Full Coverage: How to Dye Hair Blonde with Plant Dye Powders

Henna dyes hair shades of red. Add indigo, and you’ll get brunettes, but what if you have gray, white, or light blonde hair and want to keep it that way? Mixes that have a higher amount of cassia, and a smaller amount of henna and indigo will help dye hair blonde. Tones that range from sun-kissed straw to deep, “dishwater” blonde are possible on lighter hair. These mixes are great for those who don’t want red, brown or black hair, and for those who wish to tint their grays to blend naturally with their root growth. This article will cover everything you might need to achieve your ideal blonde.

Cassia mixes dyed these mohair samples a range of blonde shades.


Cassia auriculata is a plant dye powder that has similar benefits of cassia obovata. Clarity’s dye molecule, chrysophanic acid, is too weak to change hair color very much.

              Cassia is sometimes incorrectly referred to as “neutral henna” or “colorless henna.” It is not henna, but it is used in a similar way. It needs to be dye-released with a mildly acidic liquid just as henna is, and it also provides hair with strength and shine.

              This plant powder will not make dark hair lighter. All plant dye powders add color to the outer layers of the hair strand; none will lift the melanin contained within the hair’s cortex. This plant powder will act as a conditioner without altering the color.

              Ancient Sunrise® no longer sells cassia obovata due to supply chain issues. We do sell Clarity Cassia, which is cassia auriculata. Read about cassia auriculata here: http://www.hennaforhair.com/faq/Clarity_cassia-auriculata.pdf

Choosing your Fruit Acid

Like henna, cassia’s color can be manipulated depending on a choice of fruit acid, when used with henna or henna and indigo. Fruit acid choices such as Ancient Sunrise® Copperberry and Ancient Sunrise® Kristalovino will bring out brighter tones.  The Ancient Sunrise® Henna for Hair Blonde kit contains Ancient Sunrise® Clarity Cassia, Twilight Henna, Sudina Indigo, and Ancient Sunrise® Kristalovino Fruit Acid Powder.

              Ancient Sunrise® Nightfall Rose and Ancient Sunrise® Amla powder will mute the brighter tones, allowing for more neutral, “wheat blonde” results depending on the amount of henna and indigo in the mix.

              For richer color, greater permanence, and more control over warm and cool tones, one can increase or decrease the amounts of henna and indigo in a mix. The remainder of this article will discuss how to do this.

Adding Henna

The dye molecules from cassia are translucent, and less permanent than henna. Some find that cassia alone provides results that are too subtle and which fade over time. Adding a small amount of henna, a much more permanent dye, leads to warm blond results that do not fade.

              Henna and cassia mixes will dye light hair a range of shades from strawberry blonde to bright, fiery orange. The more henna, the warmer and redder the results will be. For results that lean more toward blonde rather than copper, it is important to use a mix that contains a majority of cassia, and just a touch of henna.

Mixing henna and cassia results in warm blondes and light copper results. Note the image above was created using cassia obovata, which we no longer carry.

              The Ancient Sunrise® Henna for Hair kit in Sunshine contains 200g Ancient Sunrise® Clarity Cassia and 50g Ancient Sunrise® Rajasthani Twilight henna, or a 4:1 ratio of cassia and henna. This kit gives warm, strawberry blonde results on light hair. The Ancient Sunrise® Henna for Hair kit in Fire has equal parts Ancient Sunrise® Clarity Cassia and Ancient Sunrise® Rajasthani Monsoon henna for vivid copper-orange results.

              Feel free to play around with ratios by purchasing samples of the kits, and samples of cassia and henna to test on hair collected from a hairbrush or recent hair cut, or on a 1” section of hair on your head.

Adding Henna and Indigo

Adding both henna and indigo to a cassia mix will allow for darker blondes, and neutral to cool blondes.  Equal proportions of both henna and indigo in small quantities added to a larger amount of cassia will result in neutral-to-warm deeper blondes.

              The Ancient Sunrise® Henna for Hair kit in Chai contains 200g Ancient Sunrise® Clarity Cassia, 50g Ancient Sunrise® Rajasthani Twilight, and 50g Ancient Sunrise® Sudina Indigo. It is a 4:1:1 ratio of cassia, henna, and indigo. Its fruit acid, Ancient Sunrise® Nightfall Rose, assists in adding ash tones. The Chai kit dyes light hair medium to deep blondes. It is a very popular choice for those who wish to blend their gray hair into warm highlights.

              Those who want cooler toned blondes can experiment with adjusting their henna and indigo ratios. In a majority cassia mix, more indigo will help to neutralize warm tones from the henna and cassia, resulting in cool. Ash blondes. To keep results light, cassia should always make up the majority of the mix, or about 75% minimum. Indigo should not be more than three times the amount of henna. Too much indigo will cause results to have a violet tinge.

Just a few possibilities for mixing cassia, henna, and indigo, and the expected results when applied to light hair. Please note that 100% cassia will not give golden tones, this is what you can expect with the current Ancient Sunrise Blonde Kit.

              An example mix for a cool, lighter blonde on gray hair could be 6 parts cassia, 1 part henna, and 2 parts indigo. Mixes using all three powders can be more complicated, as there are more factors to control. You can read Full Coverage: How to Achieve Neutral or Cool Tones to learn more about mixing cassia, henna, and indigo to achieve your perfect cool-toned color.

              Remember that ratios should be based on dry powder weight. If you need help converting weight to teaspoon/tablespoon measurements, feel free to contact the experts at customer service.

              Using a mix of cassia and indigo without henna is generally unadvised. Both dyes are less permanent without the presence of henna. In some cases, a cassia/indigo mix may be used to tone away warm tones in hair that has been hennaed already and is too red.

Final Tips

Cassia is particularly sensitive to hard water. A build-up of minerals will turn cassia-dyed hair from golden yellow to a murky brown or awkward gray. It is highly recommended to use Ancient Sunrise® Rainwash to clarify hair prior to dyeing, and periodically afterward.

Hair that is dyed with cassia will become dark when subjected to minerals. Use Ancient Sunrise® Rainwash Mineral Clarifying Treatment to keep hair light and bright.

Using Ancient Sunrise® Rainwash prior to dyeing will also ensure the best color results. Build-up may prevent adequate dye uptake, leading to weaker results.

              As with any mix, it is better to start lighter and go darker. Many clients who are looking for blonde results specify that they want to stay as light as possible. For some, just a spoonful or two of henna and indigo for a full packet of cassia will be enough to achieve the desired results. Gradually deepening your results will be much simpler than unintentionally dyeing your hair too dark and trying to remove the color.


Hair that is dyed with natural plant dye powders doesn’t have to be red, brunette, or black. Blonde shades are great for those have have naturally light hair and want to keep it that way, and for those want to tint or brighten their gray hair without going too dark. Blonde mixes allow gray root growth to blend more easily into the length. Those who have used henna for hair products and wish to transition back to natural gray hair can use blonde mixes to do so.

              It is important to keep in mind that cassia, henna, and indigo are all additive dyes, and cannot make the hair lighter. If one wishes to dye their naturally dark hair blonde with cassia, they can consider lightening their hair first, then dyeing the lightened result with a blonde mix. Remember to consult a professional stylist for lightening.

              For all other questions, don’t hesitate to call, email, or chat with Customer Service at www.Mehandi.com.

Author: Rebecca Chou
Updated: Maria Moore Jan 2022

Full Coverage: How to Achieve Neutral or Cool Tones Using Henna for Hair

Cool Light Brown Hair

Henna is known for its ability to dye hair rich, vibrant shades that bring forth thoughts of copper pennies, autumn leaves, and crackling fires. However, not everyone wants to be a red-head. Those familiar with using natural plants dyes might know that combinations of henna and indigo will result in brown-reds and medium to deep brunettes. A two-step process will leave hair raven black. What a lot of people do not seem to know is that neutral and cool tones are possible with the right techniques.

A common concern voiced by new henna users is that even a henna/indigo mixture will result in a brunette shade that is too warm for their liking. Many prefer neutral to cool tones in their hair, as they believe it better suits their complexions. While somewhat tricky, neutral and cool toned hair colors are possible using the right combination of henna and indigo (and sometimes cassia), and the right fruit acid. Because each person’s hair varies on undertone, porosity, and dye-resistance, getting the perfect color may take some patience and strand-testing. Remember that our henna experts are available to talk you through the process, and help you troubleshoot if needed, until you achieve your perfect color.

A Quick Return to the Basics

If you have clicked around on this blog, in the Ancient Sunrise® Henna for Hair Free E-book, or in another of our many resources, you should be familiar with the processes of mixing and dye-releasing henna, cassia, and indigo. If not, feel free to pause here and glance over Henna for Hair 101: The Bare Essentials, and Henna for Hair 101: Choosing Your Mix.

Ratios for henna and indigo are easy to remember: Equal parts henna and indigo will result in a medium brunette. More henna will add more warm tones, and more indigo will darken the shade. Cassia makes henna and henna/indigo mixtures lighter, but does not lighten hair.

It may be logical to believe that the more indigo you add into the mix, the cooler the resulting shade will be. Yes… and no. Indigo on its own dyes hair a blue tone, and it neutralizes warm tones created by henna. However, adding more indigo to a medium brunette mix will create a dark brunette mix. That dark brunette result may still be a warm dark brunette due to henna’s red dye.

While using indigo is one part of achieving a neutral or cool hair color, the correct choice in fruit acid is equally important. Fruit acids can bring out bright, warm tones, or mute them. With an effective indigo component and the right fruit acid, you’ll be on your way to lovely neutral brunettes. If you’d like a lighter neutral color, such as those in the blonde family, a little extra tinkering will get you there.


It is not uncommon for henna/indigo users to report that their roots are coming out too red, or hair appears redder over time. This is due to indigo’s higher tendency toward fading. Achieving an effective bind of indoxyl molecules to the hair will be particularly necessary for those who wish to avoid warm tones. This means understanding the chemistry behind the indoxyl/indigo molecules, and the most effective ways to ensure a permanent stain.

Indigo plant powder contains an indigo precursor molecule, indoxyl, which is immediately released when the powder is mixed with water. Indoxyl is a tricky, picky molecule. As soon as the indigo mixed into a paste, indoxyls look to bind with oxygen to transform into a stable indigo molecule. The indigo molecule will not bind to the hair. This process is similar to henna demise, but occurs much more rapidly.

It is important to mix indigo paste only right when you are ready to dye your hair, and work quickly once the paste is mixed. Preventing unnecessary exposure to air will keep the molecules in their indoxyl state longer, allowing them to bind to keratin rather than oxygen.

In the presence of oxygen, two indoxyl molecules bind with each other to form indigo, which is a stable molecule.

Once the dye is in the hair, the extent to which it binds to and stays in the hair is dependent on several factors including hair texture and the presence of dirt, oils, and mineral build-up. It is not uncommon to see a henna/indigo mixture begin as a nice, neutral brunette, and become more auburn as the indigo fades and the henna stays put. If you desire a cool or neutral shade, this is something you’d obviously like to avoid. Doing the following will ensure a successful and permanent indigo stain.

Black, gray, and white wool is dyed with indigo only, revealing shades of blue.

Clarify, clarify, clarify

Indigo binds best to squeaky clean hair. This means no oils, conditioners, hair products, dirt, grime, mineral build-up, leftover snacks, or fuzzy animal friends. At the very least, wash your hair thoroughly with a shampoo specially made for clarifying buildup. Clarifying shampoos are easily found at salons and beauty supply stores, and they are showing up more and more frequently now at regular drugstores as well.

Do yourself one better and start with Ancient Sunrise® Rainwash Mineral Treatment, and then follow that up with a good rinse with a clarifying shampoo. Wash your hair immediately before applying your henna/indigo mixture, and remember to skip the conditioner. Anything left on the hair creates an obstacle for the indoxyl molecules and increases the chances of a weak bond that will fade over time.

