Henna Trials - Part 1

Henna - an Asian shrub or small tree, Lawsonia inermis, of the loosestrife family, having elliptic leaves and fragrant flowers. 2.a reddish-orange dye or cosmetic made from the leaves of this plant.
(definition as per dictionary.com)
I bought my Henna from Chic Chick (http://www.chicchick.co.za/), a locally based online store specializing in natural and ayurvedic products (see previous posts HERE and HERE). It cost me R50 which wasn't bad considering I am not able to get to the parts of the city I have heard sell pure henna. Chic Chick sources their henna direct from India.
Please note that the henna sold in most supermarket or pharmacy stores is NOT pure, there should be only one ingredient on the package and that is- henna (lawsonia inermis). If there are any more, it is a synthetic or henna mixed with other synthetic/chemical ingredients to make the dye release quicker, definitely not the same as pure henna. Watch out for PPD (para-phenylenediamine), which can cause an allergic reaction as well as be quite harmful to your skin or scalp. (not all people are allergic, always patch test). I found some good points here,http://www.hennaforhair.com/ppd/ and as usual always do your research and ask questions.

If you follow me on instagram, you may have seen a pic of an updo where I complained about my numerous random white hairs. I have been wanting to do more posts on hair colour for the longest while and will certainly churn them all out. I love hair colour and lately also love my natural black hair (I have colour treated my hair for many years especially using home colouring kits/boxes). I hope to play with more methods of colouring and will share as I go along. I decided to start with a very safe method of colouring your hair which also has additional benefits of conditioning and strengthening as it acts as a super protein treatment - Henna. Henna as defined above is a natural plant extract. It can deposit an orange-red or reddish brown colour to the hair and I say 'CAN' as all of this depends on your hair's capacity to take in colour (hair porosity will play a factor) as well as how well the dye has released its colour prior to application. There are various other factors such as if you have product buildup before applying as well as how long you keep it on, with or with heat, with or without an acidic mixer such as orange juice or lemon juice instead of water as this helps with the mixture releasing its colour prior to application. I have read how one user mixes her henna powder with coconut milk and applies soon after mixing it and then leaves it on for a couple of hours or more and finds that it still releases the colour as if she had used an acidic mix and left it to 'stew' and she also found the mix with coconut milk to give additional conditioning to her hair. (I will be trying this next). Chic Chick also give some guidance here. I could go on and on but will leave you to carry out your own research. (there is various information out there, do not become overwhelmed, pick one method and try, you are finding what works for you).
Above: pic of the henna mix with and without the camera flash
I mixed my henna powder with just freshly squeezed lemon juice. I used a whole 100g pack and used about 4 lemons for the mix. I mixed everything to a yoghurt consistency and then properly covered the bowl with clingfilm/plastic wrap. I then left this to sit for about 10 hours - mixed it early Saturday morning and applied it Saturday evening. My cousin was my application assistant and I am thankful she put up with my fussiness. (I had to call her back to reapply the mix to the ends hehehe).
We applied the mix to dry hair (I had cowashed that morning but sadly did not detangle due to me being in a rush). After sectioning and applying the mix which dripped about twice but was not too messy (the rinsing out is more messy than applying in my view) we then covered the head with clingfilm/plastic wrap as well as a shower cap and then a head wrap and I was ready for bed.
 Above:The hair before the henna
 Above: The henna mix which had been left to colour release for about 10hours (excuse the lemon seeds)
 Above:  The hair with the henna applied. Below: The hair covered in clingfilm/plastic wrap
Above: The little mixture left
I slept with the mixture on my head. The next day I rinsed it out in the shower as well as applied my TGIN Honey Mask deep conditioning moisturising treatment - I did this to counteract any adverse affects of using the henna which can make the hair dry. My hair was also softer and more manageable with the moisturing deep treatment.
 Above: The hair prior to rinsing. My edges and skin did not stain.
Above: The hair with TGIN Hair mask
I applied a little leave-in and a little hair cream and was good to go - nothing too heavy.
I loved the results which were a dark orange and red and enriched black and dark brown mix of curls. Yes, my blonde ends are what caught the colour the most and sometimes it looks like the blonde just went darker.
2 weeks later and I still have the colour which I am enjoying and which I think the tone changes daily depending on what products I use. (o: A whole head of black hair should turn a richer or warmer black and have some tones when in the sun . Everyone's hair is different therefore your results may differ. Will you ever get red hair - I think over time and a number of applications.

