Friday, June 8, 2012

What You Should Know About Henna.

My henna treatments have gotten better with each use. With henna, you kind of just have to keep trying different things to see what works for you.  Over the past few months, I've learned the things that you should and shouldn't do when applying henna.  I decided to list a few tips for people who are thinking about trying henna.  I just did a henna treatment yesterday and I describe my results at the end of this blog post.

Do lots of research. You will discover that just because it says natural and is sold at a health food store; that doesn't mean that it's the real stuff. I learned that the hard way when I purchased Rainbow Henna from Whole Foods.  That stuff left a bunch of twigs in my hair and on my pillowcase. You can read more about my experience here. Body Art Quality henna is the best henna and is packaged in foil to preserve its freshness. If it's packaged in plastic, then you will still receive some conditioning benefits but not the full benefits  If it says, "henna for hair," be sure to look at the ingredients to make sure that nothing is added to it.  It should only say lawsome inermis which is the scientific term for henna. Jamila is the only brand that I've used with positive results.  I've purchased mine from Amazon (to save on shipping costs). Sites where you can purchase high quality henna are and

Do a pre-shampoo treatment
I always do a hot oil treatment with Carol's Daughter Khoret Amen Oil, which is basically olive oil mixed with a bunch of other oils, a couple of hours before I shampoo.  Other people may do a pre-poo or a deep conditioning treatment beforehand. 

Do not mix with acids
Some naturals use acids like apple cider vinegar and lemon juice to mix with the henna because it causes quicker dye release and they're okay with it.  I wouldn't recommend it if you're worried about dry hair.  The first time I hennaed, I used appled cider vinegar. Not only did it stink, but my hair was very dry and tangled afterwards.  My treatments come out much better when I mix the henna with 3-4 packs of green tea and 2 tablespoons of honey.  Using any kind of tea will also cause quicker dye release.  You can also mix your henna with oils or conditioner to prevent dryness

Let it sit
Even if you're not concerned about the dyeing benefits of henna, letting it sit allows the henna to settle which will make it easier to wash out.  It helps even if you only let it sit for a couple of hours.

Keep it in for at least four hours
My hair has felt the best when I've let the henna sit in my hair overnight but don't always have time or the patience so I've figured out that 4 hours is the minimum if I want the conditioning benefits.

Completely rinse it out
If you don't completely rinse it out, your hair will be very very dry.  Rinse your hair until the water runs clear and then rinse some more.  Then wash with a cheap conditioner like Suave Naturals twice and then rinse again.  Believe me, your hair will thank you for it.

Do a deep conditioning treatment afterwards
You definitely need a deep conditioning treatment that is preferably protein-free.  That is because henna does some of the same things a protein treatment and you can get a protein overload and cause extreme dryness, brittleness, and shedding.  On the other hand, if you hair loves protein, then do what works for you.   I use Carol's Daughter Tui Smoothie and leave it on for at least an hour. 

Use a daily moisturizer
I moisturize my hair once, sometimes twice a day for three days after a henna treatment.  I use oil.  shea butter that I get from my local African store, the Nubian Heritage Shea Butter with goat's milk and chai, or SheaMoisture.  By the third day, my hair starts to feel normal again.

It can loosen your curl pattern
I've never experienceed this myself but it can happen with repeated use of henna due to the residue that weights hair down.  It usually isn't permanent and can be reversed with a clarifying shampoo.  If you're concerned about the loosening of your curls, then you can just do retouch on your new growth instead of putting it all over your hair with each use. Or you can use alma which thickens your hair and can return/preserve your curl pattern.  Sometimes, spacing out your henna treatments will prevent this from happening as well.

You won't be able to chemically dye your hair
People who have had henna treatments normally experience trouble dyeing their hair with chemical dyes because henna coats the hair. So if you have any intentions of using chemical dyes to dye your hair a different color, then you may want to rethink trying henna.

Wednesday and Thursday, I did what I believe is my fourth henna treatment. I did things slightly different but it produced positive results.  I used 4 packs of green tea instead of 3.  I mixed the green tea with the henna and let it sit for 5 hours by accident. I got caught up doing stuff.  Usually, I only let it sit for about 30 minutes. Then I shampooed and mixed in 2 tablespoons of honey right before application.  The henna was really smooth and not as lumpy as it normally is.  I left it in overnight this time around and found that it was alot easier to rinse out. I able to cut at least 15 minutes off of my rinsing time.  I rinsed until the water ran clear and then I washed with Suave Naturals conditioner, the apple kind.  It worked great for rinsing out the henna and it's only about $1 at Walgreens, Krogers, Walmart, or probably every store out there.  On top of that, I do believe that this is the first time that my hair hasn't felt dry immediately after a henna treatment. It actually feels normal! It's feels soft and healthy. I've successfully tweaked my henna treatment.  That's how it is. It's trial and error when it comes to henna.

Thanks for reading and hopefully this information helps somebody.


  1. Thank you for this info. This is really helpful. I hennaed a while back and forgot my process. Your process is very similar to what I used to do and I agree that the cheep conditioner works wonders. The honey is new and I will definitely try along with the green tea. Thanks again for your information!

    1. Thanks for the comment. Make sure you get the 100% pure honey. Some companies sneak maple syrup in it and still call it honey. I'm glad that this info was helpful to you. There is more to come.

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  3. I have been curious about henna treatments for a while. I am currently transitioning and I am excited to try this. When you mix the tea in are you actually opening the bags and mixing them in? I am familiar with green tea rinse but not this method. Thanks.