Henna Color Choices
The reds are the most used,
have the least amount of additives, and - if they are pure, (read
the label, research the Internet, join a henna forum) are completely
safe. The browns and blonds are fun, too.
Henna does not lighten hair.
It won't lift the color, like commercial dyes can do. So you
must get a shade that somewhat matches your own, or is darker.
Brunettes can easily go red. Blonds can go brunette or red. But
there's no way a brunette can go blond.
A Few Words of Caution
Do not use henna over commercially
colored hair. It's safest to wait at least two months after a
commercial dye job, before using henna. Some women have had no
problems waiting only one month, but again, that's what the strand
test is for.
About a week or so before you're
planning to henna, use a clarifying shampoo. That will help strip
out the old color.
Be sure you're buying a brand
of henna that does not contain metallic salts. These are extremely
unhealthy. They may be labeled on the box as compound henna dye,
or they may not be listed at all.
How can you tell if your henna
contains metallic salts if they're not listed in the ingredients?
If your strand test leaves your hair swatch brittle or dried-out,
or if the color "takes" very quickly, that probably
means it contains metallic salts. Don't use it.
Black henna is alright to use
as long as it's made with Indigo. Avoid PPD Black Henna, as it
contains Para-Phenylenediamine - a dye - which is extremely harmful.
What to Buy
The safest henna is body-art
quality henna. But there are also many well-known, well-used,
safe and ethically labeled packaged hair hennas. Just use common
sense: If there are ingredients listed that you are unfamiliar
with, write them down, go home, and run them through your search
Henna does not have a long shelf
life. Don't buy it and then keep it around forever. It will lose
its potency. You can seal it and freeze it, though, and it will
last at least a year.
Now for the Fun
Many women consider the preparation
of henna to be a ritual. The plant-based dye looks like a green
powder, and has a peculiar fragrance, kind of like hay. The odor
goes away in a day or so.
Assuming you have a box of pure
red henna, empty it into a glass or plastic bowl. If you've bought
it in bulk, use about one cup. Never use metal utensils, bowls,
or even hairclips when mixing and applying.
Now, boil up some water. Pour
the boiling water into the henna, a little at a time. Stir. Keep
doing this until you get a paste consistency. Add a couple of
pre beaten eggs if you want, to keep the consistency sticky.
Many women add a half cup of strong coffee to tone down the red
a little. If you add coffee, use less boiling water. You don't
want the mixture to end up drippy.
Put a cream or oil around your
hairline to keep the henna from coloring your ears and forehead.
And don't forget the gloves (or you'll also get red hands!).
Apply the paste to clean, dry
hair. If it's your first henna treatment, saturate the hair completely.
Then wrap it all up with either a plastic bag or some plastic
wrap. On top of all that, you might want to wrap a towel, just
so you don't frighten the children. Some women use a heated towel.
Here's why you absolutely must
have done the strand test: It's the only way to know how long
to leave the henna on your head. It could be anywhere from 20
minutes to two hours or more.
When the timer rings, hit the
shower. The whole process is messy, so don't make neatness an
issue or you'll go nuts. Rinse the henna out - no need to shampoo.
Finish with an organic, non animal-tested conditioner. Your color
should last for two or three months, except for root growth.
And you're done. There will
be a lot of clean up involved, but you'll have awesome, silky,
strong, healthy red hair. (Or whatever color you choose.)
Once you start using henna,
you might find you love it so much you'll never go back to anything