Making a henna mix can be fun, weird, messy, and confusing all at the same time. Why? Because as with everything else concerning natural hair, there is a wealth of information out there, and a lot of it conflicts. So let's go ahead and break this thing down, so you can get the most out of your henna...without making too much of a mess.
What Is Henna?
Henna (if 100% lawsonia inermis) is an all-natural plant native to Africa, Southern Asia, and Australia used to dye hair, skin, nails, and fabrics. It temporarily stains the aforementioned a reddish hue. The leaves of the plant are crushed and the dye is released using any number of liquids -- from hot water, to coffee or tea.
What Does Henna Do?
Henna has some amazing benefits for natural hair. Here are a few I've discovered:
- Thicken Hair/Add "Weight"--Every time I do a henna treatment, I notice that my hair appears to be a little thicker, and has a little more hang. This is because henna molecules bind to the keratin in the hair, creating plumpness of individual strands. Note that this effect is not permanent, and is not a solution for hair that is rapidly thinning, breaking, or otherwise damaged.
- Awesome Color--100% natural henna will always stain your hair to some degree. Depending on how long you leave it, the ingredients you mix in, and the natural color of your hair, your color will range from deep orange to burgundy or coffee brown. It is almost like a natural cellophane. The results are long-lasting and fade naturally, and won't leave your hair looking washed out.
- Shiny, Strong Hair-- Henna always makes my hair shine, thanks to the henna itself and the ingredients I mix in to condition my hair. I also notice less breakage whenever I henna, which can be attributed to the protein-binding action mentioned previously.
Psoriasis Relief-- To date, henna has been the ONLY thing to help keep my scalp psoriasis at bay. Even in the cold winter months when things get tricky, my scalp psoriasis isn't nearly as bad. I don't know why it works, but if it ain't broke don't fix it!
Which Henna Should You Use?
I always, always, ALWAYS advocate for using 100% pure Body Art Quality (BAQ) Henna. Not only does it work better, but it will make your life infinitely easier. Trust me. Back in the day when I first began dabbling in henna (and was too impatient to wait for online shipping), I rushed to my nearest Whole Foods and Sprouts, buying up boxes of Light Mountain Henna. Now, there is nothing wrong with Light Mountain per-se, but I strongly advise against naturally curly girls using it. It is not finely sifted, and contains large granules and twigs (yes, twigs). I had the time of my life trying to get that grit and twigs out of my transitioning hair--and would have to wash my hair for several consecutive days following a henna treatment just to get most of them out. Body Art Quality henna on the other hand, is very finely sifted and smooth. It has the consistency of baby powder. This makes for easy mixing, easy application, and easy rinsing. I personally swear by Jamila BAQ Henna, but I have also recently tried Reshma Natural Highlights (this is the ONLY box that is 100% henna, by the way) and it is the same in terms of consistency, performance, and results.
What Should You Mix Into Your Henna?
Some henna mixes just call for hot water and a spoon. That basic mix is totally fine, but it can leave your hair feeling a bit straw-like (because it acts like a protein treatment). To get the most out of your henna session, try playing around with the following ingredients, according to your hair's needs.