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. ItĀ  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?