In the beginning
The history of Henna is as old as civilization itself. It was first discovered in Africa.
Since its discovery, it has been used for both artistic and medicinal purposes.
Increasing common use for Henna is to create intricate designs on the body, typically done at parties or weddings.
Such designs are usually red and last up to a few weeks before fading away with time.
Fight off colds
Another popular use for Henna, especially during colder months, is adding it into a tea to make a delicious beverage that helps fight off colds and other illnesses one may experience this time of year.
Leaves of the Henna plant are dried and then crushed into a fine powder before being used.
Some tribes in Africa use this product for medicinal purposes, such as cures for stomach ulcers.
Evidently, Henna is good for you because it has anti-inflammatory properties and strong antioxidant properties.
There has also been some evidence that Henna may be beneficial in treating inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis).
Nevertheless no studies have yet confirmed its effectiveness at either curing or treating either of these illnesses.
In the present day, Henna is used in various applications such as manufacturing of cosmetics and hair dye products.
It has been found that leaf extract from this plant has antibacterial properties against a variety of skin infections.
What is Henna?
Henna is a shrub that has leaves with an orange-red dye molecule, Lawsone.
You can see this in young plants and also on the centre vein of each leaf (petiole).
All leaves on the Henna plant have small fibres that create lots of tannins. Tannin is also found in grapes, cranberries, cacao and walnuts.
Which Henna do you use as hair dye?
Henna comes in three variants: natural, neutral and black.
- Natural Henna is the pure form of Henna, that provides a rich brown colour. This is recommended for those who aim to dye their hair without causing any damage.
- Neutral Henna doesn’t give any colour whatsoever and is used as a conditioner.
- Black Henna is mainly mixed with Indigo dye, which I will discuss in detail later in this blog post.
How does chemical hair dye work?
Ammonia-based alkaline solutions are generally used to open the cuticle in your hair, which is then coloured (often with ammonia-based acid solutions).
This allows the colour to reach throughout the hair shaft, resulting in permanent colour.
After all, ammonia-based alkaline solution will wreak havoc on your hair and scalp, resulting in redness and discomfort.
Of course, this is not the most effective technique to colour your hair.
It is non-toxic.
Other synthetics or chemical based hair dyes are more toxic to your skin and hair. Henna is not as toxic.
When Henna is put on your hair, the special dye molecule Lawsone goes into the outside of your hair and binds with it.
Lawsone adheres to the hair without opening the cuticle and washes away after a few washes.
How does the molecule Lawsone work?
A chemical compound 1,4-naphthoquinone derivative reacts chemically with keratin in skin and hair to form a strong permanent stain that lasts until it’s shed.
Can Henna cover your grey hairs?
Grey hair is a pitfall for many people.
To dye your grey with Henna, make sure that the instructions are followed carefully and accurately in order not to damage or stain your skin where it’s applied.
Rouge is applied first and then multiple layers of Henna are added. Doing this will give more dimension to the colour rather than covering all of your greys in one go – which is not recommended for blonde tones anyway!
A lot goes into getting my grey hairs just right, so I’m glad there is something out there like Henna that helps me keep up during these difficult years when finding time every few months at a salon isn’t always an option anymore.
How do you cover your greys with Henna?
>>>>>>>Check out my post on how to cover your greys with Henna<<<<<<<<
How well does Henna work for everyone?
Well, it doesn’t!
Just because it’s natural, like any other product, that doesn’t mean it will work for everyone.
Consequently, I recommend you do an allergy test before using the products if your skin or scalp is sensitive to allergies.
How to use Henna for hair growth?
One study showed that Henna helped reduce hair loss and prevent split ends, which makes the hair stronger.
Active ingredient in Henna can balance your scalp’s pH level, which will put a stop to hair loss and as well as treat scabies.
For more details watch this video on how to use Henna for hair growth.
Pros and cons of using Henna to cover grey hair
Downside risk involved with applying Henna.
- It can only darken, not lighten.
- Each application will add another layer of colour and it cannot be used with chemical dyes or perms.
- Wait at least a month after the last colouring/perming session before applying Henna because chemicals used could react poorly together causing an unwanted effect such as discolouration.
- During the first 72 hours, Henna may change hues as a result of an oxidation process that takes place when oxidizing chemicals in your body come into touch with naturally occurring Lawson molecules (pigment) within the plant’s leaves.
- Heat styling while used on brown-black shades will cause darker results than desired, so avoid if possible until the initial reaction has passed.
- Hair colour can fade after prolonged exposure to sunlight and water.
- The hair may feel coarse immediately after the following rinsing, as the flood of nutrients causes the cuticle layer to rise.
- Afterwards, a cone-free deep conditioner or apple cider vinegar is recommended for sealing in moisture within each strand of hair.
- Certain shades like Burgundy are more likely than others to bleed during washing.
