So, the other day, I had a friend ask me about henna and the process of henna-ing. She got me thinking, although I’ve done a couple YouTube vids explaining the process, a lot of people still don’t know what’s up with henna. Hence, this blog. I will explain what henna is for you here and make sure you check out the video I posted last year to see how to do it.
First of all, let me explain what henna is. Henna is a flowering tree or shrub that grows primarily in Africa and some parts of Asia and Australia. The primary use of this plant is for the dye it produces. The real color of henna is a coppery-reddish-brown. There are other products that are marketed as henna but, if they aren’t the red-brown color, they aren’t 100% henna.
Henna has been used on the hair since the Bronze Age (that will date back B.C) so, this is not a new concept. I have just recently seen it on the natural hair scene. I learned about henna from my Mom before I even knew what YouTube was (before 2009…don’t judge).
Now, people use henna in their hair for different reasons. There are many benefits to henna. Obviously, it deposits color onto your hair. It also has anti fungal properties which is great for someone who has eczema, like me. Henna also has a compound within it (lawsone) that has an affinity for bonding with protein. So, it will bond to the protein in your hair. It will also bond with the protein that you add to your hair, hence making it stronger.
Before deciding to use henna, you need to be aware of some things:
- Henna will deposit itself inside the shaft of your hair. This means it will be extremely difficult to lift or remove the color later. It is certainly permanent.
- Henna takes a long time to do. You need to have a couple hours blocked off to allow for the color to process. I usually leave mine in, with my heated conditioning cap, for about two hours. You can certainly leave it in for longer or shorter. It’s entirely up to you.
- Henna has a distinct smell. To me, it smells like raisins. And it smells like that UNTIL YOU WASH YOUR HAIR. LOL! I can usually smell it for about a week.
- Henna takes a couple days to cure. When you first do it, it will look slightly orangey (nothing embarrassing). After a couple of days, it will settle into its characteristic color.
- Henna stains any porous surface. That includes skin, clothes, tile, wood…make sure you remove any spills IMMEDIATELY.
- You should only use Body Art Quality (B.A.Q) henna. A lot of manufacturers will market a product as henna when it’s really a dye. Be careful! I purchase mine here!
- Pure henna will contain calcium oxalate. This is a fine, grainy substance that will feel like sand in your hair. It is very hard to rinse out. You can add a couple tablespoons of apple cider vinegar (ACV) to your mix to dissolve the calcium oxalate. Don’t add too much because it will make your hair hard.
- I add conditioner to my henna mix. It will not hinder the color at all. I do this to perform double duty. I strengthen my hair with the henna while moisturizing it with the conditioner.
- Rinsing henna out will take some time. I finally have my system down. Having a handheld
shower head helps tremendously.
- Henna may loosen your curl pattern. I have seen this happen on other naturalistas as well as myself. This is one of the reasons why I won’t leave it in for longer than two hours. I haven’t seen much loosening since I started doing that.
- Henna is all natural. You can apply it everyday if you’d like. It’s unrealistic but, you can if you like.
Overall, I love henna. As a matter of fact, I’m due for an application now..O_o I have a major event coming up soon (which I am soooo going to blog about) so I’m trying to wait so that my color will be fresh! LOL!
Until next time…
If you have any questions about henna or its application, post them in the comment section. Also, if you are interested in joining our protective style challenge, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org! You can be featured on our next “Hairy Monday” blog!