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Henna Hair Coloring (Lawsonia Inermis)

Updated on July 17, 2019
Lady Lorelei profile image

Mother of 2 daughters and grandmother of 7, I strive daily to achieve an optimum level of health and happiness. Life is all about balance.

Red hair comes in many hues and can be enchanting in each.
Red hair comes in many hues and can be enchanting in each. | Source

Henna As A Hair Dye?

Henna is a natural hair and beauty product used by thousands of people throughout the world. The property found within Henna that makes it so desirable as a beauty product is the reddish dye molecule contained within the Henna plant's leaves.

The red Henna dye is used as a coloring agent for tattoos and also as a hair coloring dye. Found at its highest concentrations in the petioles or stems of the leaves of the Henna plant this deep red dye is often used to highlight or to darker hair.

The Lawsonia Inermis Plant Produces a Dye Often Used For Body Tattoo or Hair Coloring

Henna or Lawsonia Inermis is a tall shrub that generally stands between two to six meters in height. Henna has been used as a hair dye and a coloring agent used in decorative body art for centuries in the Middle East and India.

Its usage actually dates back to the Bronze Age but it is only recently that it has begun to have a tremendous influence in western society as a beauty enhancer.

Most commercially sold Henna products today are cultivated in India, Pakistan, Yemen, Iran, Sudan, Libya or Morocco. It is important to note that products sold as "black henna" or "neutral henna" are not actually made from the Henna plant.

These compounds may be derived from indigo or may contain other dyes or chemicals that are not derived from a natural source so when shopping for your hair care products be aware. Read the country of origin and list of ingredients on the label.

For Centuries Red Haired Beauties Have Charmed the Spirit

Woman with dark red auburn hair
Woman with dark red auburn hair | Source

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For Adding Natural Highlights to Dark or Red Hair

Henna is best used to highlight or dye hair that is of a darker color. With repeated applications it can create deep beautiful red highlights. Henna paste applied to the hair effectively coats the it with a transparent red hue which provides vibrant reddish highlights to even deep brown or black tresses thus creating a beautiful rich auburn instead.

When re-applied repeatedly it continues to deepen the hair's coloring with each application. Henna will dye blond or white hair red and turn reddish hair into a darker richer red color effectively creating a natural redhead look.

Note that Henna cannot be used to lighten hair color.

Dye Made From the Henna Plant is Commonly Used in Body Art

Henna tattoo hand art done for wedding ceremony.
Henna tattoo hand art done for wedding ceremony. | Source

How to Use Henna as a Natural Hair Dye

Touching an unbroken henna leaf will not bleed the dye onto your skin. The "lawsone molecules" will only act as a coloring agent when released from the henna leaf and combined with a source of moisture. This is how the dye or coloring paste is usually prepared.

The Henna leaves are first dried then crushed into a powder, which is then combined with an alcohol based liquid, lemon juice, essential oil or tea infusion. The resulting paste is then applied to the hair as a coloring agent or dye.

Among the many attractions to using Henna as a hair coloring compound are the benefits or elements found within the plant itself. Henna contains natural conditioning agents and anti fungal properties, so not only will Henna condition your hair as it dyes it, but it will also aide in the prevention of dandruff.

Although not a permanent hair dye, hair colored with Henna products tends to maintain its new coloring for a very long period of time. It can take up to nine months to a year after application for the henna coloring to be removed completely from the hair.

Henna Warnings

Although ill effects from the use of Henna are rare as in exposure to any product an allergic reaction can occur.

Symptoms of a reaction may include itching, shortness of breath, or tightness in the chest area.

Some children have shown severe reactive symptoms after their hair has been dyed with Henna products so care should be taken when using this product on younger persons.

© 2008 Lorelei Cohen


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