The Henna Lowdown For Your Hair: What It Is and How To Use It

July 16, 2012  |  

 

Most people have heard of henna, but many remain curious.

What exactly is it? Simply put, henna is a plant also known as lawsonia inermis that is cultivated in tropical and subtropical regions of Africa, southern Asia and northern Australasia (yeah, that’s real). It is most widely used to dye skin and of course, hair.

A lot of natural and relaxed heads use it for the awesome benefits that it offers. The most widely known benefit is that henna imparts a lovely red color into strands that is not chemically based, so there’s no damage to your hair. If your tresses are really dark, henna can’t lighten it, but there will be a nice tint in the sunlight. Depending on the region that it was grown, the color will vary from an orange-red tone to dark burgundy.

Henna usage also results in smoother, shinier hair because it is able to completely coat and fill in any rough spots on frayed cuticles. Many believe that this locks moisture out, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. You can still oil and condition your hair as needed.

Henna is also one of the safest and most natural ways to strengthen hair since it is able to penetrate the shaft and bond to the keratin in each strand. By doing this, it makes the hair thicker and less prone to breakage.

The best type to use is body art quality (BAQ). BAQ henna is of the utmost class in terms of dye release, sifting and purity. You can find this at most local Indian stores or at trusted online shops such as mehandi.com and hennasooq.com. Make sure when purchasing that the box is dated. If it isn’t, it may be old or not pure henna. As a general rule of thumb, buy 100g for shoulder length hair, 200g for bra strap length and 300g for hip length.

Henna should ideally be mixed with an acidic component in order to release the dye effectively. There are plenty of mixes that you can make which use multiple ingredients. It really depends on what your individual hair likes and takes a bit of trial and error, but if you’re just starting out, the standard mix will do.

Standard henna mix:

  1. Pour the henna into a ceramic or plastic bowl.
  2. Mix with a half-cup of water and two tablespoons of lemon juice until there is a yogurt-like consistency. For a richer stain you may use only lemon juice.
  3. Wrap the bowl in saran wrap and let sit for a few hours. Keep out of direct sunlight.
  4. The henna will be ready when there is a slight brown film on the top. Sometimes this can take as long as 12 hours.
  5. Use gloves to apply to hair in small sections. *Tip – Damp hair makes the application process smoother.
  6. Wrap your hair in saran wrap to lock in moisture and leave on for 6-12 hours. A lot of women apply it at night and sleep in the mixture. If you opt to do this, just make sure to cover your pillow to avoid any unwanted stains.
  7. Rinse out fully.
  8. Hair may feel a bit dry at first. A good, moisturizing deep conditioner directly following any henna treatment is highly recommended.

Sometimes it takes a few applications to reap all of the benefits, but more often than not, you should see an immediate change in your hair.

How often do you henna? What’s your favorite mixture?

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