Henna For Hair: 7 Things You Should Know

IG @hennasooq

by sointocurls via Blacknaps.org

While Henna is a natural plant based alternative to using permanent hair dye, you should be informed prior to applying so you set the right expections. Here are some things you should know about using Henna for hair color:


Can Henna Loosen Your Curl Pattern?

by Sabrina Perkins via GlobalCoutureblog.net

After extensive hours of research on this topic, the answer is yes and no. I bet you’re wondering how that could be. It should just be yes or no, bet’s break down everything first so you get a better understanding of what I mean.


by Kanisha Parks author of Love Letters from the Master

Most naturals have heard about henna, which is known as an alternative and natural way to dye natural hair. Chemese Armstrong, a lifestyle blogger based Texas, chose to try henna because she is allergic to paraphenylenediamine (or PPD), an commercial dye that is found in more than two-thirds of hair dyes on the market.


Tips To Slay Your First Henna Gloss Treatment

by Jensine from youtube.com/junglenaps

This winter, I decided to do something a little out of my comfort zone. I finally decided to commit to my first henna gloss treatment. For those that don't know, a henna gloss treatment is a milder, more moisturizing version of a full henna treatment. It incorporates the addition of a protein-free conditioner to your henna mix and yields kinky curls that are stronger and shinier than before. As an added bonus, you have complete control over how much color you want in your hair. You can leave it in for as long or as little as you like. However, the longer you leave it in, the more noticeable the results will be.

Read On!>>>

#HennaQueen- MamaNaturalista's Story

So since I'm currently #Bollywoodin' (the land o' henna), I thought it only appropriate to discuss how naturals are using it for healthy hair! Shout out to my friend, MamaNaturalista, for organizing this awesome series and don't forget to enter the hennasooq giveaway! I hope you enjoy her story!

Marisol Correa is the Editor-In-Chief of MamaNaturalista.com. A world traveler, she currently resides in Washington, DC - where she was also born and raised. She is a married mother of 4 kids; a seventeen year old son, seven year old daughter and 5 year old twins (fraternal boy and girl). She also holds the position of Event Coordinator at Four Brothers, LLC and is an actor whose (most recent) roles are currently airing on TV! 

How long have you been natural?

I’ve been natural for almost 4 years now!!!

Did you big chop or transition?

I did both, I transitioned for 6 months… after unexpected heat damage during my transition; I did my 1st Big Chop in June 2011. I also did a 2nd Big Chop in July 2011 and cut my hair which was about 6 inches at the time down to 1/2 inch. My hair & I have been through some ISH. Ha, ha!!!

When did you first learn about henna?

I first learned about henna through CurlyNikki.com, of course… it’s the place for ‘All Things Henna’. #SeriouslyTho  

Read On!>>>

Henna for Natural Hair- Your Questions Answered

So since I'm currently #Bollywoodin', I thought it only appropriate to re-post this henna q&a!
Also, don't forget to enter the hennasooq giveaway! Enjoy!

Hola Chicas!

So y'all got questions, huh?  

My recent henna post initiated a gang of them and so I'm taking to the blog to respond publicly for the benefit of everyone! 

Why do you henna? What has your experience been like?
I started henna'ing to beef up my situation. My strands are nearly transparent. Like, very VERY almost disrespectfully fine and quite fragile.  When I'm on my henna game for real (once a month), my hair is shinier and stronger.  It's less prone to breakage and splitting and the overall health of my hair is improved.  I also experience a smoother texture with less shrinkage.  The red glow is ridic and it gives me the big hair look, I couldn't otherwise achieve. 

#HennaQueen- Mac's Story

So since I'm currently #Bollywoodin' (the land o' henna), I thought it only appropriate to discuss how naturals are using it for healthy hair! Shout out to my friend, MamaNaturalista, for organizing this awesome series and don't forget to enter the hennasooq giveaway! Enjoy! 

by Marisol of MamaNaturalista 

How long have you been natural? 
I’ve been natural since Sept 2010.

Did you big chop or transition?
I transitioned for 16 months.

When did you first learn about henna? 
I learned about henna, and actually first tried it many years ago, while I was still relaxed.

