Toning Henna – Part 2

In Toning Henna – Part 1, five recipes were tested on hennaed hair, post oxidation, while one recipe was testing on hennaed hair prior to oxidation. I noticed that the hair was different between each recipe, but I didn’t expect to see such a difference between the hair that was toned before and after oxidation, even with similar recipes.

Welcome to Toning Henna – Part 2, where we explore the same mixes, same time frames but all of the hair had the toning mixes applied before the henna had time to oxidize.

What is toning?
If you’re familiar with “henna gloss” or “indigo gloss,” then you’re already familiar with the idea of toning. Toning is a way to alter your hair color from the current color. It’s called “toning” because you’re fine tuning your hair color by adding the missing pigment that will help you get the color that you’re looking for. People tone or do glosses for many reasons, but the biggest reason is because their hair may have come out brighter and/or lighter than expected.
Toning can also be beneficial if you’ve made a mistake in your mix, such as using too much henna, accidentally leaving indigo out your mix, or even correcting a mix where the indigo had demised.
Maria – Toning Henna Part 1

Hair Prep

All of the mohair used was prepped by using a clarifying shampoo and the Twilight henna paste sat on the hair for 24 hours due to lack of body heat. Body heat allows us to keep the paste on for less time to get optimal results, so when testing on samples using henna, 24 hours is a good time frame).

Toning Mixes

All measurements are based on gram weights. A and B samples were left on the hair for 30 minutes and 60 minutes, where as C, D, and E were left out for 15 minutes, 30 minutes, and 60 minutes).

A 90% cassia; 10% indigo (30 minutes ,60 minutes)
B 75% cassia; 25% indigo (30 minutes, 60 minutes)
C 50% cassia; 50% indigo (15 minutes, 30 minutes, 60 minutes)
D 25% cassia; 75% indigo (15 minutes, 30 minutes, 60 minutes)
E 10% cassia; 90% indigo (15 minutes, 30 minutes, 60 minutes)

Mixing Prep

Ancient Sunrise® Clarity Cassia and Sudina Indigo were used (Zekhara indigo can be used for toning as well). Both cassia and indigo powders were mixed together with distilled water right away. The paste should be a thick consistency, only slowly dripping off of the mixing utensil. The paste was applied right away after mixing.


Original Control
Henna Control

Toning Henna (Part 2) • Comparing Mixes

First Test vs Second Test

After observing the samples over a weeks time, I noticed that these samples looked much different than the first series of tests I ran. It’s important to note that the only difference between the first and second tests was that the first test was done after the hennaed hair had settled into it’s final color, while the second test took place before the hennaed hair had settled into its final color.

Hair from the first test is on top in each photo; hair from the second test is on the bottom in each photo.

Every hair swatch of the second batch of samples appear to be lighter and had less red tones. Warmer/red tones show lighter to the human eye because of how we see color, therefore if they were the same level of hair color, all of the bottom swatches would be darker.

It’s probably safe to assume that if one were to do a mix that didn’t come out as warm as straight henna, that toning, either immediately or after a week of letting the hair sit, the results would be cooler in general. It will be important to conduct these tests over different swatches of hair and different mixes. For now, an accurate assessment would be that if you want your hair darker and not as red, then doing a toning mix with cassia and indigo would be good.

Always test to find out what mix and time will work best for you and your hair. Contact our customer service team for assistance: or call 1-855-MEHANDI or 330-673-0600. Visit and for more information.

Maria • Ancient Sunrise® Specialist • Licensed Cosmetologist

Using Rarity Henna on Gray Hair

Many have asked if using Ancient Sunrise® Rarity henna on gray hair works. Well, I’m here to tell you how my experience went.

Note: Please take into consideration that everyone’s head of hair varies and may get different results even when using the same products.

Background on my model, Dahlia:

My mom is allergic to many things; it can make it hard to find products that work for her. She has gray hairs scattered all around her head and her hair is about a 3C or 4A. Her length is a couple inches past her shoulders and curly. She wants to cover her grays and is looking forward to the red highlights that she will get with henna. My mom has a base color of black hair. With henna, she will get a red glow on her hair.

My mom can’t use the Rainwash due to her allergy to citric acid so we used a shampoo that worked best for her. We mixed 3 teaspoons of Malluma Kristalovino with 300 grams of Rarity Henna and distilled water. This was left at room temperature (68 to 72 degrees) for 8 to 12 hours. You can read more about preparing henna for your hair here:

We’re now ready to do some hair!

I part the hair in 4 sections and begin in the back.

There was leftover paste which we will use for root touch-ups in the future. We’ll freeze this for a later application.

The paste sat on my mom’s hair overnight for about 12 hours or so. Then we rinsed her hair and eased the remaining paste out with conditioner. Finally, we shampooed and conditioned her hair.

Here is her end result after 4 days of oxidation:

Using Rarity henna on gray hair covered nicely and gave off a shiny copper color on my mom’s hair.

*You can patch test your mix if you are worried you may be allergic to your fruit acid powder or juice. Look for an article covering patch testing in a future blog!

Damaris • Ancient Sunrise Specialist • LLC

Achieving a Darker Result Using Ancient Sunrise® Henna: Dos and Don’ts

The dye from the henna (lawsonia inermis) plant is called lawsone. If extracted and isolated from the plant, lawsone is a bright orange color. When henna leaves are harvested, dried, and made into powder, and that powder is subsquently mixed with an acidic liquid to form a paste, the lawsone precursor molecules which exist in the henna is released as an intermediate molecule called an aglycone. This aglycone molecule can attach to keratin—such as that which forms the outer layers of hair stands and skin– and then oxidize to its final, stable form. The result on light hair is anywhere between a bright, fiery copper to a deep auburn.

There is no such thing as “brown henna,” or “black henna.” Products with such labels most likely contain some henna along with additional plant dye powders, or even synthetic dyes such as para-phenylenediamine (PPD). This goes for both products marketed for hair use as well as for use on the skin. The truth is, pure henna will only color keratin a variation of orange to red-orange.

In order to achieve a darker result when using henna, something must be added to the henna mix, or the hair/skin must be exposed to heat during or after processing.

This article will explain what can be done to safely and effectively deepen henna results on hair*, as well as what should not be done.

*Note: The same kinds of rules do not always apply in the same way to henna used on the skin. For more information on henna as body art, read “Henna for Body Art 101: How to Achieve a Dark, Long-Lasting Stain” in BecomingMoonlight.Blog. Please also note that if you live in the United States, the FDA does not allow the use of henna for body art purposes (i.e., coloring the skin). Here are the US FDA regulations for the use of henna for the purpose of body art. These regulations have the force of law:

Do: Mix your henna powder with an acidic fruit juice

For a rich, vibrant result, it is important that the henna paste properly dye-releases. Water alone is not enough and will cause light, brassy results. A mildly acidic liquid allows the maximum release of aglycone molecules by keeping them in a hydrogen-rich environment. Water releases some dye molecules, but cannot keep them in their intermediate state as well. The result from a water-only mix is lighter and often less permanent because dye molecules either have not released from the plant material or have released and oxidized to a final state which cannot bond to keratin; therefore, fewer aglycones are available to color the hair. The dye molecules bond to keratin by way of a Michael Addition, which requires the extra hydrogen ions that exist in an acidic solution.

