Benefits of Henna for Hair
One reader asks: What are the benefits of Henna? Here is my response:
That is a great question! Henna is one of my favorite hair treatments because it provides so many instant benefits to curly textured hair!
To set the stage, I should note that when I speak of "henna" I mean pure, body art quality (BAQ) lawsonia inermis. Henna is a plant that grows in hot, dry climates. It has been used for over eight thousand years for hair health and hair dying. The dye inside this plant produces a red/auburn stain on skin and various hues of red on hair. This is important to note as many products on the market claim to be "brown henna" or "blonde henna" and this is simply not true. If any product claims to be a color other than red/auburn then its not really henna...its been chopped and screwed with harmful products.
So now that we know what henna is (and isn't), what are the benefits? Here are a few characteristics of henna:
-Stronger hair: The lawsone (dye) of the henna penetrates the hair shaft and bonds to the keratin in the hair. Remember, hair is made up of keratin protein. As the dye bonds to the keratin, this makes the overall hair shaft much stronger and thicker. In this regard, henna acts much like a protein treatment. It bonds to the hair, fills in any gaps in the hair cuticle, and adds a second layer of strength. This makes the hair shinier and smoother! I have noticed an immediate end to breaking after a single henna treatment. I now try to henna my hair twice per month.
**Its important to note that due to the deep penetration of the lawsone, henna removal is virtually impossible. So be sure before deciding to move forward on your henna journey.
-Color: The red coloring of henna will differ based upon the quality of the henna. Also, because this is a plant, its important to note that the intensity of the red color will differ from time to time and no two henna heads will have the same color "red." My hair tends to auburn red and can primarily be seen in the light. Otherwise I just look like I have light brown hair (my natural color).
-Looser Curl Pattern: This will differ from head to head, but a number of curlies state that they see a slightly looser curl pattern after using henna. When I first started to henna my hair, I went overboard! Lol. I henna'd weekly and sometimes twice a week. The benefit (for me) however was a much looser curl pattern and smoother hair that was MUCH more manageable and able to maintain moisture better. My hair fell about 2 inches longer than it normally did due to the natural stretch I got with henna.
-Dry Hair: Another characteristic of henna that gives it the appearance of a protein treatment. Henna treatments must be followed with a deep moisturizing treatment. I always use a steam treatment with SoVAiN Deep Moisturizing conditioner after my henna treatments. This restores the elasticity to my hair making it softer and more manageable.
Overall, henna is great for most...won't work for some. Only use BAQ and always follow w/ a deep moisturizing conditioner. For those concerned about the coloring, I've heard great things about Neutral Henna (Cassia Obovata). Cassia Obovata is often referred to as “neutral henna.” It is not henna and it does not alter the color of hair greatly, though it may give more golden tones with repeated applications. It has similar conditioning benefits as henna, but they are not permanent, and they disappear without reapplication. I've never tried it, but have seen people have great results with it.