My Hair Secret? Henna
Many of you have commented on my hair, specifically my hair color. Due to popular demand, I am revealing my secrets! I have been using henna on my hair regularly for several years. I do want to point out that I am in no way an expert when it comes to hair care or henna use. These are just my experiences that I am sharing.
Henna is a dye prepared from the plant Lawsonia inermis.
Here’s some history of henna being used for hair by Wikipedia…
“In Ancient Egypt, Ahmose-Henuttamehu (17th Dynasty, 1574 BCE): Henuttamehu was probably a daughter of Seqenenre Tao and Ahmose Inhapy. Smith reports that the mummy of Henuttamehu’s own hair had been dyed a bright red at the sides, probably with henna.
In Europe, henna was popular among women connected to the aesthetic movement and the Pre-Raphaelite artists of England in the 1800s. Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s wife and muse, Elizabeth Siddal, had naturally bright red hair. Contrary to the cultural tradition in Britain that considered red hair unattractive, the Pre-Raphaelites fetishized red hair. Siddal was portrayed by Rossetti in many paintings that emphasized her flowing red hair. The other Pre-Raphaelites, including Evelyn De Morgan and Frederick Sandys, academic classicists such as Frederic Leighton, and French painters such as Gaston Bussière and the Impressionists further popularized the association of henna-dyed hair and young bohemian women.
Opera singer Adelina Patti is sometimes credited with popularizing the use of henna in Europe in the late nineteenth century. Parisian courtesan Cora Pearl was often referred to as La Lune Rousse (the red-haired moon) for dying her hair red. In her memoirs, she relates an incident when she dyed her pet dog’s fur to match her own hair. By the 1950s, Lucille Ball popularized “henna rinse” as her character, Lucy Ricardo, called it on the television show I Love Lucy. It gained popularity among young people in the 1960s through growing interest in Eastern cultures.
Muslim men may use henna as a dye for hair and most particularly their beards. This is considered sunnah, a commendable tradition of the Prophet Muhammad. Furthermore, a hadith (narration of the Prophet) holds that he encouraged Muslim women to dye their nails with henna to demonstrate femininity and distinguish their hands from those of men. Thus, some Muslim women in the Middle East apply henna to their finger and toenails as well as their hands.”
Now onto the reasons why I do this…
1. I LOVE the color!
I have a fair bit of red in my hair already, but the vibrancy that henna offers me is unbeatable. The thing I love most about the color is how natural it looks. It doesn’t look like I bought a box dye & did this. Most people think this is my natural hair color, which is amazing! The color really compliments my skin tone, freckles, & eyes– so it’s perfect for me.
2. The COST!
Dying your hair in the salon is expensive. I’ve done it once & couldn’t believe how much money I spent, especially when my hair at the time was about chin/neck length… Henna however, cost about $1.79 per box. If you order on Amazon, it may be different, but the point being is that for under $5.00 you can have some incredible color. In addition, the other products you need, you probably already have around the house.
3. The RESULTS!
Every single time I do a henna treatment my hair feels & looks AMAZING. It has so much volume, it’s ridiculously soft & silky, & just feels fresher & stronger. I have also heard that it helps with dandruff control & hair growth.
4. All NATURAL!
Chemical hair dyes are so bad for your hair. What I love about henna is that it is a plant, all natural, & works wonders. I try to be as natural as possible with my hair so that it will stay strong & healthy. Plain & simple, I just feel better about using henna rather than dyes or other products that are meant to help your hair be silky & smooth.
5. LONG Lasting!
Henna doesn’t really leave your hair. It does fade a bit, but mainly I’ve noticed for me that the color sticks around until my hair grows out. I usually do henna every 4 to 6 months to keep my hair looking & feeling fresh.
Today you can find henna commercially packaged in a variety of places. I usually buy mine from a local Indian grocery store that is right down the street from my office. However, if you wanted to just order from Amazon.com that might be the easiest.
There are a variety of recipes to follow when using henna. You can find a plethora of blog posts with different recipes, people’s experiences, etc. I started viewing a bunch of people’s posts, comparing recipes, results, etc. until I developed my own “formula” as it were. I don’t think there is necessarily a right or wrong way to use henna. I have done it differently almost each time & with every new application I learn a little bit more along the way.
