20 Hours post Henna
I have been planning to do Henna for some time now and this week I finally did it.
I have been having increasingly worse reactions to commercial hair color (severe scalp itch, even sores) and I know that is a bad omen as it only gets worse and sensitizes you to even more things.
I read a lot of posts and reviews of natural henna – body art henna, not the stuff that is sold as hair color in a variety of different shades* – before I made a purchase.
I am thrilled with the results. It wasn’t nearly as hard to do as some of the warnings I had read and the results were perfect. No itchy scalp and wonderful shiny color.
My color was also applied over recently colored hair, with
no problems. If my hair were a lighter shade to start with, the color would be much more intensely orange/copper. Beginning/natural color is a major consideration when choosing to do Henna.
Blondes will get a very, very vibrant copper-red and white hair can even come out somewhat neon. For natural results light brown through dark brown or nearly black is the best starting color.
Mine came out just the way I expected it to, a vibrant medium copper-auburn because my henna was done over a dark auburn tint. Even though Henna is a “deposit only” color that doesn’t lighten, the luminous effect you get from it almost makes your color look lighter and definitely brighter.
Henna “mellows” over a period of 5-7 days as it oxidizes and becomes a bit deeper red and less orange-copper, so if you henna be assured it will calm down a bit from the starting color.
Some companies sell different “colors” of Henna but this just isn’t accurate, they aren’t selling natural Henna. True Henna is capable of producing only a red-orange color because the leaves contain a an orange color molecule that when powdered and mixed with an acid liquid will migrate out of the leaf and absorb into hair protein.
Here is an excellent site that has all the products and info you need including the scientific explanation of how it works.
Henna is often mixed with other natural plants – Cassia(golden) and Indigo (blue-black) to produce other variations of color, golden strawberry blonde through shades of warm brown, all the way to rich burgundy blacks.
The protein in the henna leaf also absorbs into the hair cuticle, filling in open spaces and smoothing it giving the hair intense shine and actually improving the condition of the strands. Repeated use is actually good for your hair, you can’t really overdo it.
The photo is my hair 20 hours after my Henna, taken under an incandescent lamp with flash. Most people photograph their hair in natural sunlight to capture the full vibrant effect of the color that Henna produces. The color has deepened a little bit but in natural sunlight the color just sparkles. You gotta love it.
So if you are considering Henna, choose Body Art Henna. This is the pure stuff, no additives and is usually a very fine grind making for easier an appication process (this will be a bit messy but if done carefully it’s not that bad). Some people add fragrance, herbs, coffee, tea to get a change of tint and to mask the scent (it smells like wet hay – a scent that may linger for a few days).
I would recommend against adding any oils though, this could hinder the absorption of the dye molecule.
To get the maximum color leave the Henna on as long as you can – I did 4 1/2 hours and was just right. Always cover with a plastic cap and wrap in a towel or use something to hold in / apply gentle heat. Heat plus time gives you the maximum color absorption (as there are no chemical catalysts).
To aid in the rinsing process first fill a large bucket with warm water then dunk and swirl hair in it (especially helpful for long hair) for a few minutes to help loosen the mixture. Henna is ground leaves and they can get a bit chunky and gritty at the end as they are drying out.
Make sure you have a lot of inexpensive conditioner on hand and after several rinsings work a generous amount of conditioner throughout the hair and rinse several more times, and repeat if necessary until the water runs clear.
I didn’t use shampoo for a couple of days to give the Henna more time to set.
The next time I Henna it will be roots only for most of the timing – then work it through the ends for an hour or so.
Another benefit of Henna is that the growing out period (if you aren’t applying to blonde or white hair) is that it looks more natural and the reapplication blends easier with the previous color.
Go Henna !
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