To Henna or Not to Henna?

Basic Overview

(for more detailed information check out the free Ebook, Henna for Hair: or for a basic overview:

Remember I AM NOT a HAIR EXPERT and will not go into great detail on the subject. =)

Henna is harvested from the leaves of the henna plant. It’s been around for thousands of years and is not new to the beauty world. It’s primarily used to stain the hair and cover grays. The dye is activated by mixing it with an acid base (e.g. lemon, orange juice).

There are three types of henna, “neutral” cassia, “black” indigo and reddish/copper “henna”. Cassia will not dye dark hair, but can give a more golden hue gray or blond hair . If used on dark hair, it can be used as more of a deep conditioning treatment. The effects aren’t as long-lasting as regular henna, but could be an alternative for those looking for the benefit of henna without the permanent color.

Diagram from Ebook, demonstrating how it dyes the hair. (Lawsone is a red-orange dye found in henna leaves).

Benefits of henna

Henna is known to strengthen the hair as it fills or closes gaps in the cuticle. It  imparts amazing shine. It is a natural remedy to graying. In afro hair henna has been shown to do all the previously mentioned things and to loosen the curl pattern. Whether that’s a positive or negative, depends on your outlook. For me, it’s a negative.

My hesitation

Since I’ve gone natural, I’ve debated many times whether I should henna my hair. For one reason or another, I’ve always decided not to do it. I have tried cassia in the past a couple of times when I first went natural. It was hard to wash out and I didn’t experience mind-blowing results.

I’ve seen bloggers report amazing results with continued use of henna. Initially, I was more concerned about permanence of henna. I know many people say it only gives dark hair an auburn/copper glow in the sun, which isn’t noticable under normal conditions. However, I just couldn’t get past the idea of doing something so permanent. Additionally, now that I know my hair is low porosity and what works for some doesn’t always work for me. I’m definitely more closed off to the idea of hennaing my hair.

I can not say with 100% certainty that low porosity hair and henna don’t mix. I can say that I have a sneaking suspicion that it might make moisturizing the hair more difficult, since it seals the cuticles to bind with keratin in the hair shaft. For low porosity hair, the goal is to get moisture into cuticles, sometimes lifting them slightly. I’m afraid further sealing of an already compact hair shaft wouldn’t be beneficial.

This leaves me with the decision that I will likely not henna my hair, for fear that the aftermath will be much harder to reverse. Even with all the wonderful feedback from others who have tried it.

What do you have to say? I’d love to hear from other low porosity bloggers who henna, have hennaed or perhaps thought about. What’s your take on this topic? Do you henna your low porosity hair?

14 thoughts on “To Henna or Not to Henna?

  1. I have tried henna in my low porosity hair and it gave me a great result. My hair felt well balanced. I just don’t like the reddish tone it gives. I usually do it as a henna-shine. i.e. Part henna part moisturing conditioner, I have never done it alone.

  2. I too decided not to henna my hair any longer as well….when I used to do it it left my hair very dry and moisturizing was a pain, plus it took longer to wash the henna from my hair. I also experienced this with cassia. I have low porosity hair and decided to not to use any ayurveda powders too hard and too long to wash from my low porosity hair. Thank you for this website I have learned so much about my low porosity hair and now I know what works for my hair and in the process have simplified my hair routine:) Plus I have experienced a significant amount of hair growth:) T.S. Please keep providing wonderful tips of us lo po ladies:)

    • Thank you! It seems everyone has different experiences. Natural hair is so varied, but I think that’s a wonderful things. And yes readers keep commenting and dropping your knowledge, makes for a richer dialogue.

  3. I’m a low porosity natural, and I’ve used henna for years without issue. I use henna from, and it’s great. It’s finely ground so that you don’t get the gritty feel in your hair. I also co-wash after rinsing the henna out, and I follow it with a deep condition treatment. Ancient Sunrise sells different color kits so that you can get dark brown or black. The kits have pre-measured amounts of henna and indigo in it so that you don’t have to guess how much to use.

  4. Hi Annabel. I’ve used the neutral Henna before, because I was told that its a good conditioner for the hair. I used it once with great success (mixed with Rhassoul clay, and Aubrey Organics conditioners), but subsequent attempts after that left my hair hard and dry. Little did I know till another lo-po friend of mine told me, that it acts like a protein leaving an impenetrable coating on the hair. I still have it, but will be using it now once in a blue moon!

  5. I have not used henna by itself only the henna gloss treatment for the conditioning twice and I like the results on my lopo hair. The only thing I don’t like about the process is that it is messy! But it makes my hair feel stronger so I will use it maybe once every 2-3 months or when I think my hair needs a little more oomph.

  6. Sigh…you sound like me. But, I must henna because I really need to cover my gray hairs (I’m a young looking 48.5 year old) and I don’t want to use chemicals as it’s been a year that I used Goldwell color from my sister’s salon. She’s not so pleased. Oh well. “Natural care for natural hair!” So….I purchased henna and indigo to cover the gray from Henna Sooq, however, I’m going to sell the Jamila Henna and order her Red Raj when it comes in. I plan to make a moisturizing mix and follow all her instructions on her blog to avoid hardness. Check the Curly Nikki site for a new post about the HS Henna Gloss Bar. It’s a nice review.

  7. I have been using a combination of Cassia, Amla, and Bhinraj and it has made my lopo hair hard. The crazy thing is that my strands will not break now when I tug at them (I tried a strand test) but they don’t feel smooth anymore, no matter how many DC treatments I have tried. Si, I guess I would rather have smooth breakable hair than hard unbreakable hair…lol.

    • Hehe, maybe the effect they had on your hair was similar to that of a protein treatment. Let your hair’s strength work for you now and focus on moisture. Then hopefully it’s be soft and smooth. =)

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