Mix Your Own Henna

Making your own henna is easy, fun, and you can't beat the freshness! Since henna is so perishable (it only lasts a few days at room temperature) you'll always get the best results if you DIY. If you've ever seen premade henna cones on a market shelf, that's why they never work well. Who knows how long they took to ship or how long they've been sitting there (they can also be really toxic - more on that here)!

When you make your own henna, you get to customize the scent and consistency exactly how you like it!

This is my tried-and-true super simple, super easy DIY henna recipe. It's the same recipe I use for my clients, and get stains like these:

You don't need a complicated recipe to get beautiful, dark stains from your henna!

 

Materials

First, make sure you're starting with fresh, high quality ingredients. If you try to make a salad with old, wilted produce it is not going to be the same as if you used fresh ingredients - right? The same is true with henna. Buy your supplies from a reputable henna artist for best assurance of quality. Products on store shelves or at markets will often be old, not stored properly and therefore will have poor results.

  • Bowl and spatula/spoon (any will do, but plastic, rubber or other porous materials may stain permanently)
  • Water (Distilled or purified water is reliable)
  • Cling wrap
  • Cake decorating bag or durable sandwich bag
  • Henna powder (I use certified organic Suraja brand, though any of the freshest crops sold by a reputable henna artist should work great)
  • Essential oil (I use organic Nepali cajeput. Tea tree, high altitude lavender and frankincense all work well too.)
  • Sugar (I prefer organic cane sugar)
  • Applicator (rolled cones or squeeze bottles)

Process

This recipe makes about 3.5 ounces of henna paste (a little over 3 applicator bottles or about 4 of my hand rolled cones).

STEP 1 - Add these to your bowl: 25 grams henna powder (approx 1/4 cup), 1.5 tsp sugar, 1.5 tsp essential oil and about 1/4 cup water. Mix together well. The paste should be pretty thick but all ingredients blended thoroughly. Don't worry about small lumps, those will mostly dissolve later.

Super easy! Throw all the ingredients in a bowl, and mix!

STEP 2 - Cover with cling wrap. You don't have to be too careful about it - the idea is just to keep the henna from drying out. Now, let it sit! If you keep it a warm (not hot) location such as the top of your fridge or under a stove light, it will be ready in about 3-4 hours. It will take a bit longer in a cooler spot (sometimes I'll just leave it overnight).  (Note: 3-4 hours is typical for a Rajasthani henna like my Suraja powder. If you're using Jamila brand, it may take a little longer.)

Don't let it dry out while it sits.

STEP 3 - Check to see if it's ready with simple spot test. Dab a bit of henna on your fingertip and leave it there for about a minute. When you wipe it away, in natural light it should be bright orange. If it's not, let it sit a bit longer and test it again in another hour.

You should get a nice bright orange after leaving the paste on your skin for a minute or two.

STEP 4 - Time to get it to the perfect consistency! Add a little water to the mixture, and stir it up really well. Continue to add water, a little at a time, with lots of mixing between each addition. More mixing = silkier paste! With practice, you'll get a feel for how thin you prefer your henna.

At first it will be pretty thick. As you keep mixing and adding liquid, it will gradually thin out. On the right, perfection!

STEP 5 - Scoop your silky henna paste into a cake decorating bag or sandwich bag. Then, snip the tip and fill your applicators. If you're using cones, fill them no higher than about 2/3 full to prevent messes. Seal your cones securely with tape, and you're ready to go! (I also have more detailed instructions and a video here)

Propping the bag/cone in a drinking glass will help keep it upright while you fill it.

Freeze the henna you aren't using right away to keep it fresh for several months. For best results, store in a Ziploc freezer bag in the back of the freezer.

Naturally dark henna using pure, organic ingredients!

The basics are easy. Learning how to get the consistency just right takes a little time and practice - but that's how all the best things happen, right?

I hope you enjoyed my tutorial! How did this work for you?