Mixes



Mixing your own henna is part of the fun! 
Always use henna from Mehandi.com.  They send every shipment to an independent laboratory for certification of purity and lawsone content.  There will never be any unlisted ingredients in henna from Mehandi.com

To be on the safe side I'd suggest that you do your own mix - it's not hard, it's fun, it leaves a lot of room for experimentation and you know for sure what you put on your hair.

What color will I get from henna?
Pure henna will always turn your hair towards red - with the exception of colorless or neutral henna that will only condition without changing your natural color. 

The final color you receive depends on a number of things:

1) Your starting color. In general - the darker the starting color, the subtler the result will be. For a very rough guideline you may think in terms of:

- Gray -> fiery red (but only with good quality henna) 
- Blonde -> red
- Light brown -> red to light auburn
- Medium brown -> auburn
- Dark brown -> reddish brown, more pronounced in the sun
- Very dark brown to black -> no color change but red highlights in the sun

Henna can also never make your hair lighter - only add pigment to your existing color. There is no chance for you to be fiery red with henna if your starting color is a dark brown.

2) Your mix. Pure henna will always provide red, and only red, pigment. There is no such thing as black, golden or brown henna - but by adding other ingredients to the mix you can push the color towards more red, subtler red, more brown or more golden. If your base is henna though, you'll always have some level of red in there - please don't think you can go pure blonde, or brown with henna - it's simply not possible!

3) The henna powder used. Use Ancient Sunrise henna, indigo and cassia from mehandi.com.  If you don't get body art quality henna that has been tested by an independent laboratory, you have no guarantee of what's in the package other than henna.

The freshness of the henna powder will affect the final color you get. The fresher the powder, the better the final results will be. This is most important for gray hair, as stale henna will push the color to a very unattractive orange hue on gray hair. Henna powder can be found at many health food stores, but it's often stale and will not give you a desirable end result. The best henna is usually bought directly from a reputable importer or from one of the many people doing henna tattoos.
 

What's needed to mix my own henna?
For mixing you'll need a bowl and a spoon/spatula, sometimes a pot if you need to boil the liquid used to mix. These should preferably be made of plastic, wood or glass as metal can react with the henna. Personally I've used stainless steel pots with no strange reactions - so I'd be willing to say these are fine as well - but if you want to be on the very safe side you would want to avoid stainless steel too.

Any liquid you use to mix the henna should be somewhat acidic - lemon/lime/orange/grapefruit/other citrus juices and vinegar are good examples of acidic liquids. Either use these straight or mix them with water or other neutral liquids if you think they're too strong to use on their own. It's important that the liquid is acidic, as the color in the henna leaves will release better if mixed with something acidic than with something neutral.

How much henna do I need to mix?
This depends a lot on how much hair you have and how thick it is. 100 grams of henna powder should be enough for about collarbone length hair of normal thickness. 200 grams enough for about shoulder blade to bra strap length hair of normal thickness.

I tend to use somewhat less than this as my hair is fine - for my hair that is currently about 2 inches from bra strap I use about 150 grams when mixed to a regular henna paste. This is enough to cover it entirely with very little left over. If your hair is very thick you may want to use more than what's stated above. I'd suggest to mix a little more than you think you'll need the first time, it's not fun to discover halfway through that you're out of henna. You can always freeze leftovers to use at a later date.

Basic Henna mix
- Good quality henna powder, as much as you think you'll need for your length and thickness of hair
- Lemon initial mix
- Lemon juice or neutral liquid for adjusting final consistency

Mix henna powder and liquid in a bowl. Use enough liquid to make a smooth, slightly thick paste (about toothpaste consistency). Cover the bowl and let this stand until you see dye release (this can take up to 24 hours). On most henna powders you'll see the color turn from greenish to brownish as the dye releases. 

Add some more liquid - either more lemon/lime or a neutral liquid of your choice - to create a consistency like soft yoghurt or softly whipped cream. Apply to either dry or damp hair - if you apply it to damp hair you may want to have a slightly firmer consistency to avoid dripping.

Fia's Gelled Henna, fast and basic version
- 100 grams henna powder
- 500 ml liquid (about 17 fl. oz.) - has to have an acidic component to it both for dye release and for the pectin to gel, I usually use half lemon juice, half water
- 25 grams powdered pectin (about 0.8 oz.)

Dump henna powder in a bowl. Bring liquid to a boil and whisk the powdered pectin into the liquid when it's boiling. Let boil for one full minute - this is necessary to activate the pectin and start the gelling process (you'll see that it's starting to turn slightly thick the minute you take it off the heat). Wait a few seconds to let it cool off some.

Pour the liquid/pectin mix into the henna powder and stir well. It will be very hot and very liquid at this stage - don't be alarmed by this. Let it stand for about 20-30 minutes to cool off - by then it's warm enough to handle and put in your hair. It will look like a thick gel by then - not unlike hair gel - and you should see dye releasing from the henna.

Use this gel as you'd use regular henna paste - applied either to dry or damp hair whatever your preference is. I find the gel easier to work with than regular paste - almost like a regular hair color in consistency. There are virtually no drips when applying and no dribbles down the neck or forehead. 

You may see or feel small, squishy, semi-transparent clumps in the henna gel - that's pectin that has gelled before it mixed with the henna. I’ve never seen these gel clumps cause any problems when applying or rinsing out - they just feel a little funny when you encounter them.