Ancient Sunrise® Rainwash is a natural treatment that removes mineral buildup. Mix 1 teaspoon of product with 2oz. distilled water to create a gel, and apply it to the hair, leaving it in for at least 15 minutes.

For those who have extra-resistant hair, we will recommend scrubbing the scalp and roots with a few drops of liquid dish soap. Dish soap is a very strong detergent and will wipe out any residual oils which might get in the way of a good indigo stain. Keep in mind that in doing so, the soap will dry out the scalp, but this dryness is temporary and can be fixed with a conditioning treatment after washing out your dye mixture. For the purpose of a good indigo stain, hair that is dry (absent of oils) and slightly roughed-up is the best. The hair closest to the roots is smoother and less porous, making it more resistant to dye.

Salt helps

For extra staying power, add 1 teaspoon of regular table salt (not sea salt or Himalayan; they contain minerals!) per every 100g indigo powder. The salt helps to strengthen the indigo’s bond to the hair by temporarily altering the surface texture of the hair strand, allowing a better stain.

Heat helps, too

After applying the henna/indigo paste and wrapping your hair with plastic, gently heat your hair. You can use a dryer bonnet, sit outside on a warm day, place a heated blanket or heating pad over your head, or aim a hair dryer at your head for a few minutes at a time. Heat opens the hair’s cuticles, allowing more dye to migrate into the shaft. Heat will also cut down on processing time. Under consistent warm temperatures (100F-140F), you can cut processing time roughly in half.

If you don’t have access to a dryer hood or heating pad, wrap your hair and sit somewhere warm. The towel or scarf will keep your body heat in the paste, and prevent dripping.

Fruit Acids

Henna should always be dye-released with an acidic liquid, or an acidic fruit powder plus distilled water. Some acids bring out and maintain henna’s bright, warm tones. Others mute the tones. You will want to use the latter.

The two best fruit acids for neutral and cool results are Ancient Sunrise® Nightfall Rose and Ancient Sunrise® Amla.

Ancient Sunrise® Nightfall Rose is derived from the purple aronia fruit, and is very high in anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are what cause blueberries to be blue. When used to dye-release henna, Ancient Sunrise® Nightfall Rose adds subtle ash tones to the henna, cooling the overall shade. Once the henna is dye-released and mixed with indigo, the resulting color is neutral without being overly dark.

The purple aronia fruit, similar to blueberries, is high is anthocyanins which add a subtle blue tone to henna mixes.

Ancient Sunrise®Amla powder is another solid choice. Amla mutes warm tones by pushing the henna dye molecules toward brown during  the dye release process. Amla on its own is not a dye, and will not color hair. It simply tweaks the color the lawsone precursor molecules during dye-release. As an added bonus, Amla helps indigo bind more effectively by temporarily snapping hydrogen bonds in the keratin of the hair, allowing the indigo dye to migrate in more effectively. The result is a cooler and often deeper brunette without warm undertones.

Ancient Sunrise® offers pre-made Henna for Hair kits in Cool Brunette and Cool Dark Brunette, which both contain amla as the fruit acid. If you are looking for brown hair without red, a good place to start would be to order either or both sample kits to test, and then go from there. You may find that one works perfectly for you, or you can adjust the formula to create your own custom mix.

The Ancient Sunrise® Henna for Hair Kit: Cool Dark Brunette contains 100g Ancient Sunrise® Rajasthani Twilight Henna, 200g Ancient Sunrise® Sudina Indigo, and 25g Ancient Sunrise® Amla powder.

Getting Fancy: Cassia, Henna, and Indigo Mixes

Mixing cassia, henna, and indigo allows for a wide range of lighter neutral shades, from ‘hint of dirty blonde” to “coffee with cream brunette.” Cassia acts to “dilute” the henna and indigo in such a way that the hue remains stable, but the shade is made lighter.

Cassia and henna together make warm blonde to bright copper tones. Henna and indigo make red to dark brunette. All three together create neutral, muted results.

This will be explored in more depth in a future article. If your hair is lighter or gray, equal parts henna and indigo result in a medium brunette. Equal parts henna, cassia, and indigo will result in a light-medium brunette. Keep adding cassia until you have 80% cassia, 10% henna, and 10% indigo, and you have a mix which dyes light hair a deep blonde.

Some customers find that their hair still shows too much warmth with the Chai kit, so they decrease the henna. Because the mix contains mostly cassia, they can adjust the henna/indigo ratio without going darker.  Remember that cassia is a light, translucent golden dye, and will not lighten hair.

Toning Warm Tones

If your mix comes out too warm, there are ways to calm it down. We generally recommend waiting a week after your first application because it can cool down on its own. If you’ve “been there, done that” and your hair generally is warm, it is okay to tone after your initial application.

To give your hair more of a cool tone, you will need cassia and indigo. The amount of each and the time will vary. Testing is crucial so that you don’t over do it and so that you aren’t wasting a lot of product. For more information on toning, visit Toning Henna – Part 1 and Toning Henna – Part 2.

Your Hair’s Natural Color

Henna, indigo, and cassia all stain the hair’s outer layers of keratin. This does not affect the hair’s natural melanin, which is one reason that the same mix will appear somewhat different on two different heads of hair. Genetics determine the amount of eumelanin and pheomelanin within the hair, which causes hair to be blonde, brunette, or red, and to have warm or cool undertones. Eumelanin causes hair to have ash tones, or to be dark. Black hair has the highest amount of eumalanin. Pheomelanin give hair red tones. Natural redheads have the highest levels of pheomelanin. Most hair colors have some ratio of both.

It will be more difficult to achieve a neutral or cool hair color with a very warm starting hair color. A natural redhead may have to play around with plant powder ratios and acids much more than someone who is starting with a medium ash blond, in order to achieve a cool brunette.

How to Begin

The best plan is to start with test samples, and determine which one provided the closest color to your goal. From there, you can adjust plant dye ratios, and try both Ancient Sunrise® Nightfall Rose and Amla fruit powders. If your test sample came out too dark, increase cassia or decrease indigo. If it was too light, do the opposite. Remember that increasing the amount of fruit acid will not neutralize more red; doing so will only make the mix too acidic. Don’t hesitate to consult with a Customer Service Representative to fine-tune your mix. Remember to start lighter when in doubt. It is easier to re-apply with a darker mix than it is to lighten.

Samples are an affordable way to try out mixes before purchasing full-sized product. Each sample is enough to use on hairbrush hair, or a small section on hair on your head.

The Ancient Sunrise® Henna for Hair Facebook group is another great source for custom mixes and before/after photos from fellow customers. Use this as a resource to ask for tips, compare results and gauge your expected outcome. It’s also a great way to stay updated on new blog articles and special promotions!

Final Notes on Neutral and Cool Tones

Remember that your results will take about a week to oxidize into their final color. Hair can appear brighter upon first rinsing out the mix. Do not be alarmed if you see red or copper tones in your hair. Be patient, and wait that week before reapplying. During the oxidation period, the warm tones will diminish. If you are impatient, you may use heat to speed up the oxidation process. Heat will darken hennaed hair rapidly, and permanently. Keep this in consideration before beginning.

For all other troubleshooting or questions, contact the Ancient Sunrise® Customer Service Team via email, online chat, or phone call.

Author: Rebecca Chou August 2017
Edited: Maria Moore August 2022

Full Coverage: Dyeing Roots and How to Rescue Resistant Roots

After the first initial application(s) of henna, there is no need to continue dyeing the full length of your hair each time. Because henna stains hair permanently and does not fade, repeated applications will darken the color over time as henna saturates the hair more and more. If you are not concerned with the darkening, or intend to darken the color, you are welcome to continue applying henna to the full length of your hair until you achieve the desired effect instead of just dyeing roots. It should be noted that your root area will be lighter.

If you are not concerned with darkening, or intend to darken the color, you are welcome to continue applying henna to the full length of your hair until you achieve the desired effect. Repeated applications will not cause damage; in fact, additional henna will continue to strengthen and thicken the hair.

Because henna stains hair permanently and does not fade, repeated applications will darken the color over time as henna saturates the hair more and more. If you are not concerned with darkening, or intend to darken the color, you are welcome to continue applying henna to the full length of your hair until you achieve the desired effect. Repeated applications will not cause damage; in fact, additional henna will continue to strengthen and thicken the hair.

However, if you are pleased with the color and intend to keep it as it is, keeping to root-only applications is an effective way to maintain your result. This cuts back on time and the amount of product needed. The first section of this article will review how to apply henna to the roots.

In some cases, henna users report their their henna or henna/indigo mix did not dye their roots sufficiently, leaving grays lighter, or a line of demarcation. The second section of this article explores potential reasons for roots and gray hairs appearing lighter than desired after a root touch-up.

How to Apply Henna to New Root Growth

Mixing for root applications is simple enough: Mix a smaller amount, keeping to the same proportions as a full head recipe. Most need anywhere between 30g-100g of powder for root touch-ups, depending on the length of your roots, the thickness of your hair, and the precision of your application. If you have a complex mix and need help converting it into a smaller quantity, feel free to contact the customer service representatives at www.mehandi.com.

Each henna user has a preferred method for root application. The carrot bag that is included in all Ancient Sunrise® Henna for Hair kits is useful for storing leftover paste in the freezer for future use on roots.

Note: Only henna and cassia mixes should be frozen. Indigo dye demises at freezing temperatures.

To use a carrot bag, simply fill the bag and tape or tie the end shut, snip the tip open, and squeeze the bag to apply the paste like frosting along your roots, using a gloved hand to push the paste into the hair and against the scalp. Others prefer to use a dye applicator bottle or condiment bottle with a pointed tip. This will work similarly to the carrot bag, and may be easier for some to grip and control. Another technique is to use a tinting brush, dipping it into a bowl of prepared paste.

Part hair into sections, and apply henna to roots section by section. Twist each section away before beginning the next one. Along the hairline at the forehead, temples, and neck. Wrap with plastic.

Using whatever tools you prefer, or gloved hands, apply the paste in sections, using the handle of a rattail comb to create a part a ¼ inch to the side of the area that has been hennaed, flipping the section over, and applying henna to the roots of the new section. Repeat until all roots are covered, wrap with plastic, and process for the same amount of time as a full-head application. A friend or a hand-held mirror may be helpful for applying to the back of your head.

A tinting brush, carrot bag, or your hands all work well for root applications. Use whatever is most comfortable for you.

Click here to watch a full-length demonstration by one of our Customer Service Representatives and licensed cosmetologist, Maria, applying henna to her mother’s roots.


Sometimes, customers report that their root application results are lighter than the rest of their hair, or even that some gray or white hairs were not fully covered, leaving a noticeable difference between their roots and the length of their hair. In the case of a henna/indigo mixture for brunette results, some may see that the henna has effectively stained the hair a copper color, but the indigo did not bind effectively, leaving the roots brighter and warmer than desired. There are several reasons for this happening, all of which are simple to fix or prevent.

In this photo, some roots were not completely covered, leaving them a lighter color. This is easy to fix.

Sebum and oils

The scalp continually produces sebum which serves to coat and protect the scalp and hair with a thin, waterproof layer. Some people naturally produce more sebum than others. The buildup of sebum will be highest closest to the scalp, then it spreads down the hair shaft. Indigo is particularly picky about the hair that it binds to. Any oils will cause the indigo to bind weakly, or not at all.

To ensure effective dye uptake, wash your hair very well with a strong detergent shampoo, taking extra care to lather and scrub at the scalp, and skip the conditioner. Do this just prior to applying henna. In the case of very resistant roots, washing the scalp with a small amount of dish detergent helps to strip oils and temporarily increase hair porosity for better results.

