Pros and Cons of Henna

Pros and cons of henna

Wondering whether you should give henna a try? Here are a few pros and cons.

– Pros –

Natural dye

For ladies (and gents) who prefer not to use boxed commercial, chemical dyes, henna is a natural way to dye hair an orangish/reddish/burgundy tint. The dye molecules in henna, called lawsone, penetrated into the hair shaft and bind with keratin in our hair. Here are few diagrams of how henna dyes hair:

Super important note: when purchasing henna, always buy body art quality henna from reputable vendors. This ensures that the henna will be 100% pure, devoid of any added chemicals or dyes.

Thickens hair by coating strands

The lawsone in henna binds to the hair cuticle, coating and thickening the strands. The good news is that the coating is permeable, meaning it does not prevent moisture from penetrating into the hair shaft.

Strengthens hair

By binding to the keratin in our hair, the lawsone in henna both dyes and strengthens hair. Note: because henna mimics protein treatments, avoid using a protein conditioner after applying henna. Instead, use a moisturizing deep conditioner to restore moisture and balance out henna’s potentially drying effects.

Anti-fungal properties

Henna’s anti-fungal properties helps treat dandruff and psoriasis by relieving the scalp of excess oil and flakes.

Reduces frizz, adds shine, and smooths hair

Henna smooths hair by filling in gaps and rough areas along the cuticle.

– Cons –

Dry hair

Because henna mimics a protein treatment, it may have a drying effect on your hair. Always follow up with a moisturizing deep conditioning treatment.

Henna is messy + time-consuming

If you’re looking for a quick way to color your hair, henna ain’t it. Henna’s dye release and color deposit requires a handful of hours for optimum stain. Applying henna to your hair is not a “neat” process. Be ready to wear clothes you wouldn’t mind staining or throwing again when henna’ing, and gloves to avoid staining your hands and fingers.

Loosens curl pattern

*This could either be a pro or con, depending on the results you hope to achieve*

With repeated use henna’s coating may build and weigh down the hair, loosening ones curl pattern (3bc/4a). If you have 4b, 4c hair chances are your curl/coil pattern will remain unchanged.

27 Comments

  1. Can I use henna with lemon juice. Will it work please tell me…i request you please

  2. Are you wearing wash & go’s or puffs? Those cause SSKs for me. Also, maybe try a clay treatment? I know that “scab hair” situation is annoying but if it’s been 3 years and your hair feels that way from root to tip, maybe your hair just is the way it is. I went through it too and while it changed over time in one area, another area just feels that way & I deal with the fact that my hair is multiple textures in different sections. My only advice is to start treating your hair like it is the way it’s supposed to be & find products & a regimen that lets it be great just the way it is. I know that’s not what you wanted to hear but I hope it helps anyway!

    1. Thanks TL. I only wear protective styles and only my ends feel this way.
      I’ve been fully natural for 3 months.
      Definitely true about having different textures though. Thats absolutely fascinating 🙂

  3. I’ve done many henna glosses while transitioning and haven’t experienced dryness. I didnt one after my BC and my hair texture hasn’t changed so far.
    Sorry for going off topic but I think I am experiencing ‘ scab hair’. I know its not a scientific term, but I read about people noticing that after big chopping the ends of their hair (in certain sections) are wiry, rough looking/feeling. The theory is that the first inches of hair that grow out are different because the follicle was possibly altered (no scientific evidence for this) by relaxers/chemical treatments.
    After big chopping I did almost weekly trims with good quality hair shears. I always deep condition and where protective styles but almost all over my head my ends look rough and are tangly with som ssk’s in there. Extra moisturizing and sealing doesn’t seem to help, maybe I should just keep trimming and wait for my definite hair texture to show up? Any tips would be appreciated.
    I have curly 4a hair with coily 4b at the crown, normal porosity, ‘virgin’ natural hair with fine strands. I transitioned for almost 3 years and big chopped December 2015. The ‘ scab hair’ started showing up pretty soon after big chopping. To keep myself from trimming every time I work with my hair (the ends annoy me) I installed box braids, but I love being natural and I would really like to release my fro and start learning how to style my frizz ball :-). Thanks!

    1. Hi Holland Girl,
      Give it time and it will work out. Check out Mahogany Curls on YouTube. Her hair was very different when she did her BC; her texture and curl pattern. But as her hair grew, it came in to it’s own, So, there are examples of before and after BC and the changes after time. Hair will naturally adapt to routines and naturally become more manageable. It’s just a waiting game and learning your hair game.

  4. I will humbly accept the designation lol
    I’m really just glad to be able to help anyone!

  5. I want to clarify something another commenter mentioned: henna being temporary. I don’t know if it could have been the quality of the henna or the mix itself that caused the commenter’s color to fade but please know, good quality henna is permanent. It may fade a bit over time but it will not wash off; indigo does though. The only grays that I’ve had to color in the 3 years I’ve been using it are the roots of the gray hair only which is normal for any hair color.

