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Before You Purchase: The Beginner’s Guide To Henna


What is Henna? Henna is a greenish powder with a grassy aroma which is ground from the leaves and twigs harvested from the Henna shrub.  This is henna at it’s purest.  Beware, there are some henna powders available that actually contain harmful additives.  Make sure what you’re purchasing is indeed pure henna.

Where Does Henna Come From? Henna is grown in many areas such as India, Morocco, Egypt, Africa, and the Middle east; basically anywhere with a dry climate.  At Henna Sooq, we stock pure henna from Yemen, Morocco, Rajasthan (Fresh Organic Rajasthani Indian Henna Powder and Red Raj), and Pakistan (Fresh Jamila  Powder and Fresh Jamila Henna Powder For Hair).

Why use Henna over Commercial Dyes? First of all, pure henna is ALL natural and should not contain any pesticides, ammonia, peroxide, bleaches, mineral oils, surfactants, silicones, waxes or added harmful chemicals. Pure henna should not contain any other ingredient, unless it is a herbal blend which will contain other herbs with the henna. These herbal blends are absolutely fine. Those that have been dying their hair in various shades from copper to black with box dyes and are unsatisfied with the rapid fade, henna  (plus Indigo, Katam or Organic Cassia Obovata) is definitely for you! Once there is a few layers of henna present, there will be little to no fading. Henna and Indigo are permanent!!  Compared to commercial chemical dyes, hennas scent, which resembles freshly mown grass is much more tolerable!  As with any new product, do make sure to do a skin patch test on the inside of your elbow to see if you may be sensitive to henna.

How do I Know if my Henna is All Natural? Some stores that sell henna may actually be selling tampered henna. Some vendors even go as far as dying their henna powder bright  green to make it appear fresher, while others (particularly boxed varieties found in health food stores) have added metallic salts and other chemicals in the powder to change the tone. Remember, pure henna on its own stains in the orange-red tones, and not any other colour unless it is blended with other herbs such as Indigo, Katam and Cassia to produce black, brown and copper tones. Steer clear of henna or any other herbal hair dye that does not have the ingredients listed on the box/bag. To make sure the henna you have is 100% pure henna, the following tests can be done easily at home.

  1. The sand test: Place a pinch of henna between 2 glass surfaces. If you hear a scratching sound and/or the glass has been scratched, there is added sand in your henna powder. Adding sand is a technique used by some vendors to stretch their henna powder to make more profit. We do not do that here at Henna Sooq as we want our customers to have the very best.
  2. If your henna powder looks abnormally bright green, and a green dye pools after you’ve mixed the powder with water, there is green dye added to the powder. Avoid this powder as it will alter the hair colour results,especially if you have lighter coloured hair.
  3.  Mix up a teaspoon of henna, with warm water and dye some loose shed hairs with it. When the hair has been dyed, mix 1 ounce of 20 vol peroxide with 20 drops of ammonia. Add the hair strands to this solution. If nothing happens, you have pure henna. If the hair strands turn green, melt, boil, change colour immediately, or smells strange (not like grass), then that henna has been tainted with metallic salts. Do NOT use this henna on your hair.

Steer clear away from any box/bag that mentions “Black henna” if Indigo is not listed on the box. This is usually tampered Indigo that dyes black without henna. There is no such thing as “Black henna”. These “black hennas” have added para-phenylenediamine (PPD) which has been known to irritate and burn the skin.  Instead, opt for safer Henna and Indigo for black tones. Body art quality (BAQ) refers to the sift of the henna being suitable for body art use.  Some hennas are ground a little more coarsely, which makes them unsuitable for body art as it clumps in the applicator tip.

Jamila Henna for Hair is packaged in a box, and it’s 100% pure and safe henna.  Jamila is a very popular brand of henna for both hair and body art (we carry both hair quality and BAQ quality). Sometimes one may find some small sticks in their henna powder.  Never fear!! Sometimes the pesky sticks get through the grinding and sifting process and are not harmful. If in doubt, sift your henna powder before mixing. At Henna Sooq, we only stock the highest quality henna powders!  Check out our store Henna Sooq

  1. Coretta L Campbell says:

    How long should I leave henna on my hair to get the best results in color?

  2. 3-4 hours for best results

  3. If I want to color my hair black and condition it, should I buy Moroccan Henna Powder and Indigo?
    Can these two be mixed together or do they have to be applied one after the other?

  4. Charmaine Anderson says:

    Very informative article. It’s amazing that when I had relaxed hair, I never heard of henna. Now, that I’m all natural I’m learning so many ways to care for my hair. Thank you for making available to us what other countries use successfully.

  5. Another awesome post as usual :)

    (Contest entry) I’ve seen people with scars from using that toxic black henna. Out of curiosity, are those scars usually permanent? Do they never heal?

  6. henna newbie says:

    I think you mean from the ppd allergy? I had bad ppd allergy from black dye with ppd in it and it made me have weeping sores all over my body – not just on my scalp and ears. It is very dangerous – it took over 3 months for the sores to heal completely and while I don’t have scars, the skin is sensitive to chemicals and hair spray even today. Check out all the names for PPD online and look at ingredients always. It was awful, and no woman should have to suffer so much for beauty. Glad there is henna as an alternative.

  7. Cece, this is from black henna body art and yes from usually PPD being added to those body art recipes.

    Thanks Henna Newbie!! :)


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