Mineral Buildup

The mineral content of tap water varies greatly from region to region. Hard water makes itself evident in the appearance of white residue on faucets, shower heads, and teapots. If you have hard water, you may be able to notice a metallic or sulfur smell when turning on the tap. Well water is more likely to contain a higher concentration of minerals. When you wash your hair, these minerals slowly collect onto the hair, causing a dry, brittle feeling and dulled color. The buildup of minerals blocks henna’s lawsone molecules from effectively entering and binding to the hair.

Ancient Sunrise® Rainwash mineral clarifying treatment removes minerals from the hair, leaving it brighter, softer, and easier to dye. It is a powder mixture of citric acid, ascorbic acid, and xanthan gum. Use it as a clarifying treatment prior to henna application, and periodically to keep hair bright, soft, and free of minerals.

Mix Ancient Sunrise® Rainwash with a small amount of distilled water and stir until you achieve a clear, gel consistency, similar to hair gel. Apply Ancient Sunrise® Rainwash evenly throughout the hair from root to end, and wrap with plastic. You may notice a metallic or sulfur smell while the product is in your hair. This is a sign that the Rainwash is working! It is dissolving the minerals out of your hair. For a first-time use, or for those with hard water, leave the mixture in the hair for 30-40 minutes. For periodic use (once every 1-2 weeks), leave it in for 10-15 minutes. Rinse out the product with warm water and a small amount of shampoo to ensure that the minerals are fully washed away.

Mix Ancient Sunrise® Rainwash with water to create a mineral-removing gel.

It is also important to make sure that the henna mixture itself does not contain unnecessary minerals. If you mix your henna with a fruit acid powder and water, or use water to dilute another acidic liquid, be sure to use distilled water. This will ensure that there are no minerals in your paste which might inhibit dye uptake.

Virgin Hair and Resistant Grays

The hair is healthiest at the roots, because it has not yet had time to incur damage. The cuticle lies flat and the surface is smooth, making dye uptake more difficult. Gray hair grows quickly, especially at the temples and the crown of the head. Because gray hair contains no melanin, it may require stronger, and longer dye applications, or more than one application to fully cover.

Washing the roots with a strong detergent such as dish liquid can help to temporarily dry out and “rough up” the cuticle so the roots can better absorb dye. If you use a henna/indigo mix, or a two-step process and see that the indigo isn’t binding effectively, add a small amount of table salt to your indigo when mixing it. One teaspoon of regular table salt per 100g of indigo is enough. Be sure not to use sea salt or Himalayan salt, as these contain additional minerals.

Be sure you are using the correct plant powders for resistant gray hair. Ancient Sunrise® Rajasthani Twilight Henna has a higher dye content for better saturation of color. Ancient Sunrise® Zekhara Indigo is finely sifted, and makes for better coverage and deeper brunettes.

Indigo and Oxygen

The indoxyl molecule in freshly mixed indigo paste is picky. It prefers hair that is completely free of oil and mineral buildup. Indoxyls will quickly bind to oxygen in the air to form indigo, if it does not have hair to bind to. It is essential to use the indigo as quickly as possible once it is mixed with distilled water. If you tend to apply your paste slowly, or have a lot of hair, split your prepared henna paste into portions, and mix only enough indigo for each portion. Mix new indigo only after you have used up each portion.

Indoxyls are intermediary molecules that bind with oxygen to become indigo. Oxidizing turns the molecule’s color from green to blue. When used in he hair, this reads as the brunette tones deepening over subsequent days.

Once the paste is applied, wrap your hair well with plastic. Because the temples and front of the hair line are most often the problem areas for coverage, it is helpful to apply an extra layer of paste to these areas before wrapping, and then using a gentle medical tape to seal the plastic down around your forehead and side burns to prevent exposure to air.

Mix smaller portions of henna and indigo at a time to prevent exposing indigo paste to oxygen for too long.

Orange Roots

You may know by now that henna goes through a period of oxidation during the first week after application. When using a mix that is all or mostly henna, it is perfectly normal for the color to appear too bright for the first few days. Indigo also undergoes a period of oxidation, sometimes even appearing to have a greenish hue, before settling along with the henna to the desired shade.

Henna Oxidzing
Hair dyed with a henna/indigo mix darkens during the first two weeks.

If your roots are consistently too bright, and remain that way after a week, consider switching your fruit acid, or adding more indigo. Fruit acids like Ancient Sunrise® Amla and Ancient Sunrise® Nightfall Rose fruit acid powders help to lessen the brighter, brassier tones by muting and cooling them. Ancient Sunrise® Malluma Kristalovino fruit acid powder pushes the henna color down a few shades, making for deeper auburns and brunettes.

If you wish to try adding more indigo to your future mixes, increase the amount by just a spoonful or two at a time, until you achieve the color you desire. Adding too much indigo too quickly can cause the hair to go darker than you may like.

Final Tips

Heat Helps

Processing with heat will help for a strong bond between dye molecules and hair. Sit outside on a warm day, cover your head with a warm cap, or periodically aim a blow dryer at your wrapped hair for a few minutes at a time. If you have access to a bonnet dryer, sitting under the dryer will cut processing time in about half.

Heat will also speed up oxidation and darken the color once you have rinsed the paste from your hair. Gentle heat will work more slowly, whereas a styling tool such as a straightener or curler will cause the color to deepen noticeably. A quick solution to darkening undesirably bright hair is to expose it to heat. Be aware that the darkening caused by heat is not reversible.

This mohair sample was dyed with henna, then heated with an iron on one end and darkened as a result.

Add More Indigo

Indigo Gloss

An indigo gloss is when you mix indigo and cassia together to tone mixes that are not darken enough, are too bright, or too orange/red. You read in more details about toning mixes in these blogs: Toning Henna – Part 1 and Toning Henna – Part 2.

Conditioner and Indigo

While some folks prefer to use conditioner mixed with indigo, we’ve found that this is not very effective. Most customers who have attempted this have seen little to no change. Any test that we’ve done has shown no changes.

An indigo gloss can temporarily bump the color a few shades darker.

Full Strength Indigo

To fix a more noticeable contrast, such as bright orange roots and deep brunette length, dab full-strength indigo paste (not mixed with conditioner) into the lighter areas, cover, and rinse after 10-15 minutes. Be sure that your hair is clean and free of oils before doing this. Do not leave indigo on for too long; indigo alone on recently hennaed hair will dye hair black, such as in the two-step method.

Do not apply indigo to hair that is still completely white, gray, or a pale yellow. If there are areas where henna did not stain the hair, reapply both henna and indigo. Indigo alone on light hair will result in green and blue tones. Keep in mind that unless the result of your root application is several shades lighter than the length, it is best to wait a week before attempting adjustments. Oftentimes the color will deepen and blend on its own during oxidation.

Indigo alone on light hair will dye it blue tones.


If there is little to no color change after henna, and a stark contrast between new growth and length, feel free to reapply as soon as you’d like. There is no waiting time required between henna applications, and no harm in using henna frequently.

This model’s roots did not dye evenly, leaving some lighter. She reapplied her mix in the areas where it was needed.

Feel free to contact the customer service representatives at www.mehandi.com if you have any additional questions of concerns. They are available via phone online chat, and email, and specialize in custom formulas and troubleshooting.

Author: Rebecca Chou August 2017
Edited: Maria Moore August 2022

Henna 101: How to Dye-Release Henna


For the best coverage and permanent results, it is important to mix henna powder with a mild acid and allow the paste to sit for a period of time. This process is referred to as “dye-release.” Improper dye release can lead to weak stains that fade overtime, and undesired color results.

A Quick Chemistry Lesson

Henna leaves naturally contain lawsone, a red-orange dye. In powder form, henna will not stain keratin. Henna powder must be mixed with a liquid to allow hennocides, the lawsone precursors to be released from the plant material and migrate out into the paste. The precursors are converted into aglycones, through the replacement of the glycosyl group with a hydrogen atom. These hydrogen atoms function like the nub parts of puzzle pieces, so the dye can bind effectively to other molecules. Aglycones are intermediary molecules which will bind to other molecules to convert into a stable form. If the bond occurs with

keratin, the result is a permanent stain on the outer layers of the hair.


Low pH (acidic) mixes are rich in hydrogens, which keep aglycones relatively stable until it is time to use the dye. This hydrogen-rich environment provided by the acid liquid allows for a longer and fuller dye-release as well as a more stable bond to keratin aglycones to bond to the keratin of the hair through a Michael Addition.

If the paste is left too long before use, the aglycones bind to surrounding molecules and to the oxygen in the air until there are no precursor dye molecules left to bind to the hair. This is called “demise.” Demised henna will result in poorer coverage with a weaker, less permanent bond. The resulting color may also be less vibrant. Full demise, at room temperature, begins twelve hours after mixing the paste, and is complete after one week.

The low pH level of an acidic henna paste allows the aglycones to remain stable for a longer period of time. This allows for a slow, steady dye-release for the optimal amount of available aglyones. Mixing henna without an acid (such as using only water) will cause the paste to have a weaker dye release which demises faster. The optimal pH level for a henna mix is right around 5.5, which can be achieved with a number of fruit juices, or the use of a fruit acid powder and distilled water.


Hennocide precursors convert into an aglycone state in a low pH environment, and eventually oxidize to a stable molecule.


Mixes that are alkaline or pH neutral will cause demise to occur more quickly. Without hydrogens to facilitate the Michael Addition bond, the stain will be weak, and fade over time. Therefore, water-only mixes, or alkaline liquids such as coconut milk are not recommended.



The temperature of the mixture will affect the speed at which dye-release and demise occur. Some henna for hair brands recommend mixing henna with boiling water. While this causes an immediate dye-release, the dye is much weaker, resulting in light, brassy tones. On the other hand, cooler temperatures will slow or halt the chemical reactions. This is why it is possible to store leftover henna paste in the freezer for months without loss of effectiveness. Optimal dye-release occurs at room temperature after 8-12 hours, with full demise occurring after 48 hours.

Be sure to cover your paste with plastic to prevent unnecessary exposure to air.


The Best Dye-Release Method

For the best results, dye-release henna at room temperature (70-80 degrees, F) for 8-12 hours. To dye hair in the morning, mix the paste right before bedtime. To dye hair in the evening, mix the paste after you wake up. The paste will be at its best anywhere within the 8-12 hour window. After 12 hours, demise will begin. Paste left at room temperature for over 48 hours will give weak results. In a cool, or air-conditioned room (65-70 degrees, F), the paste may be left out slightly longer than 12 hours.

Henna at 65 degrees F will be ready between 8-12 hours, and demise slowly.


Checking for Dye-Release

When henna paste is ready, the surface of the paste will be a darker color than the paste underneath, and there may be some reddish-orange liquid collecting on top. Stir the paste and dip a fingertip into it, or apply a drop to your palm and wash it off after a minute. If a bright orange stain remains on your skin, the paste is ready.

Dye-released henna is darker on the top, like day-old guacamole. Stir it up and it’s ready to use.


In A Pinch

There may be times when you need your henna paste to be ready faster. Increase the temperature to decrease dye-release time, or take advantage of enzymes naturally occurring in apple juice to speed up the process without getting the brassy results that come with using boiling water.



Putting your paste in a hot environment (100 degrees, F or higher) will speed up the dye-release process considerably. A bowl of henna paste in a car on a hot day will dye-release within about one hour, depending on the car’s internal temperature. Placing your henna near a heater or outside on a sunny day will also speed up the process. You can also wrap your bowl of henna in a towel, and wrap a heated blanket around it, or place a heating pad over it.

Do not under any circumstance put a henna in the microwave or oven, or on the stove. The heat is high and uneven. High heat will “cook” the aglycones, rendering them useless.

The time required for dye-release drops very quickly in conditions above 100 degrees. Be sure to check your paste frequently for dye release. If left in a hot environment for too long, the paste will begin to demise.

