Fruit Acids List for Dye Release

Publié par Lisa Spaulding le

Why use an acidic liquid to dye release henna?

We need a super fast henna chemistry lesson:  
The dye in henna is called Lawson, but it’s not formed & free yet.  
There are precursors to Lawson in the henna leaves, called hennocides (glucocides), that will migrate out of the plant material when mixed with a liquid.  
The hennocides need hydrogen to convert to aglycone. Aglycones are like the hands that bind the dye to the hair & skin.
Lawson dye has been created & is active.

Acidic Liquid:
is slower + has more hydrogen = very well developed aglycone = higher dye content & will bind permanently to the keratin of the hair.
In mildly acidic henna paste at room temperature, the aglycone will become available after about an 8 hour soak and remain at maximum in the paste for 12 – 24 hour hours, after which the percentage of the bindable aglycone form of the lawsone molecule will gradually become lawsone.
Colour starts light & coppery but darkens to a rich red.

Water as liquid:
fast, low hydrogen = aglycone can’t develop properly = lower dye content & cant’ bind permanently to the hair (will fade over time).
Henna + hot water = brighter orange that fades over time.
The aglycone intermediate cannot develop in boiling water, so the stain cannot effectively bind to the hair.
Colour: immediate medium red that doesn’t darken

Boiling water:
Immediate dye release with no aglycone = will wash out very quickly.
Colour: immediate medium red that doesn’t darken

This is why I always push using an acidic liquid when dye releasing henna (and cassia).
NEVER dye release indigo with an acidic liquid.

Here is where it gets fun!
Different fruit acids will allow you to tone the colour.  Bright, cool, darker, gradual darkening vs. staying the same colour...  Read up on how to choose which fruit acid to dye release your henna with!

- starts a light, coppery color that gradually darken to deep auburn
- colour will continue to darken forever
- colour won’t fade
- bottled lemon juice is fine, don’t worry about using fresh
- dilute 50% distilled water if sensitive skin
- very slow dye release
- if hair feels dry after, it’s caused by the scales of keratin being raised to bind with the lawsone.  Rinsing with hair conditioner will eliminate the ‘roughed-up’ sensation.
- can be substituted for citric acid or cream of tartar

- too acidic & phototoxic – I don’t recommend it
- stain will start the lightest & darken the most (deep auburn)


- bright copper colour
- best for light & bright on blonde / white hair
- colour doesn’t darken as much as citrus juice mixtures.
- 6g or 1 teaspoon per 100g of henna


- lighter, brighter red on blonde hair
- use juice with no pulp or calcium added
- substitute for tartaric acid

- creates ash tones in mixed with indigo
- won’t ash out henna or cassia alone
- breaks hydrogen bonds in keratin = greater indigo uptake = darker browns
- 25g Amla to 100g of henna or cassia + distilled water


- Gives ash tone to henna and cassia mixes – good for brunettes, deep reds, auburn
- minimize the “orange” in henna alone
- antioxidants deter henna browning over time
- gentle on the hair
- 25g chokeberry powder + distilled water per 100g of henna or cassia powder


- keeps the henna red brighter
- less likely to darken over time
- 25g acerola cherry powder + distilled water per 100g of henna or cassia powder


- lighter, brighter red on blonde hair
- some deepening over time
- most gentle to leave on overnight
- 1 Tsp (4g) per 100g of henna


- darker, more auburn on blonde hair
- deeper, richer shades, great for brunette mixes.
- most gentle of all acids to leave on overnight
- can substitute with 50% diluted vinegar
- 1 tsp (4g) up to 25g per 100g henna


- apple cider vinegar or white vinegar
- creates dark brownish red -brown when oxidized
- can smell bad
- might have to dilute it 50% with water if irritating to sensitive skin


- brighter mid-red
- no brown tones
- less likely to darken over time
- acerola cherry substitute
- muse be pure cranberry, not a cocktail juice


- no brassiness
- mid-reds
- don’t use baby apple juice (too diluted)
- fast dye release (4 – 6 hours check every hour)
- very gentle on scalp

If you really want to use water, make sure it’s rainwater or melted snow. All other water is too alkaline.

Do not use coffee, tea, an acidic liquid that isn’t edible!

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