I have used henna for dying my hair red for over 5 years. Henna is a natural dye, derived from lawsonia inermis plant. Henna powder contains lawsone, which creates bonds with keratin in hair so it not only gives it a unique color, but also makes it stronger and visibly thicker.
Henna works great for scalp as well. It is a natural peeling and it helps to reduce scalp oiling.
Henna is cheap, for my quite long hair I use 3 small packets of 25 grams, each costs less than $2, so the total price is much less than for regular, „chemical” hair dyes.
Difficult and time-consuming application is the one and only drawback of henna dying. To be honest, there are more tricky deals with henna, and compared to them, the application does not seem to be such a hassle.
The key is to learn and master the techinque and the recipe for your perfect henna.
There are numerous variations of henna and possible additives, so let’s focus on my mixture. I try various combinations, but the all-time favorite is the following:
I never use exact measuring for liquid ingredients, as the consistency is the best indicator. I mix it all in a plastic bowl, adding some water to henna first, then adding the linseed gel, and about 2 spoonfuls of the conditioner. I aim for pretty thick, yoghurt-like consistency.
If the mixture is too thick, I add more linseed gel or water.
If the mixture is too thin… well, it’s better to avoid this situation, but sh*t happens, so then I add more cassia/henna if I have a spare packet, or up to 1 spoonful of corn or potato starch. It may, however, decrease the ability of lawsone to bond with keratin, bonding with starch molecules instead.
By the way, this is why it is not recommendable to use protein conditioners to mix with henna. Lawsone then tends to bond with proteins from the conditioner first, therefore coloring hair less.
No, I use somewhat warm water, but not boiling. Just warm. It is crucial not to boil henna.
No. Many people do it to help to release lawsone better. If you’re aiming for a more reddish tone, it is advisable.
Do I add acidyfying factors to the mix?
Sometimes. Too much acidity, like lemon juice or amla may make henna go brown-ish or just darker in general. My favorite tones are brighter and with more orange tones, so I rarely add anything acidic to the mix. Exceptions: apple pulp and acerola. These two additives are more likely to bring orange tones up.
Yes! My all-time favorite is tumeric powder. I add tumeric to numerous hair mixtures, but with henna it also helps to achieve my desired results. Tumeric is beneficial for scalp as well, reducing irritation and preventing it from losing moisture.
I sometimes add red bell pepper powder, not chili or any spicy kind.
To apply henna, you will need 3 basic tools: your hands, protective gloves, saran/plastic wrap. Additional but highly recommendable: an old beanie to prevent leakage and keep your head warm in the process.
After that, rinse your hair thoroughly. There are several methods, I just spend a long time rinsing hair with a shower head on high water pressure, but some people use a bowl to wash off henna particles.
I don’t use a shampoo after dying hair with henna, but I always use a conditioner. Opinions differ on that, but my hair always gets quite dry after dying. To prevent any damage, I just use a regular, emollient conditioner. I do not experience any negative effects from that, no color fading.
After rinsing and conditioning, I always dry my hair with a blow-dry. This locks up the color and, in my case, helps to lower the cuticle.
That’s it. I dye my hair with henna 1-2 times a month. It seems like a lenghty procedure, but after you master it for yourself, it will take only 10 minutes to prepare, 15 to apply, and these 2-3 hours later on? Time to chill or work on someting on the computer, not a big deal!