    Jen, another warning about buying henna that everyone should know is do NOT buy products purporting to be henna that have names like black henna or red henna, etc. That’s usually a dead giveaway for henna with added chemicals like those found in commercial hair dyes. Lawson only dyes hair one color: red. Anything else is probably adulterated.

    1. Author

      That’s a great warning tip! Can I just go ahead and dub you our resident Henna Head Guru? ?

  6. Without the messy part, I would probably henna more . I love how henna makes my hair feel so soft and silky, and it becomes very manageable too!

  7. Great article. I used Henna for awhile. I would add a few more things to your cons list. If you decide to go back to chemical dye, it will effect the color or the ability of the color to take. Second con, it does not last. I have grey hair. I found myself having to use Henna ALL THE time. It was equivalent to using temporary hair dye like Manic Panic. It washed out fast and had to be done like every 3-4 weeks. If you wash your hair alot or do a lot of wet styling like wash n gos, it is going to come out even quicker. My grey hair would start reappearing after about two weeks. Because of the grey hair, I had to use it with indigo, and it still didn’t last and Indigo creates a two step process. I had to switch back to regular dye because for the amount of time it lasted, it was not worth the time or the money. 3. The Pros are not guaranteed. My hair was not any stronger or thicker looking than it would be from me using any other type of protein treatment or thickening conditioner. My hair also did not stretch. 4. The indigo made my hair look super dull. I think Henna is great for people whose hair cannot tolerate chemical dye or are looking for chemical free options. However, if you don’t mind chemicals or your hair can stand up to hair dye, the results of chemical dye are more consistent, longer lasting and cheaper then Henna. Follow it up with a great conditioner and a solid regimen and your hair will be fine.

  8. Thanks for the list! I henna my hair every 6 months to not experience the looser curl pattern (which I did after two uses of standard henna recipe). I’m going to try the coconut milk with honey and conditioner to soften the henna treatment and make it more of a conditioner. I may even leave in for a few hours instead of overnight (10+hours)

    1. Author

      Ooooo I’d love to hear how moisturizing it is with both coconut milk and honey!

  9. I am more for the pros, my hair hardly gets dry after my hair application.

  10. Like all things, there’s the good with the ‘not so good’
    I’d say overall however, that henna is a beneficial addition to any hhj. Esp as a natural product. And the cons could be augmented with little adjustment – eg. using dye release agents with known moisturizing properties; preparing and freezing henna for future use, to save time.
    The messiness however, can’t be avoided ?

    1. Come through shortcuts, come through! Lol
      #lazybutvain

    2. Author

      *grabby hands*
      *welcomes allllll the henna tips and shortcuts*
      I’m totally going to freeze my leftover henna in some icecube trays when I do my next henna treatment. Great tip!

  11. This is great, Jen! I especially like the diagrams. I keep telling myself I’m going to try henna one day, but it’s been forever and I haven’t tried it yet. It’s mostly the mess of it that has been keeping me from testing it out. But one day, I know I will. Great post!

    1. Author

      Thank you!
      *nudge nudge*
      *secretly hopes that its one day soon*
      My henna excitement has me hoping that everyone tries it at least once lol.

    1. I absolutely love henna and I used it every two months. I used a standard recipe (100g henna, green tea, 1tbsp honey) and overnight (10+ hours). Of course the reddish tint came quick…but my hair loosened as well, especially in my bangs. My natural hair is 4a and it literally went to 3b after 2 uses. I didn’t want a looser pattern so I chopped a few inches off. As of right now, I’m doing henna every 6 months, but as a henna gloss to soften up the effects of loosening the curl. I suppose it depends on the thickness of your hair as well. I have low dense, fine natural hair. So the results came quickly.

    2. I have 3b/3c/4a (I know, it’s murder getting consistency when styling) & I henna every 2-3 weeks with no ill effects. You learn time saving tricks & I haven’t had any loosening in the 3c/4a sections but the front 1/2 is 3b & it did loosen so I started only hennaing the roots to cover gray in the front. Hope that helps answer your question!

    3. Author

      Christina, TL – thank you both for your feedback!
      There’s been no change to my curl pattern. It’s just as coily as ever lol.

  12. Great post! I’ve been thinking about using henna, but I’ve heard that you can’t be sure what color your hair will turn after you use it. I’ve seen orange and red on different people. Is there a way to know?

    1. If your hair is light or gray, it will likely be orange-ish on first application. Subsequent applications will stain it auburn, red, burgundy, deep burgundy. If your hair is dark brown or black, you can’t see the color except in direct sunlight/light & it’s a burgundy red tint. HTH!

    2. I use henna oil to combat the drying effect of henna. I get it from sheaterraorganics.com

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