Henna at 100-140 degrees F will be ready within about an hour.



Fresh apple juice contains enzymes that will expedite dye release by breaking down the plant powder’s cellulostic material. Henna powder mixed with apple juice will dye-release in about half the time. Keep an eye on your paste and check for dye release every hour or so.

Storing Henna Paste

If your paste has dye-released and you are not able to use it right away, put it in the refrigerator. Dye-released henna will stay good in the fridge for two days.

If you cannot use your henna for longer than two days, keep it in the freezer. Henna in the freezer will keep almost indefinitely. To store extra henna for future root touch-ups, separate the paste into portions using plastic bags or an ice cube tray. These portions will thaw quickly.

Henna can be stored in the freezer for several months. An ice cube tray is great for easy portioning.

Once brought back to room temperature, henna will continue its process of dye-release and demise. Do not leave dye-released henna out at room temperature for more than 24 hours. Leaving henna out long enough to thaw and to come up to a comfortable temperature for use if long enough. Some find that cool paste feels nice on the scalp on a hot day.


I Forgot the Acid

It happens. Maybe you were distracted by your cat doing something cute and forgot to add the fruit acid powder. Maybe you’re just jumping into the land of henna and didn’t know you needed an acid until now.

If it has only been a few hours since your mixed your henna, add the fruit acid as soon as possible and let it sit for the remaining time, checking for dye release around the eighth hour.

If you have a henna-and-water paste that has been out for 8-12 hours, there will have been a weak dye-release, as distilled water draws carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, becoming mildly acidic. Add the fruit acid powder, and allow the paste to sit for up to three more hours, checking for dye-release.

If you do not have an acid with you, stick your paste in the fridge or freezer until you get some. Orange, apple, and cranberry juice work fine. Apple cider vinegar works as well, if you don’t mind the smell. Do not use wine, coffee, milk, yogurt, or tea.

Because the paste was already previously mixed with water, there will have been some release of aglycones, and some demise. Adding an acid as soon as your remember will lead to better results, but the results may still be less than optimal.

If adding liquid will cause your paste to be too runny, add 1tsp of cream of tartar powder for every 100g henna powder, instead of a juice. Cream of tartar may result in a darker color. You can also mix more henna powder with warm lemon juice, and stir this into your existing paste.

I Left My Henna Out Too Long

At room temperature, henna will begin to demise after 12 hours, and fully demise after about 48. If it has been longer than 48 hours, most likely the paste done. Test the paste for dye-release. If there is little to no orange stain on your skin after leaving the paste on for one minute, the results on the hair will be light. If you choose to use the paste, you may have to reapply with new paste for best results. A henna/indigo mix using demised henna may result in green or blue tones which will fade quickly, as indigo needs henna to bind effectively to the hair. Often the best route is to throw out the paste and mix up a fresh batch.

My Paste Has Dye-Released, But I Can’t Use it Right Now

No worries. As mentioned above, cool and freezing temperatures will slow and halt demise, respectively. If you expect to be able to use your henns within a couple of days, put your bowl in the refrigerator. If you cannot use your henna for over a week, or if you are unsure about when you will be able to use it, keep it in the freezer.

My Mix is Mostly/All Cassia. How Can I Tell if it is Ready?

Cassia follows the same dye release schedule as henna. Because the dye is light and translucent, a stain-test will not show a bright orange stain like henna will. It is best to dye-release cassia and cassia-henna mixes at room temperature for 8-12 hours to be confident that the paste is ready. Henna and cassia are fairly forgiving, so leaving a mix out at room temperature for a few hours longer than necessary is better than using it too soon.


For more in-depth information about the dye-release process, see the following links:



As always, do not hesitate to contact the henna for hair experts at www.Mehandi.com


Henna for Hair 101: Body Art Quality (BAQ) Henna, Compound Henna, and Hair Dye That Really Isn’t Henna


Henna for Hair 101

Defining the Word “Henna”

To those who are new to using henna as hair dye, the word “henna” itself may be confusing as well as the terms “BAQ” and “compound henna”. Health stores and internet suppliers carry an array of hair dye products labeled as “henna,” which may be either in powder, cream, liquid, or solid form. They might offer color results from blonde to jet black, and call it “blonde henna,” “light brown henna,” and so forth. To add to the confusion, one might be familiar with images of body art using traditional henna, “black henna,” (Run away. Fast.) “white henna,” and even metallic henna temporary tattoos.

It is therefore important to establish what “henna” actually is. While it is all too commonly used in these ways, it is not a word to catch all natural (or claiming to be natural) hair dyes, and it is not a body art style. Henna is one specific plant, lawsonia inermis, which produces a natural dye called lawsone. This dye binds to keratin, staining it an orange-red color. The processed product of lawsonia inermis is a powder that can be mixed into a paste, and used as a dye.

Henna, lawsonia inermis, is a plant whose leaves contain a red-orange dye called lawsone.

What Can Be Called Henna Hair Dye?

Sadly, the answer is almost anything. Because the words “henna” and “natural” are not regulated, any company can produce a hair dye that contains little to no lawsonia inermis plant powder and still put those words on the label.

Henna only produces stains in a range of orange to deep red. Any powder product that dyes hair a color other than red will contain other ingredients. These may be other plant powders, such as indigo and cassia. They may also be dyes or metallic salts. Many companies pre-mix these powders, and add additional ingredients, either plant-based or man-made. Premixed powdered hair dyes are called Compound Hennas.

“Henna” hair dyes, in powder, liquid, or solid form, can be called henna even if the closest ingredient to lawsonia inermis listed is “henna extract.” In other cases, henna or lawsonia inermis will be listed as a main ingredient, but a consumer needs to keep in mind that distributors are not always required to disclose their full list of ingredients, depending on the country of origin. It is important to keep in mind that there may be much more than henna and plant powders contained in the product.

This “henna natural conditioner” claims to condition the hair without changing color. Henna is the last ingredient listed.

Compound Henna

Henna has been used for centuries in the hot, semi-arid areas where it naturally grows. As westerners learned of henna and its benefits, its popularity spread and the market grew. Distributors mixed plant powders with metallic salts in an attempt to cheapen the product and simplify its use. Traditionally, henna must be mixed with a mildly acidic liquid, left for several hours to dye release, applied, and left for several hours in the hair. Additives allowed henna to be mixed and used right away, and rinsed after a shorter period of time.

These additives could also allow for a wide range of colors and make up for poor-quality henna. Compound hennas claiming to dye hair dark brunette or black may contain para-phenylenediamine (PPD), the same toxic chemical used in commercial dyes, and used in high concentrations as “black henna” body art.

An old advertisement for compound henna in 14 shades, including “white.”

Compound henna has given true henna a bad reputation. Most hair stylists have been taught that henna will damage hair, and that hennaed hair can never be dyed with conventional dyes again. Yes, the chemicals in salon hair dyes can react with metallic salts to horrific results (Your hair may burn and melt, literally) but there is no problem using conventional dyes before or after pure henna. Pure, BAQ henna improves hair rather than damages it. This is one of several reasons it is crucial to push for education on the differences between pure henna and compound henna, and to call for more regulation on products claiming to be henna.

Liquid Henna

“Henna” hair dye might also be offered in a liquid or cream form. These are far from natural. Henna, when mixed into a paste, has a shelf-life of 48 hours before the dye demises. If a liquid product containing henna is sold at room temperature, it no doubt contains a myriad of additives to preserve the henna dye, or it contains little to no henna. In some cases, a scan of the ingredients list will show that the closest thing to henna is “henna extract,” somewhere down near the bottom of the list. An unsuspecting customer may believe they are buying henna for hair, when in reality they are buying a product that is more similar to a conventional boxed dye, but which contains some small amount of a henna plant derivative.

At 65 degrees Fahrenheit, henna paste will begin to demise 48 hours after mixing. If a ‘henna’ product is a sold as a cream or liquid on a store shelf, it will contain additives such as preservatives and dyes.

Poorly Sifted Henna

Even when henna is really henna, it varies in quality. Traditionally, “henna for hair” was henna powder of a lower sift, containing bits of leaves, stems, and sand. Because it was not meant for squeezing delicate designs out of a fine-tipped cone, henna sold for use as hair dye did not have to be as finely processed, and was therefore less costly. This gave henna a bad reputation for being difficult to apply and rinse, leaving hair a damaged, tangled mess.

The sale of low quality and adulterated henna is not always done maliciously. Some companies which sell natural plant powders source their products from distributors who also believe their products are pure. Smaller shipments of henna are easy to move quickly, and may vary from batch to batch. These companies trust the word of the henna producers that the products is pure, high quality, and safe, and therefore advertise their products as such.

Having large amounts of high quality, finely sifted henna requires having the facilities to produce consistently and at that scale. Having confidence in purity requires being able to test for the chemical components in each batch, which can be very costly.

Pre-Mixed Henna Products

Some companies sell products containing decent quality plant products and none of the harmful stuff, but they formulate their products in such a way that produces inferior results. This is because they believe that plant powders can be mixed together for easier use. These dyes may be a package of henna, indigo, cassia, and other natural ingredients blended into one powder. The instructions might recommend mixing the powders with hot or boiling water, and applying the mix right away. Some may sell in a solid form, mixing the plant powders with oils and plant butters so that the product can be melted into a paste.

Preparing a henna for hair mixture can be complicated for new henna users, and requires patience. Henna paste must be mixed with a mildly acidic liquid and allowed to dye-release at room temperature for 8-12 hours. This slow dye-release allows for rich, permanent color. Indigo, releases its dye immediately once mixed with water, and will demise quickly afterward. Henna paste must be mixed earlier, and then indigo is mixed and stirred into prepared henna paste just prior to application.

Premixed powders try to compensate for the difference in dye-release times by recommending a hot liquid, which forces henna to dye-release immediately at the same time as the indigo, but with much weaker and lighter results. This is one reason there exists a myth about henna turning hair green. Weak henna, overpowered by indigo’s natural green-blue hue, will lead to undesired results.

With boiling water, henna’s dye will release immediately, but demise quickly and create weak results that fade.

When dye released separately and then combined, henna and indigo’s dyes work together to create beautifully natural shades of brown. To achieve jet-black hair, henna and indigo must be applied in two separate steps. Premixed henna products will not be able to produce a true and permanent black. Results may turn out dark brown or green, and fade over time. It is important for henna for hair products to keep plant powders separate, and properly instruct their customers on mixing.

The henna paste has been mixed and dye-released, and the indigo is waiting to be mixed.

In addition to faulty methodology, premixed henna dyes often contain numerous additional “healthy” and “natural” ingredients such as plant extracts and essential oils, clay powder, and other dried plant powder. Most do very little to the hair’s color or condition, and will inhibit dye uptake. Black walnut powder is used as a hair dye, but has a high rate of allergic reaction. Brightly colored plants such as beets and hibiscus will not contribute to a redder result. Henna works best when the mix is simple, and it does not need to be mixed with the contents of a health food store to work well.

Henna bars are filled with oils to create a creamier paste which supposedly hydrates and conditions the hair while dyeing it. The problem, in addition to dye-release timing, is that oils will coat the hair and prevent adequate dye uptake.

Body Art Quality (BAQ) Henna for Hair

Luckily, more and more people have turned to buying high quality, pure henna, indigo, and/or cassia powders and mixing their dye at home. Long-time henna users often refer to their henna as BAQ. This acronym can be seen in beauty blogs and hair forums all over the internet. Henna for hair recipes may call for BAQ henna, and natural hair product stores will advertise that their henna is BAQ. What does it mean?

