Two months ago I made my first henna mix since going natural in 2011. I heard about henna treatments early on in my natural hair journey and discovered facts about its colouring, conditioning and strengthening properties. However, alongside that information I also read about the process of preparing the henna mixture. There was talk of mixing a seemingly long list of other ingredients with the henna. It sounded daunting… and messy. I couldn’t be bothered with it all so I opted for an easier solution and searched for a premixed henna.
For a year I bought henna from Lush Cosmetics, a UK company who sell premixed henna in a block form which contains various butters, coffee and other conditioning ingredients. All you do with the blocks is dissolve them in hot water and voila! you have your henna ready to go. Anyway, fast forward to a few of months ago when I began thinking ahead to my next henna treatment in the autumn. I was in a mixtress kinda mood (and Lush had increased their prices) so I decided to give mixing my own henna a go. I researched what other naturals were commonly using in their mixes and found out about the world of Ayurvedic herbs (which is a whole other post) and decided to go with a basic mix using:
1/2 cup Henna,
1/4 cup Amla powder
Green tea made with two tea bags
1 tbsp Apple cider vinegar
The above is a simple recipe you could follow or adapt to suit your needs. You could only use henna and water but I suggest including other ingredients that help your hair attract and retain moisture. Examples include aloe vera, honey, butters and oils. in addition to these, including an ingredient which is acidic will help the dye (Lawsone) in the henna to be released. It’s this dye which binds to the protein in your hair fortifying the hair shaft, conditioning and repairing it from the scalp up.The addition of acidic ingredients also serves to keep the ph low which is more favourable for our hair. Green tea, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice and amla powder are all good choices for acidic ingredients.
The amounts used of the said ingredients will depend on the length and thickness of your hair but in short, starting with about 100g of henna is sufficient for shoulder length hair.
Mixing the henna wasn’t difficult and the results were very good, better I would say than the LUSH blocks I was using… and for less money. By mixing my own henna I also avoided the grittiness of the LUSH blocks which I thought could be detrimental to the health of my fine strands in the long run. The henna I purchased from Shea Butter Cottage was really well ground and easily mixed into a smooth paste ready for use.
So don’t be afraid to mix up your own batch! Here are some things to remember…
1. Do Your Research And Know Your Hair
Know what you want to use the henna for and consider the state of your hair and its preferences. If your hair is colour treated then research how applying henna on top of your colour will affect your hair and how long the intervals should be between uses. If you have a problem with chronically dry hair then make sure you improve your moisture balance before applying a henna treatment, as you are in affect giving your hair a dose of protein - so your protein/moisture balance will be altered after treating your hair. Be ready to respond to your hair by giving it the extra moisture it may need in the weeks after the treatment.
2. Buy Henna From A Trusted Source
If you come across henna sold as ‘black’, ‘neutral’ or another colour other than reddish-brown then it’s possible that the ‘henna’ could contain other herbs which aren’t actually henna, or worse, harmful metallic salts and chemical dyes. True henna only comes in a red tone. So beware of this, check the ingredients list of the packet and make sure you purchase body art quality henna from a reputable store.
3. Simple Tips For Henna Use
Don’t let the so called ‘messiness’ of henna put you off from giving it a try. If henna was white in colour then I don’t think it would be considered to be quite so messy. Henna has been so beneficial to my hair over the last year, I wish I had used it from the beginning of my natural hair journey!
- When you mix up your henna aim to achieve a consistency between mashed potato and thick greek yogurt. Aiming for this thickness will reduce the chance of splashes and drips on you and your bathroom. You can also wear an old shirt and place some newspaper or a plastic sheet on the floor for extra protection.
- Section your hair before you start applying the henna. Your hair should be detangled and in 6 loosely twisted sections. Use some crocodile clips to keep your hair in place.
- When applying the henna take your time and use an old plastic bowl with a brush applicator (the kind used when applying a relaxer) to easily apply the henna throughout your head.
- Don’t leave the clean up of your sink/bath until later. Clean up as soon as you’re done, then you shouldn’t have any problems. Work at your own pace and make sure you don’t wave your arms around!:)
- When you’re done, gather all your hair sections together into one place and wrap your head up with cling film to stop any henna from leaking out.
- If you have children then choose a time when they will be occupied for at least 30 mins or if you’re really short of time, apply it in the evening and leave it on overnight ensuring your hair is wrapped with a few layers of cling film, plastic cap and head scarf.
Why not give henna a try? This natural herb has fantastic qualities that may just give your hair the boost it needs in the coming year.