I've been henna'ing now for more than 2 years! My once fine head of hair, can now only be described as BIG. My curls hang longer (less shrinkage), the color is gorgeous, and the shine is ridiculous!! I owe it all to my other husband- BAQ HENNA.
Catherine at Henna For Hair has written a wonderful article on hennaing hair. You can download it from her site here.
So, what is Henna?
Henna, lawsonia inermis, is a plant. It is a large bush, or small tree, that grows in hot, dry climates. There is evidence from Egypt that henna was regularly used to dye hair five thousand years ago, and may have been used in Jericho as early as eight thousand years ago. Henna was used to keep hair healthy and to color gray hair. Source.
The dye inside this plant produces a red/brown stain on skin and various hues of red on hair. Henna can't lighten your hair, ever. On some colors of hair it may appear to brighten it, but you should count on any color you get with henna, being darker than what is already on your head.
Pros, Cons & Other Effects of Henna:
Henna has some undeniable benefits for hair, which is why so many people use it and love it.
Some of these pros include:
- Stronger Hair - The lawsone (dye) molecule penetrates the hair shaft, binding with the keratin in the hair. This makes hair stronger, but also is one of the qualities that makes henna removal near impossible. Henna also coats the hair and fills in rough spots on a frayed cuticle. This adds a second layer of strength, but it DOES NOT lock out moisture.
- Smoother, Shinier Hair - Henna, as stated above, does coat the hair, but it is a permeable coating that does not lock moisture out. The henna helps fill in rough spots on the cuticle. With the cuticle rough edges smoothed over, the hair feels smoother and the cuticle takes a lot less damage during combing and manipulation. It takes several days for Henna to stabilize. It becomes more flexible and durable as it oxidizes and cures--it is in fact a plant resin that is flexible and solvent enough to penetrate the hair at the cuticle, carrying pigment with it.
- Non-Fading Red - Anyone that has used red chemicals dyes knows how badly they fade. Henna may fade a little after the first application, but after the second application fades very little.
- The Absence of Chemicals - Chemical dyes are not only VERY damaging to hair, they can also cause scalp burns, allergic reactions, and recently studies have linked long term use to cancer.
- Application Process - Henna can be hard to apply evenly on your own, can be a huge mess, and is tiring on the arms and neck. It also has to be left on for a longer time than commercial chemical dyes (4-12 hours), so more time has to be slated for the process.
- Experimentation - To find your ideal mix, dye release time, application time, rinsing method, etc. all require some experimentation. It is not out-of-a-box color, and it may take some tweaking to find your ideal results. Your perfect color is never a guarantee.
- Dry Hair - Some people report dry hair after using henna. It mimics a protein treatment and you MUST follow up with a moisturizing deep conditioner.
- Loss/Reduction in Curl - Many users of henna report a loss of curl. This is by no means a universal effect, and should be neither discounted, nor counted on. It seems that wavies (s curls) are the most susceptible to this, though some curlies are as well.
- Cannot Lighten Hair - Henna cannot lighten your hair, ever. On some colors of hair it may appear to brighten it, but you should count on any color you get with henna being darker than what is already on your head.
- Darkening with Multiple Applications - Henna will darken with multiple applications. If one wants to keep a lighter color, only the roots should be touched up, and repeated whole-head applications will progressively make the color less orange and more burgundy.
- Cost - Depending on your mix, how much hair you have and how often you henna, it may either be more or less expensive than chemical dyes. Though that doesn’t factor in one very important thing… the price your hair pays on chemical dyes. Many people find that they only need to do a full-length application one or two times, and the because henna doesn't fade much, they can save a lot of cost by only redoing the roots.
- The Smell - Some people love it, some people hate it, but the smell of henna lingers in your hair for awhile after the application, often reviving when your hair is wet. Some herbs, such as ginger, can be added to shift the smell of the mix, but nothing will eliminate it entirely. Most people feel it has a smell somewhat like grass or hay.
- Variable Color - Henna can and does shift in color depending on the light the hennaed hair is placed in. The same head of hair can go from burgundy to firey copper, just depending on the light.
