Before You Purchase: Beginner’s Guide To Henna Part 3
Welcome to part 3 of Before You Purchase: Beginners Guide to Henna. In part 2, we discussed how henna works, where henna can be purchased and why fresh henna is so important.
Check out parts one and two of Before you purchase: Beginners Guide to Henna.
How can I use henna?
Henna is very easy to use and is not messier than using commercial boxed dyes. The best thing to do before trying any different product is to do strand tests with samples. At Henna Sooq, we have samples available so that you can try before making a commitment. Remember, henna is a commitment due to it’s permanency. To strand test, harvest some loose hairs from your brush. Prepare the samples and dye the strand. Strand testing is important as it gives you the opportunity to experiment with timing and mixes so that there are no surprises when you do your hair. For subtle results, leave henna on for an hour, and for more intense results, leave henna on for at least 4 hours- overnight.
Start off with a simple mix of henna and warm (not boiling!) tap water until you know how henna works for you. Later on, you can introduce ingredients such as oils, butters , coconut milk, yogurt, herbs, juices, spices, essential oils, teas and other liquids to your henna paste. To dye the hair copper or ginger tones, henna must be diluted with Cassia, conditioner, flax gel or light green yogurt. Check out Basic Henna Recipes: From Light Copper To Red for dying light hair light copper to red, and Basic Henna Recipes: From Burgundy To Black for dying all hair tones, for more information.
As all henna powders are different, it is best to not rely on dye release times suggested; these are just a guide line. Instead, test your henna paste right after mixing with warm liquid for dye release and every 30 minutes thereafter for an optimal stain.
Henna application is easier on damp hair rather than dry hair but it can be applied to both damp and dry hair. The paste can be applied with gloved hands, a tint brush or a condiment bottle. Once the henna has been applied, it must be covered to prevent the paste from drying out. Dried out henna paste is a nightmare to remove from the hair. Leave the paste on for at least an hour; 2-3 for light colour, 4 for a deeper colour, and 6 hours -overnight for a richer colour. Do not shampoo for 3-4 days after hennaing for the first 1-3 times to not disturb the oxidisation process. Once there are a few henna layers built up, shampoos and post henna oilings can be done without fading the henna.
Deep moisture and protein treatments must be continued, even if you use henna. This article is excellent at describing the balance between protein and moisture for our hair.
What can I expect after my first application?
Some do experience a little drying as henna is a very cleansing herb. To combat dryness, add 1 TBS of oil and Aloe Vera Powder to dye released henna paste and use your favourite conditioner to aid washing the henna out and minimise drying. Some prefer to oil post-henna to lock in moisture. Some like to pre-oil before they apply henna. Pre-oiling does not affect dye uptake and will minimize the post henna ‘crunchy’ feeling. Adding Aloe Vera Powder (2tsp per100g) to dye-released henna helps to prevent the hair from drying out as well. Keep in mind that stringy hennas such as Red Raj and to a lesser extent Yemeni don’t do well with additions such as Aloe vera powder as it makes applications difficult and dye results patchy due to the slipperiness.
Colour-wise, the first henna application may be incredibly bright orange, especially on lighter hair. This orange does tone down after a few days or repeat applications. The first few applications tend to be prone to fading slightly. With each subsequent applications, the fade lessens Those with ashy-toned or very light hair benefit from longer applications, while those with very dark hair benefit from both longer and frequent applications.
What do I do once I reach the perfect colour?
Root touch ups are the answer, here! With root touch-ups, one applies henna to their roots with a tint brush, or squirts the henna onto the roots with a squeeze-bottle. The length can be touched up with a henna gloss to brighten the colour; stay tuned for future Henna Sooq blog posts!
Yemeni henna on natural salt-and-pepper medium ash-brown hair