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After much research and struggling to maintain a healthy head of hair for the last year, I finally took the plunge to do my first henna treatment. I had researched the benefits of henna over five years ago, but, to be perfectly honest, I was too chicken to ever try it. Truth be told, after losing an entire year’s worth of hair growth (6+ inches) in the last 12 months to hard water, I was pushed to the brink of desperation! So, I decided, “What have I got to lose?”
Here are some pictures of my natural hair (before the henna treatment). You can really see the damage to my hair in the second picture caused by hard water. (Note: I used high flash for the first and third shots to better highlight my hair color and texture pre-henna. It’s still a little hard to see unless I’m in direct sunlight, but the ends of my hair still have some remnants of permanent color from when I dyed and highlighted my hair two years ago.)
I settled on Zenia’s Henna Powder because it is body art quality (BAQ) henna. This brand of henna is 100% natural, cruelty-free, and vegan. It is important when choosing henna to make sure that it contains no pesticides, metallic salts, or chemicals (i.e., ammonia and peroxide). Make sure that the henna you buy is BAQ henna. This will ensure an easier application (because it will have a finer sift) and will also create an environment for the best results possible (due to the lack of additives and chemicals). After all, the last thing you probably want is to end up with green or damaged hair!
After looking at dozens of recipes for henna hair packs and treatments, I ended up creating my own. Mainly because I have very fine hair, and most recipes I found called for a boatload of henna that I just knew would be way too much for me to use in 1, 2, or even 3 applications. I found this general guideline online, which proved helpful as a starting point but, keep in mind, that hair thickness and density are vital considerations. Those are two factors that most of the resources I found ignored. For example, if you have fine hair, you will likely require less henna. The reverse is true if you have thick hair (i.e., you will likely need more henna than the average person with the same length of hair as you). I have a high-density head of hair (lots of strands), but each of my individual strands are super fine (very small in diameter), so this is the recipe that I came up with for MY hair:
I used a kitchen scale to make life easier and for more precise measuring. I ended up using about 60% of the mixture. (I froze the rest.) Because I wanted to create a henna hair treatment for its conditioning effects (as opposed to a natural hair dye), I placed the henna mixture in the refrigerator overnight. The next morning, four hours prior to use, I let the mixture sit out at room temperature before applying it to my hair instead of the usual 8-12 hours recommended. Here’s the process I followed:
- Shampoo and condition your hair. Here’s what my my hair looked like after being freshly washed …
- Place a thin layer of Vaseline on your ears and around the perimeter of your head. This will protect it from potential henna staining.
- Shingle the henna mixture through each section. I used my hands and, yes, my hands turned orange! Don’t be like me. Buy gloves! FYI, if you happen to forget to buy gloves, like I did, don’t fret! Create a quick mixture of salt and olive oil and rub the affected areas like a maniac as gently as you can. It took 4 applications over 48 hours, but 75% of the staining disappeared. The remainder vanished after another day or two. Whew! My nails? That’s a different story! Sigh.
- Use butterfly clips to section your hair into quadrants if it won’t stay put. Although I had some butterfly clips , I just created a loose bantu knot to hold each section in place to avoid too much bulk. But, if your hair is super thick or long, you may need to clip it into place.
- Use a processing cap to prevent drips and keep the henna from drying out. I left the henna in my hair for 30 minutes while sitting under a hooded dryer. The dryer expedited the conditioning process.
- Rinse the henna out. I used my Waterpik handheld shower attachment to rinse my hair out without too much fuss. I used two applications of my cheapie VO5 clarifying conditioner to rinse out all the henna. This is what my hair looked like after I rinsed out all the henna … You can see how the henna created a dip-dyed effect at the ends of my hair where the remnants of my permanent hair dye was. Next time, I think I’ll add some amla powder to create a richer, deeper brown. Or, I may just apply the henna directly after mixing it up to avoid the dye release. Although my hair seemed slightly dry, it felt 100% stronger and more conditioned! Seriously, I could hardly stop touching my hair after washing the henna out, and I’m not much of a hair toucher!
- Deep condition. I deep conditioned my hair with my fave Lustrasilk Aloe Vera Cholesterol for 20 minutes under my hooded dryer to restore moisture back into my strands. Here’s what my hair looked like with the deep conditioner in it …
- Air dry and style. I misted my hair with my lavender spritz and followed up with some olive oil. Then, I just coiled the back of my hair into one low french twist and pinned it in place with some Magic-Grip hair pins.
Overall, I really liked how the henna treatment instantly strengthened my fine, fragile hair. Next time, I will definitely leave it in for a longer period of time. I plan to incorporate henna into my hair regimen at least twice a month. Still confused about how to henna your own hair? This article provides a great read and covers virtually any scenario that might come up while hennaing your hair!