Women of different races have been dyeing their hair with chemical dyes for centuries. The problem with chemical dyes is that they have many ingredients that damage the hair. Once the hair has been chemically altered, it needs constant care. The maintenance of chemically colored hair can also be expensive. Why not go for a natural dye that is free of chemicals? Opt for henna.
What is henna hair dye?
It comes from a flowering plant called henna that is used for body art such as tattoos. The leaves of the henna plant are dried, ground, and sifted until it becomes a powder. The powder produces a red dye. Henna is good for people who have allergic reactions to chemical dyes. It has no ammonia, chemicals or toxins that are bad for the hair. It can be used for all types and texture of hair.
Henna dyes only produce red dyes. For different types of henna color, the henna powder must be mixed with a slightly acidic liquid such as fruit juices. Two other types of henna:
- Black henna – made from indigo plant and has a darker shade
- Neutral henna – from Cassia obovate plant and when mixed with rhubarb root can produce a yellow color
Best Henna & Indigo Recipe for Shiny Jet Black Hair
Advantages of henna
Henna protects hair from sun damage and stimulates hair growth. It binds with the shaft of the hair and fills in damage, imperfections, and split ends. It binds with the keratin. Keratin is a protein that protects cells from damage or stress. Henna can also repair damaged hair strands, lessen or eliminate dandruff, and lessen hair shedding.
Using henna as a hair dye also restores the acid-alkaline balance of the scalp. This means that it cleanses the scalp without disrupting its natural balance, unlike the chemical dyes. It conditions the hair properly. Once henna binds with the hair strand, the moisture is locked in. The permeable layer is formed which helps the oils to be absorbed easily.
It is considered as the safest and best way to color hair.
Pure henna has no chemical additives that can burn the scalp and cause hair loss. This kind of hair dye can also be used on dreadlocks. The process of applying henna on dreadlocks is the same as any other hair type, although the mixture needed must be a bit thicker.
Henna hair dye makes coarse hair silky. Compared to other chemical dyes, henna is more affordable. The color also lasts for about 4 to 6 months.
Disadvantages of henna hair dye
One of the down sides of using henna hair dye is that it loosens hair curls. Most black women have natural hair curls. Henna loosens curls, so it is not for women who have and want to maintain their curly hair. However, amla powder may be added (1/4 of the mix or less) to henna. Amla can be mixed with plain water instead of lemon or any fruit juices since it is already acidic.
Using henna hair dye also takes a longer time to finish. Unlike chemical dyes that take less than an hour to set in, the dye takes 3 to 12 hours depending on the color shade the person wants. The application is also messy, especially for people who have no experience in applying henna.
There is a strong smell after washing the hair since henna has a natural distinct smell. A bleach shade also cannot be achieved with henna since it does not lighten hair.
Here are other things to consider before buying:
- Once henna is applied on hair, it is not advisable to use chemical dyes on top of it.
- Hair cannot be permed after henna treatment as it damages hair.
- Hair color results of henna vary from one person to another depending on the type of hair.
- Prior to henna application, take an allergy test. Do this by dipping henna into the crease of the elbow and wait for one hour. If there are no symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose or tight feeling of the chest, the person is not allergic to henna.
Henna hair dye procedure
- Prepare supplies such as natural henna powder, mixing liquid (lemon juice), mixing bowl and spoon, paper towels, measuring cups, plastic shower cap, and gloves.
- Mix the henna by adding 1 cup of it to 1 cup of lemon juice to a mixing bowl. When henna and lemon juice are mixed together, this releases the dye and bind to the keratin in the hair making henna permanent. Blend the paste well with a spoon until it has reached a thick consistency. Consistency should be similar to a mashed potato and cover it with plastic wrap. Leave the henna paste overnight at room temperature.
- Once ready for henna application, use towels around the neck and shoulders to protect them from stains. Unwrap henna and check its consistency; if it is too thick, add a little bit of lemon juice to achieve a yogurt-like
- Divide the hair into sections. Divide it into 4 or more sections depending on the length and thickness of hair. Clip each section to hold it in place.
- Start applying by working with one section of hair at a time. Apply at the beginning of the roots and work all the way to the ends of the hair. Make sure that each section is thoroughly covered before proceeding to the other section of hair. Once hair is evenly covered with henna, pile it on top of your head and wrap with a plastic shower cap. The cap helps the henna from drying out and keeps the dye warm.
- Wait for 3 or more hours. The deeper the desired shade, the longer time you need to wait.
- Wash henna paste out of your hair using cool water. This can be done in a bathtub or sink with a drain catcher to prevent it from clogging up. The color may be a bit brighter, but after 1 or 2 days, the color shade will tone down.
Where to buy henna hair dye?
Henna hair dye can be bought online or at local health food stores. Remember, try to avoid henna that come in boxes that specify a particular hair color such as for “blond hair” or “black hair”. These have added synthetic dyes, metallic salts, and other plant dyes that are of poor quality.
Choose 100% henna hair dyes and the best quality is one that is labeled as “body-art henna.”