The sample on the left was dyed with henna mixed with an acidic liquid. The sample on the right was dyed with henna mixed with water.

Leaving an acidic paste at room temperature allows for a slower, and better-controlled release of the maximum amount of aglycones. More dye molecules become available in the paste over time, while the acidity prevents rapid oxidation of those molecules (demise). At room temperature, an acidic henna mix is ready after eight to twelve hours. To learn more about proper dye release, read Chapter Six of the Ancient Sunrise Henna for Hair E-Book and “Henna 101: How to Dye-Release Henna” in this blog.

The liquid does not have to be overly acidic. A pH of 5.5 is sufficient. Lemon juice, with a pH of 2-3, is very acidic. Lemon juice can be diluted with 1-3 parts water for an effective mixing liquid. Undiluted lemon juice should be used with care and avoided by those with sensitive skin. To read more about using lemon juice in henna mixes, read The article titled “Should You Be Using Lemon Juice In Your Henna Mix?”

Other fruit juices such as orange, apple, and cranberry are effective for mixing with henna. However, cranberry is often recommended for keeping results lighter and brighter, as the antioxidant content in cranberry juice may prevent darkening.

Ancient Sunrise® also offers fruit acid powders which can be used with distilled water to create a mildly acidic solution. The fruit acid powder called Malluma Kristalovino is gentle on sensitive skin and can help make results deeper. Nightfall Rose fruit acid powder adds subtle ash tones to henna. Amla fruit acid powder can help a henna/indigo mix bind more effectively to hair for deeper, cooler brunette shades.

Don’t: Mix your henna with coffee

Mixing coffee with henna has been recommended by other sources as a way to deepen resulting colors. This has been proven to be ineffective. Not only will adding coffee do very little to the color, but the trans-dermal nature of caffeine will leave a person with jitters or a bad headache. Henna paste needs to be left on for at least three hours. During that time, caffeine would be entering the bloodstream through the skin at a rather rapid rate. Additionally, the paste would smell quite unpleasant.

Do: Apply heat during processing and/or after rinsing

Heat causes the outer cuticle layers of hair strands to open up, thus allowing better dye penetration. Once you have applied the henna paste to your hair and have wrapped it up, keep your head warm by covering it with a thick, knitted cap or a towel. You may also choose to aim a hairdryer at your head for intervals of a few minutes at a time, or sit somewhere warm and sunny. Heat can both speed up processing time and ensure a more saturated result.

After the henna paste has been rinsed out, you may choose to use heat again to speed up the oxidation process. Hennaed hair is naturally lighter and brighter first upon rinsing, and will take several days to a week to settle into its final color. Using a hair dryer or heat styling tools can cause oxidation to occur more quickly. Continual use will darken hennaed hair more and more over time. This darkening is permanent, and can only be reversed with the use of lightening products. Those who wish to avoid causing their hennaed hair to darken should avoid excessive use of heat styling.

This sample has been dyed with henna. The right side was heated with an iron.

Don’t: Mix henna paste with hot or boiling liquid

Many henna for hair products instruct users to mix the powder with hot or boiling water. This technique leads to a rapid release, and subsequent demise, of the dye molecule. As stated above, an acidic liquid allows for more aglycones to be available in the paste at the time of application. The boiling-water method of mixing henna causes lighter, brassier results. With henna, as many other good things in life, patience is key.

Do: Apply henna to clean hair

The sebum, dirt, minerals, and product buildup in unwashed hair prevent dye uptake. For the best results, apply henna to hair that has been treated with Ancient Sunrise Rainwash mineral treatment followed by a clarifying shampoo. At the very least, shampoo your hair very well. Skip the conditioner. Particularly oily or resistant hair can be washed with a few drops of dish-washing detergent to ensure it is ready for dyeing.

If you are a no-poo or low-poo person, this does mean you will have to break your regimen just once if you want the best results. There is just no way around it. Baking soda and vinegar, clay, natural herbs, or any other washing methods will not remove sebum, dirt, and mineral buildup effectively enough for the purposes of coloring hair with henna.

Don’t: Add oils to a henna for hair mix

Just as oils on the hair will prevent effective dye uptake, so will oils added to a henna mix. While some might believe that adding oils or even other ingredients such as milk or yogurt to a henna mix may help, they do not. To read more about what not to add to a henna mix, read Don’t Put Food On Your Head.

Certain types of essential oils, called “terps” (short for monoterpene alcohols) are added to henna pastes made for body art. When used on skin, “terped” henna results in deep burgundy to near-black stains. However, essential oils should not be used in henna for hair. They can cause the resulting color to be muddy (not darker in a desirable way). In addition, leaving a paste containing essential oils on the head for an extended period of time will lead to headaches and scalp irritation.

Do: Add indigo for brunette results

As discussed earlier, the lawsone molecule from henna can provide orange to auburn results when henna plant powder is used alone. In order to achieve brunette tones, another plant dye powder must be added. Indigo plant dye powder contains dye of the same name. This is the dye that was originally used to color denim, and is still used today in many textile traditions. The type of indigo powder used in henna mixes is called vashma indigo. This is made from indigo leaves that have been partially fermented before being dried and powdered. If used on its own on light hair, indigo may color hair grey-blue, sometimes violet, and sometimes a blueish green. The effect is difficult to control and not as permanent as henna.

When used in the right ratios, henna and indigo together will color light hair virtually any natural brunette shade from medium brown to warm black. Unlike henna, indigo does not need acid and time for dye release. It must be mixed with only water just prior to application. To add indigo to henna, mix the powder with distilled water until it is a similar consistency as the henna paste, then combine it thoroughly with dye-released henna paste and apply immediately.

To learn more about indigo, read Chapter Five of the Ancient Sunrise Henna for Hair E-book. To learn what henna/indigo ratio is best for your desired outcome, see “Henna for Hair 101: Choosing Your Mix.”

The sample on the left was dyed with henna only. The sample on the right was dyed with indigo only. Those in the middle were dyed with various ratios of the two.

Don’t: Add black walnut powder, anything claiming to be “Buxus” or “Katam,” or synthetic dyes

Black walnut powder is sometimes mentioned in natural hair care communities for the use of dyeing hair brown. The effect is not as permanent as henna. Additionally, black walnut is known to cause allergic reaction for many people. It is therefore best avoided.

