So, I bit the bullet and got on the henna train as part of my quest to retain more length. I’ll be posting a few more snippets of my experiences experimenting with henna, but below is a step-by-step application guide and results of my first treatment.
- The night before, I detangled and conditioned my hair with a healthy slathering of coconut oil, loosely twisted and slept with a conditioning cap and scarf
- The next morning, I created my henna mix, and let it sit for 3 hours before applying it to my strands to allow the dye to release. I think next time, I’ll prepare it overnight, so the dye has at least 8 hours to release. The longer the better to maximize those benefits!
- When applying, make sure you put down newspaper in your bathroom since you can easily stain your tile and ceramic surfaces –if you do get henna on a surface, rinse it off with water immediately. Take the same precaution with the clothes you decide to wear. Also, be sure to utilize the rubber gloves they provide, it will stain your hands.
- Henna is VERY stiff, don’t even try to detangle your hair while it’s in. This is why detangled hair before application is so important. I liken henna to a thick clay. Also, ideally apply the henna to wet hair.
- Wrap your ‘henna head’ first with saran wrap and then with conditioning caps and let the henna sit for 4-8 hours. The longer the better in order to maximize benefits. If you like, you can wear a knit hat to generate heat and therefore, accelerate dye release.
- Now the tricky part—how to rinse this mess out. It took SEVERAL rinses to get the henna out of my hair. For my first rinse, I put my head in the kitchen sink and co-washed a few times. Now ya’ll know how I feel about synthetic products, but the Olive Oil Cholesterol conditioner had just the right amount of slip to pull the henna mix out of my strands. It also has the right price point, because you end up washing it right down the drain a few mins after you apply it.
- Because henna is drying, deep conditioning after an application is critically important. You can use any deep conditioning product you like. I think I used a Shea Moisture Deep Conditioning Mask, donned a heated conditioning cap and sat for at least an hour.
- After deep conditioning, rinse, rinse, rinse again until the water runs clear, or as clear as possible. I noticed that I couldn’t get the water perfectly clear, even after subsequent wash days in later weeks.
If you don’t know already, I have very thin and fragile hair, and a lot of it at that. After I rinsed as much of the henna from my hair, I could feel a definite improvement in the thickness of my strands.
Now, please note that the henna did loosen my hair. Because henna coats your hair and weighs it down, some parts of my hair that were already looser seemed to open up more. Because of this, I do not plan on doing henna treatments more than once a quarter at this time (the treatment I’m writing about took place last November). I’ve heard that if this is a concern for you, you can counteract the loosening effects with amla powder, which is sold at most places that sell henna. (To see where I get my henna products, I’ll post a link in my henna recipe post).
Now for the color. I found that my hair looks slightly auburn in the light/sun, but still looks dark-black in normal lighting. I’ve read that with more henna applications, the appearance of your strands will darken, but since I don’t plan to apply henna too often, I plan to use indigo powder with my next application–a powder which counters to reddening effects of henna and makes the hair appear much darker.
Lastly, when styling your hair after a henna treatment, make sure to use a conditioning butter product and pay attention to the dryness of your hair. It will need special attention, so seal with oil and keep it moisturized and cut down on tool styling.
All-in-all, I was very pleased with my results. If you’re looking for a way to thicken, strengthen, color and shine your strands in a day’s work, henna is a great option.