Before You Purchase: The Beginner’s Guide To Henna Part 2
In part one, we talked about what henna actually is, where it comes from, why it is preferable to use herbal dyes over harsh commercial boxed dyes, and testing your henna powder for purity. This article is a continuation of part one of ’Before You Purchase: The Beginner’s Guide To Henna’.
How does Henna Work?
The henna’s dye is actually translucent, so your existing hair colour/streaks/varying tones will show up: The lighter the hair colour, the brighter the result. Also, henna will not lighten the hair. For those with very dark brown-black hair, henna may not be noticeable unless you’re in the sun or strong light, however with repeated applications the colour may build up to create a stronger red tint on the hair. Think of henna as if it were a piece of red-orange cellophane; one layer over a black background is hardly noticeable, however, as the layers build up, the colour becomes deeper yet stronger.
When warm liquid is added to henna powder, henna’s Lawsone molecule (orangey dye) starts coming to life. When the paste is applied to the hair, the Lawsone molecule- which is small enough to enter the hair’s shaft, bonds to the keratin (protien) within the hair. Henna also imparts a temporary resin, which can easily be removed with a clarifying baking soda rinse (which is followed by a diluted vinegar rinse of 2tsp vinegar to 2.5 cups of water and a deep moisturising treatment), or sulfate-based shampoo followed by a deep moisturising treatment. Henna is not a protein treatment, but can strengthen the hair when the lawsone bonds to the keratins. In some cases, some henna users find that they still need protein from time-to-time. Once the paste has been removed, the oxidisation process begins. In oxidisation, the dye molecules are exposed and react with oxygen which turns them a slightly darker shade. Some peoples water may be problematic for henna’s dye release. If in doubt, mix your henna with warm Distilled water, or make teas with distilled water.
Some have experienced a muddy dull outcome from their henna. This is due to existing hard water (calciferous) build-up on the hair. It is best to remove this build up by first clarifying the hair, then by rinsing the hair with ‘Miracle water‘, a solution of ascorbic and citric acid and distilled water to break up the mineral deposits prior to hennaing. In a pinch, club soda works well to break up minerals.
Where can I Purchase Henna, and Why is Freshness so important?
When it comes to henna, fresh is important. Henna like all other perishable items will lose dye potency over time, especially if it is kept in a warm spot. To keep henna and herbs (excepting Indigo powder which should live in the refrigerator) fresh, they should be sealed and stored in the freezer. Henna powder will not lose it’s potency if it is stored in the freezer. Some people have reported still achieving exceptional stains with henna that has been stored in the freezer for a number of years. Here at Henna Sooq, we stock the freshest high quality herbs which are kept in the freezer (indigo in the refrigerator) to assure that you always have the freshest herbs. Our hennas are 100% pure and do no contain metallic salts, PPD, or other harmful irritants. Sometimes, tiny twigs can be found due to processing mishaps in the countries we source our hennas from, particularly a small percentage of our Red Raj. The henna powder can simply be sifted prior to use and do no affect the performance of the henna. The fresher the henna, the stronger your result will be.