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Curly Nikki

Using Henna to Cover Gray Hair

By January 27th, 202112 Comments

Using Henna to Cover Gray Hair
Dana writes;

I have gray roots and the remainder of my hair is light brown with dark brown ends. My hair is damaged from coloring and over pressing. I would like my hair to be a dark plum or auburn color and healthy. My natural color is dark brown. What kind of henna or combination should I use.?

CN Says;

Celebration will be your best bet as it has a very high dye content (3.4% lawsone), and yields a deep auburn color over time. Remember that multiple applications will be necessary for your grays to darken to the color you want. I have many gray hairs and I’ve been hennaing (with Jamila, Yemen, and Henna for African Hair) for years. All of my grays are now a rich, auburn color… gorgeous. The rest of my hair is fuller, shinier, and healthier looking. It’s a rich, shiny black color indoors (with a few red highlights), and glows auburn in the sun… like a rinse.

When new grays come in or my roots show, I simply apply an overnight treatment, and after a couple of days, it oxidizes to a nice bronzey red. After another treatment, the roots match the length– auburn.

For you, the key will be:

1. Four hour (or more) treatments

2. Multiple applications (for darker results)

3. Cleansing prior to application. Although I don’t really do this anymore, if you have a lot of grays, this step is crucial. It will remove buildup and sebum, so that the dye can make the best contact with your roots.

Also, be sure to do lots of conditioning afterward to keep your hair moisturized, elastic, and supple. If your ends (and length?) are indeed damaged, and you’re not interested in a Big Chop, you probably want to schedule some micro trims.

**Real life example**

My aunt Toney has been a redhead since I can remember. She’s naturally a medium to dark brown, but used boxed dyes to maintain a light auburn. A couple of years ago she transitioned to natural color with henna. Below is a pic of her shortly after starting henna (applying the paste to her grays and color treated strands).

Using Henna to Cover Gray Hair

This is a picture of her in February after many treatments. In person, her hair is a dark, rich, auburn (noticeably red indoors), and her grays (especially near her roots) are a shade or two lighter (similar to the darker parts of her hair in the pic above). It’s an awesome color contrast and she gets tons of compliments.

Using Henna to Cover Gray Hair


  • Hilary B. says:

    love the auburn

  • Napfrocurlzgirl says:

    Interesting…I just hennaed this weekend with LUSH's Caca Noir Mama (it has indigo in it). I was hoping to get rid of the greys, but it didn't touch the greys. I loved the richer, deeper black but even more so, my hair was softer than it is when I do a dc steam treatment and I didn't add a single thing to the henna since theirs is full of butters, herbs and oils. There was no lingering smell either. But, since it didn't touch the greys, I dyed the next day with Garnier Nutrisse Ultra Color in blue black and ALL the greys are gone. And, since the kit has 2 oil packs to add to the dye and a shea butter conditioner to use after, my hair is still baby soft!

  • Unknown says:

    Has anyone used Ancient Sunrise® Yemen Light Henna batch #082410?

    I have a pale brown hair with greys and I just wanted to know how the color would turn out.

    What mixture would anyone recommend for me if I'm looking to get the color from the second picture:

  • Dawn says:

    Hi Curly Nikki,

    I permanently colored (a redish copper color) my hair almost a year ago last July and I was wondering if I can do a HENNA treatment on my hair to get my dark hair back. My hair has grown significantly since I went natural 2yrs ago and I'm trying to find a way to get my dark brown hair back with out having to cut the colored part of my hair off. If I can't use Henna, what can I use if anything ?

    And for the record: I am African American and I have 3c type hair(when I sent pictures of my hair to Curly Suzy, she suggested that I have 3c type hair).

    Looking forward to your feed back

    P.S. I do have a lot of new growth of my natural color( dark brown), about 10 months worth of new growth. I haven't colored my hair since last July.


  • Unknown says:

    You just don't know how long I held onto the henna that CN gave me to try after my many years of using L'Oreal color. I knew once I took the henna plunge that I couldn't go back to O-T-C coloring without doing damage and who knows what color results! Don't let the process of applying henna scare you, it's no more diffcult then applying color (but I do admit it is a butt-naked undertaking because henna does permenantly stain clothing), and like everything you do, it gets easier the more you do it. I started out doing henna 2 consecutive weekends as overnight treatments, now I do it every 4-6 weeks depending on the amount of gray roots or social events.

    The first pic that you see is over 2 years old and the second pic was taken Feb. 2011. Over time the commerical color grows out or fades, but the henna has given my hair an underlying reddish auburn color especially in the sun, loosen my curl pattern,and made my hair more manageable. My gray hairs are very red but I like it! I'm not ready to relinquish my control over the grays to mother nature…yet…and maybe I never will:-) Aunt T

  • Anonymous says:

    @ LThomas301
    You are not the only one. I tried henna on several occasions. Most recently about two weeks ago when I used the Celebration henna. I tried henna more than once (knowing how it turned out previously) because I was convinced that I was doing something wrong, since everyone seems to love it.

    This is my last time. Although I like the fact that the color is long lasting, that is outweighed by the dryness. My hair is mostly 4b with some 4a/3c patches. There is definitely a loss of curl. My hair is now dry/crunchy and frizzy without any curl definition. In addition the henna smell stays in my hair too long. I can deal with a few days to a week, but two weeks and several shampoos later I still smell it–even on dry hair.

    I think my lack of success with henna may have to do with having very porous hair. I wish it worked for me.

  • LThomas301 says:

    I feel like I am the only one but I tried Henna and it absolutely destroyed my hair. I have had to cut alot of it off. No matter how much I deep conditioned my hair was a dry as the desert and curl were completely gone. I used green tea and honey in the mix. I would have to really caution people about jumping on every bandwagon. I am so sad about the set back. i may have to do a big chop. I even tried having the Aveda salon die over it black and that didn't take. She said Henna coats the hair so much to the point that nothing else can penetrate into the hair. I am happy for those who have had such success with Henna but I will never try it again. Did it twice. Never again!

  • Anonymous says:

    How often can you henna? I ordered the BAQ Jamilia and I would like to start to color my gray.

  • Anonymous says:

    I just hennaed (I know that's got to be spelled wrong!) with the henna pictured last weekend and I LOVE MY RESULTS. My hair is naturally dark red/auburnish but I have some Platinums (yes platinums – not grays) in the front and the henna turned those to a couple of shades darker than strawberry blond which fits in perfectly with my natural color. I deep conditioned after the henna, put in two strand twists, and for the past week my hair has felt fantastic! I love it.

  • Margaret says:

    Your Aunt Toney's hair is beautiful!!! How long has she been using henna? Which Henna does she use? Is she doing (full head) overnight treatments? Thanks for sharing!

  • CURLYNIKKI says:

    As long as the henna is PURE, body art quality henna, you will be fine. However, I've heard that it's hard for the strands to absorb the color after henna… so definitely be sure to let your stylist know that you've used henna, and if you're doing it yourself, do a patch test. It's the predictability of the color (how long for uptake, etc.)that is the concern, not worrying if the hair will turn green (as long as it is PURE henna that you used).

  • Anonymous says:

    Can you use henna if you recently used hair color (let's say about a month ago)? Or do you have to wait for the color to grow out?

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