BAQ, was coined by Catherine Cartwright-Jones, PhD, in the late 1990’s as she began studying and distributing high quality henna for use as hair dye. “Body Art Quality” refers to henna that is finely sifted, free of sand and large plant particulates, and free of metallic salts or other chemical adulterants often found in compound hennas. She shortened it to BAQ because typing “Body Art Quality” over and over was irksome. BAQ henna is of the quality used by henna body artists. The paste is smooth and creamy, able to flow out of a cone; it contains nothing that would be dangerous to apply on skin.

Ancient Sunrise® suppliers takes their quality standard one step further and test for pesticides, heavy metals, and other chemical adulterants. We run all powders under a microscope as well. Indigo and cassia powders are not used for body art, so “BAQ” would not make any sense as a label, but all Ancient Sunrise® plant powders are subject to a high standard of quality.

Unlike premixed powders, Ancient Sunrise® offers kits containing ratios of henna, indigo, and/or cassia in separate packets, which can be mixed by the customer to achieve the desired result. This does mean more work and patience on the part of the customer, but creates better results and allows for greater control.

As one of the largest small-business importers of plant dye powder in the United States, Ancient Sunrise® has established long-standing relationships with reputable distributors, and orders shipments by the metric ton. This allows us to store and sell a consistent supply of each crop, rather than buying odd lots in small shipments. The batch you get in the mail will be identical to the batch that was sent to the lab.

Hooray, Science! Hooray Transparency!

The purpose of this article was not to state that all henna for hair products other than Ancient Sunrise® brand are bad quality or dangerous. However, the henna hair dye industry has a long way to go in keeping harmful ingredients out of their products, and in using sound scientific knowledge of natural plant dyes to create great products. It would be fantastic if all henna for hair companies held themselves to high standards of quality and purity. Choosing a hair dye product shouldn’t have to feel like walking blindfolded through a minefield.

The difference between Ancient Sunrise® and similar henna for hair dye companies is that we have taken the time to prove the purity of the product, we fine-tune our methods through continuous research and testing, and we make it a priority to be a knowledgeable resource for our customers.

Ancient Sunrise® believes in empowering the consumer by providing the knowledge necessary to choose and create their perfect henna for hair mix. We offer lab result documents to anyone who requests them, and have henna for hair experts available for consultation via phone, email, or online chat. Regrettably, we are not able to advise on or answer questions about products outside of our own brand, due to legal liabilities. We look forward to hearing from you!

Highlights: The Benefits of Henna For Hair

Pure, body art quality henna is an amazing thing. It practically works miracles on your hair, giving it beautiful, shiny color that isn’t damaging, and doesn’t fade over time. But there is even more to it than that! Here we count nine great benefits of henna and other plant dyes on your hair.

It’s Versatile

While henna alone dyes the hair rich, vibrant shades of red, copper, and auburn, there are an infinite number of color options possible when mixing henna with cassia and/or indigo. Some people who don’t know about cassia and indigo are hesitant about using henna because they don’t want their hair to be red. In reality, you can achieve nearly any natural shade of hair color from blonde to jet black.

Plant powder hair colors
By adjusting plant dye powder ratios and choice of fruit acid,  nearly any natural hair color is possible.

It’s also easy to adjust the color. If one mix isn’t quite right, you can add more henna for more red tones, add more indigo for darker and browner tones, or add cassia for lighter, more golden tones. Long-time henna users know that dyeing your hair with henna is part art and part science, and once they find their perfect mix, they stick to it.

The only thing that henna, cassia, and indigo cannot do for color is to dye dark hair a lighter shade, but it is possible to lighten hair before using plant powders, as long as you are using Ancient Sunrise® brand plant dye powders. You can also lighten over hair hennaed with Ancient Sunrise® products. Keep reading to learn why testing makes a difference.

What customers are saying:

“So happy to have found plant dyes that not only offer a wide range of beautiful hair colors, but are safe to use and condition and strengthen my hair at the same time.”


It Conditions and Protects the Hair

Oxidative dyes (commercial dyes) contain a cocktail of synthetic dyes, colorants, PPD, ammonia, metallic salts, and other chemicals which can be damaging and drying to the hair and scalp. Henna, on the other hand, is pretty straight forward. The acting dye is lawsone, which binds to and stains the keratin on the outer layers of your hair. These molecules act as reinforcement, and protect against future damage. Not only that, but henna acts as a natural sun-block, protecting hair against UV damage.

Unlike commercial hair dyes that leave hair more brittle and fragile, henna leaves your hair smooth, shiny, stronger, and sometimes even thicker. Over time, your hair can grow to longer lengths without breaking.

What customers are saying:

“I was tired of losing hair to the harsh chemicals to be a blonde. Stylists would say hair loss in your forties is normal. Crazy! Just like they would justify the burning sensation during processing the color. I love my henna hair weekends. My hair is healthy thanks to henna. I Love the rosemary shampoo bar as well. Henna/indigo has changed my life and saves my budget.”


It’s Permanent

Anyone who has dyed their hair at the salon or with boxed dye can relate to the experience of seeing a beautiful color for the first few days or weeks, and then watching the color fading and becoming dull, with gray hairs peeking through again. Even dyes that are labeled “permanent” seem to fade. Before you know it, you’re dyeing your hair again and again to maintain your color, all the while inflicting more and more damage to your hair.

Henna works differently. It binds permanently to the hair and doesn’t fade. In fact, it can slowly get darker over time if you’re not careful. This darkening is easily preventable. Most henna users only do their roots after dyeing all of their hair once; some do a full-head treatment once every few months for conditioning benefits, but it’s not absolutely necessary.

What customers are saying:

“Henna is a completely different way of dyeing your hair, when I started using it, I found a more natural red color (my favorite) that is not flat, but shimmery and doesn’t fade!”


It’s Completely Safe

Henna is a great choice for women who are pregnant, people with sensitive skin, people who are recovering from illness, or just anyone who wants to avoid using chemicals that may be harmful to them. It is a wonderful alternative for those who have PPD sensitizations, who cannot use regular hair dye without experiencing painful and life-threatening reactions. So many of our customers are those who thought they would never be able to dye their hair again before they found us.

We at Ancient Sunrise run our plant powders under a microscope and conduct other tests to check for PPD, metallic salts, heavy metals, pesticides, and other chemical adulterants. This is why we feel confident in saying that they are safe to use.  To read more about henna and microscopy, click this link: https://www.tapdancinglizard.com/henna-science-and-microscopy/. Much of the henna on the market claiming to be pure doesn’t have evidence to back it up.   Most suppliers are unaware of what processes their products undergo before it reaches them.  Other companies pre-mix their plant powders and add synthetic dyes, metallic salts, and other ingredients hoping to simplify the process and improve results; often the opposite occurs.

Because they contain nothing but plant powder, it is safe to use Ancient Sunrise® henna on hair that has been previously dyed, and it is safe to use commercial hair dye over hennaed hair. Same with lighteners, perms, and relaxers.  It’s important to note that your color may vary or you may need several applications of Ancient Sunrise® products if your hair is severely damaged from chemical processes.

Allergic reactions to henna, indigo, and cassia are very rare.  If you have mold allergies, you may experience a reaction with indigo, so test first (reactions are similar to hay-fever).  Mold spores can develop when indigo goes through its natural fermentation process.  The fermentation process creates a very moist environment which makes mold spores virtually unavoidable.  A small percentage of users experience mild hay-fever related symptoms. Those with a G6PD deficiency, a hereditary condition, should not use henna.

What customers are saying:

“After years of abuse, chemicals, heat and other various forms of hair torture, I finally found henna. Ancient Sunrise to be specific. My final experience with chemical hair color made me sick for a full 3 days, I even had to call off work to recover. Since then I’ve used only Ancient Sunrise with some apple juice, my hair has grown amazingly fast (I had to cut most of it off as it was so damaged it was like wet straw). Now after 2 years of AS henna, it’s healthy, shiny, and longer than it has been since I was a child.”


“With all the safety testing they do I am thrilled to get it for this price. Many other hennas out there have tested with molds and heavy metals. THIS company cares about having a clean safe henna. That’s priceless. I have mercury poisoning and have to be VERY careful what I use. My hairdresser turned me on to this product after researching many.”


It has Anti-fungal Properties

Did you know that henna can be used against fungal infections such as ringworm and athlete’s foot? Henna has antifungal properties and has been used for centuries as a remedy. It has also been safely used on animals. The owner, Catherine Cartwright-Jones PhD., soothes her pug’s summer itchies with henna.  If using henna on an animal, just make sure they will not be licking the paste–it’s not poisonous, but may give them a stomach ache. Also be aware that if you have a particularly energetic animal, you may have henna smeared here and there throughout your home.

Because fungus is one cause for dandruff, you may find a decrease in dandruff after using henna, as well. Because we are not medical professionals, we cannot diagnose, nor prescribe. However, several scientific studies have shown henna’s efficacy against certain skin fungi, and we have many customers who have chosen to try henna on fungal infections and with success.

To find relief from athlete’s foot or toenail fungus, treat yourself to a henna pedicure.

Henna is applied to the feet to kill fungus and to condition dry, cracked skin.

What customers are saying:

“[My husband’s] tinea inguinum and backside folliculitis have now scabbed over. As a sports medicine professional I am amazed that this was the only successful treatment…The henna caused both to completely dry up and scab over within 1 day. He has been dealing with this for 4 years of embarrassment and antibiotics and anti fungal creams.”


It Kills Lice

Lice are becoming resistant to many of the common over-the-counter and prescription drugs used against them. Having lice can be an incredibly itchy, frustrating experience.  Luckily, no such resistance exists against henna at this time. It is also a safer, natural alternative to the conventional lice treatment. It may even be quite soothing and enjoyable.

An application of henna paste mixed with a small amount of fenugreek or artemesia powder will kill lice and its eggs. Artemesia should not be used on children or pregnant women, but fenugreek is safe.

Henna will give the hair a reddish tone. If you don’t mind sending your children back to school as red-heads, this won’t be a problem. It’s better than shaving them bald. If your child has secretly dreamt of having red hair (as this writer did in her youth), it might even be a bonus!

If red hair isn’t your thing, you can adjust the color with a henna/indigo mix, or lighten your hair after the lice is eradicated.

It’s Better for the Environment

From growth to use, henna is healthy and sustainable. Henna is a hardy, drought-resistant plant that does not need very much to thrive. Henna farmers don’t need to worry about using large amounts of water to keep their plants alive, and pesticides are unnecessary. The small trees grow slowly and live up to fifty years. Only the leaves are harvested, so the rest of the plant stays firmly in the ground where it protects the soil from wind and erosion.

Henna trees are used as hedgerows in agricultural areas. It prevents desert encroachment, and its thorns keep away pesky animals that may attempt to enter a farmer’s field to munch on their crops. Thus, not only is it easy and environmentally sustainable to maintain henna crops, but the crops themselves offer additional benefits to the areas in which they grow.

In comparison to creating commercial dyes, henna’s processing is quite simple. The leaves are harvested, dried, ground, and sifted into a fine powder, before being sealed into air-tight packages. The powder’s long shelf life means that a sealed, dry packet of henna can stay good for several years. Preservatives are unnecessary. The packaging is minimal and functional.

Finally, consider what is going down the drain when you rinse henna out of your hair. Plant powder. Maybe some kind of fruit juice. Water. Using henna means feeling safe that you are not putting harmful chemicals back into the water supply.

It’s Economical

Buying hair dye at the local store can run anywhere between $5-15 dollars per box, or more. It’s not that much, but considering the fact that most people who dye their hair re-dye once every three to six weeks, those costs can add up. Conventional dyes also fade over time, leading to frequent touch-ups to keep the color fresh. Having your color done at the salon can run you over a hundred dollars or more.

To keep costs down and your color bright, dye only your roots as they grow out.