Will I do this henna treatment as a colour treatment again - yes. The colour may fade slightly but will remain and the conditioning effects should last for about 3-4 weeks so once a month treatment should be fine unless I do not want my hair to be too dark.

Did my white hair strands disappear (did they change colour) - yes - most turned a bright orange which blended in with the rest of the hair. There are still a few white strands here and there which I hope to catch next time - ensure you apply and cover the hair properly - ensure you detangle properly before applying as this will make the application process and coverage much much easier.
Above: Some white hairs turned orange/brown and sort of blending with the rest of the hair 
Did my hair break - no - henna and rather pure henna is one of the safest natural plant dyes there is. If you want to play around with colour I would suggest it as a start especially if you do not plan on going for a light colour shade and if you want your natural black hair colour to be enriched or have some warmth or depth to it. To go a darker black mix the henna powder with indigo powder (which is another plant dye), watch out for another post on this.

Is this time consuming - not really. Ideally you want to have left your henna mix to dye release over night leaving it apparently for 8-24 hours. I will be leaving mine longer next time as I felt like it could have released more. Some people just mix with warm/hot water (especially if they do not want a colour but rather the conditioning effects of the treatment) whilst some, like me, use acidic mixes to further assist the dye release. The application process does not take long at all and can take even less time if you detangle and section your hair before application. The rinsing out might take the longest amount of time if we get technical but again I didn't find it too tedious. I rinsed whilst in the shower and used conditioner to help rinse it out. (I first let the water soak and saturate and started gently rubbing and loosening the mix out whilst under the shower. I then applied conditioner and continued doing the same. (I used my True Curls conditioner which comes is a nice big bottle). I continued until the water ran clear (or close to clear) and then applied my moisturising treatment.

Is this too messy - not really. Some people mix their mixes to varying degrees, some make a watery consistency whilst I used a thick yoghurt consistency which is easy to apply. My scalp and edges were not even stained.

Did my curls loosen - I think yes, they did loosen and I will be applying Amla powder which I have read about and it appears it helps counter act this as in help not necessarily tighten but rather enhance the natural tight curl. I'm not sure about the colouring effect of amla powder which is why I'm taking my time before using it. (amla powder apparently give brown tones) I am also contemplating more clay washes which may help enhance my curl.

What about henna on relaxed hair - this is not my first time using henna but rather my first time using henna on already colour treated hair. I used to use henna in my teens on my relaxed hair (I not only have a mixed heritage but had a number of friends from all races so the use of henna was quite common). Henna CAN be used on relaxed hair and actually is quite beneficial to relaxed hair with its conditioning and strengthening abilities.

What about henna on any hair - indeed, henna can be used on any hair.

What about henna on already colour treated hair - as you can see, the main thing to note or watch out for is that you will not know what shade of colour you hair will turn - you will know the scale of colour as in its in the red/orange zone and only if your hair is already a lighter colour. If its a darker colour, there may not be any colour change at all. PLEASE DO NOT APPLY HENNA SOON AFTER HAVING APPLIED A PERMANENT HAIR COLOUR. Wait even like 3 weeks or more, then you should be able to apply your henna if your like. Can you apply a permanent colour treatment after henna - the experts only warn that the colour may not come out as you wish otherwise yes you should be able to. I have read of a stylist alternating between bleach and henna on a client's hair to help keep the hair healthy and conditioned and the client was going for a strawberry blonde colour so it worked. The word out there has always been that you cannot use the two but my research has found this to be otherwise. I think its right that you cannot use the two at the same time or soon after using one or the other but need to give them time to make sure there are no chemicals in the hair that will react with the henna and end up turning the hair green. (apparently repeated use of ketchup/tomatoe sauce will help get rid of this lol). I used henna on my already colour treated hair. I just might try using a permanent colour on already henna treated hair. Will keep you posted.

Any other cons of using henna - the only other thing is dryness - counter act this with moisturising treatments and using more methods of maintaining moisture such as more baggying at night and spritzing during the day etc. My scalp did itch for a day or two after until I finally applied oils and gave it a good massage.

After-care - I co-wash more as opposed to shampooing to save my colour from fading. Leave-in conditioners are still my holy grails and I don't really go without them. (currently using Cantu Shea Butter Leave-in). I am going to be using more oil treatments too and pre-pooing or pre-cowashing to get technical (o:

This is part one as I want to henna again and yes, you will know how it turns out.

Listen to your hair
Above: Some days it has more red tones.