Everything you need to know before dying your hair with henna
Henna has long been praised as a natural, hair-friendly and safe alternative to conventional hair coloring agents. This plant-based product has also been used over many years to color skin and nails, a testament to its versatility in the world of beauty and tradition.
With so many consumers developing a laser-like focus on only using natural and healthy products in and on their bodies, it’s no surprise that henna is making some pretty big waves in the beauty world.
But what is henna? How does henna color hair? Is it really safe? Is it difficult to remove from hair, like so many box dyes on the market? These questions come up more and more frequently as beauty bloggers, and henna enthusiasts take to the internet to learn more and educate about the use of henna as a hair coloring product.
Fortunately, you don’t have to search through the deep recesses of the internet to find these answers! I’ve compiled a guide to henna and, more specifically, the removal of henna from hair.
If you’re like me, you sometimes feel a random compulsion to change the color of your hair. But you don’t want to damage your precious tresses in doing so, right? And you certainly don’t want to be stuck with a color that you hate!
Fortunately, henna can be lifted from hair despite the fact that it is very much a permanent coloring agent. Continue reading to learn more about what henna is and how you can remove it from your own hair if you ever feel the need.
What is Henna?
You’ve probably never heard of Lawsonia inermis, though you have likely heard of henna before. The two are one and the same, with henna being the derived pigment that results from the harvesting, drying and grinding of the Lawsonia inermis plant. The plant grows only in warm, dry climates but products containing it have been used throughout the world.
Henna is utilized by people of all hair types, from dense and curly to fine and straight. It produces a wide assortment of colors when added to hair, including several stunning shades of natural red. The permanent results of henna-based products are breathtaking, leaving hair freshly colored and soft as if you’ve just come out of a salon!
How Long Does Henna Last in Hair?
Henna is widely regarded as a permanent hair coloring agent, though the pigment will fade over time. Most will see some degree of fading within four to six weeks, but this figure changes depending on your hair type and how often you shampoo.
When left to fade on its own time (without your intervention), henna can leave a seriously permanent impact on your hair color. Hair that’s been treated with a henna-based product is not receptive to bleach or permanent coloring agents – that is, unless you manage to lift the henna out of your hair shafts first.
If you haven’t, you can only expect the virgin hair of your roots to respond to any type of coloring or lightening.
How Can I Remove Henna from My Hair?
Henna is exceptionally difficult to remove from hair, unfortunately. It’s so tricky, in fact, that many salon experts won’t even go near a head that’s been colored with henna! Resistant to bleaching and lightening techniques, henna will have a steadfast hold on your locks for months to come.
This might sound discouraging, especially if you’ve gotten results from a henna dye that you want to do away with, but don’t fear! It is very much possible to remove henna from your hair – without bleach or even a salon visit.
Oil Pulling Henna Out of Hair
One of the most time-honored, hair-safe and effective means of removing unwanted henna pigmentation from hair is the use of oil. I’m not talking about a small amount of coconut oil or a spritzing of an olive oil-based product.
No, I am talking about absolutely coating, saturating, your hair with different types of oils. If you’ve already used henna-based hair color, you know that the coloring process can be quite messy. Well, the removal process is, too.
Gather Your Supplies
To use oil to pull the henna out of your hair, it is best, to begin with, a head that’s been washed with a clarifying shampoo. This gets rid of oils and styling products that could impact the oil’s ability to lift pigment from hair shafts. From there, it’s time to bust out three oils that hair loves: argan oil, olive oil, and coconut oil.
Create a Mixture
You’ll want to create a mixture of equal parts argan, olive and coconut oil. Make sure to make enough to thoroughly coat your hair, from root to tip.
I recommend wearing gloves while doing this because, while staining isn’t an issue, oils can be quite tough to completely wash from hands. That said, if your hands are a bit on the dry side, skipping the gloves could revitalize and hydrate the skin. So, really, that part is up to you.
Apply to Hair
After you’ve made your mixture, it’s time to apply it to your hair. Stand over your bathtub or a towel that you don’t mind getting doused with the concoction. It’s probably best to wear a shirt that you don’t mind getting messy, too.
Slather the combined oils all over your hair and then secure it in a shower cap. Leave the shower cap on for as long as you can (I chose an overnight treatment) and occasionally blast it with the heat from your hair dryer. This helps the oil to more effectively pull the henna pigments away.
After you’ve sat with the mixture on your head for a sufficient period of time, it’s time to rinse and bust out that clarifying shampoo again. Follow up with a conditioner, dry, and witness how much these oils have achieved in lifting the henna from your head!
Oil pulling henna out of hair is time consuming and may require several applications. However, it is worth noting that this method does not damage hair. In fact, it leaves hair in better condition than you started!
Is Henna Better for My Hair Than Dye?
Henna is, without a doubt, one of the least damaging methods of getting permanent hair color available today. If you want a hair color that henna provides, and you want to stick with it for a very long time, this is a fantastic alternative to commercial hair dye.
If you like to change up your hair color regularly or on a whim, however, henna is not an ideal product to use. This is simply because of how difficult it is to remove if you ever want to make a change.
Let’s break down the benefits and drawbacks of henna when compared to commercial hair dying products. Once you understand what it is you’re getting into when you use henna, you’ll be able to make the most informed choice possible.
- Henna is all-natural, free of additives and parabens that damage hair.
- The results are long-lasting, great for those looking to make a color commitment.
- Henna dyes do not burn or cause itchiness.
- There are no awful, headache-inducing fumes from the use of henna.
- The tannin found in henna actually makes hair softer and stronger.
- It takes much longer for henna to properly set in hair, with some applications taking 6+ hours.
- Application of henna can be much messier, due to its sometimes clumpy and gooey texture.
- Henna is quite difficult to remove from hair if you don’t like your results.
- Some products are merely henna based and contain unwanted additives. Shop carefully!
- Henna does not offer a tremendous range of color options.
So, is Henna Worth the Time?
I would absolutely say that it’s worthwhile to experiment with henna hair coloring agents, especially if you are trying to find a permanent shade that you’ll be happy with for ages. Henna is nurturing for hair, strengthening it and producing a lustrous shine that is sometimes diminished by commercial, box hair dying products.
If you want to take advantage of the benefits that henna has to offer, I most recommend shopping around for the most organic and simple of products. Products that advertise themselves as “henna” can sometimes contain additives that produce unpredictable or even damaging results. You want to work with something as close to 100% pure henna as possible.
For natural, radiant and long-lasting color, I definitely recommend ditching the box dyes and opting instead for a henna alternative. As someone who changes their hair color more often than the seasons change, there’s no chance I’ll be switching back to henna any time soon, but that doesn’t mean it’s not for you! Permanent box dyes are damaging, bad for your health and the environment, and produce results that don’t last nearly as long as henna does.
If my choice was between henna and box dye, there is no contest. Henna would win, every time.
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