What is Cassia?
There is NO such thing as neutral henna or blond henna! Much of what is sold in boxes called neutral or blond (sic) henna is Cassia Obovata, usually with unlisted adulterants. Cassia obovata will make damaged hair silky, thick, lustrous, and helps keep your scalp healthy, just as henna does. This has a golden yellow dye molecule, but it won’t show up on your hair unless you are very pale blond (sic) or gray. Cassia will not make dark hair golden. Cassia will make gray or blond hair golden.
Now that we got that out of the way, on Sunday I debated doing a cassia treatment. But, I was persuaded to go for it on my Facebook page (see here). I had applied a pre-poo mix of Aubrey GPB and Honeysuckle Rose conditioners mixed with Vatika Oil on Saturday. I’d previously read the instructions to apply cassia to dry hair, but after searching around a little, found that some applied it to wet, washed hair as well. So, I knew that I was okay to wash my hair first. During the same search, I also found that there are different cassia recipes just as there are for henna. So, I decided to make a pseudo cassia gloss using the same ingredients that I use with henna, with one exception. I used warm filtered water instead of green tea as adding an acid to cassia releases the yellow dye molecule. That isn’t a problem for my dark hair, but it might have caused my grey roots to yellow. No bueno.
- Mixed 100g cassia powder with approximately 1 cup of warm filtered water and let it sit for about 30 minutes.
- Hopped in shower and shampooed hair in 6 twists with diluted DevaCare No Poo (diluting No Poo provides it with nice slip). Released each twist to lightly finger detangle and re-twisted before rinsing shampoo (20-30 min.).
- Got out of shower and mixed about 1/2 – 3/4 cup Sally’s GVP Matrix Conditioning Balm and 1/4 cup of honey into the cassia mix.
- Applied cassia mix to hair in sections, smooshing it on scalp and through length to thoroughly coat strands.
- Piled hair on top of head, wrapped it in plastic wrap and put on a plastic baggie.
- Donned Hair Therapy Heat Wrap for 1 hour.
- Hopped back in shower, rinsed and finger detangled with loads of Herbal Essence Hello Hydration (HE HH). Threw in some Suave Naturals Tropical Coconut conditioner too (just to use it up; won’t be repurchasing as it gives me no slip. I’ve been taking CurlyNikki’s advice and using it for shaving though ).
- Deep conditioned in 6 twists with Darcy’s Botanicals Pumpkin Seed Moisturizing Conditioner (1 hour w/heat wrap).
- Rinsed DC under tub faucet using Cool and Seal technique with diluted HE HH.
- Styled WnG with Sheilo Leave-in Protecant and Jessicurl Confident Coils Styling Solution using Rake & Shake technique.
My Review and Results
Overall, I think this cassia treatment worked out well!! As expected, it was a lot easier and far less time-consuming than henna. It had a similar grassy smell, but that doesn’t bother me. I also got the same level of shine and smoothness that accompanies a henna treatment … unfortunately for me, that seemed to still be accompanied by curl loosening!! What the heck?? This is NOT supposed to happen with cassia! Okay, okay. I suspect that this may have to do with how much I conditioned my hair during this process … pre-poo, conditioner in the cassia, conditioner to detangle, deep condtioner. So, I’m hoping that my curls will bounce back with some protein-instilling Aubrey GPB conditioner (sans the Honeysuckle Rose mix) and another wash. But again, my hair looks and feels pretty good! In addition to being shiny and smooth, it feels very clean, light and fluffy.
Depending on how my curls bounce back after my next wash session, I definitely think I’ll try cassia again in another month or so. Shoot, might as well … I have another bag of it ! Plus, the results are supposed to wear off after a week or two, so I really don’t expect the curl-loosening to be long-lasting or permanent. Since the whole process is so much simpler and shorter than henna with similar results, I’d definitely recommend it to anyone contemplating henna, but who is hesitating because of the color or time concern.
"I tried cassia about 4 times before moving on to henna. Initially, I was afraid of the red color, especially since I had a considerable amount of brown highlights throughout- I wasn't going for 'fire engine red'. Cassia is similar to henna... although it's a different plant altogether, it has some of the same conditioning effects, sans color. Like henna, cassia strengthens the hair shaft, improves overall health, and adds lots of shine. It doesn't, however, reduce shrinkage or significantly thicken the hair up. Its effects are far more fleeting- lasting at the most 1-2 weeks. The mixing, application, and rinsing process is a bit less taxing as well. For starters, you don't have to wear gloves! Also, you only have to leave it in for 30 minutes to get the conditioning effects. Since you're not worried about dye release, you can mix in everything but the kitchen sink- I used to mix in oils, conditioner and honey. Some blonde and gray haired ladies use Cassia for the slight yellow tint that it gives off. If you have dark hair, you don't have to worry about this effect.
I left cassia for henna for one reason- I wanted bigger hair. I didn't, and still don't mind the red. You're going to get improved hair health with both cassia and henna, but henna's effects will last upwards of 3-4 weeks, depending on how often you wash.
In my honest opinion, Cassia is just a REALLY good conditioning treatment."