For my most recent batch of henna I followed this recipe:
-1 package of henna
-½ cup of water
-½ cup of coffee (optional)
-1 tablespoon of coconut oil (optional)
-1 tablespoon of lemon (optional)
-Sprinkle of cinnamon (optional)
As you can see, the only items you NEED in order to make the paste are henna & water, actually any liquid in the coffee/tea category. All you need is equal parts henna & liquid. I like to use coffee or tea for coloring, along with some lemon as well. I add in the cinnamon for some small & the coconut oil to help make it a bit smoother.
When preparing the mixture, you want to make sure that your liquid is hot. That way you can more easily blend the henna powder. I usually start with adding in my liquids, then the coconut oil, & other ingredients. After it has been mixed up thoroughly, cover the bowl with plastic wrap & make sure it is sealed tight.
Another thing to mention: HENNA IS MESSY & STAINS! Definitely be careful when preparing the mixture, as you don’t want your countertops or clothes to get stained.
I like to let the henna paste sit for at least 6 hours up to 24 hours. It really depends on your timeline. Again, this isn’t a science but from what I have read, the longer the paste sits, the more vibrant the color you will achieve. With that being said, I have used the henna paste as early as 30 mins, and still noticed a difference… so who knows.
Now onto applying the henna! This is where things get a bit trickier. I like to have a partner whenever I do henna, because it makes things so much easier. In addition, henna can get pretty messy, so having an extra set of hands definitely helps. Luckily my sister loves the color of henna as well, so often times we will work together. She will do my hair & then I’ll do hers.
-Hair ties/hair clips (LOTS)
First things first, make sure that you put Vaseline around your hairline, behind your ears, etc. Henna stains & will color your skin. If you don’t want coloring on your forehead, ear lobes, back of neck, etc. make sure you cover those areas with Vaseline. Don’t put it on your hair though, or else the henna won’t attach to the hair strands.
Next, it’s best to section off your hair. Unfortunately, I didn’t take any photos, but depending on how long/thick your hair is that will determine how much to section off. This will just make it easier once you begin applying the henna, not to mention it will also ensure that you are giving full coverage. I am adamant about not having any splotchy areas or my roots showing — this trick helps make sure that you are covering every strand. You can use hair ties, although hair clips tend to work better. They are easier to take out as well.
Now that your hair is sectioned off, you can begin applying the henna. Wrap a towel around the person’s back/shoulder to make sure that the henna won’t stain. Put on your gloves and start applying.
We have found that using a tooth brush or paint brush is easiest to apply the henna. We will either use our hands or spoon to scoop some of the hair, then use the brush to evenly disperse the henna paste. You can also use your fingers if you’d like. Go section by section until the whole head is covered. I like to pay extra addition to the roots at the front of the hair line & around the ears, to make sure that no spots were missed.
After the whole head has been covered with henna, you need to wrap the hair in plastic wrap. I will try to get the hair into a bun to make sure that the hair stays in place. Then wrap long sheets of plastic wrap around the head. The last thing I like to do is to put on a tight-fitting beanie hat. This not only ensures that the plastic wrap will stay in place, but also creates more heat. Remember, henna loves heat!
Be sure to wash your hands good, clean up any spots that might have touched your skin, etc. Now comes the waiting part! Again, there is no real science to henna. I have read various reviews/recipes & each one provides different information. I like to leave the henna on my head for as long as possible. I read that some people leave it on for a full 24 hours, others as little as an hour. I have left mine on for as little as 2 hours, to as long as 12 hours. Often times I find that I usually leave mine on for 6 hours to 8 hours.
After you have let your henna sit, it is time to wash it out. I usually rinse my hair about 3 times with pretty warm water. The henna can sometimes be difficult to get out, so you really have to massage your head. Then I will condition it with a sulfate free conditioner. For the next couple of days/washes your hair will keep bleeding the dye. It usually takes me 3 washes before the dye is fully out of my hair. It shouldn’t stain too bad, but it you are worried I would recommend not wearing light colored tops & to sleep with an old pillowcase or towel over your pillow.
Sooo… the long process of henna is worth for me for the reasons I listed above. It’s cheap, the color is amazing, it’s natural, the results are worth it, & it lasts quite a while. I hope you have enjoyed this blog post & if you have any additional questions , please comment below!
Cheers & stay chic!