Go to any local health food store and you’ll see boxes and boxes of “natural” hair coloring products claiming to be 100% henna. Well, we know that henna only comes in red, so what gives with all the shades of brown and blonde and black? Many natural hair colors are a blend of henna, cassia, indigo, and other color enhancing herbs. Beware, though. Many “henna dyes” contain things other than herbs, that can SERIOUSLY damage your hair.
What is Neutral Henna (Cassia Obovata)?
Cassia Obovata is often referred to as “neutral henna.” It is not henna and it does not alter the color of hair greatly, though it may give more golden tones with repeated applications. It has similar conditioning benefits as henna, but they are not permanent, and they disappear without reapplication.
The above info is taken from the member Nightshade at longhaircommunity: http://forums.longhaircommunity.com/vbjournal.php?do=article&articleid=7
My Henna Results!!
The proof is in the pudding:
Top Row= Fall '06 versus Fall '07
Bottom Row= Fall '06 versus Fall '07 :
My hair is shinier, STRONGER, and silkier. The texture is much smoother and slightly looser. Henna has drastically decreased my breakage and splitting, reduced shrinkage, and has overall improved the look and health of my hair. I'm a henna head for life!!!
I began my henna journey in October 2007. I henna'ed two to three times a week for the first month. After I read that henna has a cumulative effect (the more you do it, the more apparaent the results), I went overboard, lol. I saw the color and shine after about 2 treatments, but the loosening, de-frizzing and rich shine developed over several weeks. From November 2007-January 2008, I henna'ed once a week, or once every other week, and since then, I've been henna'ing once a month. It can get to be a bit expensive, depending on the frequency of application, but it is sooooooooo worth it!
150-200g of Personal Stash Jamila Henna (purchased from www.mehandi.com)
1.5-2 cups of cooled green tea (I brew 4 bags in filtered water)
**I mix the two in a plastic tub and put the lid on.
I'm a professional now, so I don't need to cover the bathroom in newspaper anymore. I still get the occasional splatter, but it is no where near as bad as it use to be! So, if you're a newbie, and don't want what will look like poo stains everywhere, please lay out some paper!!!
I also don't let my henna sit anymore (it's believed that the dye won't release until 20 hours have lapsed, but with Jamila henna, the dye is releasing as I'm mixing it up)...I apply it immediately after mixing. Once the mix is ready, I hop in the shower, condition, and detangle. Once I get out of the shower, I take the lid off the mix, and add about 3 tablespoons of honey to make it smoother, and aid in the rinsing process. I then apply the pudding-like mix to small sections of my wet (but not dripping) hair and slap on a plastic cap. I leave the henna on for 12 or so hours- I apply it at night (around 7pm) and rinse when I wake up. If you decide to sleep in it, you may want to don 2 plastic caps and a satin scarf that you won't mind getting dirty. If you start to leak, create a cotton ball barrier between the elastic of the cap and your skin.
When morning comes, I can't tell you how excited I am to rinse that heavy mess out and reveal my lovely tresses! I fill the tub halfway with luke warm water, get on my knees and dunk my head in. I splash around to loosen it up a bit, then I position my head under the faucet and let the pressured water get most of the henna out. I then promptly turn on the shower head. While the water from the shower stream is cleaning out the tub, I load my head up with a ton of slippery conditioner, to soften my hair a bit. I then begin rinsing, and rinsing, and rinsing some more! Since my hair was detangled prior to application, there usually aren't many knots. I re-load on conditioner and rinse upwards of 4 times. Finally, I apply a deep conditioner and apply heat for an hour or so. I get back in the shower, rinse, and style :)
Needless to say, after a henna weekend, my body is squeaky clean! Luckily, our water bill doesn't reflect it, lol.
I know this is a lot of info...I hope it was helpful and please don't hesitate to ask questions. I can chat about my Henna alllllll day :D
So, what have your experiences with henna been? Share the good, the bad and the ugly! Maybe your comments will help someone else :D
Happy Henna'ing ladies!