I’ve been a henna head for a little over two years now. I was first introduced to henna when I joined Kim Coles Grow Out Challenge co-sponsored by Curly Nikki and hosted by NaturallyCurly.com a few years ago. At the time, I was on a serious hunt for ways to thicken up my puny strands (sorry fine haired ladies, you may not consider yours puny but mine certainly are).
When I first started using henna I didn’t see the big whoop but so many henna heads swore by its goodness I had to press forward to see what benefits my hair would receive from regular applications. Fast forward and my strands are not only healthier but I’ve found the best way to cover up all these grays that are popping up all over my 44 year old head!
Some of what I discovered may be unique to my hair but it may also be useful to you when you do your henna applications. Let’s get right to it.
Tips for Mixing Henna
Get the itchies during/after a henna session? It’s taught that for the lawsone content of henna to release and be able to bond to the keratin in your hair, it has to be mixed with an acidic liquid like caffeine-free tea, green tea, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, apple juice or even citric acid. Well, I tried each of those to mix my henna (except the citric acid) and while my henna stain was rich, I also suffered from the worst itchies ever! I thought I might be allergic but there was no redness or rashing. That’s when I decided to try mixing my henna (against expert advice) with just filtered water. Guess what? I got the SAME results without all that acid on my scalp. Booyah! Score! Yippee! (sorry I’m really excited. I don’t know how long I would have been able to continue using henna with my scalp on fire).
Forgot to mix your henna early on? Chile, I do it all the time! My henna sessions are rarely planned. They’re more impromptu which isn’t typically recommended since it takes time for the dye (lawsone content) to be released. That’s why many ladies allow their henna mix to sit over night. Well, I ain't got time for all that, LOL (truthfully, I just forget to mix it up in advance). However, I’ve discovered that if you have a good brand of henna with a decent lawsone content, you can let that mixture sit for just an hour and then apply to your hair, tightly covering it with plastic and allow that lawsone to release right in your head! I get my henna from Mehandi (the Henna for African Hair has the finest sift of any henna I’ve experienced…ever. It’s even finer than Jamila). No residue or little flaky pieces of henna left behind.
Tricks for Applying Henna
Dread the time it takes to henna your hair? It’s common to leave henna in your hair for anywhere between 4 hours to over night. Well, I discovered it don’t take all day! If you’re going for gray coverage, 2 hours is usually sufficient. I still get a nice rich stain and don’t have to spend my entire day getting it. If you want to speed up the conditioning effects too, sit under a heating cap for the 2 hours.
Does henna loosen your natural curls too much? If you have a looser curl pattern, you may notice this to be more of an issue. Just henna your roots. This will provide the conditioning needed to your “new growth” while also covering up your gray roots (if that’s a concern). You can opt to do a henna gloss on the remainder of the hair if you like.
Rather you’re new to henna or a long time pro-user, try one or more of these henna tips and tricks to see if your henna session becomes more productive. And as always, please don’t forget to only use BAQ (Body Art Quality) henna. That mixed crap you find in many beauty supply stores (been there, done that) isn’t worth it. (ex: black henna).