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How to Use Henna 2011-08-10 04:05:49

The Pros and Cons of Henna Hair Dye

Henna is one of the oldest and most popular ways to change your hair color, but for such a commonly used dyeing agent, there's comparatively little information around on why, how, and when henna is a good choice and when it isn't. If you're contemplating coloring your hair with henna instead of a peroxide or ammonia-based dye but don't know whether you're making the right decision, here's a quick, easy guide to the pros and cons.

The Formula

Pro: Natural henna can make your hair knockout glossy and give it a rich red tint because the henna color molecule, lawsone, is a highly pigmented red-orange.

Con: Compound hennas (like the hennas that claim to dye your hair blonde, brown, or black) have additives. Some, like Lush's Cacas, are natural and only have additional ingredients like coffee and cloves. Other brands contain metallic salts and chemical lighteners that can wreck your hair. So unless you're going any color besides true red, be sure to read the box carefully.


The Color

Pro: Henna is a great way to go red without stripping your follicles or using chemicals that might irritate your scalp.

Con: Henna isn't as predictable as a chemical dye, so your color isn't guaranteed to be like it is on the box, especially if it's already previously been dyed.

The Process

Pro: After using body-art quality henna, your hair should feel softer, stronger, and undamaged.

Con: If your hair has been previously dyed or bleached with regular drugstore or salon dye, the remaining chemicals and pigment molecules from your last dye job can interfere with the henna, causing uneven color and even weird pigment results, like green hair. If you've been dyeing your hair with anything other than henna, you'll need to do a couple of strand tests to make sure.

Also, unlike 10-minute drugstore dyes, henna can be messy, and it may take a long time to dye your hair. Some people leave it on as long as six hours and wrap their hair in plastic wrap to keep in the heat and speed up the dyeing process. Basically, you might need to set aside a whole afternoon or evening for the process.

The Results

Pro: Henna doesn't fade nearly as rapidly as synthetic red dyes, so this is a great option if you're interested in being a redhead for the long haul.

Con: It's a double-edged sword. Getting henna out with bleach or other chemical means is often a disaster, since using peroxide or ammonia just drives the color even deeper into your hair shaft. Basically, once you start dyeing with henna, your options are to keep dyeing with it, let your hair grow out, or cut off all the colored hair.

Image Source: Thinkstock
Join The Conversation
Rogelia Rogelia 4 years
Tanning with Henna is the best thing i ever did! After tanning with regular brands my hair and scalp got dry plus it was a nightmare to color: my scalp and skin felt so itchy!... Hairderesser said it was an halucination of mine...tried all the brands in the market for sensitive scalp...nothing worked and i began to loss hair...professionals still mantaining i was having hallucinations...and going to the hairdresser which i used to enjoy became a dentist like experience....and then I tried henna in a specialised itching, gorgeous color and shine, my hair and scalp feel young and healthy again! WHAT A DIFFERENCE! Instead of damaging tan after tan your hair and scalp you inmediatly notice that you are boosting their health and beauty and it left me a gorgeous and stunning natural brown color. :) :)
myhousemd myhousemd 5 years
Your hair melts if you use henna that contains metallic salts, which many available brands include. Same for coloring henna hair. Also, it's true that it is impossible to get out with bleach or color stripper. But I've wanted red hair since I was a child, and I'm done chemically processing my hair, so going henna was totally worth it for me!
jeascha jeascha 5 years
My stylist warned against henna...for one thing he said that if you use henna and then perm your hair, your hair will literally MELT. So if you're going to use henna, you must, must be truthful with your stylist.
ModernGraceKelly ModernGraceKelly 5 years
The last time I went to my salon a stylist had to cancel my appointment because a girl before me wasn't truthful about using henna on her hair. It never actually lifted even though she had it done two years ago, so she ended up with hair two different colors.
myhousemd myhousemd 5 years
I've been using Lush's henna for two years now. I love it! Everyone is stunned when I tell them it's not natural! Yes, it can be unpredictable, but that's because it lets your natural color be a base. I have yet to see someone who used it and look unnatural!
ahles ahles 5 years
If you use body art quality henna, you won't get green over previously dyed hair. It also won't wash out. Fade some, yes.
GummiBears GummiBears 5 years
Honestly removing henna is really not that hard or involved to do so. Just use a harsh clarifying shampoo and you can remove it in three shampoos or less. I have hennaed before and while it was an interesting experience, it is so time consuming and messy that I don't do it regularly.
Miriam-Lacey Miriam-Lacey 5 years
Zboundy, back when I was a redhead, the Caca Rouge was my go-to for coloring—it just lasts so much better than artificial red dyes.
zboundy zboundy 5 years
I use Lush henna and the color is gorgeous! I had medium brown hair before and my hair had natural gold/ blond highlights from the sun. Using a mix of the brun (makes your hair a rich brown with a red sheen) and maron ( which makes your hair chestnut) my hair turned out a lovely rich red- brown shade and my highlights turned red. My hair was left strong and uber shiny. The only downside is it can be messy and takes a few hours but all that is worth it! The color turns out natural because it builds on what you already have. If your interested you should check out the Lush forums because people post picures of their hair before and after.
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