*This has been reposted since we are getting some e-mails about our experience with henna.
What is Henna?
Henna comes from the plant “lawsonia inermis”. The leaves of the plant contain a red-orange dye molecule that is used for dying the skin, hair and nails. This is why henna is also referred to as “Red Henna”.Typically there are 3 plant powders that are commonly referred to as henna:Neutral Henna- is not henna but rather Cassida Obovata. Cassia obovata contains anthraquinones, particuarly Chrysophanic acid, a remarkable anti-fungal, anti-microbial and anti-bacterial. Cassia obovata has a golden dye molecule that will stain dull blonde and gray hair yellow. It will help damaged hair, make hair full, glossy, healthy.
- is actually the only true henna. Products that dye the hair any color are some sort of compound henna. Its leaves are harvested, dried and ground into a powder. Liquid is then added to the henna, creating a paste which is used for the hair. Producers of Henna claim it is the best hair conditioner of all making your hair heavy, thick and silky.
Black Henna- Black henna, is a green powder that smells like frozen peas, is neither black nor henna. It is indigo, Indigofera tinctoria. (Source)
As stated earlier, “blonde”, “brown” and “black” henna do not exist. The only way to alter henna’s red dye molecule is by adding chemicals, metallic salts, OR
other dye plants such as Cassida Obovata (which produces lighter colors) and Indigo (which produces black colors). Be sure to use natural compound hennas mixed with only other natural dye plants. Compound hennas with unnatural additives are basically the equivalent to boxed dyes and are extremely hazardous for your hair.
Henna is grown is warm climates. Many of these warm climate areas do not yet have laws in which protect consumers demand all the products’ ingredients to be disclosed. Be sure to research your henna and be sure to check the label and with your retailer before you buy. Purchase natural henna and henna compounds here.
Benefits and Things to Consider
Price- Henna is not very expensive. Depending on the amount purchased it can cost anywhere from $6.00(single use)- $25.00(multiple use).
Stronger, Healthier More Luxurious Hair- Henna is like great protein treatment. Henna’s dye molecule attaches to the keratin in our hair over time, making our hair stronger and thicker. Henna replenishes the hair by coating the hair shaft and piecing together the rough spots throughout the damaged cuticle. Henna’s coating however, is permeable and does not lock moisture out. So a good deep conditioner after a henna treatment will not only work, but be icing on the cake.
Change in Curl Pattern- Some have reported that Henna temporarily loosens your curl pattern by reducing shrinkage. I didn’t have those results but there are people who swear by it…CurlyNikki is one of them.
The Smell- I don’t particularly like or dislike the smell. Henna smells very grassy and hay like. The smell also lingers for a couple days after the application. But if your other hair products have a strong fragrance they will probably mask the smell of henna.
Time Consuming- While the application is quick, it takes a while for the color to set. Most reviewers and other natural hair enthusiasts say that henna needs to be keep on for 6-10 hours in order to get the full benefits despite the fact that most product bottles claim that it only takes 1 hour. I suggest using henna at night wrapping your hair securely with a couple of shower caps and silks scarves and sleeping with it applied.
The Mess- Like any hair dye, henna can be a bit messy. Put some newspaper or old towel down to help elevate some of the mess it can create. The good thing about henna is that when mixed with water it forms a thick paste which is easier to handle than other liquid products. Also, when rinsing henna out of your hair, fill the tub a bit with water so that the henna does not stain the bottom of your tub.
What You Will Need-
a glass or wooden bowl
2 cups of boiling water
vaseline or a thick butter to protect your hairline and ears
a deep conditioner
plastic shower cap and bonnet
I used Rainbow Henna purchased from Whole Foods. My goal was to get my hair to be more of a chocolate brown but the Rainbow Hennas only ranged from medium brown to black. So, I used the medium brown henna because I wanted to test those results first rather than dying my hair too ark with the black. Keep in mind that this product is a compound henna but the only other ingredient is natural indigo, to make the dye brown instead of red.
I used 2 cups of henna as directed, which was practically the entire bottle.
Using a pyrex/glass bowl, I added 2 cups of boiling water
Next, mix it on up. Keep in mind that the dye molecules are being released as soon as the boiling water is added so you want to be quick. But leave enough time in between for the water to cool down.
The mixture should look like a thick paste once it’s ready. If it’s too thick add more water. If it’s not thick enough add more henna.
Apply henna on damp (not wet) hair. Your hairline should be covered with vaseline or a thick butter to protect your skin from the dye.
Begin applying henna to your hair. Apply generously!
After applying, your hair should be completely covered as pictured above.
Use a wet paper towel to clean any henna that is on your skin. Be sure to get behind your neck, ears and shoulders. Leave the henna on for at least 3 hours. I only left mine on for 1 hour because I followed the directions on the bottle : ( I know better now. For better results leave it on overnight and rinse off in the morning.
I was very pleased with this product. The Henna definitely added body and shine to my hair after the first application that has continued to last even after a week. I did not however have much change in my color. One reason for this is because I did not leave the product on long enough. The other, is because I used the same color as my hair! lol I’ll try mixing the medium brown and black next time to get a more chocolate result. Maybe 2 parts medium brown and 1 part black? We’ll see… But the henna did make my original color more rich, solid and consistent throughout my head. I had tons of highlights from the sun and they are no longer there, which I like.
The verdict is still out. The effects of henna can not be determined with only one use. But I will continue to use it every 6 weeks as recommended and document my results. I do however, have a strong belief in the product. With consistent use I believe that it does indeed make your hair stronger and healthier. Pictured below is Curly Nikki’s results after a year of using henna.
The left column is 06′. The right column is 07′ after using henna.
I’m hot for henna! So try it out and let us know how it works for you!