Henna Demystified – Part 1
The last dirty product I ditched was hair dye. I loved the fun of coloring, but more than that I am very emotional about covering my grey. One day I hope to rock an edgy silver bob, but that’s a decade or two off still.
If you are one of those who embrace your natural aging process—and your grays—more power to you. But if, like me, you want to cover them and stay clean, henna is a great way to do it. It’s also a fun way to play with color, and easy too.
Almost everything I know about henna I learned from Henna For Hair and from experimenting on my own. I highly recommend checking out that site for recipes, techniques, and the chemistry of henna. They cover everything. And they sell the body art quality henna I have used for over a year.
Here are seven things you should know.
1. Henna, in combination with other plants known as cassia and indigo, can do any color from strawberry blonde, through the reds/auburns and browns to black. It cannot do a true blonde, and it cannot make your hair lighter.
2. High quality henna covers grey beautifully, and is permanent. You will need to do your roots as often as you would if you were using conventional dyes. Every so often you will probably want to pull the color throughout your hair, since, just like your natural color, exposure to the elements can fade color.
3. Real, pure henna will not damage your hair and is non-toxic. Sometimes there are boxes at the store that say henna on them, and it might be some version of henna mixed with other chemicals. I’ve never seen pure henna at any store.
4. Transitioning from conventional dye to henna is not as hard or scary as it seems. You can henna over conventional dye. There is a learning curve with henna, but once you get your routine down it is easy. Gorgeous, healthy hair is well worth it to me.
5. You have to plan ahead. The henna I use must be mixed up several hours before I use it to allow the dye to release.
6. Yes, it can be messy. But if you plan ahead and are careful it’s totally manageable. If you get henna on your skin or anything else, just wipe it off with some warm water on a paper towel. A proper mixture is pretty thick and won’t be dripping all over.
7. The color you end up with depends on your color to begin with, your ratio of henna to indigo or cassia, and how long you leave it on. Also, the color will deepen a bit in the few days post-application. The website has a chart with the basics, and many additional recipes. You can call them for advice (I did before my first time). Also, I did some experimentation with hair saved from my brush, and it alleviated my concern that I would end up with a weird color.
In Part 2 I’ll cover my personal recipe and techniques.
Have you tried henna? Do you want to?