Is it possible to remove Henna from my hair?

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I have used henna for thirty years on my hair and I love it. My problem is I bought a pack of henna sachets from the internet, which were supposed to be chestnut in color, but turned out black!

I have tried everything to get it out naturally but nothing is touching it. The trouble is, I'm in my mid sixties and this looks awful! I am too embarrassed to go out.

Could you possibly advise me on what I could use to rid the henna from my hair, and what won't be too harsh as my hair is quite thin at the front.

Thank you,

Carol, UK

Hi Carol,

Henna is notorious at staining the hair until it grows out. Because of its natural dying properties, it should never be mixed with any chemical colour applications. Henna is iron based and therefore gives that beautiful natural red shine in red hair.

My suggestion is to do nothing but just wash it regularly with gentle shampoos. Eventually the blackness will fade out, but sadly that can take several weeks or even a couple of months. You could visit a professional salon who has experience with henna colours, they will be able to advise you in-salon.

You say your hair is thinner on the front hairline. That is a big sign for you ‘Not To’ bleach it, because it could cause breakage and that would be a disaster for you.

Unfortunately Carol I do not have a quick solution for you other than to be patient and to wash your hair regularly. I feel I must warn you, if you do use any lightening products to wash the black henna out of your hair, it will most probably go patchy, red and ginger.

Once your hair colour has lightened through shampooing only, you can then apply your regular henna colour on the roots only - so at least the roots do not show through.

Best to only apply the henna on your roots only because it may be passable due to build up. If you apply the henna all over it may turn too dark on the ends of your hair again. Because henna is a natural product, it cannot be used the same as chemical colours. The control of colour shades and applications are far less with henna.

In my 50 years in the hair Industry, I have had many experiences with henna and do not advise mixing henna coloured hair with chemical colours - it can turn out a disaster!!

Another solution is to keep cutting the hair ends so that eventually the black colour will disappear.

I hope my answer helps you and you will soon be back to your beautiful Chestnut colour.

Pierre Alexandre of Pierre Alexandre, Manchester

Henna is a wonderful natural hair colour, used for thousands of years it is the gentlest permanent dye we have to hand. However over the years people have developed different shades of henna that contain PPD to impart a hue other than reddish copper. These 'black' or 'chestnut' hennas have got the same chemical ingredients as regular hair dyes plus the henna.

This means that they are going to be very difficult to remove and it may even be impossible. I once, many years ago, used black henna on my own hair and then a couple of months later attempted to lighten it. My hair went swamp creature green and I needed to chop it all off.

I suggest going to a competent colour specialist to see if they would take a test piece of your hair. They will be able to try and see if your hair will lighten properly.

John Clark, Head of Colour at Brooks+Brooks, London

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