The color you get from dyeing your hair with henna is permanent. It doesn’t fade over time, and it may actually deepen if you re-apply too often. After dyeing all of their hair once, most people only touch up their roots. The average root touch-up takes 30g-100g of powder, which costs about $3-10 per touch-up, and less when you buy in bulk.

The plant powders last for years when kept sealed and dry. Many customers place a bulk order once or twice a year so their ingredients are all on hand. This saves money with our bulk discount, and cuts down on shipping costs. For some, enough henna for a full year’s worth of color is less than $100, or even less than $50. Awesome, right?

What customers are saying:

“I buy the henna in 1/2 kilo lots. My hair is short, so that 1/2 kilo will do 10 applications for me. At around $40 per 500g, that costs me $4 per application.”


It’s Empowering

We believe in putting the power of knowledge back into the hands of the consumer. This is why we make so many resources available on www.mehandi.com and www.tapdancinglizard.com. The owner and founder, Catherine Cartwright-Jones, pursued a PhD in henna-related studies so that she could spread accurate, science-based knowledge about henna and affect changes in the way women choose their hair products.

Many people are affected by PPD sensitization and can no longer dye their hair with commercial dyes. When they discover henna, they often encounter piles of misinformation on the internet, and from friends, family, or hairdressers. In the customer service office, we help new henna-users every day, who go on to fall in love with henna and never turn back to regular hair dyes.

The process of mixing and applying can be daunting to someone who has never used henna before, but it’s not as hard as it looks! Using henna was once common knowledge in regions of South Asia and the Middle East, where women came together to spend a day washing, dyeing their hair, and enjoying each other’s company. Henna brings a communal aspect into beauty rituals.

We have thousands of customers from all walks of life who mix and apply their henna at home, and enjoy the process. They get to take control of their hair, its color and its health. They are fully informed about what they are using and how to use it. They can rest confident that they are not harming their bodies. They share their information with family, friends, and complete strangers. We’ve lost count of how many times customers have told us that they get compliments from strangers, or that they themselves found out about us from someone they met.

What customers are saying:

“Henna user for over 20 years; finally understood the process and achieved great color with an easier process with your info. Have been using your henna/process for 6 years. (extra bonus: Your sifted henna doesn’t clog the drains as much!)”


“Using Ancient Sunrise Henna = self love”


The empowerment goes far beyond just the customer. By supporting Ancient Sunrise® and www.Mehandi.com,you support a small business that employs a diverse group of people with various cultural backgrounds, identities, and orientations. You support further research for henna and natural cosmetics, and advocacy against the use of PPD in commercial products.

We are also one of the largest importers of henna and other plant powders in the United States, contributing to the continuing agricultural economy of the areas which grow and process our products. This helps to ensure that henna remains a profitable crop for those who cultivate it. We believe in fair business practices, a relaxed and cheerful work environment, and a constant desire to inquire, create, and grow so we can keep offering the best products and services to a widening group of customers. It really is pretty cool.

If you still need some extra convincing before you switch to Ancient Sunrise® Henna for Hair, don’t hesitate to contact us via phone, email, or chat

Full Coverage: Why Henna Color Darkens and How to Prevent It

Unlike boxed dyes, henna is permanent and does not fade. With continued applications and exposure to heat or mineral buildup, the color darkens. Henna and indigo also go through oxidation. For those who find their color results too bright, darkening with subsequent applications or heat appliances is a handy technique for adjusting their color. For others who are happy with their color and want to keep it, this can be frustrating. Depending on the cause, you may be able to brighten hennaed hair that has deepened and dulled. In other cases, chemical lightening may be the only option. If you love your result and want to keep it, it is best to be proactive in preventing darkening.


Henna will always oxidize. The most noticeable oxidization happens in the first week after dyeing. The color is bright upon first rinse, and deepens during the subsequent days. Some people get “orange panic” when they first rinse out their henna, as the initial color of a henna application can be a bright copper. This brightness is normal. Within a week, the dye settles in and oxidizes, much like a cut apple exposed to air.

Henna Oxidzing

Hennaed hair oxidizes to a deeper shade during the first weeks after application. The majority of noticeable color change occurs in the first two weeks; oxidation continues slowly and minimally thereafter.

In some cases, oxidation can continue and cause the color to darken further. This is common in very acidic mixes. Lemon juice causes a vividly bright copper stain upon first rinse, and that color drops to deep auburn through oxidation. Lemon juice can also be harsh and drying to the hair and scalp. A mix using apple cider vinegar will cause similar issues. If one chooses to use either of these two acidic liquids, diluting with distilled water will lessen undesired brightness, over oxidation, and dryness.

For those who love the bright initial result of a low pH mix, but find lemon juice or AVC too harsh, a good alternative is Ancient Sunrise® Kristalovino fruit acid powder, which gives a similar bright result with less oxidation. Even better is Ancient Sunrise® Copperberry fruit acid powder, which is high in antioxidants, preventing the color from oxidizing over time.

Conversely, those who love the deep auburn color and who find their initial color to be too bright can use Ancient Sunrise® Malluma Kristalovino acid powder, which pushes the overall tone of the henna down to lovely auburn and deep red tones without the initial bright copper.

Different Fruit Acids and Henna


One of the greatest qualities of henna for hair is its permanence. There is little to no fading; touch-ups are rarely needed. A common mistake is to treat henna like a conventional dye and to apply it from root to ends during every application.

After you have achieved your desired color on the full length of your hair, avoid dyeing the length. Most henna users dye their roots every 3-6 weeks depending on root growth. Some choose to do a full-head treatment a few times a year. Not only does a root-only application prevent darkening, but it is cost effective. Some overlap is fine, and for those with short hair, it is almost unavoidable.

Each person finds the technique that works best for them. Using a carrot bag or an applicator bottle with a thin tip can help concentrate the paste near the scalp. Sectioning and clipping the hair is helpful, as well. Some only touch up their hairline and part regularly, leaving a full root touchup for when their roots become more noticeable.

Applying henna only to new root growth will keep the color bright.

Saturation can also occur with longer processing times. Henna will continue dyeing the hair for as long as it is kept in. Those who desire deep, rich results often keep their henna in for at least six hours, or overnight. If you prefer a lighter, brighter result, consider keeping the processing time to three to four hours.

Finally, it’s a common mistake to fall head-over-heels in love with the benefits of henna and end up slathering it on every couple of weeks. The process of hennaing hair is quite soothing and addictive. If you can’t resist a frequent mud treatment, switch to cassia, which has similar conditioning benefits to henna, but no color change when mixed with distilled water and used right away without dye-release. On darker hair, dye-released cassia will deliver great conditioning without altering the color.

Hard Water

The quality of water that comes out of the tap varies greatly from region to region. If you have hard water, the minerals can build up as you wash you hair. Minerals will darken and dull hennaed hair. If the water from the tap has a metallic or sulfur taste or smell, or if you have white buildup on your faucets or in a teapot, those same minerals will attach to the hair, dulling the color. Minerals also cause the hair to feel dry and unmanageable.

This is an especially easy fix. Our Ancient Sunrise® Rainwash clarifying treatment chelates minerals out of the hair, leaving it brighter and softer. Many customers swear by it. It is also great to use prior to henna, to ensure that your hair is completely clean for best results. Using Ancient Sunrise® Rainwash regularly will keep hair bright and free of buildup.

Heat and Oxidation

Henna will oxidize quickly and permanently when exposed to high heat. The occasional blow-dry is nothing to worry about, but styling tools such as curlers and flat irons will cause noticeable darkening within a few uses. Consider other options for straightening or curling that involve gentler heat or air-drying.

This hair sample was dyed with henna, then exposed to direct heat on the right side.

Some henna users report that spending a large amount of time in the sun seemed to darken their hair. If you live in hot, sunny areas, you may consider a hat or scarf if you plan to be outside for extended time. On the bright side, henna is a great natural SPF, so if your hair is exposed to sun, it may darken but will not be damaged.

There is no easy fix for oxidation caused by heat. Using preventative measures such as using an acid high in antioxidants, applying henna just to the roots, and using Ancient Sunrise© Rainwash will ensure that other factors are not causing additional darkening. Once hennaed hair has been darkened by heat, it will remain that way.

You can choose to lighten heat-oxidized hair using peroxide or lightening agents. Only do this if you have used nothing but Ancient Sunrise® products, as they have been tested for purity and will not react to chemical lighteners. If you have used any other henna or hair-dye products, it is critical to test a sample of your hair first, as metallic salts and other additives will cause serious chemical reactions with lightening products.

If your mix includes indigo, conduct a strand test to determine if the indigo will lift successfully from your hair. Some find that indigo will not lift completely, and leave a blue or green tone.

Your Mix

Let’s say you loved the color you had, but now you just want to transition into a slightly lighter shade as you hair grows. Adjusting your formula is a simple way to do it.

If you are using just henna, try adding some cassia to your future mixes, and apply to the roots. This will turn deeper reds into brighter, more coppery reds. You could also try switching your henna. Or, consider switching to a lower dye-content henna. Ancient Sunrise® Rajasthani Twilight, our most popular henna, is also our highest dye-content henna. Ancient Sunrise® Monsoon and Ancient Sunrise® Rarity Henna all yield beautiful lighter and brighter tones.  As your hair grows, the transition to a lighter color will appear like an ombre effect.

If you are using a henna/indigo mix, you can decrease your indigo, which will cause your result to be lighter but also warmer. To achieve a lighter mix without additional warm tones, keep henna/indigo ratio steady, and add cassia.

Play around with fruit acids, too. As mentioned above, some acids cause deeper tones, while others keep your color brighter.

For more on mixes, read Henna for Hair 101: Choosing your Mix, and The Mixing and Testing chapter of the Ancient Sunrise® Henna for Hair E-book.

Darkening in Henna/Indigo Mixes

Those who use henna/indigo (“henndigo”) mixes for brunette results may report their hair becoming darker and darker after too many applications. What was once a medium brunette is now a dark brunette, due to oversaturation. Start with using Ancient Sunrise© Rainwash, to ensure any darkening due to build-up is remedied. If the color is still dark, it is possible to remove some indigo to return the color to a lighter shade.

Indigo is an odd and picky dye. Its bond is not as strong as henna, and it relies on several factors for a successful bond. If the hair is coated with dirt, oils, or buildup, indigo will come loose from the hair over time. Those who want a rich and permanent result from a henndigo mix should make sure that they are mixing their indigo with distilled water and a little salt, apply quickly to very clean hair, and process for three to four hours.

In the case of unwanted darkness, an unsuccessful indigo dye can work in a person’s favor. If the indigo is attached loosely, there are methods to pull it out. One method is to apply warm coconut oil to towel-dried hair, wrap and leave in for several hours, and shampoo out. Another is to mix vitamin C powder with clarifying shampoo into a thick, gritty paste, scrub into damp hair, leave in for several minutes, and rinse. Both of the above methods may take more than one treatment to achieve the desired effect. These techniques will not work on everyone, as indigo binds very well in most cases.

If you have additional questions about your darkening hair color, feel free to contact our experts at Customer Service!

Henna for Hair 101: Don’t Put Food On Your Head

Well… you can if you really want to, but please keep it out of your henna.

If you’ve surfed around the internet looking for information on dyeing hair with henna, chances are that you’ve found dozens of articles and videos on how to create a henna mix for your hair, and many of them have told you to add any of a variety of things into the mix. How do you decide which to use? Should you add coffee? Should you add coconut milk? Eggs? Spices? Oils? Yogurt? Beet juice? The answer is no. And here’s why we say don’t put food on your head.

The obsession with using foods and other ingredients in henna mixes comes from a few myths:

First, there is the idea that henna is drying to the hair, and that some ingredients can prevent that. Henna does not ‘dry out’ hair, though it does raise the cuticle temporarily.  Conditioner or a vinegar rinse will smooth it right back down. 

