: Thanks for the updated routine! My routine is similar–I mix up the henna, finger detangle and shampoo while letting the dye release, apply henna in sections, wait 2 hrs and then deep treat (w/ oil/honey) for 30 minutes.

    Thanks for introducing me to henna. It has given my hair a wonderful tint and thickened up the strands a bit as well. Also, thanks for reviewing Dulhan henna a while back. It's my staple henna because it's cheap and good.

  • Annie L. says:

    2nd @ Anonymous 2.13 also on the CN website!

    @CazRae – My condolences to you and your family.

    Thanks for your updated routine Nikki!

    I'm used to Hennaing(sp?) like Kimie0810, in waiting for the mixture to sit and mix more making it more pliable on dry hair.

  • Kimmie0810 says:

    I keep feeling like I'm doing something "wrong" because my henna routine is so simple & isn't messy at all. I didn't even know that people were wetting/shampooing their hair before henna until a couple of weeks ago lol.

    I just mix the henna (I mixed with green tea, honey, & conditioner for the first time last night) & let it sit awhile. Then part hair into 4 sections. Apply the henna with a color application brush while wearing gloves. I do one section at a time & brush it on like I'm doing color or applying relaxer. Pile it on top of my head and cover.

    I rinse over the kitchen sink. Then shampoo & apply my DC which I rinse during my next shower.

  • steph302 says:

    I just did my first henna treatment last week to color some gray. I left it on for 4 hours (after it sat overnight) and I'm very pleased with the results. Thanks for all the henna info, Nikki! 🙂

  • jzycaramel says:

    Sounds good Nikki! Now this version I CAN DO! lol! thanks baby G! I do have a ?uestion for u… doesnt carry jamilla anymore (at least I couldn't find it) will the Body Art Kits for African Hair that carry also work? i've been dying to try this for about a year now.

  • CazRae says:

    oh! totally going to sit in the sauna with a facial mask for the first heat session!
    man, this afternoon suddenly perked up!

  • CazRae says:

    bless you! bless you! bless you!
    i've been looking for a quick henna process that works and am ready to try this out tonight!
    life has been thuper hectic (between work & my grandfather passing )and living in the wintry mountains of utah means wet, goopy hair will keep me inside and not doing my normal errand-running-with-a-cute-hat henna day from happening. my GOC routine had been altered for the last 6 weeks.
    however, i'm getting back into it asi'm off work in an hour and a half and getting my hairs did fly with this!

  • Anonymous says:

    @Jay-Jay: No..there isn't. Henna will dye your hair. Try cassia to keep your natural color.

  • Jay-Jay says:

    Is there any other Henna that WILL NOT dye your hair or any other product that has similar effects without the dye? I've been so curious to use Henna but I don't want my sandy brownish and blonde hair to be red or darker. Please help anyone!!!!

Leave a Reply