Spring Fever? Need a change? Itching for a new hair color?
The Crunchy Spring Event presents…a look into dying hair with Henna! This edition is actually going to be broken into two posts. In this post you can learn everything you need to know about Henna. In the second post, you’ll learn how to dye your hair with henna, and get a look at my personal experience using the product.
I’ve been dying my hair for over ten years now and at one point or another have had my hair pretty much every color in the rainbow…wellll more like every shade from platinum blonde to dark dark brown. Usually about this time of year, I start getting the itch to dye my hair again. Change is fun, right? :) Well, the last few times I’ve colored my hair, whether it be with store-bought kits or at a salon, my head has gotten super itchy and it burned. Not only does it seem like it’s gotten worse with each dye, but the last couple of times the backs of my ears and my neck have been itchy with the sensation lasting for a few days. After my last experience at a salon that was supposed to use ‘natural’ hair products, I decided it was enough of the chemical stuff…I needed something that was truly natural. That’s when I stumbled upon henna.
For the last few months, I have done hours upon hours of research on the subject. Hopefully this informational post will save some research time for those of you that might be considering henna! Let’s start with the basics…
What is henna?
Henna is a flowering plant, Lawsonia inermis, used since antiquity to dye skin, hair, fingernails, leather, and wool. The leaves from the henna plant are dried and ground to produce the powdered henna we use as a dye. This powder looks like a fine, green powder, but it creates a red dye on the hair. Henna will only dye one color: RED, however mixed with Indigo, you can produce darker shades of red, brown and even black.
What is Compound Henna?
Compound henna is something you do NOT want. Basically, compound henna is usually what you’ll find in the store sold as a box kit. These kits will more often than not be advertised as producing color variations. For example the same brand will have several color choices such as red, light brown, brown, etc. The danger in these kits is that many times there will be hidden chemicals not listed in the ingredients, sometimes even PPD..and the worst part is, usually the package is labeled as ‘pure henna’. It is unfortunate because you buy the product thinking that you are buying something safe and natural for your hair, but really who knows what you’re buying. During my research I also discovered that some people have used these ‘compound hennas’ on previously dyed hair and their hair has turned slightly green. I don’t know if this is true, but being someone who has colored my hair countless times, I figured it was better to be safe than sorry and just go with plain henna. If you do decide to pick up a kit at the grocery store, please please please do a strand test first!!! (Read more about how to do one in part TWO of this post) To read more about ‘compound henna’ visit THIS SITE.
What is PPD and why is it dangerous?
PPD or p-phenylenediamine is a compound chemical that is found in almost all hair dyes on the market. It is the chemical that makes it so that the dye will produce the same color consistently on a variety of hair types. PPD is also found in ‘black henna’ which is sometimes used for temporary tattoos on skin. The danger in PPD is that it is a chemical that can cause severe allergic reactions, even if you’ve never had an allergic reaction to it in the past. Just a quick google search of the chemical will bring up quite a few stories of people who have had allergic reactions to PPD, some as small as itchy welts, and some (although very rare) that even resulted in death. The scary thing about this chemical is that reactions usually do not occur immediately; instead they develop slowly for up to 2 weeks. To read more about PPD allergies click this LINK. PPD scores a 10 (high hazard) on EWG’s Cosmetic Safety Database. (Want to learn more about the Cosmetic Safety Database? See my blog about it HERE)
***Note: I am not trying to scare you away from regular hair dyes as SEVERE reactions are not common. They do happen, however, so I really feel that it is worth mentioning. As I said earlier, my skin has gotten more sensitive to hair dye the last few times I colored my hair, and the last time was enough to scare me away from those products.
What is Indigo?
Indigo, or Indigofera tinctoria is, like henna, a plant that is turned into a powder and used as a dye. The leaves of the plant are soaked in water and fermented, and then processed with a strong base, dried and then turned into powder. The resulting powder is a dark blue and used alone will result in a blue dye, but mixing with henna you can get various shades of red, brown, and black. Figuring out the ratio of henna to indigo is really an experimentation process and depends greatly on the current state of your hair. The more indigo in the mix, the darker your hair will be. Experiment with strand tests and look HERE for more information. To dye your hair black, check out THIS page.
***Note: Be careful when using indigo. If you dye your hair with indigo and then one day decide that you want to bleach over it, there is a good chance your hair will turn a weird shade of green. It does not show up on your hair when mixed with henna, but when you try to bleach it, you might see the blue/green color come through.
What color will henna dye my hair?
That’s just it, with henna it’s really hard to predict exactly what color will result. Because of this, it is always recommended that you do a strand test first. The color depends on your natural color as well as any previous hair dyes that are in your hair. Your result will be much different if you have platinum hair than if you have dark hair. Dying with henna is really an experimentation process and it might take multiple attempts to get your desired color. I highly recommend doing some google searches…you will find multiple forums where people have discussed dying their hair with henna and their personal experiences.
What are all of these other powders?
There are many other plant powders out there marketed to either condition, strengthen, or color hair. A few of them include Amla Powder (which I used with my henna), Cassia Obovata, and Neem Powder. Browse around on www.mehndiskinart.com to learn more about these powders and what they do!
Have more questions? Please either leave them here or send me an e-mail at thecrunchywife(at)gmail(dot)com. Also feel free to contact David at mehndiskinart – he has been so helpful to me through my henna experience!
Check out Part TWO to learn exactly how to dye your hair with henna and to enter my giveaway!February 12, 2010
This entry was posted in Featured, Health and Beauty, Henna, The Crunchy Spring Event. Bookmark the permalink.