My First Henna Experience

Hello! I had been hearing a lot of buzz in the natural hair community about henna and all its benefits. I didn’t want to alter my natural hair color so I never considered it. However, I came across a “henna gloss” recipe on www.curlynikki.com that gives you all the conditioning benefits along without the color change.

What is henna?

Henna is a shrub native to Asia and North Africa. It contains pigment called lawsonia. It is extracted by grinding the leaves and stems of the plant. For centuries it has been used to color hair, skin, nails, and fabric. It works by bonding to the  keratin in your body (what the outer layers our hair, skin, and nails are composed of). Henna is not a permanent color.  It gradually fades taking anywhere from a month to almost a year to leave the hair and about a week to 6 weeks to leave the skin and nails. Henna originally is a red-orange color. Other plants are added to henna to produce the other colors offered, such as auburn, brown, and indigo.

Why I decided to try henna gloss

I decided to try henna because with my research I was convinced it would be the right conditioning treatment for me. It bonds to the keratin in your hair adding strength. This also fills any “holes” in the strand (missing shingles from the cuticle) adding to the overall strength and elasticity of the strand. This also give the hair more sheen! My hair had become dull from frequent co-washing and failure to seal my ends like I should be doing. I have always had a problem with dryness and split ends because of my hair type (fine/medium strands, high density, very tightly coiled) so I needed a little something to assist me with maintaining moisture and restoring strength.

Natural hair right before applying henna.

I purchased a henna color from the local natural foods store. As the recipe stated, conditioner, yogurt, or honey can be added to the mix to block the color. This was also stated in the instructions that came with the henna for those who only wanted the conditioning benefits. I added about half of the big tub yogurt (about 16 oz), 6 tablespoons of honey, and a teaspoon of olive and coconut oil to my mix, along with a few drops of rosemary oil. I added a teaspoon of distilled water and  yogurt here and there to lighten the mix a bit because it was really thick and lumpy. Once I was satisfied with the consistency of the mix, I began to apply. It was a texture similar to pudding or cake batter.

Henna Mix

The henna I had smelled like green vegetables or even fresh-cut grass. You are supposed to apply the henna to clean, towel-dried hair. I shampooed with a bar of black soap and towel-dried my hair gently by slighty patting with the towel. I sectioned my hair into four sections and began from the apex (middle) of my head and moved my way out towards my nap and edges. This reduced the mess and kept the henna off of me for the most part. I went through in small sections like I was sealing my ends. I used my gloved hands to apply the product. Once my hair was completely saturated with product it kind of reminded me of the caramel treatment. It felt very heavy in my hair and weighed it down a lot just like with the caramel treatment. My hair doesn’t do that with any other conditioning treatments.

Hair with henna applied

Hair completely saturated with henna

I put on a shower cap and left the mixture on for 6 hours. Some leave theirs on overnight. I didn’t have that option and wouldn’t have left it on that long any way. I also spent about 45 minutes of the first hour under the dryer. The rest of the day I put on a scarf and ran my errands. When it was time to rinse I filled the sink with warm water and dunked my head in the best i could and swished my hair around. I used my fingers to shake some of the grains from the henna out of my curls. After that, I shampooed with lavender castile shampoo I mixed. I repeated twice and took my time shampooing each time to remove all of the henna. (Make sure you deep condition very well following a henna treatment to prevent dryness!) I then followed with a honey and olive oil deep conditioner. I sat under the dryer with low heat for about 30 minutes and then co-washed it out with Giovanni Smooth As Silk Deep Moisture conditioner. I repeated the co-wash twice.

I towel-dried my hair then sealed my ends with a mixture of shea butter, aloe, castor oil, and a few drops of rosemary oil. To set my hair, I decided to use banding. I banded my hair and let it set for about 2 days. I always wear a nice head wrap out when I am banding. I like to leave my bands in for a while just to reduce the styling stress on my hair from picking. When I took the bands out I was pleased with the results. If you take a  look at the “results” photos in my banding article, you can tell a huge difference between the condition of my hair after using the henna. There was no obvious difference in my curl pattern. The only change I noticed was that my curls bunched more. My hair definitely felt stronger. There was almost no shedding during detangling. I had more shine and my hair seemed thicker.

Hair after henna and banding

 

More curl formation in parts

 

Back view of hair after banding

In the post-banding photos above, my hair has not been combed out yet.

I haven’t experienced any post-henna dryness so far. I am making sure I give my hair everything it needs before it needs it to prevent that from happening! I will comment that my scalp was slightly itchy after using the henna but that was from having that wet product in my hair for the extended amount of time. Needless to say, I am in love with henna. It is now a permanent part of my protein deep conditioning  regimen. I think I will do henna every other month. Overuse of henna could cause dryness and I do not need that!

If you are looking for a conditioning treatment to revive your hair, I would definitely suggest trying henna!

Thank you for reading! 🙂

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