Read On!>>>

Abbreviated Henna Glosses and Curly Fros

rolled them twists all the way up tho... 
Hola Chicas,

I've managed to henna three times in the last 2 months which is rare ish due to my schedule, the Boogs and the general lethargy.  Before these consecutive treatments, I was getting it in maybe, MAYBE once every three months and due to my genes, the grays were getting quite rude.  With no time to dedicate to full henna treatments, I knew there had to be another way and of course, necessity is the mother of invention.

Read On!>>>

Henna Gloss: A Quicker, Easier Way to Henna Your Natural Hair

by Shelli of Hairscapades

 As most of you know, I am a henna head. I have been doing henna treatments since 2010, though I’ve modified how and how often I do them over the years. I started with full strength, full length treatments every 2-4 weeks. But for the last several years, I have been doing full strength on my roots only and a “faux” gloss (i.e. dye released henna mixed into lots of conditioner) on my length. But, the time between my sessions has gotten longer and longer … every 4 weeks, every 6, every 8, now I’m lucky if I do it once every three months!! Well, about a month and a half ago, I was really in need of a henna treatment as my grey roots were out of control. I also love how smooth my hair is after a henna treatment; my hair styles post henna are always so shiny and sleek. But, I had absolutely nooooooooo desire to do a full strength treatment as it usually takes the good part of a day to complete (see My Two Step Henna-Indigo Process for details). Between prepping, washing, detangling, application, marinating, rinsing with water, applying indigo, marinating again, rinsing with loads of conditioner, deep conditioning, marinating one more time rinsing, and styling … yeah, that’s an 8 hour plus process. It just was not happening. But then I thought, “You know what? I’ll do a true henna gloss!!” I figured I could get some of the conditioning benefits of henna and maybe a little color, without all the muss and fuss … and time!

Read On!>>>

'Bout That Henna Life- Henna Sooq's Henna Gloss Bar


Price: $12 (4.5 oz.)

Where to Buy: HennaSooq.com

Product Claims: Our Henna Gloss Bar is the perfect all in one moisturizer, and conditioning Ayurvedic hair treatment. A henna gloss is a very easy to use henna product that will nourish the hair, strengthen, create vibrant shiny hair, promote hair growth, reduces itchy scalp, and will give your hair a touch of red color from the henna.

Ingredients: organic cocoa butter, organic shea butter, organic henna

Read On!>>>

Henna Tips and Tricks for Natural Hair

by Michelle of Radiant-Brown-Beauty

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.

Read On>>>

My Abbreviated Henna Routine 2013

Hola Chicas,

So I had the henna on deck yesterday and after multiple FB inquiries, thought I'd share the deets of my current mix.  It's pretty much the same as the routine I've always done, sans 2 trips to the shower.  #AintNobodyGotTimeForThat #DoPeopleStillSayThat

Read On>>>

Cassia Instead of Henna?


Hola Chicas,

It's Thursday FRIDAY which means we've officially taken over Essence for the day!

¡Viva la RevoluciĆ³n!

Check out my latest installment, where I discuss the differences between Cassia and Henna and the pros of cons of embarking on a Cassia journey! Head over there and check it out!
Thanks divas!

Later Gators,

The Two Step Henna + Indigo Process

by Shelli of Hairscapades

It’s finally here!! The highly anticipated (by, like, two people) tutorial for my two-step henna/indigo process!! LOL! I did a treatment this Sunday and photo-documented it for this post. I explained most of my process in my Henna and Me “interview.” So, a lot of this will be a repeat of that information. However, it’ll be bulleted and accompanied with pretty pictures and a little more detail ;) . First though, here are a couple of notes about modifications I’ve made to my henna treatments due to my preferences and my hair’s needs:

