I have used Henna on my hair for about 2 years now. I has been quite a journey. I’ve had various reds, from orange to auburn. While it does make my hair feel great, I’ve had to stop for various reasons.
I’m going to list some of my hard learned henna lessons and advice. I wish I had known some of this before I started.
First some general advice on henna, especially if you have light or graying hair….I’ll also list my best info links at the end of this.
Yes seriously, before and after 100% henna…the worst moment is when I was shopping in Target and two little boys said “Mommy look at that women’s hair!”, Yes I had to leave my cart and exit the store. Needless to say I’m rather fearless with my hair now.
-If you have light hair or graying hair, I would recommend using henna in combo with buxus or indigo to tame the orange color, (mixes here, gray hair kits here) (see henna for hair explanation of how henna works on gray or light blonde hair here, and yes you will be orange) If you have brown hair, by all means go for it. My girlfriend, who traveled this road with me, has brown hair, and it was a lovely color the entire time. Her hair is now long and a beautiful shade of auburn. I struggled the entire time to achieve a believable color. If you are a women of color, go for it, you can find all kinds of info here, and it seems to relax curls. I also experienced my curly hair getting straighter.
henna and indigo=better
-You can be allergic to henna, not many people are. But a larger percent are allergic or like me develop an allergy with continued use to buxus and indigo. So test. You may not have a sensitivity in the beginning but develop it with continued use. I started using buxus to tame the orange of my hair, and then when I couldn’t use that anymore, switched to indigo, for a short period before I couldn’t use that any longer. See the LongHaircommunity, and the hennaforhair website for info on sensitivity.
-The recommended adding of lemon juice was harsh for us, so we used chamomile tea and got a better color. Also there is no need to apply as thick as the web site recommends, we started applying the thick as mud henna mix, but soon realized that we could get the same color at a very diluted mix. Henna is a very strong dye, and if you start dilute, you can always build up. Getting it out, well that is another matter. Repeated applications can turn you into the burgundy family if you have brown hair. (see lightening below)
-Henna mixes do no fade, well the indigo and buxus does, but not the henna. So my grow out line, due to my light hair, was very obvious, this lead me to apply every two weeks. Ugh.
-Henna does have a strong smell, and while it didn’t bother me, it does some, you can make it smell a little better by the addition of cloves and cinnamon.
-Buy a good quality henna, a BAQ or body art quality henna is the best, with no added chemicals. Test strand, please……there is a big henna community online, use the forums on hennaforhair, and longhaircommunity for advice and help.
Pros: great conditioning for your hair, beautiful color if you have hair in the brown family or darker.
Cons: messy (can stain your bathtub or shower, clean after using), hair color is experimental, especially if you have light hair, or gray hair or lighter
Can be a pro or con: Henna is permanent, it becomes impregnated into your strand of hair, bonding with your hair color. Don’t do this if you think you will change your hair color in several months. It is safest to let the color grow out.
Two years of henna left me with a yearning to go natural. I started having reactions and hair fall out, I haven’t grown out my real color in years. I wasn’t even sure what color it was until I started using henna and saw my grown out line skunk stripe, due to the high contrast (I had always kept it in the blonde family before) left me with the shock that I was mostly white headed.
- Below is my advice on growing henna out or lightening it, or if you have entered into the burgundy family, (with repeated applications). With any method please be careful, test strand, and monitor your progress.
-Gently lighten you hair with Sheer Blonde and Go Blonder by John Frieda products, this is gradual, so you can stop if your getting a result you don’t like. Some people have recommended Sun In, but I would be on alert for brassiness. Remember the purple shampoo’s? These are great to counteract it. Clairol and other companies carry them. (this was the advice of my beautician, she recommended growing it out, if I wanted she would do a test strip to try and bleach it out and foil in some colors to help blend it, that might be in my future, like next week, LOL)
-I didn’t try it, but I also found info on lightening hair with 20 or 30 volume developer and conditioner (half and half) I would leave this on and monitor it. Also found info on another method: buy a bottle of low volume peroxide, like a 10 but no more than a 20. You mix equal parts volume and shampoo and add two ounces of water and shampoo it into your hair. I left it on for 10-20 minutes, checking the color as you don't want it to turn brassy or orange and then rinsed it out and shampooed again, followed by a deep conditioner. It did lighten a few shades and was not brassy at all. You could probably do this in sections as a highlighter of sorts.
-squeeze a lemon onto your hair, distribute, add some conditioner, and go work in your yard in the sun.
-as above but use SunIn or place peroxide (from the brown bottle) in a spray bottle, both of the lemon methods may dry out hair, and conditioner will help.
-I just saw a product at my local natural food store, called Antica Herbavita Chamomile Hair lightener. It's made in Italy and is distributed by Bioforce USA . You can find it at a number of places.
-You can brew some chamomile tea, put it in a spray bottle, spray it on your hair and sit in the sun. It works as a gradual lightener,my girlfriends hair is medium brown. I imagine mixing some lemon juice with it and doing the honey rinses might be the best way to lighten your hair faster.
-Honey. honey rinses will gradually lighten your hair. Put about a tablespoon into a cup and add water (warm or cold) to dissolve the honey. After shampooing and conditioning as a last step do the rinse. I leave it in, others rinse it out. Not only will it lighten your hair but it'll give you great shine since the honey acts as a humectant.
I also found a YouTube video with several recipes for removal
I also found a thread on the LongHairCommunity on Honey lightening
-You can use Color OOps a color remover (one of them, there are several) for chemically colored hair, I would recommend a professional for this. I did read several accounts of henna users that tried this, some did have success, it did take some out, it may remove in a blochy way,I have read accounts of it being harsh and others that say it is not. One women had it done professionally, after an entire day and over 100.00$ later she was still not happy with the result. So be careful if you go this route.
-There are many wonderful conditioners out there, deep conditioners, 3 minute ones (I love these), and argan oil, so no need to have your hair look fried.
After a big chop, I’m letting my hair grow to it’s natural color. My beautician says I’m 75% white. We will see.
May we all have white hair as beautiful as Emmylou
HennaforHair, do download the free e book!
Good luck with any of your henna experiences!