Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Henna Hair Heaven

I'm sorry about the cheesiness of the title, I just couldn't resist the alliteration that came to me!

The Period Drama Challenge is delightfully fun, and more reviews will (hopefully!) be coming soon, but I don't want to neglect other sorts of posts. If you haven't heard of henna before, or if the first thing that comes to mind is those tattoos you can get at any surf shop in the summer at any beach town anywhere, then keep reading!

Don't be fooled by the bright colored labels, these are all beautiful, natural colors. The "pink" is Strawberry Blonde, and I assure you, it doesn't look pink on hair.

My first introduction to henna actually was as a hair dye - my mom had used it before, so that's what she suggested when regular swim practices started to bleach my strawberry-blonde hair to a greenish-brown color and I began to panic. Henna is a natural dye made from powdered henna leaves, so it was the obvious choice for health-conscious me. We tried it, and I was immediately hooked.

I've experimented with many different colors just for the fun of it, including the Persian Mahogany, Persian Red, Persian Copper, Strawberry Blonde, Marigold Blonde and several combinations of those colors. After all my fun experimentation, I settled on my natural color as my favorite, the simple Strawberry Blonde henna is a near-to-perfect match for my pre-chlorine natural hair color. My sister, naturally a brunette with auburn highlights, has settled on Persian Burgundy as her color.

Trivia Tidbit:
The plant name "Henna" (Lawsonia inermis), while used ambiguously, actually only encompasses the plant responsible for the red color, "blonde" or neutral henna dyes are actually Cassia obovata, and the plant which creates the dark brown/black hue is Indigofereae. The Strawberry Blonde dye that I use is actually a mix of Lawsonia inermis, Cassia obovata, and chamomile.

My favorite aspect of henna dye is not its chlorine-foiling color efficiency, however: my favorite part is the natural conditioning. Henna dye covers the hair shaft, it doesn't penetrate. Because of that, it won't obliterate your natural color, and it can't be used to lighten your hair, but it naturally smooths the hair, and gives a shinier appearance. My hair feels deliciously silky and healthy after henna applications. That's the primary reason that I still use henna, since I no longer swim regularly, and my hair might go back to my natural color. I don't think I'll ever stop using henna long enough to find out!

Edited to add warning-
One warning, however: The more drastic changes from your own color can produce the "regrowth" appearance of regular dye. Since henna is supposed to fade naturally, I thought when I tried the Persian Red and Persian Mahogany that they would eventually fade, but I've been using the Strawberry Blonde for about a year now, and the ends of my hair are still darker and richer red than the top. I guess it's kind of permanent! Unless you want to try stripping your hair of henna (which isn't so healthy for it) I recommend starting with a lighter color, and gradually working your way to the darker as you select your color.

To apply, the henna powder is mixed with boiling water to make a green paste. It's then generously coated on the hair in sections, wrapped in plastic wrap, and sits on your hair for a certain amount of time, varying depending on the color used. We joke that we look something like aliens, with our green-goo covered up-do vaguely visible through the turban of plastic wrap, but then the henna is washed out (down the shower drain, no problems) and the goddess-hair feeling is worth the previous martian appearance. 

It might sound too delightful to be true, but there really is a natural hair dye available, limited only in not lightening your hair color, that is not simply chemical-free, but actually good for your hair! I'm a happy henna customer, and I imagine I'll use henna for the rest of my life. If you're interested in dying your hair, or already dye your hair, I can't recommend henna highly enough!

Just in case you're wondering, no, Rainbow Research did not pay me to write this post, but I do love their products! Wouldn't it be nice if they gave me free henna to share my enthusiastic opinion with you? 

So, have you tried henna? Are you interested in trying? Let me know what you think in the comments!


  1. Hi! Does this henna hair dye change the color of your hair or does it just make your hair more highlighted and prettier. My friend had really blonde hair when she was little. Now that's she's older her hair has change to a darker blonde, and she doesn't really like it. Would this work for her? Oh and I am really enjoying your blog. :) If it wouldn't be too much trouble, could you check out my blog? http://eveofwomanhood.blogspot.com/

    1. Hey Eve! Henna does change your hair color, but it will not change it to be a lighter shade, because it only coats the hair shaft. Darker blonde hair can be made to appear lighter by the shine, and you can also add lemon juice, but it will not have the same effect as bleaching. She should definitely try it, but the change probably won't be as drastic and obvious as she might hope! =)
      I'm so glad you're enjoying my blog, thanks for stopping by! I will be sure to visit you, too!