Buxus dioica, also called katam, is a plant that works similarly to indigo when used with henna. The result is shades of brunette. However, buxus was only grown in and exported from Yemen. The conflict occurring within the country has ceased exports and production of buxus and other goods. There are a few vendors which claim to carry buxus. At best, those products are in all actuality indigo powder labeled as buxus. At worst, they contain dangerous or ineffective ingredients.

Do not add synthetic (store-bought or salon) hair dyes to your henna mix. They are not compatible and are not meant to be used in the same mixture. Oxidative dyes color the hair through a very different chemical process than henna. Do not try to add other types of dyes, such as fabric dye or food coloring.

You can, however, safely use semi/demi-permanent or oxidative dyes over hair that has been colored with Ancient Sunrise® henna for hair products (and no other henna product), as the plant powders sold by Ancient Sunrise® have been tested in an independent lab to ensure they do not contain mineral salts or other adulterants which may react with synthetic hair products.

Also Don’t: Use premixed “henna for hair” products

Some “natural” hair coloring products which promise a brunette or black result declare a combination of henna, indigo, and/or other plant ingredients. Because henna and indigo must be prepared separately, any product which blends the plant dye powders together is likely to produce inferior results.

Some products labeled as henna for hair may also contain azo dyes (such as Red 33) or oxidative dyes (such as PPD). The requirement for ingredients declarations varies from country to country so that some products manufactured outside of the US do not report all of the ingredients which they contain. While such products are not allowed to enter the United States, all too often they slip by. It is best to stick with purchasing pure plant dye powders in separate packages and mixing them yourself. While a pre-mixed product may seem tempting, opting for Ancient Sunrise® products and methods allows you to keep your peace of mind.

Do: Repeated applications of henna

While henna does not “coat” the hair, repeated applications will cause your hair to be more saturated with dye each time. We often recommend to only color new hair growth after a person has achieved their desired color. This is because repeated applications will cause darkening over time. However, if you are looking for a deeper, richer color, feel free to reapply henna to the entire length of your hair until you get it to where you like. Unlike with conventional dyes, repeated applications will not damage the hair; in fact, continuing to use henna will condition and strengthen the hair.

Leaving the paste in your hair longer can also contribute to a deeper result. However, only do this if you are not using indigo. Indigo’s dyeing power begins to slow after about three hours, after which the henna part of a henna/indigo mix will continue to color the hair. The result of leaving a henna/indigo mix on the hair longer than three hours may be redder than desired.

Don’t: Re-henna too hastily

Keep in mind that henna’s color naturally deepens over the course of the week following application. If you rinse your henna out and immediately feel that it is just a couple of shades too bright, wait at least a few days before reassessing. You may find that a little bit of time is all you needed to reach your desired shade. Reapplying too quickly may cause you to overshoot, and end up with a final color that is much darker than intended.

Do: Comment on this article or contact Ancient Sunrise® Customer Service if you have any additional questions about deepening your hennaed hair results.

How to Apply Ancient Sunrise® Henna for Hair

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Cassia, Zizyphus, and Amla: Conditioners Without Color Change

Amla, Cassia, Zizyphus powder

Henna provides some great conditioning benefits, but these benefits go hand-in-hand with color change.  The lawsone molecule binds permanently to the keratin in your hair, providing strength and shine while dyeing the hair. That’s great for those who wish to dye and condition their hair simultaneously. But what if you’ve already achieved your desired color, and want to regularly condition without seeing the color darken? Continued application of henna can cause the hair to become a darker and darker color. Or, what if you have light or gray hair which you wish to keep the way it is?

              Ancient Sunrise® Cassia provides similar conditioning benefits as henna with little to minimal color change on darker hair colors. Ancient Sunrise® Zizyphus Spina Christi cleanses and conditions the hair with no color change at all. Repeated applications of henna can also cause curl pattern loosening for some. Some find that using Ancient Sunrise® Amla alone in the hair helps to bring back volume, while others find that cassia helps to restore their curls. This article will explain how to use Cassia, Zizyphus, and Amla powders as hair treatments that provide conditioning without color change.

The Plant Powders

Cassia Auriculata, Cassia Obovata, Zizyphus Spina Christi, and Amla (emblica officinalis) powders all work in different ways. Cassia works most similarly to henna. Its dye molecule, chrysophanol, binds to the hair much like henna’s lawsone molecule does. Cassia makes the hair shiny and strong, and for some, can restore the hair’s natural curl pattern. Cassia’s conditioning effects can last up to a month or longer. Zizyphus acts as a two-in-one cleanser/conditioner that adds a thin plant wax coating to the hair, protecting it from environmental effects, and giving the hair shine and strength. Zizyphus can be used weekly. Amla is not a conditioner as much as a hair treatment most useful for those who wish to give their hair extra body and bounce. Each of these powders has a unique process. Continue reading to learn the best ways to use them.

Cassia Obovata and Cassia Auriculata Powder

For Benefits Similar to Henna, and for Curls

Ancient Sunrise® Cassia is great if you love the way that henna makes your hair strong and shiny, but want to avoid repeating full-head henna treatments which may darken your color. Cassia can be used in one of two ways:

              For a quick conditioning treatment, mix Ancient Sunrise® Cassia powder with distilled water and apply immediately. Cover and leave it on the hair as long as desired (one hour is good). This is a good method for those who have light or gray hair and do not want a noticeable color change. This method will condition hair with little to no color change, but will not yield effects that are as strong or permanent as the method below.

              For a more effective, and longer-lasting conditioning treatment, mix cassia with a mildly acidic liquid or an Ancient Sunrise® fruit acid powder and distilled water, and allow it to dye-release at room temperature for 8-12 hours just as you would with henna. Apply, cover, and leave in the hair for one hour to several hours. Those with darker hair will not see any color change. Lighter or gray hair will be dyed a golden tone.

Cassia Obovata dye molecule

              Ancient Sunrise® cassia, like Ancient Sunrise® henna, can be applied to either damp or dry hair. Ancient Sunrise® Clarity Cassia has a fine sift and is great for those with thin, delicate, and damaged hair.

              Important: Cassia’s dye molecule reacts poorly with minerals. The golden tone can become muddy and brown if you have mineral build-up in your hair. It is best to do a Rainwash treatment ahead of time for the best results.

              Cassia can be used as a conditioner once a month, or more frequently if desired. Its effects are not as permanent as henna; it is fine to apply a new treatment whenever you feel your hair needs it.

Cassia Auriculata has a weaker dye molecule than Cassia Obovata, but it is a great replacement. You can learn more about Cassia Auriculata here:

Zizyphus Spina Christi Powder

For Clean, Shiny Hair Protected Against the Elements

Zizyphus Spina Christi does not contain a dye molecule. Its natural saponins and plant wax clean the hair and protect it with a thin, flexible layer. Ancient Sunrise® Zizyphus is perfect for those who want absolutely no color change. Use zizyphus before and/or during a trip to the beach or the great outdoors. It protects the hair from salt water, wind, and dirt. Some notice that they can wash their hair less frequently when using zizyphus (Note: Please wash your hair once it feels greasy, or smells bad.) It is quicker and easier to use than cassia, but its effects are washed away after a number of shampoos.

