Before using henna please read up on it first! Henna gets a bad rep a lot of the time because people slap it on without finding out what it actually does to your hair. It binds to the keratin within the strand so it has a strengthening/hardening effect as well as depositing colour. Natural-haired beauties may also see a loosening of their texture. Here's the most FAQ I get...
Q. Where do you buy your henna?
A. I first used henna from Lush. I used the red version first (Caca Rouge) but you can also get it in brown and black, which are premixed with Indigo. All you have to do is break it up and add water so it's an easier option. Though I found that, even though the ingredients are natural, this didn't deposit much colour for me.
I then started using Yemeni henna which I purchase from Henna Boy and I'd recommend this company to anyone buying in the UK. If you're from the US try Mehandi. A lot of ladies opt for Jamila henna which is a finer sift (and easier to wash out). I prefer Yemeni henna as the colour result is a deeper burgundy red as opposed to orange/red. I've also tried Indian and Rajasthani henna.
Q. I want to dye my hair blonde, can I do this with henna?
A. Henna is a plant and the powder is always green. It will only dye hair red/orange in colour so it won't ever dye your hair blonde. Henna will never lighten or bleach hair. You can try lemon or chamomile tea for natural hair lightening, but if your hair is dark there isn't a natural way I know of to achieve blonde hair.
Q. I've seen henna that comes in colours?
A. Any boxed dye that claims to be natural henna and comes in colours other than red is being falsely marketed as natural. The problem with these dyes is they can be quite damaging, especially if you have relaxed hair, because they contain metallic compounds - and some don't even say that on the box. To avoid any hair 'mares stick to Body Art Quality (BAQ) henna as this is safe to use. Natural henna is a green powder that turns red/orange when mixed with liquid.
Q. How do I dye my hair black with henna?
A. To do this you have to use henna and Indigo (sometimes confusingly known as "black henna"). The ratio is up to you but the more indigo you use the more blue/black the result will be. Indigo itself will never actually be black in colour, it's a greenish powder which turns blue when mixed with water. When used with natural henna you can get brown and black colours but this all depends on your natural colour. Blonde or grey haired beauties have more options when experimenting with henna as it's almost like you're starting with a blank canvas. It's strongly suggested you do a skin/strand test when using Indigo due to the confusing name. Some products labelled "black henna" may be indigo mixed with black dyes which can cause allergic reactions.
Q. I like your hair colour, if I use henna will mine look the same?
A. The result depends on your natural hair colour. Mine is naturally very dark, almost black, but it used to look dark brown in certain lighting. The only way you'll know how henna will work for you is if you do a strand test. Take some shed hairs from your comb, apply henna, wait a couple of hours, rinse and see if you like the result - that's exactly what I did before putting any henna near the hair on my head.
Q. I've heard that henna is hard to lift, is this true?
A. Once you choose to henna your hair there's no going back. It fades over time but the only way to completely get rid of it is to grow it out or strip it, which can be really damaging. If you don't think you'll like the colour after a few months don't use henna.
Q. I'm scared to use henna as I've heard it's really drying, how do you avoid dry hair?
A. I use lemon oil instead of juice mixed with camomile tea. I also like to add a few tablespoons of carrier oils like Sweet Almond, Olive and Grapeseed. This way the mixture is still acidic enough to get the dye release without being too drying. I also recommend doing a moisturising deep condition treatment after using henna to prevent dryness.
Q. I've heard henna is really bad for your hair, why do you use it?
A. It's not at all, it's totally natural and can even help with scalp problems such as dandruff. I use it mostly as a way to warm up my natural colour as I've always wanted red/brown hair. I never wanted to put chemical dye on my hair so henna has been a great alternative for me. I love the shine you get with henna too!
Q. Is it really messy?
A. It's so so messy. Henna will end up everywhere! In your ears, down your back, floors, walls... The best way to avoid the mess is to put plastic bags/newpaper/towels down and put the henna in an applicator bottle. If you keep the henna warm during application it's less likely to crumble and flake off everywhere. Remember to base your scalp with vaseline too, wear gloves and don't wear any nice clothes!
Q. How long do you have to leave henna on for?
A. As with a lot of aspects of using henna it's totally up to you. If you want a strong colour leave it on for as long as possible - the most I've left it on is overnight and the results were amazing. Henna deepens with each application though so you can also leave it on for a short amount of time and do regular treatments.
Q. When do you use henna, before or after your relaxer?
A. Both depending on how I feel. I usually leave a couple of weeks clear before or after using a relaxer just to ensure that my henna doesn't affect my relaxer treatments and vice versa. I've never had any problems using henna on my relaxed hair.
Q. I like my hair colour and don't want to change it, can I still use henna?
A. Yes you can! Try Cassia powder, known as "neutral henna", for shiny smooth hair with no colour change.
Q. What happens if I have left overs after mixing?
A. Freeze it and use it for a root touch ups whenever you fancy. I now mix mine all up in one go and separate into several bags to freeze. To thaw just leave the henna in a bowl of hot (but not boiling) water and it'll be ready to go in 10-15 minutes. It's a real time-saver!
Have a question about henna? Feel free to comment and I'll be happy to answer :)
UPDATED & reposted 01/02/14
UPDATED & reposted 01/02/14