  • I use henna alone on the front half of my head so that my grey hair becomes fiery red highlights.
  • I do a two-step henna/indigo on the back half of my head so that that hair is black (I don’t like “highlights” in the back as I think they look less intentional and also make my hair look finer, whereas the black makes it look denser in my opinion).
  • I don’t apply henna to my nape hair as that area is almost bone straight and very fine. Henna completely obliterates any wave/curl it might have.
  • I use what CurlyNikki dubbed a Conditioning Henna Treatment. That is, I mix a full batch of henna, allow full dye release and add conditioner to make it easier to apply and rinse. This differentiates my process from a “true” henna gloss since I mix a full batch of henna and allow dye release. It is also different from a full strength henna, because I add conditioner to “dilute” the thickness of the henna. However, I’ve done full strength treatments and see no appreciable difference in the results.
  • I only apply henna to my “roots” now (the first 3-6 inches of hair) as too many applications on the same hair loosens my hair significantly. I try to get about 3 applications on “new hair.”
  • I sometimes apply henna to wet hair and sometimes to dry. These are instructions to my “dry” henna routine. The only difference with my “wet” routine is that I’ll usually have pre-pooed and lightly finger detangled my hair with Vatika oil. Then, I’ll shampoo with either diluted Ion Curls Shampoo or Deva Care No Poo.

With that, here we go!

Ingredients and Supplies

Henna Mix
200g Henna (100g Jamila or Rajasthani Twilight; 100g Dulhan)
4 tea bags of green tea
3 cups filtered or distilled water
2 Tbsp honey
1 1/2 cups Sally’s GVP Matrix Biolage Conditioning Balm

Indigo Mix
50g Indigo
Salt (a pinch)

Plastic or glass liquids measuring cup
Large glass jar/container (large enough to hold 3 c. of water)
Plastic or wooden spoon
Medium to large plastic or glass bowl with top
Plastic gloves
4 medium-sized plastic jaw clips
Plastic wrap
Plastic cap
Paper towels or cotton balls
Heat wrap, winter hat or bonnet dryer (hard or soft)
Old towels and/or newspaper (to protect basement floor/sink)
Old and/or black tee-shirt and pants/shorts
Herbal Essences Hello Hydration (HE HH) (for henna/indigo rinsing)
Slippery and Moisturizing Deep Conditioner (JessiCurl Weekly Deep Conditioner or Darcy Botanicals Pumpkin Seed Conditioner)

*no metal containers or utensils

My Process

The Henna Mix

  • Bring 3 cups of distilled or filtered water to a boil and then brew 3-4 green tea bags. Cool to warm/room temp.
  • Pour 2 boxes of henna powder into large glass bowl and gradually stir in cooled tea with a plastic or wood spoon until the texture of a thick batter (I usually need about 2, 2 1/2 cups. I brew 3 cups of tea to make certain that I have enough).

  • Cover bowl with top (I cover the henna with plastic wrap first, sealing out most of the air, then cover with the top).
  • Allow henna to sit in a cool, dry, dark place for 12 hours for dye release.
  • After dye release, I split the henna into half, and wrap one half in plastic wrap, then aluminum foil, seal it in a freezer and then place it in the freezer (frozen then thawed henna has even better dye release).

  • After dye release, I mix in about 2 tbsp of honey and 3/4 c. of Sally’s GVP Matrix Biolage Conditioning Balm (I never measure these, I just eyeball it). This makes the “batter” thinner (but not drippy) and more like the consistency of Greek yogurt.

The Prep

  • Protect bathroom surfaces, including floors, sink and door, with old towels and/or newspaper.
  • Don old clothes.
  • Divide dry hair into four sections/quadrants and use round-teeth jaw clips (less snag prone) to secure the front two sections and one rear section to keep them out of the way (More sections may be necessary if you have thicker hair).
  • Don plastic gloves (unless you like orange hands and nails;).

The Henna Application

  • Finger part and apply henna thickly to first 6 inches or so of of dry* hair, section by section, starting with back sections first and then applying to front (Again, I don’t apply henna to my nape hair). Ensure hair is completely coated in henna.
  • Mix 2 tsp of remaining henna into another 3/4 c. of Sally’s GVP Conditioning Balm to make a henna gloss.
  • Apply to remaining “un-hennaed” hair (I do this as I don’t like the idea of my dry hair under heat, so I put conditioner on it to get a deep treatment. I add leftover henna if I have it).
  • Place hair on top of head, securing with round-tooth jaw clip.
  • Wrap head in plastic wrap, wrap cotton balls or paper towel around edges to catch drippies, don plastic cap.
  • Allow henna to sit for 4 hours (I apply a heat source [winter hat, heat wrap or bonnet dryer] for 2-4 hours to increase speed of dye release and enhance amount of dye uptake).
  • Fill tub with enough water to cover head, put gloves back on and dunk hair to loosen and remove majority of henna.
  • Gently rinse remaining henna from hair under faucet stream (do not try to detangle at this juncture).