              To use Zizyphus Spina Christi powder, mix a heaping tablespoon of powder with distilled water until it becomes a fluffy paste. Bring this paste to the shower with you, and set it nearby, but away from the direct stream of water. Wet your hair, and apply the paste from scalp to ends, massaging your scalp. You may need to work in sections. Leave the paste in your hair for several minutes, then rinse. If you are having trouble rinsing the paste completely, use a small amount of conditioner or a vinegar rinse to give your hair more slip. Dry and style as usual. You can use zizyphus once or twice a week. More often may cause a build-up of the coating, causing your hair to feel stiff or waxy.

              As zizyphus creates a hydrophobic barrier over the hair, make sure to wash your hair with a normal detergent shampoo prior to applying a plant powder dye to ensure effective dye uptake.

Important: If you are sensitive to latex, conduct a patch test before using zizyphus. Those with latex allergies often experience a cross-reaction when using zizyphus.

              Read more about Zizyphus Spina Christi here.

Amla (Emblica Officinalis) Powder

For Fluffy, Voluminous Hair

As noted earlier, amla is not necessarily a conditioner in the same sense as cassia and zizyphus are. It is acidic, and therefore may be drying for some. When used in a plant dye mix, amla can prevent the curl loss that sometimes occurs with henna. On its own, amla can give the hair more volume and bounce. It does this by temporarily loosening the hydrogen bonds in keratin, allowing the hair to be reshaped.

Amla powder

              Mix Ancient Sunrise® Amla powder with distilled water into a thin paste. It does not have to be as thick as henna. Apply from roots to ends, cover, and leave in for 10 minutes. Rinse, and set towel-dry hair in a braid, curlers, or another heatless curl method. When the hair is dry, it will be fuller and fluffier.

              Ancient Sunrise® Amla can be used as an acid to dye-release cassia. Mix 25g amla for every 100g cassia, and add distilled water. Follow the instructions above for applying and processing cassia.

              Read more about various uses for Ancient Sunrise® Amla Powder here.

Final Notes

Repeated applications of any of these methods will show more improvement in hair quality over time. Conditioning protects the hair against damage, and balances moisture retention, allowing the hair to stay stronger longer. For best results, use Cassia monthly (or more often if desired), Zizyphus weekly, and Amla whenever you wish to add some temporary oomph to your hair. These methods can all be used on hair that has been treated with plant dyes, as well as hair that has not.

If you have any additional questions about using these products to add strength, shine, and body to your hair, feel free to contact a Customer Service Representative via phone, email, or online chat.

Author: Rebecca Chou
Updated by Maria Moore 11/16/22

How to Measure Ancient Sunrise® Plant Dye and Fruit Acid Powders

When using a mix of plant dye powders and fruit acids, it can become tricky to determine how much to use, and how to measure it all out. Using Ancient Sunrise® Henna for Hair is already more cost-effective than conventional boxed dyes or visits to the salon, but it’s always nice to cut down on waste. While henna and cassia pastes can be frozen for later use, mixes containing indigo cannot. Therefore, it is useful to mix just enough paste, and keep the rest of the powders sealed and dry.

This article will help you determine how much plant powder you’ll need to mix, how to measure powders with teaspoons and tablespoons, and how to determine the right amount of fruit acid powder to dye-release your henna and/or cassia.

If you are new to using henna for hair, be sure to read the Henna 101 series on this blog.

How much plant dye powder do I need for my hair?

Before mixing, you first need to determine how much total plant dye powder you’ll need in order to create enough paste to dye your hair. This depends on the length and thickness of your hair. Knowing how much powder to use in your mix will become easier after you have used henna for a while.

If you are just starting, if have recently cut your hair, or if you are returning to henna after a long period of hair growth, it is always better to mix more rather than less. Below is a chart that can help you estimate how much you might need. Because each head of hair is unique, this is not exact, and meant to be used as a general guideline. If you end up with henna/cassia paste left over, stick it in the freezer for future touch-ups. Indigo dye will not work once it has been frozen. If there is indigo in your mix, make note of how much was left over, dump the paste, and adjust your measurements next time.

 Thin, straight hairAverage hairThick or curly hair
1-2” roots30-50g50-75g100g or more
Chin length75-100g100-150g200g or more
Shoulder length100-150g200-250g300g or more
2-3” below shoulder200-250g250-300g400g or more
Mid back250-300g350-400g500g or more
Waist length400-500g500-600g600g or more

Keep in mind that the thickness of the paste will affect how much hair will be covered. You will want to mix your paste to the consistency of whipped sour cream, so that it drops off in a dollop if you hold a spoonful upside-down. If you mix a thicker paste, you will need more powder.

The above chart is also based on a thorough, thick application of paste. Some people choose to apply more sparingly. Keep in mind that doing so will require less paste, but may affect color and coverage.

A whole lot of hair needs a whole lot of paste. This is about 500g of henna for waist-length hair.

How do I measure plant dye powders without a scale?

Henna, cassia, and/or indigo mixes are based on ratios of their gram measurements. All of the plant powders come in 100g packets. If you do not need the entire packet, you can measure out your necessary amount, and seal up the rest of the powder for later use. If you have a kitchen scale, measuring the amount you need is pretty easy. Just determine how much powder in grams you’ll need for your particular mix, and divide. If you do not have a scale, you can convert grams into teaspoons, tablespoons, and cups.

This conversion is different for each powder, because the weight and density of the powders vary. Just as a cup of feathers and a cup of marbles would have different weights, so do henna, cassia, and indigo. Below is a chart with the most common gram amounts and their volume conversions. This is based on US measurements.

tsp = teaspoon
T = tablespoon 
3 teaspoons = 1 tablespoon
2 tablespoons = 1/8 cup
16 tablespoons = 1 cup

Henna1.5 T; or 1T +1 ½ tspJust under 2TJust under ¼ cup7T;3/4cup + 2T; or one full packet
Cassia1T + 2tspJust over 2TJust under 4T + 1tsp½ cup + 1tsp1 cup + 2tsp; or one full packet
Indigo2T2.5T; or 2T + 1.5tsp5T10T; or ½ cup + 2T1 ¼ cup, or one full packet

How much fruit acid do I need?

Ancient Sunrise® offers a variety of fruit acid powders to use in place of a fruit juice or mildly acidic liquid. Just mix the fruit acid powder into your henna/cassia, add distilled water, and let the paste dye-release.

If you use Ancient Sunrise® fruit acid powder, just add distilled water! No fruit juice necessary.

            The amount of fruit acid powder you need depends on the amount of henna/cassia you are using, and the type of fruit acid powders. Ancient Sunrise® offers single-use packets of all of the plant powders, which are each pre-measured to contain enough fruit acid powder for 100g henna or cassia. If you need less than that, or if you have ordered a bulk container of a fruit acid, you’ll need to know how to measure the right amount.

