Henna Me Happy
I discovered henna (in relation to my hair) a few months ago. And as I do with new things that pique my interest, I did a lot of research. A LOT of research before deciding to take my inaugural henna plunge.
What drew me to henna initially was the strengthening and conditioning aspects for my hair. When I found out it would also be a natural way to color my pesky grays, well… that was just an added bonus. Before I BC’d (big chopped), I had applied henna twice… both times were fine but left my hair a tad on the dry side. The dryness wasn’t unusual. I knew it was a possibility- given all my stellar research ;). But once I BC’d, I was fighting dry hair everyday it seemed like so I kept putting off a 3rd henna application because the last thing I needed was something ELSE to make my hair dry.
But as always, the curly nikki community came to the rescue. One of the ladies in the curly nikki forums suggested mixing my henna with coconut milk to combat the dryness that henna can sometimes bring. So I gave it a shot.
And in the words of Joey Russo- WHOA! Not only was my hair not dried out after washing out the henna, the coconut milk really allowed me to apply the henna easily and to wash it out easily. A lot of natural women complain that henna is really hard to wash out of kinky curly hair but I didn’t have that experience at all. Yay to coconut milk.
Here are some pics of this henna application and my steps to happy henna hair.
First things first, you have to buy the right kind of henna. Henna should come in a powder form and if it says something like “blonde henna or brunette henna”, I would be suspicious. There’s only one kind of henna and you can’t make it come in other colors. The henna powder once mixed releases a red dye and no other color (although there are other powders that release other colors). The worse thing you can do is buy something that purports to be pure henna and really isn’t. A lot of intelligent women have been bamboozled so I took the cautious route and went with a reputable trusted distributor of body art quality henna that was safe for my hair.
If you have dark hair, henna cannot dye your hair red. If you have blonde hair, well… that’s another story. The lighter your hair, the more the henna red will show up once you wash it out. For me, henna leaves a red tint on my brown hair that you can only see if the sun catches it right and turns my gray hair a coppery red.
After choosing the right kind of henna, there’s a lot of ways to mix your henna for hair application. Different women have different techniques. Some use just water, some use yogurt, some use lemon or orange juice (although the lemon juice is super drying for kinky curly hair). I used to mix mine with green tea and honey. But as I talked about above, I have seen the light and am now a coconut milk convert! And yes, it smells as nasty as it looks… although you do get used to it (kind of) after awhile. Once I’ve mixed my henna, I let it sit for 12 hours before applying it to my hair.
I do my best to get every single hair strand covered with my henna mixture. I am very deliberate at my hairline because that’s where all my gray hairs like to hang out. ;) One thing I will say about this henna application, I got a good idea of how long my hair is getting because the henna stretched out my curls and weighed them down (all my curls bounced back after washing the henna out).
Henna is a dye and will dye your hands so I do wear gloves when applying my henna. I did find that now that my hair is short… henna wasn’t as messy as it was when I had longer hair. Don’t get me wrong though… this is not a clean process! And I don’t really understand why this is, but the henna dye deposits well on hands and feet (and hair clearly) but not on your face, neck or ears so even though I often get henna on my face, neck and ears during the process- it doesn’t turn red which is nice.
After I have applied my henna, I wrap my hair up with saran wrap nice and tight. I then put on two scarf bandannas to keep everything in place and to create some heat. During my first two applications, I slept overnight with the henna which a lot of women do. This time, I kept the henna on for 5 hours which worked out well. This was also a suggestion on how to stave off the dryness. After 5 hours, I washed it out and the henna has never come out of my hair so easily before.
It was a great success and my hair was happy!
If you want to learn more about henna and how to apply, here’s a how to manual but I would also suggest that you check out the forums on henna for hair, curly nikki, you tube and other sites to learn from the failures and successes of women out there.