Second is the idea that dark colored ingredients such as coffee or cinnamon will make your color darker, or bright red/purple ingredients such as beets or paprika will add those hues to your color. Beets and carrots may change the color of your bowel movements, but they won’t change the color of your hair.

Third is that spices and oils with strong scents will mask the smell of the plant dye powders and make your hair smell better.

Fourth is that the cosmetic industry puts pictures of fruit and herbs on their packaging to ‘greenwash’ the fact that their products are mostly chemicals.  This gives people the impression that adding random ‘natural’ and ‘exotic’ things makes products better.  It’s more complicated than that.

Because of all the misinformation floating around the internet, people get the idea that adding a bunch of extra ingredients into their henna mix will result in a super powerful, awesome conditioner/cleaner/dye paste worthy of the gods. It’s an attractive idea because you have these items in your kitchen already, and certain foods do have beneficial properties for hair and skin.

Spoiler alert: You’ll just end up with a lot of wasted food, and less of the benefits of henna….so say with me: don’t put food on your head.

Here’s the Truth:

Henna is not drying, nor damaging.

Some notice that after rinsing their henna paste out, their hair feels crunchy, tangled, or dry. This is due to the temporary change of the hair structure after dyeing with henna. When the dye molecules migrate into the hair, the cuticle is raised up, making the hair seem rougher and coarser. As the dye molecules settle down into place, your hair becomes smoother again. This can take a couple of days, but you can help to smooth the cuticles back down by using conditioner, rinsing with cool water, and rinsing with apple cider vinegar.

Layers of keratin scales form the outer surface of the hair fiber. These cuticles are temporarily raised during dyeing, and settle back down afterward.

If your hair feels gritty after henna, you may not have rinsed it all out. The easiest way to get all of that paste out is to fill your tub with warm water, and lay back, swishing your hair around. Massage a good handful of conditioner into your hair, rinse, and repeat until it feels soft. Contrary to popular thought, there is nothing keeping you from using shampoo, conditioner, or any other hair product right away. There is a myth that shampooing after henna causes the dye to fade; this isn’t the case. The dye binds to the hair during the three to four hours the paste is left on the head, and it is there to stay. Any color that tints the water going down your drain was residual dye.

The myth of henna being damaging to the hair comes from compound hennas, which are not pure henna. These are mixes that contain henna as well as other ingredients such as metallic salts, PPD, and other chemical additives. Compound henna is damaging to the hair, but pure henna plant powder is not. 

As long as you are using 100% pure plant powder, adding coconut milk, oils, conditioner, honey, yogurt, egg or any other products to “moisturize” the hair is not necessary, and will prevent the dye from staining your hair.

            Read Why Hair Feels Dry After Henna and How to Fix It for more about this topic.

Good quality henna is easy to rinse out.

Another reason so many recipes have you digging around in your refrigerator is because much of the henna sold for hair is poorly sifted, full of leaf bits, twigs, sand, and other undesirably chunky bits. Adding oils, milks, fats, and other slippery ingredients are supposed to create a smoother henna paste that’s easier to apply and rinse out.  In reality, oils coat the hair and prevent the henna dye molecules from effectively binding to the hair. Imagine dipping some fabric into oil, and then trying to dye it. The result would not be so great.

It’s easier to start out with high quality, finely sifted henna.  That way, picking twigs out of your hair won’t be part of your henna routine.

Just because it’s brightly colored doesn’t mean it’ll dye your hair.

Beet juice, paprika, hibiscus, red cabbage juice, and any other number of bright red/purple ingredients will not make your resulting hair color redder or more burgundy.

Coffee will not make your hair darker or browner. But it will smell very strong and give you a headache. Caffeine is transdermal. It will enter your body through your skin, giving you some crazy jitters. Black tea, just like coffee, won’t change the color, no matter how strong you brew it.

These ingredients do not contain dyes that permanently change the color of your hair. In order to do that, a dye molecule needs to be able to bind into the keratin on your hair. When henna powder is mixed with an acidic liquid, the dye molecules become available in a form that can attach permanently to keratin. This process does not work with every substance. To check if an ingredient is capable of dyeing hair, read Does it Dye Hair? The Official List.

Some of these ideas come from techniques for fabric dyeing; people wrongly assume that if a plant or spice can dye fabric or wool, it will do the same thing on the hair. Dyeing fabrics with plants usually involve boiling the fabric and using a mordant, neither of which you’ll want to do with your hair.

If you want a brighter red, certain fruit acids will push the henna tone lighter, and prevent deepening from oxidation. Mixing henna and cassia will also result in lighter coppers and oranges.

If you want browner tones, add indigo. Fruit acids can also deepen your result. Amla mutes down the brighter orange tones. Nightfall Rose adds subtle ash tones.

Good Smells

            Some people love the smell of henna, and others think it smells like wet dog or iron rust. For those who don’t like the smell, there are two things that can neutralize and mask it: ginger powder and cardamom powder. Ginger neutralizes, and cardamom adds a spicy sweet scent. Do not use cinnamon or clove, as they irritate the skin.

Many henna recipes recommend dye-releasing henna with herbal tea. Herbal tea, on its own, is not acidic enough to dye-release henna. There isn’t an issue with adding this as long as you have some other acidic component.

Essential oils can cause headaches and irritate the skin. Keep in mind that anything that is in your henna mix will be sitting on your scalp for several hours. And again, oils create a barrier against the dye. So resist the urge to dig into your stash of EOs when mixing up your henna. That stuff is pricy. Save it for other things.

“But it’s so natural and healthy!”

Healthy and natural lifestyles are on the rise. Throughout the internet, you see endless articles containing homemade face mask recipes that look more like recipes for something you might feed a baby (banana, oatmeal, avocado, egg…) and these ingredients end up on hair masks, as well. And then in henna mixes.

There’s nothing wrong with that, and sure, some food items are beneficial on the skin and in the hair. But henna on its own is strengthening and conditioning. Adding a bunch of other things prevents you from getting the full effect of the benefits of henna, not to mention causing a weaker stain. In the end, instead of creating some kind of super henna, you’ll end up having a weird smoothie that happens to also have henna in it.

Rule of thumb: A hair mask is a hair mask. Henna is henna. Both do their own special things for the hair, but keep them separate. If you really want to, wait until after you rinse your henna out, and then condition your hair with the contents of your kitchen. Or use those items to make lunch, instead.

If you only want conditioning benefits, Cassia would be a better choice than henna. You get the same conditioning benefits, without the color change. Remember to keep your cassia mix simple, too.

So what CAN you put in your henna?

Simple, clear, mildly acidic fruit juices: lemon juice, apple juice, vinegar, cranberry juice

Very little. The simplest mix is often the best.

You will need something acidic to dye-release the henna and/or cassia. This can be a fruit acid powder, or fruit juice.

If you…

•don’t like the smell of henna, add a teaspoon of ginger or cardamom powder. 

• are using indigo, a teaspoon of regular table salt for every 100g of indigo can help strengthen the dye.

• don’t like the smell of indigo, a spoonful or two of instant vanilla pudding powder will neutralize the smell.

To make indigo paste creamier and easier to apply, add a teaspoon of Ancient Sunrise® CMC powder.

And that’s it. That is why one of our most popular phrases at Mehandi is don’t put food on your head.

To learn more, read the Ancient Sunrise® Henna for Hair E-Book, and feel free to contact the Customer Service Representatives at www.Mehandi.com.

What’s the Difference Between These Plant Dye Powders?

Henna for Hair 101: What’s the Difference Between These Plant Dye Powders?

If you’ve read Henna for Hair 101: The Bare Essentials and Henna for Hair 101: Choosing Your Mix, you’ll know by now that a Henna for Hair mix will contain up to three plant powders and one acidic component.

Ancient Sunrise® offers henna, indigo, and cassia. What’s the difference between these plant dye powders? How do you choose? Never fear. Keep reading.

Ancient Sunrise® Henna

Henna varies in dye content, sift, and tone. It is affected by region in which I grows, and yearly weather conditions which cause the natural dye concentration to be higher or lower. If it helps, think of henna like wine grapes. Weather and regions produce variation in crop and quality. As with grapes, there can be multiple varieties of henna plant, leading to qualitative differences in the resulting color.

Ancient Sunrise® runs every batch to under a microscope to determine its sift, as well as to ensure there are no additives such as sand and PPD. Back at the office, we test mixes on hair samples to observe paste consistency and color results.

The dye content refers to the concentration of lawsone in the henna. Higher dye contents lead to more saturated coverage and deeper, richer shades. Dye content ranges between 0.5% and 3%. Henna stains will always be orange/red in tone.  The lower dye content hennas tend to be more coppery, some varieties in the middle range of dye content have rosier undertones, and a few with high dye content tend to mature towards brownish tones.

Sift refers to the size of the powder particles. Finer sifts create smoother pastes that are easier to apply and rinse out of thick hair, and are easier on delicate and damaged hair.

Ancient Sunrise® Rajasthani Monsoon Henna

This is our standard henna used in most of our regular Henna for Hair kits. It has a lower dye content, good sift, and rosy “true red” tones when used alone. This is the one we recommend to those who want a rich, vivid red with minimal orange tones.

Ancient Sunrise® Rajasthani Twilight Henna

This is the henna used in Henna for Gray hair kits.  It has a high dye content, fine sift, and deep coppery auburn tones when used alone. This is our most popular henna. It provides great gray coverage and it makes for beautiful, rich auburn and brunette results.

Ancient Sunrise® Rarity Henna

This henna is used in the Delicate Hair kits. It has a medium dye content, a wonderfully fine sift, and lighter coppery tones when used alone. A finer sift means a smoother paste, which can be applied and rinsed out of the hair easily. This henna is perfect for people with very thick or curly hair, or delicate and damaged hair.

Ancient Sunrise® Indigo

Indigo varies only on sift. Finer sifts create smoother pastes that are easier to apply and rinse out of thick hair, and are easier on delicate and damaged hair. A finer sift can also lead to a deeper, darker coverage.

Ancient Sunrise® Sudina Indigo

This is the standard indigo used in Henna for Hair kits. It has a regular sift, and good coverage. Indigo paste is grittier than henna paste, but this can be fixed easily with a little Ancient Sunrise® CMC powder.

Ancient Sunrise® Zekhara Indigo

This is the premium quality indigo used in Henna for Gray Hair and Henna for Delicate Hair kits. It has a fine sift for deeper coverage. Because of the finer sift, most people find they don’t need Ancient Sunrise® CMC powder; Ancient Sunrise® Zekhara Indigo applies and rinses out easily.

Ancient Sunrise® Cassia

Ancient Sunrise® Clarity Cassia

Ancient Sunrise® Clarity Cassia is wonderful as a conditioning treatment that leads to smoother, shiner, and stronger hair without a color change.

This premium quality cassia has a finer sift, making it ideal for people with delicate, damaged, thick, or curly hair. This is a great choice for people who want to gently condition and strengthen their delicate or damaged hair.

A small amount of henna and indigo can be added to cassia to create beautiful blonde shades.

Cassia Auriculata vs Cassia Obovata

If you’ve been with Mehandi for awhile, you’ve probably notice that we do not have Sudina or Zekhara Cassia any longer. To read about the differences between Clarity cassia and our previous crops of cassia, click here: http://www.hennaforhair.com/faq/Clarity_cassia-auriculata.pdf.

Ancient Sunrise® Fruit Acids

All henna and cassia mixes need a fruit acid to release the dye that will color the hair. Different fruit acids will lead to slightly different color results because they nudge the dye molecules one way or another during the dye-release process. Acids alone do not contain dyes; they only work to affect the color result of a henna mix.

Gentlest on Hair and Scalp

Ancient Sunrise® Kristalovino and Ancient Sunrise® Malluma Kristalovino are both derived from grapes, and are the gentlest of all the acid powders. These are great for people who have sensitive skin and/or delicate, dry hair.