The Indigo Mix**

  • Pour 50g of indigo into glass bowl and add a pinch of salt to enhance dye uptake and color retention (several shakes of the salt shaker).
  • Mix in enough lukewarm/room temp distilled/filtered water to make indigo into a thick paste (indigo is grittier than henna).
  • Put gloves back on and apply indigo to first 6 inches of back half of hair until fully covered.
  • Wrap head in plastic wrap, don plastic cap and apply heat for one hour.
  • Hop in shower and rinse henna and gently finger detangle hair with lots of HE HH (usually takes about three rinses).

**Indigo needs henna to “stick” to the hair. So, henna must be applied first and then indigo to dye hair black. The dye in indigo releases immediately and expires rapidly. So, it should only be mixed right before application and leftovers should be discarded as indigo can’t be stored once it’s been mixed. Indigo powder should be stored in a cool, dry place. Do not freeze indigo powder as it will kill the dye molecule.

The Finish

  • Apply moisturizing deep conditioner (Darcy’s Botanicals Pumpkin Seed Conditioner this time), don plastic cap and apply heat for at least one hour (I sometimes sleep in my DC overnight, but am trying to not do that as often anymore given my realization that my hair was over-conditioned).
  • Cool, seal, finger detangle and rinse (click here for my DC rinsing technique).
  • Apply leave-in and style as desired.

So, that is the very detailed blow-by-blow of my process!

Do you use Henna and Indigo? What's your process?

Initial Thoughts on Rajasthani Twilight Henna...

vagabond chic?

Hola Chicas,

Okay, so this is long over due, but y'all know how much I hate giving premature reviews of products. I take this ish seriously!

If you remember, on September 3rd (has it really been almost 2 weeks?), I tried Mehandi's Rajasthani Twilight in hopes that it was in the running to replace the Jamila. My beloved brand has become increasingly more difficult to find and Catherine of Mehandi shared that the pesticide levels can run a bit high. That, plus (and probably most important) I'm a friggin' PJ and always on the lookout for the next best thing.

We started off on the good foot... it was very creamy and easy to apply, but for some reason I had a difficult time rinsing. Like so hard that I called it quits and re-washed, with shampoo, which I NEVER do, the next morning. Granted, I was PMS'ing, Gia was acting a donkey, and my hot water runs cold after 15 minutes, but still, me no likey. Side note, there's nothing worse than standing in the shower, all lathered up, conditioner in hair, razor in hand and the water temperature plummets. On the flip side, I suppose I always end with the prescribed 'cold water rinse'.

Anyway, after the initial rinse, a deep treatment, and a second rinse, I got out of the shower, blotted the excess moisture and applied my leave-in and oil. My hair felt slightly gritty and although I could see some bits of stuff at my roots, I was going to try to work with it. But everytime I grabbed a section to put in a Curlformer, I'd pull away with what felt (and looked) like sand on my hands. I think I had around 10 rollers in when I said fugget it, pulled them out, bunned it, and called it one. The next day I got up, rinsed again, detangled the matted bun and put in the Curlformers. And even with all of that, I'm going to give Rajasthani another try. Why? Because this was one trial and I actually had a similar fluky experience with the Jamila a while back. Plus, the stain was off the chain (haha) and after the second rinse, my hair felt and looked amazing.

So yeah, there you go. Sorry for the vagueness or inconclusive results. I'll definitely report back later this month or the next with a 'more informed' review of this new henna.

For the past 10 days my stretched hair was in two (half ass) flat twists pinned up. Very frumpy, exacerbated by the fact that I can't actually flat twist, but it worked. I'd take the twists down, re-moisturize, seal and pin them back up. I've been feeling some kinda way lately but now that the sun has come back to visit, I'm smiling again :)

This morning, before heading out, I put my hair in the usual 10 or 11 twists and threw on the hat.

oh and pssst.... I gotta secret...

NYC. October 20th. Yep yeppers.