Ancient Sunrise® Kristalovino, Ancient Sunrise® Malluma Kristalovino, and Citric Acid are all very easy. You will need 1tsp per 100g henna/cassia. If you are using indigo, remember that the amount of acid powder you needs is based only on how much henna and/or cassia you are using, not your total amount of plant powder.

Enough for 12.5g henna/cassiaEnough for 25g henna/cassiaEnough for 50g henna/cassiaEnough for 100g henna/cassia
A good pinch; or 1/8 tsp¼ tsp½ tsp1 tsp

Ancient Sunrise® Copperberry, Ancient Sunrise® Nightfall Rose, and Ancient Sunrise® Amla powder all require 25g per every 100g henna/cassia. Like plant dye powders, they vary by weight. The chart below shows weight-to-volume conversions

3.125g 6.25g 12.5g 25g
Enough for 12.5g henna/cassiaEnough for 25g henna/cassiaEnough for 50g henna/cassiaEnough for 100g henna/cassia
Ancient Sunrise® CopperberryJust under 1 tsp½ T, or 1 ½ tsp1T2T + ¼ tsp
Ancient Sunrise® Nightfall RoseJust over 1 tspJust under 1T1.5T3T
Ancient Sunrise® Amla1tspJust over 2 tsp1 ½ T; or 1T + 1 ½ tsp2T + 2tsp

Final Notes

If you’re concerned about getting your plant dye measurements perfectly right, don’t worry. A few grams either way will not affect your color very much, especially with larger mixes. If you are only mixing enough for a root touch-up on thin hair, you may have to be just a tad more precise.

            Fruit acid powders also have some wiggle-room, but it’s generally better to have a little too much rather than not enough. Ancient Sunrise® Kristalovino and Ancient Sunrise® Malluma Kristalovino are particularly gentle, and therefore quite forgiving if over-measured.

            If all of this made things more confusing instead of clearing things up, not to worry. Ancient Sunrise® offers pre-measured kits for the most common hair colors. Most kits contain enough to cover shoulder-length hair of average thickness.  You can also contact customer service directly and ask them to help you determine the measurements for your mix and hair length. If you are placing an order, ask nicely, and they’ll write your recipe on the packing slip.

            Contact Customer Service via phone, chat, or email if you have any additional questions.

Full Coverage: How to Transition from Hennaed Hair Back to Natural Roots

While we’d love for you to stay with us forever, there are many reasons a person may choose to stop using henna, or to return to their natural hair color. You may simply miss your natural color, or expect to have less time or money for hair coloring in your future. Some women have decided to let their natural gray hair grow out. Silver locks are in fashion as of late. Because henna is permanent, it is common to see a noticeable line of demarcation as the hair grows, especially if your treated hair is different from your natural hair color. A frequently asked question regarding transitioning is how to do so without getting a stark contrast between colored hair and roots as your hair grows out.

            There are a few different ways to achieve a gradual shift. Because Ancient Sunrise® Henna for Hair products only add to the existing hair color, it is most likely that you will be going from a darker color to a lighter one. The exception to this rule is those who lighten their hair before applying henna. This article will cover techniques for both dark-to-light and light-to-dark transitions.

This hair has been lightened and then hennaed. The roots are black.

Transitioning to Lighter or Gray Roots

Henna as Lowlights

Rather than applying your mix to all of your roots, applying only in thin sections while leaving the remainder of your roots natural will create a highlight/lowlight effect with your natural color. You can ask a stylist to apply your mixture in foils, or you can do it yourself at home with a highlighting cap.

            A highlighting cap has holes through which to pull thin sections of hair while keeping the rest of the hair protected underneath. Pull through your desired sections, apply henna to those sections, and process as normal.  As your hair grows, gradually decrease your number of lowlights.

This person’s roots are mostly gray. Adding applying henna as lowlights would break up the root line.

Adding Cassia

Another option when transitioning is to adjust the mix itself so it becomes lighter. Cassia works to dilute and lighten the resulting shade of a henna or henna/indigo mixture.

            For example, if your regular mix is equal parts henna and indigo for a medium brunette result, you can create a mix of equal parts henna, indigo, and cassia for a lighter brunette. The next time, increase your amount of cassia again. Keep your original mix ratio the same, only increasing the amount of cassia you add to your mix.

            Below is an example of how a person might adjust with cassia over time. Keep in mind that everyone’s mix and hair color varies; this is only one example.  Don’t hesitate to contact customer service for help with a custom transition plan. Be sure to ask about measurements to avoid mixing too much, too little, or in the wrong ratios.

            Cassia should be dye-released with henna. Mix henna and cassia together and stir with an acidic liquid to create a paste, just as you would with henna. Cover your mixture and let it sit as normal. Mix and add your indigo paste just before applying.

            Feel free to experiment with test strands. When in doubt, always start lighter. If your root results are too light, you can always adjust afterward. For more helpful information about cassia mixes, be sure to read How to Dye Hair Blonde.

            In some cases, mixing with cassia leads to brighter or more golden-toned results. If you prefer a neutral shade my article on Cool and Neutral Mixes will help you keep your desired tone as you transition.


As long as you have only used Ancient Sunrise® Henna for Hair products, it is safe to use a chemical hair lightener. Ancient Sunrise® plant dye powders have been tested for purity, and do not contain any metallic salts or additives that may be unsafe to lighten.

            You may choose to lighten the full length of the hair, or to have highlights put in as your roots grow, to blend away the line of demarcation. Be sure to conduct a strand test first to determine the resulting color and whether your hair can withstand lightening.

Gather hair from your brush to test with lightener. Having a professional lighten your hair is always recommended.

            If you have been using a mix containing indigo, it is particularly important to conduct a strand test first. Indigo does not always lift completely from the hair. Hair that has been dyed with mixes of 50% indigo or more may see a blue or green cast remaining after lightening. The degree to which this happens varies from head to head, and also depends on how many shades you plan to lighten. Sometimes this is subtle and can be toned away. If you have been doing a two-step process for jet black hair and wish to lighten to platinum blonde, more likely than not you’ll find it won’t be possible.

Hair that has been dyed jet black with a two-step process may turn blue or green when lightened.

            For more information about lightening over henna, read the Ancient Sunrise® Henna for Hair free e-book chapter on lightening.

Transitioning to Darker Roots

If you have chemically lightened your hair before applying henna, your root color may be darker than the length of your hair. The most straight-forward solution is to dye all of your hair with a mixture that will match your roots. This will result in a uniform color that blends seamlessly with your natural color.

            However, there may be reasons to perform a gradual transition. Perhaps you desire an ombré effect, or wish to be able to lighten your hair in the future.  For example, I currently have fiery red hennaed hair, and my natural hair color is virtually black. I like to play around with colors quite a bit, including fun, demi-permanent colors. If I were to use a two-step process to dye all of my hair back to black, I would have less flexibility if I chose to lighten in the future. I might not be able to achieve bright or pastel tones.

