You may know henna as the material used to create beautiful designs on the body, but it can also be a great hair dye or eyebrow tint. Henna stored for a long time may be buried in the back of your cabinet and you are left wondering: Does henna expire?
Henna does not technically expire as it is a dry herbal powder, but it can become stale and lose its ability to dye skin and hair. When your henna loses potency, it will have reduced pigment and therefore will become useless for purposes such as Mehndi designs or hair dyeing.
What Is Henna?
Henna is made from the dried leaves of the henna tree or ‘Lawsonia inermis’. It is a rich brown color with a red undertone and has been used for centuries to dye skin and hair.
It is commonly sold in cones, powder, and henna paste. Cones are used to pipe designs onto skin, while powders and pastes can be used for all purposes.
Henna first stains orange, before darkening to a dark brown stain which can last and slowly fade over the next couple of months or longer.
The dye in henna products works to stain the skin due to the henna reacting chemically to acidic ingredients.
An acidic ingredient such as lemon triggers the natural dyeing ability of the henna plant and is used to stains our skin or hair.
Henna has been used for centuries to dye or otherwise stain parts of the human body.
Uses Of Henna
Mehndi is the art of painting henna paste designs across the skin, letting the paste dry and then allowing the stain to develop. It stains the top layers of the skin, so the design lasts but is not permanent.
Henna can also be used as an eyebrow stain to define the eyebrows, or as a hair dye to stain the hair a rich deep brown or red. When used as a hair dye, hair can be dyed from red to dark brown.
Henna Hair Dye
Henna hair dye is a product made specifically for hair dyeing, but some may make their own with henna paste or powder.
DIY henna hair dyes can be made with oil, lemon, henna powder, and other natural ingredients. Sometimes, however, it can be difficult to apply compared to professional products.
Does Henna Expire?
Henna does not technically expire or go bad, but when it becomes stale it loses its ability to dye or even stain the skin and hair.
This makes the henna dye less intense or even useless, but it is unlikely to be harmful if accidentally applied.
The best time frame for using your henna is up to 3 months after purchase or longer when stored in a cold, clean environment.
Henna Cone Expiration Time Frame
Henna cones can become dried out if they are left open to the air for long periods. They are then unable to be squeezed and deposit the henna paste.
It can also become stale, but it is likely to dry out, meaning the cone becomes unusable. Stored correctly, used henna cones can be used over a week or longer.
Henna Powder Expiration Time Frame
Henna powder is less likely to dry out but being in certain environments can cause it to become stale.
The herbal powder should be kept airtight as moisture can cause the powder to become stale and clumped.
When stored in the right way, the henna powder will last for a few weeks if opened. If it becomes stale, it loses its staining capabilities and will not be useful.
Henna Paste Expiration Time Frame
Henna paste is similar to henna cones and also should not be allowed to dry out.
Letting it dry out can cause the product to deteriorate so it needs to be airtight and kept cold.
Dried-out henna paste will not be effective for applying to the skin or hair. If stored properly, the open henna paste should be good for use for a week or two.
How To Store Henna
Different types of henna and henna products need slightly different storage to keep them at their best for longer. Using these directions can help prevent stale henna and moisture damage to the product.
The unopened henna powder should be kept in a clean, dry container. Refrigeration is not necessary to store powder, but it is fine to do so if the container is secure.
Henna paste should be kept frozen to keep it in good condition but make sure it is sealed and kept clean.
Open henna paste or powder should be sealed and kept securely in the refrigerator if you are planning on using it almost immediately or in the near future.
It should be sealed, wrapped, and stored in the freezer to try and prolong its life in storage for longer periods.
Leave frozen henna out to thaw by placing it on a surface and allowing it to defrost at room temperature slowly.
For a faster result, you can place a sealed bag of henna in a bowl of warm water to thaw it faster.
Henna Hair Dye
Any leftover dye should be stored in a jar or airtight container. Place it in the fridge to keep it fresh and moist for use in a few days. For longer periods of storage, wrap and store in the freezer.
For homemade dyes, follow the same instructions although it is possible that it could become stale if left for an overly long time. This is due to the other ingredients used in the dye.
Disclaimer: This site is not intended to provide professional or medical advice. All of the content on LovedByCurls.com is for informational purposes only. All advice should be followed at your own discretion. Ingredients may change at any time so always check the product label before using. Check our full disclaimer policy here.
Dee has been following the Curly Girl Method for over four years and is our in-house Curly Girl expert. She has a keen interest in natural haircare and has tried and tested her share of CGM products. She has a photographic memory of most sulfate and silicone-free hair products available on the high street and she’s always happy to recommend you her favorites.