Hair Today- Twist-Out, Henna & Black Cinema

Hola Chicas,

Believe it or not, a football game shut the entire city down and I'm currently held up in my house. With groceries (and wine) fully stocked and movies on deck, I'm hereby proclaiming it... Henna Saturday!

I just took down my twists... been in them since the last post--

if you click on the pic to blow it up, and look at the front right,
near my face, you can see what henna does to my grays... that one anyway.

The mix--

200g of Rajasthani Twilight
1.5-2 cups of warm Green Tea
Honey (a tablespoon or so)

The Plan--

I will whip it up and immediately apply to my dry, detangled hair and commence resume wine drinking and movie watching. I'll probably rinse and DT tomorrow morning.

The Random--

Growing up in a Catholic household, I was very VERY sheltered and missed much, if not all of 1985-1995 Black cinema. Shocked and disappointed, hubby has slowly been introducing me to the classics, and as of this year, I can say that I've seen Higher Learning, Boomerang, Sprung, Juice, Boyz n the Hood, and Dead Presidents (just saw this one last weekend)! Um... why do I have a thing for Chris Tucker? WTH?! Anyway, I hope to apply for my Black Card after checking out Harlem Nights this evening.

What movies do I need to add to my MUST SEE list?

What are you doing to your hair this holiday weekend?

For the Henna Heads- I Re-Upped!

after a henna treatment in May

Hola Chicas,

I'm officially restocked! I wrote in to Catherine at Mehandi.com inquiring about all the emails I'd received from you gals this past year detailing your inability to get your hands on my beloved and highly recommended BAQ Jamila Henna (the kind in the foil wrapping). I also wanted deets on the best of the best crop she had in stock... I've been out of the game for a minute and need to play catch up.

Catherine shared a ton, but the gist is that Mehandi is now having their henna's lawsone and pesticide content independently tested and she wasn't impressed with Jamila's results. Apparently their lawsone content- the dye molecule that gives us our amazing results- is unpredictable and the pesticide levels are frequently higher than other hennas due to blowover from nearby cotton farming. Jamila, you're on notice!

So with that, she's since been exploring other options and has brought in several new crops from other areas. The Rajasthani Twilight came highly recommended with one of the highest lawsone contents (2.9%), silky texture (which means easily applied and rinsed), and fine sift. I purchased a kilo (hehe, a kilo) and was gifted 500g of a different Jamila crop to test. So yeah, I'm good... for a while. I'll be back soon with reviews!



Where are you getting your henna from? What's your favorite brand right now and why?

Cassia and Natural Hair

The winner is...

Anon July 27 1:34pm

Email me with your name and address so I can get your goodies in the mail!

Below is a re-post from early 2009. Lately, I've been receiving tons of inquires about Cassia... as well as questions about using henna without a change in color. Hopefully this will clear up any confusion!

Anonymous writes:

Hey Nikki!

I know you're a Henna girl, but I saw your comment for one of your pictures, and you mentioned using Cassia. I'm curious about henna but there are a few things that have me nervous about taking the plunge to try it, one of them is the coloring effects. I know Cassia is supposed to be similar without altering hair color, if you don't mind, can you share your experience with Cassia?
Thanks a bunch!

CN Responds;

I tried cassia about 4 times before moving on to henna. Initially, like you, 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'.

Again, henna red is translucent. I liken it to coloring on a black (or brown) sheet of construction paper with a reddish-orange crayon. In most lighting, the paper sill looks black, just shinier. However, if you hold it just right under the light, or step outside, you can see the hint of color. It's the same with my hair. Indoors, the hair is a shiny, rich, black, but outside it looks as if I did an auburn rinse. For my brown haired curlies, your hair will appear auburn, no matter the lighting. So, if you're still reluctant about that red tint, Cassia may be the answer.

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 drastically thicken the hair up. It's 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.

Good luck!

Have you used Cassia? Share your experiences below...

... and win 200g of Mehandi's Cassia from my personal stash!

The contest will close tomorrow at 5pm EST. At that time, a winner will be randomly chosen and announced soon thereafter!

Good Luck!

Shelli's Henna Story

Shelli of Hairscapades gets detailed about her reasons for using henna, her experience thus far, and her mix!

How long have you been natural?
I’ve been natural for 11 years now.

