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Friday, November 21, 2014

Bethany's Guide to Henna Haircare

I was a hair dye addict in high school. I tried out every color of the rainbow, not knowing that I was frying my hair with each application. Wanting a more natural look, I switched to trying out natural hair dye, and the dye would leave my hair with a solid sheet of one color. After letting the dye grow out, I tried applying henna to my hair and I fell in love. All of the natural highlights were amplified, and my hair was tinted golden-red. As icing on the cake, henna is a hair conditioner, which means that my hair is in better shape every time I apply it.

I have become very picky about the brand of henna that I buy. One time, I bought "strawberry blond" henna from a bargain brand, and it turned my hair black! The colors must have been switched to the wrong boxes.

Since then, I always buy Rainbow Research Henna. It about $8 at Whole Foods, and I get 2-3 uses out of each container so it is pretty affordable.
I am not a sales person for Rainbow Henna and don't get any kickbacks from them (*but if they need a sales lady and are reading this, I'm up for the job! Just as long as I get free samples of henna)
 My only warning about henna is that it can't be mixed with regular hair dye. One time, I bleached my hair blond and then decided to apply henna on top of the bleached hair. At first it looked fine, but soon patches of my hair turned green! It was very hard to get rid of. The lesson that I learned was that, if I want to anoint my head with henna, I have to maintain a commitment to no hair dye. (especially bleach)

How to apply it
Henna comes in a powder form that needs to be mixed with water to make a paste. (I always use a plastic or wooden spoon to mix it, since the packaging warns against the alloys from a metal spoon damaging the henna)

There are a number of things that it can be mixed with to best suit your hair. Apple cider vinegar, chamomile tea or lemon juice can be added to brighten and bring out golden hues. Coffee can be added to draw out darker tones. Rosemary oil or an egg can be added to condition dry hair.

The paste will take on a mud-like consistency when it is mixed thoroughly. It can be applied like conventional hair dye and allowed to set for at least 1 hour. Unlike conventional hair dye, henna can not damage hair. I sometimes leave the henna on my hair overnight, allowing all of the conditioning goodness to permeate my locks.

Did you know.... henna has historically been used to dye men's beards, eyebrows and horse hooves? In addition to the rich tradition of Mendhi body art and hair coloring, henna has also had some pretty wacky uses over the years. To learn more about the history of henna, visit Earth Henna and read all about it.