Submitted Date 07/08/2020

Since I've been on the topic of hair for a bit, and have touched upon my sad sensitive scalp and skin in my past posts, I thought I'd share a little gem I found out about quite a while back as an alternative for hair dye: henna.

Although it's been a while since I've dyed my hair with henna, I have a few tips and tricks up my sleeve on getting the most out of your henna hair dye, as well as my favorite brand to share with you!

But first, what is henna hair dye? Henna hair dye is all natural and a great alternative to synthetic dyes. Henna comes from the Lawsonia inermis plant. You probably know henna best from how it is used as a temporary body art, which stains the skin from the dye. The leaves from the plant are turned into a very fine, green powder that's mixed to go on the skin or the hair. Henna naturally contains a red pigment, however for hair dye it can be combined with indigo powder, which contains a blue pigment which leads to a more deep brown or black color, or cassia, which can provide a medium brown/auburn color. There's a wide variety of henna hair colors to dye your hair from if you don't want to use pure henna for a red color, but you have to be careful about what brand you choose from.

My favorite brand is Light Mountain Natural. They have a wide variety of colors and each box has a chart on the back to match your natural hair color with and see the result. It even tells you if there will only be a slight change with certain colors or no change at all, such as if you had jet black hair and were going to use a dye more cassia based for a light brown color. If you decide you just want to use pure henna, then I would recommend The Henna Guys. Pure henna can turn blonde hair into a fiery red, and tint brown hair and make it more auburn. It depends on the application, in the end. Lush also sells blocks of henna, which are mixed with hair conditioning ingredients. The bar is meant to be broken up at home and applied to the hair. Lush was where I bought my first henna hair dye.

Unfortunately, I don't recommend it because Light Mountain Natural has more variety and is already ground up into a powder. It was such a pain to break and grate the Lush henna block, and I noticed it lasted a lot less than most henna hair dyes. Everything after this will be my experience and tips using Light Mountain Natural henna hair dyes.

Light Mountain Natural is typically like any other reputable brand that sells henna hair dye, so you can use these tips for most other dyes unless the box tells you not to mix in any of your own ingredients, however I would be wary of boxes that say you do not need to wait for the henna to cure before applying and pre-mixed already wet henna. I think it's best to get the bare bones and buy the powder mixed with cassia, indigo, or nothing else. There are people out there with bad henna experiences, and usually it is because they used a brand that was not pure henna.

The process of applying henna to the hair as well as letting it sit is a commitment. I used to let henna sit on my hair for a whole entire day, and then torture myself again by washing it out for hours, and then my neck would hurt. It shouldn't be this painful! You can actually cure henna. You're told to let henna sit on the hair for a long time or the color will not payoff, however the night before you can mix your henna with water as you usually would when preparing and let it sit over night to cut down the time it feels like a giant brick in on your head.

Henna can be mixed with ingredients to condition the hair, as well. I highly recommend doing this, since your hair might feel a little dry after washing out the dye. On top of this, you can mix the henna with other things instead of only plain water. I used to mix my hair with black tea, but I would usually add four tea bags to a cup of water, so it be very concentrated. You can mix your powder with chamomile, and even coffee. You can also add a few tablespoons of greek yogurt for hydration. I've seen some people add their conditioner to the mixture. You can add olive oil, or any hydrating hair oil. Lemon also is supposed to help bring out the color, especially if you are trying to make your hair red and vibrant, lemon is great to add into the mixture. There's a ton of things you can add in depending on your hair type. I'll share what I used to do when I dyed my hair with a more cassia based dye for a reddish brown color, and what I used to mix my indigo with, since I went through a jet black hair phase way, way back.

What I love about henna is that it lasts forever, it's permanent, basically. Some of it will eventually wash out over time, but not in the way that chemical dyes do. It blends perfectly with outgrown roots and does not end up looking patchy. It also hydrates the hair and the hair strand gets coated with henna, so it feels stronger and looks a whole lot more shiny. My hair felt thicker and shinier when I would use henna. However, note that it's permanent and very hair to get out. If you dye your hair red, it's great to switch to henna because red hair dye fades so quickly.

For me, I let my henna cure over night with black tea water and some lemon juice, I make sure it's not too watery, and I use less water than I usually would so it's still thick, but it's also all wet and mixed. In the morning, I mix it with some greek yogurt and add more tea if needed. Sometimes I would add a packet of instant coffee. My goal with henna back then was to make my hair jet black, so I used tea and coffee most of the time. Sometimes I'd add a little bit of olive oil, but usually what I'd do is rub any oil, such as olive oil, jojoba oil, or castor oil into my scalp and ends on my hair instead. I'd separate my hair and apply from root to ends and after each strand was coated, I'd twirl it on very top and middle of my head like I'd be making a ballerina bun. Each strand would go around the previous twirl piece of hair and it would eventually create a bun and I'd cover it. This is the most comfortable way of doing it for me. Since it's on the top of my head I feel balanced and my neck doesn't hurt, and everything stays into place. I usually have extra henna so I would coat the bun with it and around it to make the bun stay, like creating a mud tower…basically.

I'd recommend henna to anyone! It can help cover gray hairs and lasts way longer than chemical dyes would last. If you're a little wary of it being permanent, that's when I'd recommend looking into the Lush blocks of henna hair dye, since they don't seem to last that long.

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