Henna as Highlights

This technique is similar to the one described above, only backward. Instead of applying a henna mixture to create lowlights, have a stylist create highlights in your hennaed hair to break up the root line.  As your hair grows, decrease the amount of highlights. If you wish, you may continue applying henna between highlighting. This will create a range of “fire-lights,” giving your hair beautiful dimension. The Ancient Sunrise® Henna for Hair chapter on lightening covers this process in detail. 

            As mentioned above, be sure to conduct a strand test, especially if you have been using a mix containing indigo.

“Firelights” create depth and dimension while blurring the root line.

Condition and Strengthen Without Color

Even if you choose not to color your hair anymore, you can still use products from Ancient Sunrise® to keep your hair beautiful, shiny, and strong.


Cassia has similar conditioning properties as henna, with little to no color change on darker hair. To use cassia as a conditioner, simply mix it with distilled water only (no juice or fruit acid) and apply immediately. When it has not released its dye, cassia will condition the hair without affecting color. If your hair is naturally dark brunette or black, you can dye-release cassia for extra conditioning benefits without seeing a change in your hair color. To learn more about using Ancient Sunrise® Cassia for conditioning, click here.


For those with very light hair, even cassia that has not been dye-released may impart a subtle golden tone. Zizyphus spina christi is another great option for keeping hair strong and healthy without changing its color. Zizyphus is a natural 2-in-1 shampoo/conditioner that both washes and fortifies the hair. Because it leaves a thin layer of plant wax on the hair, it is particularly good for hair that is subject to water, wind, and other harsh environmental factors. Zizyphus balances the hair’s moisture and gives it great shine. Read more about Zizyphus here and purchase here.

Rinse after a few minutes for strong, shiny hair.

As always, if you ever need advice or help, don’t hesitate to contact Ancient Sunrise® Customer Service.

How to Dye Beards and Facial Hair with Henna

Henna has been used to dye and condition beards and facial hair for just as long as it has been used for hair on the head. Henna was used to dye hair in Persia as early as 1000 BCE. Persian men used henna alone or in combination with indigo to cover grays and to keep beards conditioned and healthy.

              The use of henna for hair and beards was common throughout South Asia, the Arabian Peninsula, and the Middle East, and eventually spread to western regions, then throughout the world. At public baths, men relaxed and socialized while keeping up their washing and grooming habits, which included dyeing their beards. Henna made beards smoother, shinier, and stronger. 

A man receives a Turkish massage at a public bath. Ottoman Empire, early 20th century.

              In ancient times, Roman travelers noted that Persian men appeared to have woven gold wire through their beards. This was most likely a misinterpretation of their gray hairs which took on a copper shine after being hennaed. It was also common to dye the beard with indigo after it was hennaed, to achieve a jet black result. This is known as the two-step process.

A section from “Body Marking in Southwestern Asia” by Henry Field. The observer describes the beard grooming rituals of Persian men.

              In some cultures and regions, hennaed beards are seen as a sign of piety for Muslim men. Some interpretations of Islamic texts forbid men from dyeing their beards with anything but henna. Others see a hennaed beard as the mark of a hajji, or a person who has made the pilgrimage to Mecca. Photographer GBM Akash did a photo essay on the bright, hennaed beards of older Bangladeshi men, which you can see here.

              Of course, the use of henna and other plant dyes is not exclusive to the Islamic faith. Henna is simply a product and technique which has been used in the contexts and regions where it naturally grows. As trade and travel grew, henna spread into western use.

              Beards dyed with henna do not have to be bright orange. Just like it is used with the hair, combinations of henna and indigo (or henna, indigo, and cassia) can dye the beard to any natural color. A two-step process of dyeing the beard first with henna and then with indigo will result in jet black. Not only will using henna and other plant dye powders give you a more lustrous, thick, shiny beard; it has many benefits, including being safer for your health.

Switching from Commercial Dyes to Plant Dyes

Hair dyes marketed to men differ very little in their composition from hair dyes marketed to women. Most of them contain para-phenylenediamine. Contact dermatitis reactions to PPD will cause blistering, swelling, and difficulty breathing.  When using such a product so close to the nose and mouth, these symptoms maybe particularly dangerous. Symptoms may worsen with each exposure, and can lead to hospitalization.

These products all contain para-phenylenediamine.

              While it is true that fewer men than women use dyes, men are also less likely to discuss their hair dye use or to seek help when they experience adverse reactions. If men are unaware of the cause of their symptoms, they may continue to use products containing PPD and experience worsening reactions that may become life-threatening.

              A series of class action suits is being pursued against Just For Men hair and beard dye for PPD-related injuries and the company’s potential failure to properly advise a skin patch test. One suit argues that the recommended patch test on the inner arm does not adequately predict and protect against reactions on the face, which can be more sensitive. Click here, here, and here for a few examples of current suits. If you have been affected by a PPD reaction from using a product by this company, consider searching for a class action suit in your area. A successful suit may contribute to better responsibility and regulation on the part of companies which manufacture and sell dyes containing PPD.

              If you are interested in switching to Ancient Sunrise® products, our customer service team is more than happy to help you through the process. Ancient Sunrise® products can be used directly over previously processed hair without a waiting period, and will not react adversely to any products previously applied on the hair.

How to Dye Beards

The Mix

If you are familiar with how to mix henna, indigo, and cassia to achieve your desired color result, the mix for facial hair is exactly the same, but in smaller quantities. The average beard will probably need about 30-50 grams total of dry powder to create enough paste to cover. For a short, trim beard, you will need less. If you are Gandalf, you may need 100-200 grams or more. If you need help determining how much product to use, feel free to contact Customer Service.

              You may want to keep the paste a little thicker to prevent dripping. This is especially recommended if you are dyeing a mustache, as it may be quite uncomfortable to have paste dripping onto the mouth. If you are new to using plant dye powders, be sure to check out Bare Essentials, Choosing Your Mix, and the Ancient Sunrise® free Henna for hair E-Book to get started.

              Remember that you will be keeping the paste on your face for about three hours. If you are sensitive to the smell of henna, add a few pinches of ginger powder or cardamom powder to neutralize the smell. If you dislike the smell of indigo, add a few pinches of vanilla pudding powder.

This dashing dude would need about 50-75 grams of powder to create enough paste for his beard and ‘stache.

Cleansing and Preparing

Facial hair can be dye-resistant, as it is thicker and grows quickly. Unlike hair on the head, it does not have the opportunity to be worn down by the elements (unless you have an impressively long beard). New hair is less porous than hair that has been subject to washing, brushing, and other forms of friction. Facial hair, like hair on the head, is kept moisturized and hydrophobic with a layer of sebum produced by the skin. It is important to make sure that your facial hair is extremely clean in order to achieve the best dye uptake.

