A Quick Primer on Using Henna as Hair Color

Henna paste and henna powder

Henna paste and henna powder. Photo: Shutterstock

Ask anyone who’s colored their hair, and they’ll tell you that the chemical treatment is really hard on the hair. It dries out and and loses any shine and gloss. It takes intense hair conditioning to restore it to its previous health.

There is an alternative form of hair color called henna. It is made from the leaves of a plant that contains an orange-red dye molecule that stains the hair. Additionally, it is a good conditioner so it changes the color of your hair and conditions it at the same time.

Henna comes as a powder to which you add water in order to create a paste. You can apply the henna paste to wet or dry hair, but make sure that your hair is clean.

Once the paste has been applied to your hair, its best to wrap your head in plastic wrap. The longer you can let the henna sit, the more intense the color will be. It should be left on your hair for at least two hours, although six hours will leave you with beautiful, intense color.

It should be noted that the henna will not cover up roots or highlights. It is a permanent stain that will redden the hair, but any color differences such as roots will still be apparent with the new color. In addition, many pre-made henna pastes contain metallic additives that react poorly with traditional chemical hair dyes. Many hair stylists don’t like to work with hair that has been treated with henna because of possibility of unpredictable reactions. If you can confirm that your dye was truly 100 percent henna, it reduces the likelihood of any odd reactions during your next treatment.<

Unfortunately, you have a lot fewer options for color, as most henna dyes will provide some type of orange/red/brown color, but you will have the added benefit of knowing the dye is derived from plants and will condition your hair in the process of coloring rather than destroying it.

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