How long have you been using henna? When did you start?
I began using henna around May of 2010, so for a little over a year.

What made you begin using henna?
A friend recommended CurlyNikki.com to me as she indicated Nikki had hair that was similar to mine. She thought I might enjoy the site. Wow, was that an understatement!! I started visiting the site in February of 2010. I was blown away by Nikki’s hair! It was so lush, voluminous, shiny and defined. It also had a great shape and consistent curls. I began to read every post she had on henna. I was especially interested in the strengthening, thickening and conditioning claims. After three months of research and growing intrigue, I bit the bullet and ordered my first six boxes of Jamila henna from Mehandi.com. Yeah, when I go, I go hard;). Nikki indicated that henna has a cumulative effect and it takes three treatments to see appreciable thickening and strengthening. She also stated that when she began using henna, she did weekly treatments in order to get these benefits as quickly as possible. So, who was I to question perfection;-)?

How would you describe your first experience with henna?
I’ll admit, I was very nervous as the process seemed involved, messy, long and overwhelming. But, I was well prepared. I’d watched Nikki’s video tutorial repeatedly. I had my old towels, plastic gloves, bonnet dryer, plastic spoon, bowl, green tea, honey, Sally’s GVP Conditioning Balm and HE HH. I was ready to go. I made a little bit of a mess the first time around, but most of it was caught by the old towels. My hands got a little tinged by the rinsing process. However, the rinsing was easier than I expected.

What type of henna do you use? Where do you purchase it?
Currently, I use Jamila and Dulhan. I get Jamila online from Mehandi.com and Dulhan from my local Indian grocer, Patel Brothers, for $1.49!! I usually mix a batch using both to make my Jamila go further. I also use indigo that I purchase from Mehandi.com. I use indigo on the back half of my head in a two-step henna/indigo process. I love the way the henna turns my grey hair into fiery red highlights in the front. However, I think it makes my head look patchy if I allow it to stay red in the back. That’s why I use indigo on the back.

What is your mix? What is your process?
My mix and process have changed over the year that I’ve been using henna. Initially, I did “Conditioning Henna Treatments” as Nikki called her first attempt at a henna gloss. For the first several months, I mixed about 1 cup of the Sally’s GVP Conditioning Balm into dye released Jamila henna. I mixed about 100/150g henna with about 1 1/2 cups of warm green tea and a tablespoon or two of honey (I didn’t measure). I’d let that sit 12 hours and then I would apply it to co-washed hair. Now, I tend to alternate between a full strength henna on my roots only (except my nape hair, which is almost straight) and a full length gloss, both done on dry hair. I only do a full strength henna on my roots now as henna significantly loosened my curls when I was applying it religiously and repeatedly to the full length of my hair. I realize now that I only need to do about three treatments on new hair and then just gloss the length during that application or a couple of weeks later. I currently tend to mix 100g Jamila, 100g Dulhan, 1 1/2 to 2 cups warm brewed green tea (3-4 teabags) and a tablespoon or two of honey. As I only do my roots, this is usually enough for two applications. So, after dye release, I’ll split the batch and freeze one half of it in plastic wrap and aluminum foil. Frozen/thawed henna provides more intense color/dye uptake. Bonus, I don’t have to repeat the mixing and dye release waiting the next time. I just take the frozen henna out of the freezer a day or two before I want to use it and let it thaw in the refrigerator. If I don’t think too far ahead, I let it sit on the counter in a bowl to thaw.

Once I’ve applied the henna to my whole head (in 6 sections, 3 on each side; working from back to front on each side), I wrap my hair in plastic wrap and don a plastic cap. Normally, I’ll let the henna sit in my hair for 4 hours, 2 under my bonnet dryer on the warm setting. After four hours, I rinse the henna in the shower using HE HH. Then, I mix a small batch of indigo with lukewarm water and a dash or two of salt and apply it to the back half of my head. I’ll let that sit for at least an hour (sometimes with heat, sometimes without) and then I rinse the indigo and apply my DC of choice (usually JessiCurl Weekly Deep Treatment or Darcy’s Botanical Pumpkin Seed Curl Moisturizing Conditioner; I tried SM Raw Shea DT Masque one time and I wouldn’t recommend it post henna as it doesn’t have enough slip). I leave my DC in anywhere from an hour to overnight. I let my hair cool for about 15 minutes. Then, I apply a diluted daily conditioner (Aussie Moist or HE HH) over my DC, rinse well with cool/cold water and then I’m ready to style.

