Henna Demystified – Part 2
Surprise! We were going to hold on part 2 until next week, but so many of you were eager to hear Rebecca’s usage tips that it just seemed cruel. Here’s how she does it…
Yesterday, I covered some general information about henna. Today I’m sharing my recipe and some techniques that work well for me. For more info, check out Henna For Hair. If you start with a kit, like one of these, it comes with dyes, instructions, a funnel-shaped plastic bag for applying the henna, and gloves (definitely use gloves!). Each kit covers collar length hair.
These days I’m using 2:1 henna to indigo. My grey ends up quite red, so my naturally medium brown hair ends up a rich auburn with redder highlights. This is my current process for doing my roots (more hair to cover needs more mix):
1. In a pyrex measuring cup, mix ½ cup henna with a half and half mix of lemon juice and filtered water, stirring with a silicone spatula (don’t use metal). The liquid can be anything acidic, but don’t use vinegar – I made that mistake the first time and it’s horribly stinky. I don’t measure the liquid, just pour a bit at a time and mix, adding more liquid as needed, until it’s mashed potato consistency. Cover with plastic wrap, touching the plastic wrap to the surface to keep air out. I leave it for about 12 hours for the dye to release, but if you keep it somewhere warm, say 95 degrees, it would only take a couple of hours.
2. When the henna is ready, mix ¼ cup indigo with a tiny scoop (~ 1/8 tsp) of salt, add filtered water and stir until it’s a yogurt consistency. Then scoop the indigo in with the henna, and mix well. I use the funnel from a kit to get the henna/indigo mix into a plastic hair dye bottle from the beauty supply store. I cut the tip to make a 6mm opening, perfect for root application. You can also put the henna on with the funnel or your fingers.
3. I part my hair in the middle and start there, squeezing a line of henna mix down to my scalp, as far back on my head as I can. Then I use a comb to make the next part about ¼ inch away and squeeze another line. With my gloved fingers I make sure the hair is pushed into the line of henna. I can get most of my head done like this, then flip my head over to get the rest of the back. That part is not perfect, I just let the tip of my applicator part the hair for me and it’s fine, though not as precise as using a comb. I check to make sure I’m covered, especially at the hairline. If I were going to do all of my hair, at this point I’d keep adding henna in sections and massaging it into my hair.
4. The henna needs to stay wet to work, so I cover with one shower cap, clean up any excess on my skin, then cover with a second shower cap. I cut triangles out of plastic bags to cover the “sideburns” area and another strip to cover the nape, tucking them under the shower caps. My biodegradable caps can be used several times, and I rinse and reuse all the plastics.
5. To get good grey coverage, I do this at night and sleep with a towel over my pillow.
6. I rinse in the morning at the kitchen sink to get as much henna out as possible, then use conditioner to get the last bit out. My hair smells like strong tea for a week or two.
It might sound like a lot, but it’s way less time (and money! and chemicals!) than I used to spend at the salon. Fellow henna enthusiasts: How do you do yours?