For those of you that aren’t familiar with the beautiful Spiral, she’s my partner in crime on the infamous Naturally Curly 4a sticky- Experiences with Henna. This thread is a wealth of info…if you have the patience to get through it! Her hair is stunning, both pre and post henna. Check out the email interview she completed for CurlyNikki.com.

CN: What were your reasons for experimenting with henna?
Spiral: Before I found out about henna, I was looking to solve a couple of hair issues. I felt like my strands were too fine and I wanted to thicken and strengthen them. But I wasn’t satisfied with the ingredients in the commercial products I was looking at, or the fact that the effects only lasted until the next wash. I also wanted to deepen my hair color, which naturally ranges from dark to tawny brown sprinkled with blond highlights, and I felt it looked dusty at times. So, when I found out about henna and the Henna For Hair forum, I started doing a ton of research. I read the free Ebook and searched the forum for posts that addressed my questions and posted more questions. When I was reasonably sure it wouldn’t hurt my hair, I decided to go ahead and try it. I started off conservatively with a section test, and then a gloss (henna lite with conditioner). When that went okay, I did a full on henna. I was really pleased with the results, and it just got better with every treatment.

CN: How often do you henna and what is your routine? What’s your routine, and fav mix?
Spiral:I do a full henna each month with a gloss in between.

Mixes
The full henna is just your standard henna – I use 200-250 grams of powder. I like experimenting with different mixes – I’ve tried apple cider vinegar, tea, and orange juice as dye releasers. And I’ve tried honey, flaxseed gel, and plain water as my post-dye-release mixers. So far I think my favorite combo for a full henna is diluted orange juice and honey. I’ve also started experimenting with adding spices for scent. It works, but I found rinsing the spices quite a challenge, so I have to tweak my approach. I’ll post the details of that experiment in the NC henna thread. The gloss involves mixing a smaller amount of henna with cone-free conditioner – I’ve been using VO5 Pomegranate Strengthening Conditioner. I mix the conditioner into either freshly dye-released or thawed frozen henna, adding enough conditioner to make a mousse.

Steps
I usually detangle with conditioner (no use wasting henna on shed hair) and then clarify my hair before applying henna, especially if I’ve used a product with cones. This gives the henna a clean slate and ensures that nothing interferes with dye uptake or bonding. Using duckbill clips, I pin my hair up, take down small sections, mash some henna on the roots and scalp (it has a nice cooling sensation), then apply more down the length. I apply it pretty thick. Then I take down the next section, do the same thing, add it to the other section, and so on.

CN: List your favorite effects or benefits:
Spiral: Henna is like the most effective deep conditioner I’ve ever used. It makes my hair incredibly soft and shiny, thickens my hair and makes it stronger. The very front of my hair is especially fragile for some reason and had real difficulty growing. But since using henna, that section has really started to retain length. Henna also reduces shrinkage and drying time, which isn’t an effect I expected, but it’s fine with me. Henna also makes my hair more responsive to styling products – it seems to make them more effective. And the color really shows up on my hair. I stopped using henna for almost a year, and the only way you could tell was the difference in color on the new growth – burgundy vs brown. And even though I think the difference was pretty subtle, when I started using henna again this winter, everyone was like “Oh wow, you dyed your hair!”.

CN: Advice for curlies thinking about taking the plunge?
Spiral: My advice is to read, read, read before taking the plunge. Read the free Ebook, read the forums, and read all the different experiences people have with it. Ask lots of questions – henna is permanent, so it’s better to find out what you want to know before you do it. No two heads are exactly alike, but it will help to give you an idea of what you can expect. There are other herbs like amla and cassia that you can mix with henna to get different effects, so read about those too. Then start deciding what kind of mix you might want to try. When it’s time to buy the henna get the good stuff – Body Art Quality henna from wherever you can find it. Make sure it’s just the pure powdered plant with no additional ingredients.

Color difference after several hennas