Benefits of using Henna to cover your greys.
- Budget conscious consumers will consider Henna as a perfect alternative hair dye to use at home.
- There are numerous shades available and it’s best to wait 72 hours after using Henna before seeing the final result of your colour choice due to its natural properties.
- Adding to this, it covers grey hairs naturally & blends in really well!
- You can use other things such as essential oils to make it more vibrant.
- Lasts for longer periods to deepen colour intensity and doesn’t damage your strands.
- Each strand of hair is painted with henna rather than just the shaft. This protects your hair from fading and damage over time.
Can you dye your eyebrows with Henna?
Henna brow powder is a good solution for people who struggle to design and fill in their eyebrows as it gives them a base shape to follow.
Consequently it’s great for you if you have little or no hair on your eyebrows.
Will Henna work on curly or afro hair?
For curly or Afro hair, Henna has little effect. But the process will depend on your hair colour and how you use it.
Afros can be thirsty for Henna because their kinks open up the cuticle slightly, meaning they need more Henna to cover them completely.
Provided you have straight hair rather than wavy, thicker mixtures will suffice. Thinner mixtures do not stick as well as thicker ones do.
Can you change colour after using Henna?
Be aware that some Henna brands have metallic salts.
Therefore you can’t use chemical dye over it. What you get is a chemical reaction that smells like burning hair.
Let your hairdresser know that you dyed your hair with Henna, if you do decide to change colour or use a chemical hair dye.
Here are some safety guidelines to take note, if you’re applying Henna to your hair.
- Do a patch test to find out if you have allergic reactions.
- If you have scalp conditions, blisters or wounds on your scalp, do not use Henna.
- Whether you have a fever or a cold, do not use Henna. It has a cooling effect and might make your condition worse.
- Assuming that your hair is tangled, apply a layer of Vaseline to the skin surrounding your neck before applying.
- When preparing the paste, you should wear gloves. Avoid using metal bowls as it reacts with the substances.
Black Henna, is it safe?
Black Henna (usually used for temporary tattoos) does not contain any of the ingredients found in the Lawsonia Inermis plant. It does contain the toxic chemical paraphenylenediamine (PPD) which is added to speed up the drying process.
PPD is a chemical that produces fast colours and can induce allergic responses or chemical burns, therefore the dangers are especially high.
It’s important to note that PPD isn’t present in natural products like Henna; it’s derived from coal tar dye compounds such as p-phenylenediamine sulphate sodium salt monohydrate, among others.
For this reason, when people say “black Henna,” they’re simply referring to hair colourants containing these types of chemicals rather than anything related directly to actual plants/herbs themselves.”
Freshly made Henna is the safest
For thousands of years, Henna tattoos have been an attractive and popular choice for tattooing the skin.
Yet, there is growing concern about some brands in the market, because they contain a lot of added ingredients that could be harmful to your skin.
Many businesses that sell Henna products don’t check for this, so before you buy one, make sure the Henna is organic.
Toxic additives added in Henna
Additives may be added to preserve Henna. However they put you at risk of suffering skin reactions or expose you to carcinogens.
This may lead to the development of cancerous tumours.
Does Henna have a shelf life?
Shelf life of natural Henna is rather short. This is why producers add chemicals and preservatives to extend the life of Henna tattoos.
If a product says to keep frozen until used on the packaging, it’s an indication that it does include chemicals.
In the European Union, Lawsone is not permitted to be used as a non-oxidizing colourant in hair dye or other cosmetic items.
PPD (a chemical) is allowed in hair colours in the EU and USA. It is not restricted by law.
Banned in USA & Canada
Throughout the United States, it is not legal to get temporary tattoos with PPD or that are not labelled. This means that black Henna tattooing is illegal.
Similar laws exist in Canada and other countries as well.
There is no law on how to apply Henna tattoos. It can be hard to do any surveillance, because there are no laws that cover this type of tattooing in most places around the world.
Brand Reviews of the “Best” Henna Dyes on the Market (My Honest Opinion)
Two new brands of natural hair dyes have emerged in the market. I have tried one of them so far. I used Hannah natural when trying to cover grey hair and it worked well!
This brand has no metallic salts added which meant it was pretty safe for my scalp.
To sum up
This blog post has been a general overview of some questions on Henna.
I hope you found the information useful as you plan your next DIY or dyeing your hair in a salon using natural products.
Any questions that you may have, please leave them in the box below. I will answer them for you.
- Study of colouring effect of herbal hair formulations on greying hair
- Therapeutic effect of Impatiens balsamina, Lawsonia inermis L. and Henna on androgenetic alopecia in mice – the study
- Study on Antimicrobial Efficacy of Henna Extracts
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Disclaimer: These statements are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent any disease. They are for information purposes only. They have not been evaluated by the FDA. If you suspect that you have a medical condition, seek help from your doctor.