              It may be a good idea to exfoliate the skin with a good facial scrub or a stiff beard brush. The skin under facial hair can be dry and flaky. While henna does not stain skin on the face and head very well, scrubbing will further prevent staining, as henna binds to dry, thick skin. The last thing you’ll want is to have orange flaky bits hanging out in your luscious beard. A bonus to henna is that is has anti-fungal properties. If you experience dandruff around your facial hair, henna will take care of that. Scrubbing will also help lift the cuticles of the hair to better accept dye.

              If you live in an area with hard water, clarifying with Ancient Sunrise® Rainwash Mineral Treatment is recommended. This will take care of any mineral buildup that can prevent adequate dye up-take, and ensure a better color result.

              Wash your beard with a clarifying shampoo or a bit of dish detergent just prior to application. Once your face is scrubbed, clarified, and clean, you are ready to apply your paste.


Make sure your paste has been prepared and dye-released at this point. If you wish, apply Vaseline or lip balm along the edges of your facial hair to prevent any staining that might occur. If you are applying to a mustache, you may want to put on lip balm as well. Be sure not to get any oil-based product on the hair itself. As mentioned previously, henna does not tend to leave a dark or lasting stain on the face, but it is always good to avoid looking like an oompa-loompa for a day.

              Use gloved hands to apply the paste little by little, ensuring that the paste is worked down all the way to the skin, and the hair is thickly covered. Apply paste to the roots and pull it through to the ends. Press the hair down, or in the case of very long beards, twist it into rolls and press the rolls firmly into place.

Thick, long beards will need to be hennaed in section to ensure even coverage.


Use a damp cotton swab to clean up the edges of your facial hair; your neck, lips, nostrils, ears, and so forth. Cover your facial hair with plastic wrap. One way to do this is to create a wide strip with holes on each end. Press the plastic along your chin and jaw, and loop the holes around your ears like a medical mask. For mustaches, cut a thinner piece and press it along your upper lip. Make sure you can breathe comfortably.

              If desired seal the edges of the plastic with medical tape under the jaw to keep the plastic on place and prevent dripping. Finally, wrap the face with a scarf or bandanna, or put on a ski mask.


Just like on the head, henna mixes need about three hours or more to process for best results. Unfortunately, this means you’re stuck with paste on your face for a while. You can use heat to speed up the process. Men used to henna their beards as part of their regular bathing routine, and relax in the steamy public bath or sauna. Hang out in a steamy bathroom or steam your face for a few minutes at a time. You could also apply a heating pad to your face periodically. Be sure to avoid long exposure to high heat, as this can be damaging to the delicate skin on the face.


Wash out the paste with warm water. You can do this over the sink, or submerge your face in a warm bath and swish it around. Apply conditioner and pull it through to help any residual paste rinse away. Finally, finish with shampoo or face cleanser. Remember to moisturize your beard and face after all that it’s been through.

Here is Mark’s beard before and after an application of henna and indigo.


Facial hair grows quickly. How frequently you re-apply your henna mix will be dependent on your facial hair style and personal preference. If you keep your beard clipped short, you may need to touch it up more frequently, as you shave away the areas that are dyed.

              It will be helpful to have henna on hand that is pre-mixed, separated into portions, and frozen. If you are using only henna and/or cassia, simply thaw a portion and apply. If you are using a mix containing indigo, thaw your henna paste, mix fresh indigo, and stir them together.

Freeze henna paste into cubes for easy storage and future use.

              Once you have dyed all of your facial hair once, it is not necessary to do all of it again. You can use a tool such as a small tinting brush or an old toothbrush to help you apply paste just at the roots. This will keep reapplications clean, easy, and affordable.

              Reapplications will require the same preparation and processing methods as your first dye. Remember to thoroughly clean the facial hair and face beforehand, and leave the paste in for three hours, or less if applying gentle heat.

              If you are using a henna/indigo mix to dye graying hair to a brunette shade, and notice your facial hair becoming lighter or redder over time, you can easily darken it up again with a quick application of indigo paste. Simply mix about a tablespoon of indigo with distilled water, apply through your facial hair, and rinse after 10-15 minutes. This technique can be repeated until you achieve your desired results, and used as often as necessary. Note: Unless you would like to have a blue beard, do not apply indigo alone to gray hair.

For more information, read To speak to a customer service representative and/or to place an order, visit

Full Coverage: Why Hair Feels Dry After Henna and How to Fix It

            Some henna users report that their hair feels dry, coarse, brittle, or unmanageable after washing out their henna. What is happening is the hair is going through a temporary state. This temporary state has little to do with moisture or lack thereof, and more to do with the hair’s physical structure. The process of dyeing with henna can cause a temporary change on the surface of the hair strand. The hair goes back to its normal texture within a couple days. Smoothing can be expedited with conditioning or an apple cider vinegar rinse.

            This article will discuss the physical structure of hair, the sensory interpretations of “dry” and “moisturized,” and offer solutions for lessening the undesirable texture which some may experience during the first few days following a henna treatment.

Hair Structure

            A strand of hair is not one solid thing. If you were to see a cross sections of it under a microscope, you’ll notice that a hair strand is built of many tiny scales of keratin overlapping each other in layers over a central core.  The outer layers of keratin are relatively hydrophobic, or waterproof, and surround a central cortex composed of a bundle of long cells called cortical cells, which contain DNA information and melanin. The cortex is more prone to water swelling than the outer layers. This is what causes hair to stretch further when wet.

            A strand can only stretch so far and be able to spring back to its natural length. Beyond that extent, the strand will remain stretched and in a weakened state. Beyond that still, the hair will break. Excessive moisture within the cortex weakens the hair structure and leaves the hair vulnerable to stretching and breakage. The right balance of moisture is necessary to maintain healthy structure. Healthy hair does this on its own with its layer of hydrophobic keratin cuticles and the thin coating of oils produced by the scalp.

            If it helps, think about hair like a bundle of cooked spaghetti coated with layers of tiny shingles made of the same material as your fingernails. You want the spaghetti to stay al-dente. Too wet, and the spaghetti will stretch and break. Too dry, and the spaghetti will also be vulnerable to breakage. The cuticle barrier is extremely important in regulating moisture within the cortex. When damage is incurred on the surface, gaps formed by broken or missing cuticles contribute to the hair’s overall weakened state, from a weaker outer structure to a more exposed inner structure.

Broken and missing cuticles expose the long, thin, central cortical cells.

            All hair is subject to weathering over time. The cuticle structure is relatively resilient. Hair can flex, stretch, and be exposed to daily friction and tangles and still be healthy. Hair that is straight tends to have a rounder diameter, like mechanical pencil lead, while curlier hair would appear elliptical when observing a cross section. The cuticles of straight hair tend to overlap more tightly, while cuticles on curly hair have more space between them. Because of the way cuticles are arranged, those with curly hair sometimes find that their hair is more prone to breakage.

