why isn't my henna staining

Why isn’t my henna staining? Do you ask this question often? Well, you’re not alone!

So many women face the same issue, and it frustrates them. Many cultures say a man’s love for his bride increases in proportion to the darkness of her henna or mehndi tattoo.

It could very well be a myth.

Nevertheless, it’s true that a black henna stain, as opposed to an orange one, is more suitable for detailed and elaborate designs. 

So, why is my henna not staining, you may ask?

It’s not staining because you don’t leave it on for more than 4 hours before rinsing it off.

Tip: Never use black henna on the skin because it contains the chemical P-phenylenediamine which can cause severe allergic responses in certain people. 

How Long Does it Take Henna to Darken?

how long does it takes to darken

It depends on many factors, but most importantly, leaving it on for extended hours could solve the issue.

If you want long-lasting color from your henna, keep it on for at least two hours before washing it off.

To achieve a deeper color, keep it for 90 minutes, while a lighter hue can be achieved by keeping it for only 60.

A fresh henna stain will have a light or dark orange hue. The stain will become noticeably darker over the next 48-72 hours. 

The fact that the color develops slowly corroborates the Henna paste was made from all-natural ingredients.

When planning your Henna session, give yourself at least two days before your big event.

Also, remember, you won’t get any color out of henna if you mix it and apply it immediately. Dye release may be sluggish in colder temperatures.

The henna paste probably wasn’t left long enough for all the dye to release, but over-releasing is also possible.

Tip: Use some rubbing alcohol to clean your oily skin before applying henna to help it darken better. 

Why Isn’t My Henna Staining after I Do Everything?

my henna isn't staining after everything

Identifying the correct time to leave the henna on is essential, but many other factors may contribute to a lighter stain. 

You Use Sanitizer Excessively

The antibacterial properties of hand sanitizer make it an awful choice for henna tattoos.

So before applying the henna, ensure your hands are clean of any hand sanitizer.

Use of hand sanitizer should be delayed until the color has fully formed. It will have a major impact on how quickly henna oxidizes.

Typically, this occurs between two and three days after the application. 

You Don’t Let Henna Stain Oxidize

After removing the henna paste for the first time, the stain will initially be a pale orange.

It usually takes the stain a couple of days to get its full color after application.

Wait at least 48 hours after removing the paste before making any judgments about the color of the stain. 

You Apply it on Unclean Skin

you apply on unclean skin

Expect a lighter henna stain when there’s any barrier between the henna and your skin cells, such as sweat, lotions, and hair products.

Before applying henna, make sure the skin is very clean.

Cleansing with soap and water or rubbing alcohol/witch hazel may be helpful. Self-tanning products will remove some henna color from your skin, so be aware.

Keep in mind that it may take a few days for the skin to shed dead cells after applying a thick moisturizer such as sunscreen, body butter, or other similar product. 

You Use Water to Rinse it Off

Do not use water to wash off the henna paste, and stay out of the shower for as long as possible afterward.

Adding water to a stained surface will slow oxidation, leaving a lighter stain. You can make matters considerably worse by using soap.

Paste on the skin can be easily removed by scraping it off.

Once the paste is rolled off the skin, any remaining particles can be removed by soaking the area in olive oil.   

Your Body Temperature is Inadequate

body temperature is inadequate

Heat causes skin cells to swell as the body attempts to cool itself down. As a protective mechanism, the cells shrink in response to decreased body temperature.

The henna molecules have greater room to penetrate the skin cells and can color a larger area when the body is at a higher temperature. 

You Don’t Let the Dye to Release

Forget about getting any color from henna if mixed and used immediately. In colder temperatures, the release of the dye can be even slower.

Don't expect good results if the paste wasn't kept on for long enough to release all of its pigment.  

You Exfoliate It Away

Sometimes, you may be unintentionally exfoliating henna away from your body, which may make it lighter.

To avoid having the henna fade too quickly, it’s best to apply it to areas of the body that won’t be continuously massaged.

If you put henna on the wrist where you keep your watch, for instance, the color won’t get very dark and fade rapidly.

When applying henna to the feet, this often occurs when the wearer’s shoes or sandal straps rub. 

You Didn’t Store Henna Paste Properly

didnt store henna paste properly

Ideally, henna should be stored in the freezer while it’s not being used. This is because the paste still releases color, even if it’s at room temperature.

At some point, the henna will no longer be able to hold any dye, and it will only leave a faint or invisible stain.

Remember, the henna color fades more rapidly in hotter temperatures. 

You Don’t Pick Spots Carefully

Where you get your henna tattoo matters as well. Henna is best absorbed by the palms and soles of the feet, and the further from these places the stain is, the lighter it becomes.

When it comes to your back or upper arm, you’ll never receive that extremely black stain that your palms can cause.

Inadequate staining might occur on the face, neck, chest, and trunk. Experiment with hennaing various body parts to get a feel for the process.

Also, you'll notice that some areas of your body exfoliate faster than others, resulting in a stain that fades more quickly or more slowly. 

You Don’t Consider Your Body’s Chemistry

didnt consider your body chemistry

Sometimes, you know you’ve done everything right – applied henna properly and left it for long enough. But, you don’t get the desired results.

First, you have to understand that the intensity of henna staining can be altered by factors such as hormones, food, and medications.

Staining can be affected by isotretinoin and chemotherapy, but the degree to which it does so varies from person to person.

Natural or artificial hormone fluctuations can affect the henna stain mainly because it plays with your body temperature.

Tip: Don't take a shower for at least 12 hours after getting your henna design to help it darken properly.  

Natural Remedies to Help Henna Stain Better

Simply fixing the issues you experience during the application and removal process can help darken your henna better.

Additionally, you can try certain remedies to get better results. 

Try a Mix of Sugar and Lemon

try mix of sugar and lemon

With this concoction, the henna will stay longer on your body and look more vibrant.

It’s important to utilize this mix with caution, as prolonged exposure to acid could cause discoloration. 

How to Do It

  • Add some lemon juice to a small bowl
  • Add some sugar and mix it well
  • Wait for your henna to dry off completely
  • Now dab the mixture on the henna using a cotton ball
  • Do it gently without scraping off the henna

Make Use of Cloves

You may benefit from this hack because the cloves’ heat is said to deepen your skin tone.

You can also use clove oil if you want a more permanent solution.

How to Do It

  • Remove the henna first
  • Cook 8 to 10 clove pieces in a small saucepan
  • Stop when they begin to exude their aroma
  • Put your hands in the container
  • Hold them there for a few seconds before pulling out

 You should do this at least four times if you want a good color. 

Make Use of Mustard Oil

use a mustard oil

Mustard oil has a reputation for being a “hot” oil that will cause you to feel warmer internally.

As a result, using this oil will cause the mehndi to darken because of the heat it generates. 

How to Do It

  • Start by removing the dried henna
  • Add some mustard oil to the area
  • Leave it there to absorb naturally
Tip: Apply some Vaseline on the henna before you shower because it coats your skin and protects your henna from water.

Read Next: Why Does Color Oops Smell So Bad and What to Do about It?


It’s extremely frustrating to not get the desired color after applying henna this leads to the baffling question, “Why Isn’t my henna staining?”

Instead of asking this, you should closely look into the “henna” process to identify your mistakes.

Simply correcting mistakes like not leaving henna for long enough, using water to clean it, or applying it when your body temperature is low can help.

And remember, some natural hacks are also there to help darken your henna quickly.

Don’t ignore them!

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