What is henna?
Henna is a flowering plant whose dried, powdered leaves can be turned into a paste to create beautiful temporary body art and permanently dye hair an orangish/reddish/burgundy tint.
Extremely important note!
When purchasing henna, whether it be for body art or hair treatments, always purchase body art quality henna + from a reputable vendor. This means the powder is 100% pure and natural. Vlogger Chemese recently shared her severe allergic reaction (view here) to henna containing para-phenylenediamine (PPD), a chemical ingredient common in hair dyes. Chemese’s video of her update about her allergic reaction is posted here.
Benefits of henna treatments
For those seeking to dye their hair reddish tint, henna is a great, natural method (or henna+indigo for black tint). Henna also enhances shine, strengthens hair, thickens hair by coating it, and may loosen curl pattern by weighing down hair.
Alternative to henna: Cassia
I used cassia back in 2010 and I loved the results – cassia thickened and strengthened my hair. Cassia is often called neutral henna but it’s not derived from the henna plant. It’s actually derived from the Italian senna plant which has a low yellow dye molecule, dying lighter hair colors (blond, gray). When applied to dark hair it will not show any color. Cassia will give you the same benefits of henna but the results do not last as long so cassia applications must be done more frequently.
My Henna Plan
I purchased 100g of Rajasthani Indian henna powder ($7) and 100g of indigo ($9) from Henna Sooq (pictured above). Henna Sooq makes it super easy to browse what ratios of henna + indigo one needs to achieve red, golden, brown, or black tones (you can view HS’s guide here). Based on the chart for brown hair, to achieve reddish-brown tones I will need to mix 70% henna + 30% indigo. To achieve brown tones, I will need to mix 50% henna + 50% indigo. My mother tried henna a couple years ago and I loved her results so maybe I’ll try to achieve a similar tint?… decisions, decisions.
Here’s the color of my hair in indirect (left) and direct (right) sunlight. The photos were taken in April and May 2015 and pplleeeasseeeeee ignore how dry my hair looked. On the right was my hair after a long morning run and altogether I was still figuring out how to keep my newly all-natural hair moisturized. Anywho, as much as I love the brown of my hair, I’m open to trying something new.
I have all the ingredients I plan to add – coconut milk and honey. All of the straightforward henna instructions I’ve read have advised to mix henna with a dye releasing agent, like apple cider vinegar, black tea, or green tea but I’ve decided to mix in coconut milk instead after reading Minimalist Beauty’s experience with adding the usual dye releasing agents vs adding coconut milk. Check out her post here.
Rinsing out henna can be chore (rinsing out cassia from my hair certainly was) so I have lots of cheapie conditioner to rinse it out – Alberto VO5 Moisture Milks Moisturizing Conditioner Strawberries and Cream. The only thing I’m missing is my favorite moisturizing deep conditioner – HairVeda Deep Conditioning Hair Masque (formerly named Sitrinillah Deep Conditioner) to stave off henna’s drying and protein-treatment like effects.
As excited as I am to try henna, I’m honestly still hesitant and nervous that it’ll cause breakage, that the color will be too red, that it’ll turn my hair into a big dry cloud of hay. I think I’ll try henna this weekend but don’t be surprised if I post that I chickened out 😛
Have you tried henna? Have any tips to share?
P.S. I’ve been doing my researching on henna for the better part of a week and have a more detailed post on the pros and cons of henna treatments coming up.