Can You Henna Hair Extensions?
This one’s for my fellow redheads, bougie-hippie goddesses, and anyone else who’s ever been curious about how to mix henna and hair extensions. As a longtime user of henna for hair, one of my first questions after discovering Cashmere Hair was: can you henna hair extensions?
For the redheads among us, it can be hard to find the perfect color match (let’s face it, we’re a rare and varied breed). And if you use henna to get your red shade, it can be especially hard to find a match.
What is Henna?
Henna is an ancient form of hair dye dating all the way back to the Ancient Egyptians. I’d be amiss if I didn’t mention its strong roots in Middle Eastern and Indian cultures as well.
In hair dye form, henna is a green powder made from the dried leaves of a henna plant. The powder is sometimes mixed with indigo and senna for darker and lighter shades, although you’ll always have a warm tint – at the end of the day, henna is red.
I switched to coloring my hair with henna because of its natural conditioning properties, as well as its lack of chemicals. Henna is tricky to work with; it only tints and darkens, and you can really only achieve warm tones. It also doesn’t create uniform color, so if you have visible roots or gray streaks, these will still show through. Even with all of this, I absolutely love the color henna gives my hair! Once I discovered hair extensions, I immediately began wondering…
Can You Henna Hair Extensions?
We’re getting to the meat of the question: can you actually henna hair extensions? The short answer is yes, you absolutely can. The real answer, however, is a bit more complicated.
Because our extensions are made from 100% human remy hair, they can technically be dyed just like you would your own hair (get more info on Remy Hair here).
However, henna is a natural compound, which means it can have weird reactions with the synthetic dyes used to get our distinctive Cashmere Hair shades. This is also why we can’t officially recommend coloring our extensions – we simply can’t guarantee that any dye, henna or synthetic, will react in the proper way!
A Quick Disclaimer
To research this article, I sacrificed my personal set to see if you can henna hair extensions. I just want to clarify for our Cashmere Fam that you should not attempt coloring your own set of extensions unless you are absolutely fine with the possibility they might not come out how you intended.
With that disclaimer in mind – let’s get to the experiment! Here’s how I went about henna-ing my Cashmere Hair Extensions.
How to Henna Hair Extensions
First things first, I prepped all my materials. Dyeing with henna is a messy, somewhat lengthy process, so I wanted to have everything set up and ready to go. To henna hair extensions, I used:
- My set of Cashmere Hair Extensions*
- Henna powder**
- Non-metal mixing bowl & spoon
- Plastic wrap, or gallon-size Ziploc bags
* For this experiment, since my hair is already colored with henna, I matched my extensions to my roots. Matching to my roots ensures that the henna dye will come out the same shade of red on my extensions as it does on my natural hair. (If you’re buying extensions specifically for this purpose, make sure to tell our Color Specialists when you’re requesting a match).
** I made sure to use a henna powder with no metallic salts added. Metallic salts are added to some hennas, and can cause crazy reactions with the synthetic dyes used on our extensions. I’ve been using Light Mountain henna in Light Red for years, but have also heard good things about the Lush and Rainbow Research versions.
1. Prep the Henna.
First things first: I needed to mix the dye. For this I just followed the instructions on my package of henna – most brands instruct you to mix a certain ratio of boiling water to powder. My final product was the consistency of runny yogurt, and I made sure to break up any large clumps of powder with a plastic spoon (clumps make it much harder to work henna through the hair).
I want to point out here that henna has a distinctively earthy smell, sort of like dried grass. Don’t worry about this – my extensions smelled normal again after airing out for a few days!
Once mixed, henna should cure for at least two hours. I mixed mine the night before and let it cure overnight, because that’s what I do when I’m coloring my own hair.
2. Test Results.
Here’s where the tester piece we include in every Cashmere Hair set comes in handy. Once my henna cured, I removed the tester piece from the package and put on gloves.
Holding the tester by its weft, I worked a small amount of henna through the hair, going from end to top. It’s important to be very, very gentle, because breakage can’t be repaired! I refrained from pulling too hard on the hair, and only worked the henna in one direction. This is critical if you want to henna hair extensions.
Once the hair on the tester piece was saturated, I zipped it in an airtight bag and let it sit for three and a half hours (you can also wrap it tightly in plastic wrap if that’s what you have on hand).
After that, I thoroughly rinsed the dye with cool water and let it air dry. Next was the fun part – would it really match my hair? I clipped in the piece behind my ear, and the tester blended in perfectly. Off to a great start!
Not to sound like a broken record, but even a successful test can’t guarantee that your extensions will come out correctly after dyeing. So again, henna or dye at your own risk.
2. Prep Your Hair Extensions.
Since the tester worked out, I opened the rest of my extensions and brushed them out. You want to be sure there are no tangles and the hair is as smooth as possible. Then lay them out for easy access – your hands are about to get messy.
3. Add Your Henna.
Going one weft at a time, I added henna to each extension the same way I did the tester. I prefer my henna a little runnier so it’s easier to work into the hair without pulling or rubbing. You want to avoid any kind of roughness when you henna hair extensions, as it will break hair strands and leave you with a frizzy mess.
After saturating each piece, I placed it gently inside a Ziploc bag so it wouldn’t dry out, then zipped it closed.
4. Rinse Out the Extensions.
After three and a half hours, my extensions were ready! Working just as carefully, I rinsed each extension piece in cool water until it ran clear. It took a while – patience is key through this process!
After each piece was rinsed, I laid it flat on a towel to air dry.
5. Brush, Air, and Style.
One my extensions were completely dried, I couldn’t believe my eyes. The henna worked perfectly! Each piece now matches my hair exactly (my fellow redheads know how hard this is to find).
Like I mentioned earlier, the henna smell can be a bit strong – I brushed out each piece and hung them in an airy closet for a few days to let them come back to normal.
After that, it’s been blow-drying, curling, and styling as normal! I had an excellent experience henna-ing hair extensions, and personally feel it’s worth the risk for a perfect redhead color match.
If you’re trying this, please let us know how it went in the comments! Feel free to reach out to me directly at @kmartello with any questions before you start. I want it to go as smoothly for you as it did for me, and am happy to answer any questions you have.
Until next time, Cashmere fam!