The amount of gel from this recipe is more than enough to do my almost bra strap length hair, there's always leftovers. I'd estimate I could do up to almost waist length on my hair with this amount. I find it isn't a drawback that the gel stretches 100 grams henna far beyond what it would cover if used as a straight paste.

There is a slight risk that you cook the henna when you prepare it this way and get a lighter stain than you would have gotten from a paste done by the basic recipe. Some henna powders are also slower to release dye and will not like this fast procedure for doing gelled henna. They can still be used as a gel, but requires a slightly different treatment.

Fia's Gelled henna, somewhat slower version for powders with slow dye release
- 100 grams henna powder
- 500 ml liquid (about 17 fl. oz.) - has to have an acidic component to it both for dye release and for the pectin to gel, I usually use half lemon juice, half water
- 25 grams powdered pectin (about 0.8 oz.)

Dump henna powder in a bowl and mix with half of the liquid. Let this one stand on top of something warm until you see dye release – these are basically the same steps as if you were preparing a regular henna paste.

After you've seen dye releasing from the henna, boil the remaining half of the liquid and add pectin as per the basic and fast recipe above. Pour the liquid/pectin mix into the henna paste in the bowl and mix well. Let this stand until it's gelled - usually about 20 minutes and use like you'd use the other gelled henna.

Smooth gelled henna, tedious preparation but very smooth and easily applied gel
- 100 grams henna powder
- 750-1000 ml liquid (about 25-34 f l. oz.) - has to have an acidic component to it both for dye release and for the pectin to gel, I usually use half lemon juice, half water
- 25 grams powdered pectin (about 0.8 oz.)

Boil about two thirds of the liquid and let cool off a little so it's warm but not boiling. Mix in the henna powder with the liquid (it will not be anything like a paste, more like a green/brown soup) and let stand until you see dye release. Strain the liquid through cheese cloth/muslin/stocking to remove the fixed particles. What you'll have left is a brownish liquid with the released dye. To be honest - the straining part is a messy "pain in the a**" job and I'd highly recommend wearing gloves and clothes you're not afraid to get henna stains on, also to do this over a surface where it won't matter if you get some henna liquid on it - it will splatter. Consider yourself warned and don't blame me if you have henna stains on your wooden kitchen countertop because of this... :-)

Boil the remaining part of the liquid and add pectin as per the basic and fast recipe. Pour the liquid/pectin mix into the henna liquid in the bowl and mix well. Let stand until gelled - usually about 20 minutes and use like you'd use other gelled henna.

The big pro about this version of the gel is that it's extremely easy to apply and rinse - it's also virtually non-clogging for drains. This gel is also considerably more lightweight when it's on the hair - good if you keep the henna on for a long time or you have lots of hair that would be weighed down by regular paste. This is the closest you'd get to the feeling of a regular hair color while still using henna.

Fia's Smooth Gelled Henna, as yet untried preparation method
- 100 grams henna powder
- 750-1000 ml liquid (about 25-34 fl. oz.) - has to have an acidic component to it both for dye release and for the pectin to gel, I usually use half lemon juice, half water
- 25 grams powdered pectin (about 0.8 oz.)

Take a circle of cheese cloth/muslin, place the henna on the cloth and tie it into a temporary "tea bag". I'd guess you would have to make the bag fairly loose to allow liquid to penetrate and get to all the powder. Boil about two thirds of the liquid and drop the tea bag in the liquid when it's cooled off to warm but not boiling. Squish the tea bag (use gloves!) to let the liquid absorb into all the powder. Let stand until you see dye release - my guess is that it wouldn't hurt to periodically squish the tea bag from time to time to express the released dye and get fresh liquid into the tea bag. Remove the tea bag making sure to squeeze out as much of the liquid as possible.

Boil the remaining part of the liquid and add pectin as per the basic and fast recipe. Pour the liquid/pectin mix into the henna liquid in the bowl and mix well. Let stand until gelled - usually about 20 minutes and use like you'd use other gelled henna.

As said in the headline - this one is yet untried as of January 30, 2004 - but seems like a feasible idea and would remove the messy part of straining the fixed henna particles out of the liquid.

Fia's Henna gloss - for minimal color change and deep conditioning
- 2-3 tablespoons henna powder
- Enough lemon/lime juice to mix a smooth paste
- Your favorite conditioner or plain, unsweetened yoghurt

Mix the henna powder with lemon/lime juice to a smooth paste and let this stand until you see dye release. Mix the henna paste with either your favorite conditioner or plain yoghurt. Apply to dry or damp hair and leave on for as long as you wish. Rinse as you'd rinse out a regular conditioner.

This one is easy to apply and rinse, as it's basically conditioner or yoghurt with just a hint of henna dye in it. It's good as either a color refresher in between regular henna applications or if you only wish to have a very subtle color change. It will give reddish hints on blonde and light brown hair. You may see some reddish highlights on medium brown, but probably not too much. On dark brown/black hair you'll only get the conditioning benefits from the conditioner/henna.

How to slightly turn the color of the henna
As mentioned above you can slightly alter the final color outcome of the henna by adding different ingredients to the mix. Remember that the basic hue will always be some form of red, but you can push this color slightly more towards brown, golden or even redder. You can also get black by mixing henna and indigo - see instructions elsewhere on the site for this.

To get redder results

Add cassia obovata and use a less acidic mix.   

To get browner results

- add indigo or use heat on your hair.  A blow dryer or hot comb will make the henna color go darker.

To get more golden results

Use more cassia obovata than henna

Happy mixing!