How often do you henna?
I try to henna once a month, but sometimes go longer if I don’t have the time to do it. I try not to go longer than 8 weeks though. My goal is to do a full strength henna on my roots once a month and a henna gloss two weeks later. That hasn’t happened yet! LOL! What I do usually do is mix the henna left over after a root application with a lot of Conditioning Balm and gloss the length of my hair so that I get the full strength on my roots and the gloss on my length in one sitting.

How has your hair changed with henna?
Repeated applications of henna loosened my curls into waves, which wasn’t an effect I was seeking. But, other than that, henna has improved my hair in every way. I do believe that my hair is stronger, smoother, less porous and, therefore, less frizzy. I believe that my individual strands are thicker, but I don’t think henna has made my whole head of hair look more voluminous. My favorite thing about the changes henna has generated is the intense red of my grey hair and the overall color and shine.

How do you feel about henna and the process now?
The hardest part is making the time, but I enjoy it now. It’s like a spa day for myself and I get to watch TV or work on my blogs=).

What advice would you give someone who is thinking about trying henna?
First, do your research. Read everything you can about henna to decide if it’s right for you and so that you understand all the things you need to do to protect your hair and obtain the best results (i.e. ALWAYS deep condition with a moisturizing, cone free conditioner after henna). Second, be mindful that what works for others may not work for you. I was using amla to try to retain my curl pattern. I continued to use it despite noticing significant itching during the process. My head almost NEVER itches. After four months of this and what I believe was a significant increase in shedding, I faced the fact that my scalp did not like amla. I might have saved some hair if I’d listened to my scalp and accepted this issue earlier. I also might have preserved more of my natural curl pattern if I’d stopped doing full head applications sooner.

Anything else that you’d like to add?
I love henna!! The amla reaction and the curl loosening are issues I could have ameliorated or eliminated if I’d used a little more common sense. So, despite those challenges, I think using henna has been one of the best things I’ve done for my hair. So, if you’re interested in trying it, do your research, be prepared and go for it!

Using Henna to Cover Gray Hair

Dana writes;

I have gray roots and the remainder of my hair is light brown with dark brown ends. My hair is damaged from coloring and over pressing. I would like my hair to be a dark plum or auburn color and healthy. My natural color is dark brown. What kind of henna or combination should I use.?

CN Says;

Celebration will be your best bet as it has a very high dye content (3.4% lawsone), and yields a deep auburn color over time. Remember that multiple applications will be necessary for your grays to darken to the color you want. I have many gray hairs and I've been hennaing (with Jamila, Yemen, and Henna for African Hair) for years. All of my grays are now a rich, auburn color... gorgeous. The rest of my hair is fuller, shinier, and healthier looking. It's a rich, shiny black color indoors (with a few red highlights), and glows auburn in the sun... like a rinse.

When new grays come in or my roots show, I simply apply an overnight treatment, and after a couple of days, it oxidizes to a nice bronzey red. After another treatment, the roots match the length-- auburn.

For you, the key will be:

1. Four hour (or more) treatments

2. Multiple applications (for darker results)

3. Cleansing prior to application. Although I don't really do this anymore, if you have a lot of grays, this step is crucial. It will remove buildup and sebum, so that the dye can make the best contact with your roots.

Also, be sure to do lots of conditioning afterward to keep your hair moisturized, elastic, and supple. If your ends (and length?) are indeed damaged, and you're not interested in a Big Chop, you probably want to schedule some micro trims.

**Real life example**

My aunt Toney has been a redhead since I can remember. She's naturally a medium to dark brown, but used boxed dyes to maintain a light auburn. A couple of years ago she transitioned to natural color with henna. Below is a pic of her shortly after starting henna (applying the paste to her grays and color treated strands).

This is a picture of her in February after many treatments. In person, her hair is a dark, rich, auburn (noticeably red indoors), and her grays (especially near her roots) are a shade or two lighter (similar to the darker parts of her hair in the pic above). It's an awesome color contrast and she gets tons of compliments.

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