Henna (Lawsonia inermis) is a flowering plant, that has a burgundy dye molecule called lawsone, which is more concentrated in its leaves. Lawsone bonds with protein, and this explains the usage of henna as a dye to color the hair, skin and nails. It is also used to dye silk, wool and leather. Natural henna gives a red color to the hair. Products which are labeled as black or brown henna may contain dyes and other ingredients. Hence, it is better to choose natural henna over other hair color products. Henna is now so popular, that the plant is commercially cultivated in many countries, including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iran, and Egypt.
Benefits of Henna Hair Color
The main advantage of henna over artificial hair color products is that it is natural, and is almost devoid of side effects. Apart from dyeing the hair, it is also a good conditioner, which imparts a lustrous shine and smooth texture to the hair. It is also believed that, henna has antifungal properties, which help in controlling conditions, like dandruff. It also contains several nourishing constituents that strengthen the hair. Application of henna on the hair makes it tangle-free and manageable. Unlike commercial hair dyes that may cause side effects in some users, pure henna is free of such problems, but can cause serious reactions in people with glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency.
Tips for Henna Hair Coloring
Like cosmetics and other beauty aids, the origin of henna hair coloring can also be traced to the ancient Egypt civilization. It was the ancient Egyptians, who used henna as a hair dye, for the first time in 1500 B.C. Since then, the popularity of henna hair color has been on the rise. Being natural, henna is preferred over artificial hair dyes. Given below are some henna hair coloring tips that may prove useful for you.
- Always remember that application of pure henna changes the hair color to natural red. The black and brown versions available in the market may contain some other natural dyes or chemicals. It is better to use pure henna powder for hair dyeing. If applied on blonde or gray hair, henna changes the color to a deep orange.
- Take sufficient quantity of powdered henna in a plastic bowl. Add some warm water and lemon juice, and mix well to make a paste with the consistency of yogurt. Cover the bowl and keep it overnight to allow release of the dye.
- Mixing the right ingredients is very important, as far as the end results are concerned. If you have dry and brittle hair, add a few drops of mustard oil into the paste. If you have dandruff, two teaspoons of yogurt can be added. In case of oily hair, lemon juice is good. If you want a darker tint, you can add some dried gooseberry powder.
- Wash and dry your hair before applying the henna paste. Wear some old clothes, and cover the floor with newspaper to protect from spillage.
- If you are applying henna for the first time, do a strand test to ensure that the paste suits you. This can be done by applying henna on a few strands of hair, starting from the roots to the tips. Avoid using henna, if you develop adverse reactions.
- Avoid using henna on hair which has been permed, bleached or dyed (with a chemical dye). In that case, wait for at least six months before applying henna.
- Before applying henna, wear hand gloves to prevent staining of your hands. Part your hair in the middle. Apply the henna paste through the parting, so that the hair on both the sides are well-covered. Make another parting next to it (that runs parallel to the first parting) and apply henna through the parting. The hair that lies in between the partings has to be covered well, from the roots to the tips. Roll the hair in the shape of a bun. Repeat the process of parting and application.
- Once henna is applied, roll the hair over the earlier one, in a clockwise direction. Continue the procedure till the whole scalp and the entire hair is covered with the paste.
- If the hair is not long, apply henna and twist the individual sections of hair, and leave them like that. In both cases, a shower cap can be used to cover the hair, to avoid spillage.
- Leave the hair like that, for one or two hours. Once the paste becomes somewhat dry, wash it off with running water. If the paste is completely removed, shampoo the hair and let it dry naturally. You can feel the difference in your hair texture. It should have become smooth and shiny, with a reddish highlight.
- Otherwise, wash the hair with water and let it dry. Once dry, apply some coconut or mustard oil and leave it overnight. Shampoo the hair, the next day. This method is preferable, for best results.
If you have dark hair, application of henna gives a red highlight, which can be seen in sunlight. Henna hair coloring makes blonde hair look natural red, while red hair turns to a deeper red shade. Gray hair turns to a natural orange color, after application of henna. For deeper color tones and for maintaining the color change, you have to apply henna frequently. Always make it a point to buy pure and natural henna, without any harmful chemicals.