Henna-henna-bo-benna...so, you're thinking about using henna for color? Or maybe you just want to add some strength to your hair? Well, you can get either of these things accomplished with a good, body art quality henna. I have several people ask me about henna in the last few weeks. I'll tell you about my experience, but keep in mind this is a YMMV situation for sure and try to provide some direction:
THE HENNA BIBLE:
Before you go out and buy anything, you need to read Henna For Hair. She has really laid out pretty much all the information you need to know, and then some. She talks about the types of henna, using indigo on top of henna to make a darker color, mixing the henna colors, etc. Keep in mind that the color of your hair after you henna is dependent on what you start with. If you start out with light colored hair, your change is going to be much more noticeable. With mine, you can see it on my grays, but the overall color is more noticeable in the sun.
WHAT DOES HENNA DO:
Henna deposits color on your strands. It is not going to lift color or lighten. I have seen people strip the color from their hair and then henna. To me, that defeats the purpose of trying to add color in a healthy manner...but to each his/her own.
MY EXPERIENCE WITH HENNA:
It can be messy the first time. Henna for Hair has some links to YouTube videos on the application of henna. Check those out. I personally like to use Karishma henna:
I have also read about people with highly textured hair using Jamila henna successfully as well. It's going to be one of those things where you have to just try it and see. You can also order henna mixtures from the Henna for Hair website.
I mix my Karishma henna with green tea. I get a box of green tea bags from Trader Joes, boil a small pot of water and let 4 tea bags steep in that for a few minutes. You can just use water, but I like the acidity of green tea to help with color release. I also add a little lime juice - for the scent and the acidity. Again, not necessary - but just some ideas. If you are just using henna as a conditioning treatment, you won't need to worry about trying to get the color to release.
I shampoo and lightly condition my hair before applying henna. At first, I tried it with shampoo only and no conditioner. No bueno. Tangled, dry feeling mess aftewards. I learned that I needed to condition before applying the henna. Sometimes, I lightly apply coconut oil to my hair before applying the henna as well.
One package of Karishma is enough to cover my whole head, liberally. If you have really long hair you're going to need lots more. You really want to glop it on. I tend to do henna on weekends when I don't have much to do. The first time I only left it on for 4 hours because I was not sure what would happen. Now, I have taken to just leaving it on overnight. I wrap Saran Wrap around my head several times as the first layer of protection. I then put two plastic caps over that, and finally I sleep on a red towel - just in case. I haven't had any issues.
Always use gloves when you apply henna. Otherwise you will end up with orange hands and nails. I would use the gloves when you rinse it out as well. The gloves I use are light blue in color. When I finish applying my henna they look like this:
LOL! So yeah...gloves. At all times. I tend to part my hair in four sections and use butterfly clips to secure each section. I apply it one section at a time, starting from the back and moving up to the front.
After I rinse henna out, I personally do not shampoo my hair. I feel like the color needs a few days to oxidize. I will put some conditioner in my hair to detangle it, and then rinse. I don't deep condition right after henna, but some folks do. I feel like I would lose some of the color if I chose to open up my cuticle right after a treatment. You'll have to play around to see what works for you. I tend to DC a few days later.
Henna turns my gray hairs a light orangish-red color. If you want darker hair, you will need to follow your henna application with an indigo application. That's the only way to achieve a "black" color. Be leery of henna you see for sale in the hair dye section. Stick with body art quality and skip the commercial stuff.
Here are a few pics of my hair after henna:
Right after rinsing out the henna and doing a light conditioner. Those lighter red hairs are my grays. :)
Monday afternoon...as you can see my hair pretty much looks dark brown, almost black. But if I was in the sunlight it would look burgundy. My hair also tends to feel really soft a couple of days after I henna. It can get a little straighter (temporarily) so it doesn't hold the curls as well as it normally would.
If you have any questions that are not answered by the Henna for Hair website (which I highly doubt you will, lol), or any question about my experience in general, just let me know. Remember to read, read and read again until you are clear on the techniques and benefits, and then have fun!