Ancient Sunrise® Kristalovino allows for brighter, lighter tones in henna and cassia, with some deepening over time.

Ancient Sunrise® Malluma Kristalovino causes deeper, richer shades, and is especially great for brunette mixes. It is the gentlest acid.

Brighter Tones

Ancient Sunrise® Copperberry keeps henna and cassia mixes bright, and is high in antioxidants to prevent deepening from oxidation over time.

Ancient Sunrise® Citric Acid results in bright tones which deepen with oxidation over time. Citric acid may be harsh on sensitive skin. Kristalovino would be a good alternative if you are worried about irritation.

Ancient Sunrise® Kristalovino, as mentioned above, is a gentle acid that makes for brighter, lighter tones.

Ash Tones

Ancient Sunrise® Nightfall Rose contains anthocyanins to add a subtle “blue’ tone to henna and cassia mixes, muting out brighter tones. This is great in combination with Monsoon henna, for those who want a rich, vivid “true” red with minimal orange tones.  It is also good for neutral blonde and brunette results.

Ancient Sunrise® Amla helps to neutralize brighter red/orange tones, and aids in the binding of indigo molecules on the hair, for cooler, deeper brunettes. It also prevents curl loosening. Because henna smooths the hair and adds weight, those who want to keep their curls bouncy can use Ancient Sunrise® Amla to counteract any loosening effects. (Amla will not ash out henna or cassia only mixes.)

One wonderful thing about henna mixes is that they are forgiving. If you want to switch a plant powder or fruit acid, or change the ratios of your mixture, you can do this at any time, and the results of the new mixture will blend nicely with the color you already have in your hair. Feel free to read more or contact a Customer Service rep, who would be more than happy to help you decide on what you need.

Author: Rebecca Chou August 2017
Edited: Maria Moore August 2022

Amla is also antibacterial and high in vitamin c, making it a great facial mask. It exfoliates, smooths, tightens, and brightens complexions.

Switching It Up

One wonderful thing about henna mixes is that they are forgiving. If you want to switch a plant powder or fruit acid, or change the ratios of your mixture, you can do this at any time, and the results of the new mixture will blend nicely with the color you already have in your hair. Feel free to read more or contact a Customer Service rep, who would be more than happy to help you decide on what you need.

Author: Rebecca Chou August 2017
Edited: Maria Moore August 2022

Henna for Hair 101: Choosing Your Mix

Nearly any natural hair color is achievable with the correct mixture of plant dyes.

When choosing your mix, we understand that it can be overwhelming. If at any point you’re not sure where to start, contact our wonderful customer service team!

The quick and dirty facts about henna for hair are the following:*

  • Henna by itself stains keratin a range of shades between copper and dark auburn.
  • Indigo darkens and browns these shades, and cassia lightens these shades, adding golden tones.
  • Equal parts henna and indigo will result in a medium brunette on most. More indigo will result in darker and darker shades of brunette.
  • Equal parts of henna and cassia results in bright, fiery tones of copper and orange. More cassia will result in lighter and brighter tones of strawberry blonde.
  • All three together will result in more shades of blondes and golden brunettes.
  • Henna first, then indigo second in a two-step process results in a shiny jet black color.
  • None of these powders or mixes will turn darker hair a lighter color.

    *color results depend on starting hair color, with the exception of jet black.

Important information

If you are already lost, click here to read Henna for Hair 101: Bare Essentials.

The amount of product you need will depend on the length and thickness of your hair. If you have very short hair, you will want to adjust your measurements to save product. If you have very long hair, you will have to increase the amount of product you are using. The Customer Service representatives at www.mehandi.com are there to help you if you need it.

We have several types of henna, indigo, and cassia that vary by tone and/or sift. To see descriptions of the plant powders and fruit acid powders read Henna for Hair 101: What’s the Difference Between All These Plant Powders?

Choosing your Mix: Pre-Made Kits

If this is your first time using Ancient Sunrise® Henna for Hair products, it is easiest to start out with a pre-made kit. Ancient Sunrise® has a wide variety of kits to dye hair any shade from blonde to jet black, and they are formulated for regular hair, graying hair, and fragile hair (both natural and relaxed). We include the correct ratios of the plant powders and acid powders you’ll need to achieve your desired result, as well as gloves, a piping bag (great for quick and easy root touch-ups), and instructions on how to put everything together. No measuring or guessing necessary. All you’ll need is distilled water.

Because certain powders need to be mixed at certain times for the best results, we do not pre-blend the powders, but rather provide them in individual packets inside the kits.

We recommend choosing one or more kits to sample on some hair you have collected, and then using the full kit of your choice after determining which one works best for you. If you’re not picky about your results, you can jump right in with a full kit.

Below is a quick cheat sheet on the kits, their formulations, and the expected results.

Even if you want to create your own mix rather than buying a kit, the chart below can help you see what you might need to achieve your desired result.

Everything in the kits is available for individual and bulk purchase. Most customers start with kits until they are comfortable with the process, then order in bulk. We offer bulk discounts, which makes stocking up economical.


If you have light hair:

Desired ResultKitMix
Brighten blondes, adding golden tone and shine Ancient Sunrise® Blonde

• 96.5% Ancient Sunrise® Clarity cassia
• 1.5% Ancient Sunrise® Twilight henna
• 3% Zekhara indigo
• Ancient Sunrise® Kristalovino fruit acid

Warm, strawberry blonde or golden blonde Ancient Sunrise® Sunshine

• 80% Ancient Sunrise® Clarity cassia
• 20% Ancient Sunrise® Twilight henna
• Ancient Sunrise® Kristalovino fruit acid

Deep, neutral blonde to light golden brown

Ancient Sunrise® Chai• 66% Ancient Sunrise® cassia
• 17% Ancient Sunrise® Twilight henna
• 17% part Ancient Sunrise® Sudina indigo
• Ancient Sunrise® Nightfall Rose fruit acid
Vivid, orange red Ancient Sunrise® Fire • 50% Ancient Sunrise® Clarity cassia
• 50% Ancient Sunrise® Monsoon
• Ancient Sunrise® Copperberry fruit acid

Bright, rosy “true” red

Ancient Sunrise® Red • Ancient Sunrise® Monsoon Henna
• Ancient Sunrise® Copperberry fruit acid

Deeper “true” red Ancient Sunrise® Cinnamon • Ancient Sunrise® Monsoon Henna
• Ancient Sunrise® Kristalovino fruit acid

Auburn Ancient Sunrise® Auburn (gray hair kit)• Ancient Sunrise® Rajasthani Twilight henna
• Ancient Sunrise® Malluma Kristalovino

Medium, warm, chestnut brown

Ancient Sunrise® Medium Brown

• 50% Ancient Sunrise® Monsoon henna
• 50% Ancient Sunrise® Sudina indigo
• Ancient Sunrise® Malluma Kristalovino
Medium Cool brown Ancient Sunrise® Cool Brown • 50% Ancient Sunrise® Monsoon henna
• 50% Ancient Sunrise® Sudina indigo
• Ancient Sunrise® Amla fruit acid
Dark, warm, chocolate brown

Ancient Sunrise® Dark Brown• 33% Ancient Sunrise® Monsoon henna
• 66% Ancient Sunrise® Sudina indigo
• Ancient Sunrise® Malluma Kristalovino
Dark, cool brown Ancient Sunrise® Cool Dark Brown• 33% Ancient Sunrise® Monsoon henna
• 66% Ancient Sunrise® Sudina indigo
• Ancient Sunrise® Amla fruit acid

Soft Black/Very Very dark brown Ancient Sunrise® Warm Black

• 20% Ancient Sunrise® Twilight henna
• 80% Ancient Sunrise® Zekhara indigo
• Ancient Sunrise® Malluma Kristalovino
Jet black

Ancient Sunrise® Black 2 step process
• 1st: Ancient Sunrise® Monsoon henna
• 2nd: Ancient Sunrise® Sudina indigo
• Ancient Sunrise® Malluma Kristalovino


If you have medium brunette hair:

Desired ResultKitMix
Richen color (a shade or two darker)

Ancient Sunrise® ChaiSee first chart for kit mix details

Slightly ginger Ancient Sunrise® Fire

Ginger Ancient Sunrise® Red or Cinnamon

Medium to Dark Auburn

Ancient Sunrise® Auburn (gray hair kit)

Darker brownAncient Sunrise® Medium Brown or Cool Brown
Darker cool brownAncient Sunrise® Dark Brown or Cool Dark Brown
Warm soft black Ancient Sunrise® Warm Black
Jet Black Ancient Sunrise® Black

If you have darker hair:

Desired ResultKitMix
Add warm tones

Warm red tones under sunlight

Ancient Sunrise® Red or Cinnamon, or Auburn

See first chart for kit mix details

Deepen color by a couple of shades

Ancient Sunrise® Medium Brown or Cool Brown

Soft black

Ancient Sunrise® Dark Brown, Cool Dark Brown, or Warm Black

Jet BlackAncient Sunrise® Black

If you have graying hair:

Desired ResultKitMix
Blend grays to a golden light brown tone

Ancient Sunrise® ChaiSee first chart for kit mix details

Rich red highlights with an overall warm colorAncient Sunrise® Henna for Gray Hair: AuburnSee first chart for kit mix details

Chestnut highlights on darker hair or blend gray with medium brown hairAncient Sunrise® Henna for Gray Hair: Medium Brown

• 50% Ancient Sunrise® Twilight henna
• 50% Ancient Sunrise® Zekhara indigo
• Ancient Sunrise® Malluma Kristalovino
Dark, warm brown highlights on black hair or blend grays with dark brown hairAncient Sunrise® Henna for Gray Hair: Dark Brown

• 33% Ancient Sunrise® Twilight henna
• 66% Ancient Sunrise® Zekhara indigo
• Ancient Sunrise® Malluma Kristalovino

Jet BlackAncient Sunrise® Henna for Gray Hair: BlackTwo step process
• 1st: Ancient Sunrise® Twilight henna
• 2nd: Ancient Sunrise® Zekhara indigo
• Ancient Sunrise® Malluma Kristalovino


If you have natural hair, thick/curly hair, or delicate/damaged hair:

Desired ResultKitMix
Add shine with no color

not in kit form

Ancient Sunrise® Clarity cassia with fruit acid of choice
Add warm, copper tones to light and medium hair colors not in kit form

Ancient Sunrise® Rarity henna and fruit acid of choice
Color light hair medium brown or make medium to dark hair a few shades darker Ancient Sunrise® Henna for Delicate Hair: Medium Brown • 50% Ancient Sunrise® Rarity henna
• 50% Ancient Sunrise® Zekhara indigo
• Ancient Sunrise® Malluma Kristalovino
Color medium hair dark or make dark hair a soft black Ancient Sunrise® Henna for Delicate Hair: Dark Brown • 33% Ancient Sunrise® Rarity henna
• 66% Ancient Sunrise® Zekhara indigo
• Ancient Sunrise® Malluma Kristalovino
Jet BlackAncient Sunrise® Henna for Delicate Hair: Black Two step process
• 1st: Ancient Sunrise® Rarity henna
• 2nd: Ancient Sunrise® Zekhara indigo
• Ancient Sunrise® Malluma Kristalovino

Note: Kits that are not labeled “for gray” will blend grays nicely into highlights.

All full sized and sample sized kits can be found here: https://www.mehandi.com/Ancient-Sunrise-Henna-and-Herbal-Hair-Care-s/166.htm

Our Ancient Sunrise® Henna for Hair E-book has great, detailed information about mix formulations, testing, application, trouble-shooting, and more. And of course, we have awesome Customer Service Reps who are all experts on henna for hair, available for consultation via phone, email, and chat during our business hours.

Author: Rebecca Chou
Updated: Maria Moore 2022