The cuticles on curly hair are not as tightly arranged as on straight hair, and the cortex is flatter.

            It is normal that the cuticle layer is tighter and thicker near the scalp, where the hair is newly grown and has not yet had time to experience damage. Nearer to the ends, the hair is older and apt to have a thinner cuticle layer that is more jagged. Split ends are the result of the complete loss of the cuticle layer, and the splitting apart of the inner cortical bundle.

            Hair that has been processed with chemicals or otherwise damaged will have cuticles that stand up more rather than cuticles that lay flat against one another. Environmental factors can temporarily alter the hair’s cuticles. On windy days, your hair is thrown around, and the friction between strands causes the cuticles to lift. The strands tangle as the lifted cuticles catch onto one another. Dirt and build-up in the hair can further exacerbate tangling.

Damaged hair will show gaps in the outer cuticle layer as well as the inner cortex.

            You may notice that on humid days, your hair is more frizzy. Moisture can cause the cuticles to be raised, and for the structure to weaken. This is why hairstylists advise against brushing wet hair, When hair is wet, it is more prone to stretching. All healthy hair will stretch a little and bounce back, like a coiled spring. Using Ancient Sunrise® Zizyphus Spina Christi to wash and condition your hair is a great way to keep it smooth and prevent excess moisture from weakening your hair.

What We Interpret as “Dry and Damaged” vs. “Smooth and Healthy”

            When the cuticles are raised, the hair feels “dry” or coarser and less manageable. We often misinterpret this texture as “dryness”, believing that the hair is lacking moisture. As mentioned above, moisture itself can sometimes cause raised cuticles, so clearly this is not the case. It is simply a temporary change in the physical shape of the hair strands as a reaction to its environment. While dry and damaged hair can also exhibit similar physical changes, the two are not synonymous.

            Similarly, just because hair is artificially smoothed with silicones and glycerols, it does not necessarily mean that the hair is in a healthier or more moisturized state than it was prior to conditioning. Think of it this way: silicones and glycerols are also used in skincare and cosmetics, to smooth the surface of the skin, filling in fine lines and softening textural imperfections. Does that mean that your skin has suddenly become less wrinkled? No; it is a temporary fix to the way the surface of the skin feels and appears from the outside. As most of us have used store-bought hair care products since youth, we have been brought up with an implicit notion that tangled, crunchy feeling hair indicated dryness, and smooth, sleek hair indicates moisture.

Damaged hair that is coated with conditioner is still damaged. Silicones and glycerols artificially smooth the surface.

What Happens to Hair During a Henna Treatment

            During a henna treatment, moisture and acidity from the paste, along with the intermediary dye molecules migrate into the outer layers of the hair strand. The dye bonds to the keratin with the help of a Michael Addition bond. This process plumps the cuticle in a way similar to how fingertips become prune-like after a long soak in the tub. If your hair is not rinsed well enough, residual paste can also cause the hair to feel gritty and tangled, just as it might if there was some dirt in your hair. As the dye molecules settle into their places and oxidize, and the residual particles of the henna paste leave the hair, the sensation of dryness decreases.

Hair plumps as it is exposed to the wet and hydrogen-rich henna paste, and as dye molecules migrate into the outer layers.

            Because henna’s dye molecule binds to keratin in a lasting way, the hair is strengthened and reinforced. The added reinforcement prevents breakage and balances moisture levels. Henna does affect the physical texture of the hair, so those with naturally curly hair may see a loosening of their curl pattern. For some, this comes as a blessing. For others who want to maintain their bounce, adding amla into the henna mix prior to dyeing can help to maintain the curl pattern.

            Despite common misunderstanding, henna does not coat the hair; the lawsone migrates into the outer layers of keratin, staining them. The difference is like pouring sprinkles over an ice cream cone, versus dipping it in chocolate shell. Hair that has been hennaed can still absorb outside moisture, and it can be treated with oxidative dyes, lighteners, and relaxers, as long as only Ancient Sunrise© products have been used. Henna products that have not been lab tested for purity may contain metallic salts and other chemical adulterants that will react badly to other chemical treatments.

How to Fix Crunchy Hair after Henna

            Now that you know the truth about how your hair’s texture changes, here are some ways to help your hair feel smoother, softer, and more manageable sooner after dyeing your hair with henna.

            If you have a bathtub, the easiest way to ensure that the henna paste is fully rinsed out is to fill the tub with warm water and lie back, allowing your hair to submerge fully. Swish your hair around and move your fingers through your hair until all of it is moving freely in the water. This method is often referred to as the “mermaid rinse” or as our owner, Catherine Cartwright-Jones like to call it, the “swamp queen rinse.”

            Afterward, drain the tub and work a large handful of conditioner through your rinsed hair. This will help any remaining paste to slip out more easily. Rinse with fresh water and repeat if necessary, until the hair feels smooth, then wash and dry your hair as you normally would. There is nothing wrong with washing and shampooing hair immediately after dyeing it with henna. Lawsone binds to the hair permanently while the paste is in contact with the hair, and washing will not cause anything to loosen except for residual paste matter and dye that did not attach during the processing time.

            If you prefer not to use conditioner, diluted apple cider vinegar will help to smooth the hair and close the cuticle. Rinsing with cool water also helps the cuticle to tighten and close.

The cuticles will return to their normal state within a few days after henna.

Final Notes

            Because the texture of the hair after henna is so frequently mistaken as dryness, some people choose to add ingredients such as coconut milk or oil, egg, milk, yogurt, and other plant oils to their henna mix to prevent this feeling of dryness. Now that you know the truth, you’ll understand why adding food to your henna is unnecessary. These ingredients will inhibit proper dye uptake.

            Highly acidic mixes can dry the hair and scalp, and irritate those with sensitive skin. This is especially common with mixtures using lemon juice. If you experience a sensation of itching along with dryness, consider switching to a milder acid such as Ancient Sunrise© Kristalovino and Malluma Kristalovino acid powders. These acids are derived from grapes, and much gentler on the hair and scalp.

            All Ancient Sunrise© Henna for Hair powders are Body Art Quality, which means they are finely sifted and free of twigs, leaves, sand, and other particulates that can get caught in the hair. The process of applying and rinsing the paste can cause some level of friction, so those who have delicate and damaged hair may choose to use the following products, which have the absolute finest sift for the smoothest paste:

Ancient Sunrise© Rarity Henna

Ancient Sunrise© Zekhara Indigo

Ancient Sunrise© Zekhara Cassia

            The above products are also perfect for those with thick, curly hair because they will rinse out cleanly and easily, with no residue. So if your hair feels dry, just give it some time. As always, feel free to contact Customer Service at if you have any questions or concerns, and read the Ancient Sunrise© Free Henna for Hair E-Book to learn more about dyeing hair with henna.

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

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:

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

Author: Rebecca Chou
Updated: Maria Moore Jan 2022