Many naturals enjoy using henna in their regimen. It has a multitude of benefits and is a great all-natural way to provide nourishment to the hair. But henna is a chemical and it comes with a lot of myths, so it’s important to know exactly what you’re dealing with before you choose to use it. Welcome to your crash course in all things henna: pay attention!
What is Henna?
Henna (Lawsonia Inermis) is a flowering plant. Its leaves contain lawsone, which is an orange/red dye that releases after the leaves have been crushed down into a powdered substance. This substance is used to as a dye to color/decorate the skin and hair.
When used on hair, henna stains the outer keratin sheath of your hair (not the inner melanin core), so the resulting color is a mixture of your own natural hair color and the stain.
What are the benefits of using henna on natural hair?
- It brightens and conditions the hair
- It will make the hair stronger, thicker, healthier, and shinier
- It helps repair chemical damage
- It can *possibly* slightly loosen the curl pattern and/or reduce shrinkage and tangling
- It can be used to cover gray hairs, and will make them a copper/auburn color
- Depending on how what color your is to start with, henna will naturally make your hair red (very dark hair will have a slightly reddish tint, especially in the sunlight, while lighter hair is capable of becoming much redder)
- It can help relieve the symptoms of psoriasis
What is the best henna to use on natural hair?
There is a lot of henna on the market that isn’t the real deal. Always opt for 100% Body Art Quality (BAQ) Henna that is purchased from a secure seller. I usually purchase my henna from Mehandi.com, which is one of the best resources for purchasing and learning about henna, but you can certainly buy from another website or even locally, which I’ve also done.
Three of the best hennas for hair that are currently available at Mehandi are Ancient Sunrise Rajasthani Twilight (contains 2.6% lawsone content and is recommended for covering grays), Ancient Sunrise Rajasthani Monsoon (contains 1.7% lawsone content), and Ancient Sunrise Henna for African Hair (contains 2% lawsone content). You can read about and purchase all of these products here. All Mehandi henna products are free of pesticides and lead.
How much henna do I need?
100 grams of henna will dye short hair, 200 grams is best for collar bone length hair, 300 grams will cover shoulder length hair, and 500 grams is recommended for waist length hair. However, these recommendations are based on straight hair, so you may want to buy an extra box to compensate for tightly curly hair.
The amount of henna you need also depends on how you mix your henna. Some naturals add conditioner to theirs, creating a “henna gloss,” which results in a lighter treatment. In this case, it wouldn’t require you to use as much henna.
Precautions to take before using henna:
Be sure to mix your henna properly! Many naturals are self-made DIY “mixtresses” (myself included) but now is not the time to get crafty. You are handling a substance that can easily cause damage to your hair if used improperly. Check out this comprehensive, step-by-step guide for mixing and using henna to ensure the right mix. Also, test the henna on a section of your hair first before applying to your entire head, just to be safe.
Always start on hair that has been cleansed and detangled, which will make for easier application and absorption on your hair.
For more information about henna, visit Henna for Hair.