How does henna work?

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  • 1 Post By naturecat
  • 1 Post By Flygerian

I'm really interested in dying my hair with henna, but I've seen some people with bright orange henna dyes and I don't want that. I've seen others with a nice deep red which looks really nice. How do I get the colour I want, and how does it work over dark hair?
Is henna like protein? So if I dye with it, it's also conditioning?

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I'd recommend getting body art quality henna for starters. Other hennas can be contaminated, and also turn your hair weird colors if you ever dyed over it with chemicals. I've gotten my henna from Mehandi, though there are other sellers as well. Mehandi has a description about the shades each henna has. If you google (and I think Mehandi has a chart as well) there are color charts which show how henna can look over various shades of hair. It won't lighten dark hair but can brighten it. If you want a darker shade, you can use indigo with it for a more brownish color (and throwing amla in with indigo tones down the red of henna. amla by itself with henna but without indigo doesn't affect the henna color, and also helps prevent curl loss that can sometimes occur with henna).

Henna works by the lawsone binding to the keratin in your hair. It isn't quite like protein. It coats the hair and is permanent. It strengthens and thickens the hair. Multiple whole head applications can loosen curl pattern, particularly if you're a wavy (though amla can counteract this). It also is conditioning in that it can make your hair feel soft, and shiny. However the initial application will cause the hair to temporarily dry. You can counteract this by putting in moisturizing ingredients in your mix (such as coconut milk), and/or deep conditioning afterwards.
If you want to see what color henna will turn your hair, I recommend gathering some loose hairs which have fallen out and testing them with some of the dye released henna you want to use. You could also try it on a small under section of your hair.

If you are unsure of henna (using it for the first time can be intimidating), you can start with cassia obovata (so called neutral henna). It is neutral on dark hair but will turn blonde hair a golden color. It is not quite as strong as henna, nor is it permanent (it lasts about a month), but it gives you an idea of what henna will be like, and some of its conditioning effects.
anniemae likes this.

Super baby fine hair, low porosity
Shampoos: SM Fruit Fusion (mostly), Avalon lemon (to clarify). Occasional aloe vera and glycerin to wash.
Stylers: Intelligent Nutrients Perfect Hold Hairspray
Treatments: Catnip tea, IA girl's PT, Fermented Rice Water, Catnip Tea, Amla tea, Irish Moss, SS PT
Wow, thanks naturecat, I didn't expect such a thorough answer. Very helpful, thanks so much. I am going to look up the colour chart and different mixers you mentioned 😊

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naturecat likes this.
How did it go? Did you ever dye your hair with henna? I want to use henna now, too, and I'm looking into using Light Mountain Natural. Has anyone ever tried this brand?
Hair Type - wavy/curly, fine texture, thin/medium density

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