After nearly 5 years fumbling around in the dark with my fine natural hair, I discovered a not so secret natural resource that makes my strands stronger, shinier and more elastic. That resource is Henna.
Misconceptions About Henna
Henna is often misunderstood. Many ladies have preconceived notions about how henna affects the hair like:
- Permanently loosening the curl pattern
- Changing the color of the hair to an undesirable red
- Permanently altering the hair
While, henna can loosen your curl pattern, it’s only temporary and if one is to be honest it’s not that much of a loosening effect. There’s ways around a loosening curl. As for the color, not everyone gets flaming red hair. There’s also ways to achieve that desired result. Henna certainly doesn’t alter the properties of hair.
20 Basic Henna Facts
Purchasing, mixing, and applying henna is a no brainer when you follow the tips and advice I’m about to share. First, when using henna on your natural hair there’s some things to keep in mind:
- Only Body Art Quality Henna (BAQ) should be used on your body and that includes your hair.
- Pure henna does NOT come in colors. It’s a naturally greenish looking powder that’s all natural.
- The color stain you receive from using henna on your hair ranges from auburn to burgundy.
- The lawsone content of the plant is responsible for how much your hair is stained.
- The specific shade of reddish/orange is determined by the crop of henna being used.
- Henna should not make your hair hard. If it does, the quality has been compromised with pollutants.
- A full strength henna application can temporarily loosen your curl pattern.
- Doing a henna gloss will result in stronger hair, minus the loosening of curls but may not deposit color.
- Henna does not fade from your hair. It leaves a permanent stain.
- Regular henna applications will thicken fine hair by building up and strengthening the hair shaft.
- If you want to use henna to cover grey hair, you’ll need to touch up your roots as the hair grows in because…see #9 above.
- Henna can be mixed with another plant source, Indigo, to dye the hair dark brown to black.
- Henna can be used on natural AND relaxed hair.
- Henna has the ability to reduce dandruff, cure ringworm, and kill head lice.
- BAQ Henna is good but Organic BAQ Henna is better.
- Henna stains the hair but not the scalp, forehead or ears (unlike chemical dyes).
- Henna smooths your hair’s cuticle which is why it looks so shiny after a henna treatment.
- Henna helps strengthen your hair follicles, resulting in less shedding.
- Henna can be made to release dye faster by applying a hot liquid (water, tea, juice) of choice.
- Frozen henna will keep for months and should be used immediately after thawing.
How to Use Henna to Naturally Color and Strengthen Your Hair
Mixing and applying henna to your natural hair is a very easy process. It can be a messy process if you don’t mix the henna to a consistency that’s thick enough.
It’s recommended that henna be mixed with an acidic mixture (lemon juice, black tea, green tea, or apple juice). I’ve found that the acidic liquids irritate my scalp and mixing henna with filtered water is sufficient.
It’s also recommended that henna be allowed to sit over night so that the dye component (lawsone) can release. I’ve also discovered that when I use henna from a crop containing a higher lawsone content (at least 2.3%), the dye begins to release in about an hour and can be applied directly to the hair.
When mixing, do so to the consistency of mashed potatoes and then apply it to your hair in sections. If you’ve ever had a relaxer, then you know what the application process is like. You can do the same.
As long as the mixture is smooth, it can be thicker vs thinner. You’ll not get dripping or fall out if you mix the henna to a thicker consistency.
Last off, wear gloves! Henna WILL stain your hands and it takes days for it to fade. If you’ve ever had a henna tattoo then you know it takes 2 weeks and sometimes longer before the henna stain fades completely.
The henna brand, Ancient Sunrise has created a comprehensive guide with information on How to Henna Your Hair.
Brands of Henna
There are different crops of henna harvested from farming areas all over the Middle East, South Asia and North Africa. Some reputable brands/crops that I’ve tried include:
- Ancient Sunrise Rajasthani Twilight
- Ancient Sunrise Henna for African Hair (the finest sift I’ve ever tried, making it easy to rinse out)
- Jamila BAQ
- Red Raj
- Rajasthani Indian Henna
Where to Purchase BAQ Henna
The quality of henna you use on your hair should be as good as the quality you would use on your skin. Again, this is known as Body Art Quality or BAQ Henna.
You can purchase BAQ henna at Indian grocery stores but I prefer to purchase my henna from several reputable online sources (order of preference):
Mehandi (they offer lab certified pure henna with credentials)
Additional Articles Sharing My Experiences with Henna:
Additional Henna Images:
For the more scientific details of using henna for hair, visit this site: http://www.hennaforhair.com/science/index.html