I have been coloring my hair since I was a teenager. I have been blonde, brunette and pretty much everything in between from red, auburn and highlights of pink and purple. I have had my hair professionally dyed and done it myself with store bought boxed brands. Lots and I mean LOTS of nasty chemicals have been put on my hair and scalp and inhaled by myself and those around me. *YUCK!* Now that we are living chemical free, regular hair dye is not something I want to mess around with anymore. However, I do enjoy getting that gloss and shine a fresh dye job gives. So I set out in search of a chemical free option and came across henna hair color.
Henna is a tropical bush or shrub and it’s leaves are ground up into a fine powder and this is what you use to color your hair. It is the same stuff you use in henna tattoos. It is from the earth and all natural. Pretty much if you’re into all that “hippie” stuff, henna is for you. 🙂 As a hair dye, it is not “permanent” and typically lasts 4-6 weeks or a bit longer depending on care. What I like about it, is it doesn’t grow out like conventional hair dyes where you see your roots growing out. Henna simply fades. Typically henna will bring out reds in the hair. There are different types of henna though, where you can achieve darker colors. Also, henna has many benefits and won’t damage your hair.
Benefits of Henna
- all natural, from the earth
- strengthens hair
- coats hair which may result in smoother, shinier hair
- naturally antifungal which helps with dandruff
I have tried 2 different brands of henna hair color. The first time I did it on a whim and bought a brand my local grocer sold. I used Light Mountain Henna Burgundy. It comes in a box and is simply the powdered henna in a bag. It was about $5 for the box so not bad on the wallet. You add hot water, mix it up and apply. I got a beautiful color that lasted about 5 weeks.
The second time, I purchased my henna from LUSH. I heard a lot of great things about their henna so wanted to test it out. Their henna is more expensive (about $25 per block). But they also add other stuff to it. I chose the Caca Marron color. It is in a block because the base is cocoa butter to help condition the hair. They also add coffee grounds, lemon juice, irish moss, clove bud oil and a few other oils.
I will be showing the steps to application using the LUSH brand henna and my opinion on both brands in this post. Let’s get started!
Step 1 – cut up your henna into desired amount. Those with shorter or thinner hair can probably get 2 uses out of one block. My hair is almost to my butt so I had to use the whole thing.
Step 2 – set up a double boiler or just boil hot water to melt your henna blocks. You will want to use a glass or metal bowl and I wouldn’t recommend putting directly into your good pots.
By this point you will realize where they got the name ‘caca’ marron from *hehe*
Step 3 – While the henna cools a bit (you want it warm but not hot when applying it) set up your space. Henna can stain! So it is important to use old towels or newspaper where you will be applying it. This is one thing that may turn off people from using henna. It *IS* messy! But after you have done it a time or two, it gets easier and not that difficult to contain.
Make sure you check to see if your henna kit comes with gloves! You will NOT want to use your bare hands or else you will have tinted brown/ red hands for a while.
Step 4 – Get on your “official star wars hair coloring shirt” (henna will stain any clothing it gets on!!!), use petroleum jelly and apply a thin layer along your hair line, neck and ears (henna can stain your skin!) and start adding this goop to your hair. If you are anything like me, you don’t have a plan on how to apply it and just glob it on starting at the roots and move back. I have seen videos where people use hair coloring brushes, section their hair. But honestly, I have 2 toddlers, I am pregnant and I don’t have that kinda time or organization in my life 😉 My “messy” method has worked just fine for me. Make sure you really get all the way to the roots and really get the henna into all your layers, especially if you have thicker hair! Henna will get a bit dry as you use it so there will be particles/ clumps that fall off your head as you are applying it. You can add hot water as you find necessary but I have found it just comes h the territory of using henna. Once all your hair is covered, roll it all up on top of your head and cover with plastic wrap or a plastic grocery bag or a tight fitting plastic shower cap. Be sure to use warm water and old rag to clean up any areas on your skin the henna got onto!
Typically, henna sets within 2-4 hours. It depends on how dramatic of a difference you want. I always keep it on for 4 hours. If your hair is lighter to begin with, 2 hours may be better for you. If you aren’t sure, it is recommended you do a strand test before even starting!
Step 5 – Rinse it out! Once again, this part can get messy. I recommend leaning over your tub and rinsing that way so it is contained. Use warm/ hot water but don’t burn yourself. You really want to try to avoid using shampoo for a day or two after using henna as you have a chance of stripping out the henna. However, if you must shampoo, use a little and I would recommend using a chemical free/ natural shampoo. You can use conditioner if you like right away though! You want the water to run clean, however, still use an old towel as it may still run off and stain.
The thing I am torn about with the LUSH henna and this step was the cocoa butter base they use makes your hair extremely greasy!!! It is also very hard to wash it out. The Light mountain brand does not have any cocoa butter and I did not have this awkward, greasy feeling in my hair and on my hands. With the LUSH it looked like I hadn’t washed my hair for a week, that’s how greasy it was 😦 So if you use the LUSH brand, make sure you don’t have any plans to go out that same day!
Here are my results. Henna typically takes 2-3 days for you to see what your full results will be as the henna oxidizes over a couple days.
Yes, the changes are subtle but in sunlight, my hair looks lighter and redder! It is amazing. It looks natural and not like I obviously colored my hair. You can also see in the Day 1 that my hair was still a bit greasy. I did wash it with chemical free shampoo to get a lot of the greasiness out. Day 2 was taken the second morning after I henna’d my hair. I did not wash it, blow dry or straighten it. The picture was taken after brushing my hair after getting up in the morning. So you can totally see how smooth, tamed and shiny it is without needing to be styled or straightened. It also feels so soft!
So which brand do I like better? Honestly, I like the cheaper brand Light Mountain because it didn’t have the awkward greasy stage and I still felt the same smooth, silky, soft results. Also, the color results I received are very comparable. LUSH is awesome though too. So it really depends on your individual preference, I suppose. For the price and results, it makes sense to go with the cheaper brand. I didn’t notice that LUSH was anymore better quality than Light Mountain. I thought LUSH henna smelled more pleasant, but they also add more to their henna. Henna will never smell great, it smells like nature, earth, mud, seaweed… I may try adding essential oils next time which may help a bit. But overall, the smell won’t deter me from doing it again.
Hope this was helpful if you are on the fence about using henna. What brands have you tried and loved?
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