Colouring hair has taken completely new dimensions in the past decade. Earlier only moms and aunties used the ‘looked down upon’ Hair dye! But nowadays everyone wants to colour his/her hair. It is now a sign of being trendy and fashion conscious, what with the ‘in’ colours changing ever so often!!
I have always been a bit wary of using chemical colouring crèmes :?. I buy them, chicken out at the last moment and my mom ends up having the best hair colour in town..!!! Though it never harmed her hair in anyway, I never dared to take the final plunge..
I have used henna to colour my hair for a long time. I especially love it in the summers, as it is very cooling. I have used many local brands, pure henna powders and the fortified mehndi mixtures. Some were great; some had “not so pure’ ingredients and some were just hair dyes sold in the name of mehndi.
I finally found the perfect mix in the name of “Godrej Nupur Mehndi”. It has all the goodness of mehndi with additives like-
- Brahmi- Promotes hair growth
- Shikakai- natural cleanser and adds shine
- Aloe vera- moisturizes and makes hair silky
- Methi- conditions and nourishes
- Bhringraj- Makes hair luxuriant
- Amla- Darkens hair colour, adds shine and luster
- Neem- Fights scalp infection and prevents dandruff
- Hibiscus- Rejuvenates hair making it shiny and silky
- Jatamansi- prevents graying
Many women are wary of using mehndi too. Henna can be used on almost any hair. But there are few conditions where exceptions need to be made. So let’s see who should or should not use Henna.
Mehndi is good for you if-
- You have a few grey hair which you want to camouflage.
- You are allergic to chemicals so you want an herbal alternative.
- You want a nourishing hair pack.
- You want a little tinge of colour in you hair without going all the way with chemical hair colours (like me…. :D)
- You want to protect your hair from Sun. (Henna coats your hair strands semi-permanently; thus protecting from Sun rays and pollution.) It’s a natural sunscreen…
- You have dandruff or other minor scalp infections; but still want to colour your hair. (Chemical colorants are very irritating on infected scalp and can aggravate the problem.)
- You have treated your hair (permed, straightened or exposed to chemicals otherwise) and don’t want to use any more chemicals on them.
Chemical treatments generally damage the cuticle (protective covering on hair) and leave it exposed and vulnerable to damage. As Henna coats the hair strand it acts as a temporary covering and protects hair from breaking.
Following are actual hair shafts seen under Electron microscope-
- The cuticle when peels off like this, it leads to problems like brittle hair, split ends and hair fall.
- The additives like Shikakai, lemon juice, methi, ritha, etc. (as in the Godrej Nupur mehndi) also compliment the protective action of Henna and help reverse the damage.
Mehndi is not for you if-
- You have excessive dry hair. As mehndi coats your hair it also causes a bit of dryness and rough feel. However, this can be overcome by using a good conditioner for dry hair; immediately after you wash off the mehndi.
- You have coloured your hair less than 2 months ago with chemical colorant. You need to wait for at least 2 months as henna won’t sit on the coloured hair and you won’t get any benefits.
- You have naturally light coloured hair. The resulting colour may be very unpredictable and dramatic. Do the Harvest test (Described below) beforehand to get an exact idea. Henna is best suited for black and dark brown hair colours.
- You have a large number of grey hair. Your hair will look an ugly orange. After a particular stage, hennaed hair look awkward and stand out as if you have brass wires in place of hair… :X
- You have severe scalp infections (not just routine dandruff or flakiness). You need to check with a dermatologist before going ahead.
Quick tips for using Henna-
- Harvest test- Be sure of the colour and texture you will have after you apply henna. Take some hair harvested from your hair brush. (Gross.. I know. But very helpful!!) Apply henna on these hair. The colour and texture would be exactly same on your head and you won’t have to take anybody’s word for it.
- ALWAYS use gloves when applying and washing off henna. Your skin will shed the colour soon but your nails will not do so easily.
- Wrap yourself in an old towel before applying henna.
- Apply Vaseline or any petroleum jelly generously along your hairline and at the back of the neck, to prevent ugly red blotches.
- It’s best to soak henna overnight in an Iron (not steel) utensil. I use an ancient Iron kadhai. It forms a blackish pigment with iron which covers grey efficiently. It’s OK to use plastic or glass bowls too.
- You can replace water with Curd in the henna paste to make your hair softer.
- The soaked paste should be the consistency of a mousse.
- I always shampoo my hair before applying henna. No conditioner. Henna won’t sit properly on the hair. I apply the henna on towel dried, semi-wet hair. Application is easier and more even.
- Always apply henna section wise with a brush or fingertips. Make eight sections of your hair- 4 on top of the head and 4 at the back. This way you won’t miss any greys.
- Roll in the sections and pin them on the head. You can use sectioning clips or our simple black hair pins. Pull on a shower cap to prevent dripping.
- Leave it on for at least 4 hrs.
- Wash off ALL the henna. It is very important to wash off every single particle of Henna from your hair. If you don’t, the particles will stick to your hair and scalp because of your natural oils. This may lead to dryness, roughness and dandruff.
- Do this in a wide basin or you will destroy your bathroom floor.
- Wash until the water runs clear through the hair. And then wash some more. And some more…
- Always use a conditioner after you wash off henna. Not only it seals in the colour but also diminishes the odour. Many people don’t like the odour of mehndi (I am one of them). You can also give a final rinse of half a lemon squeezed into a mug of water. Takes care of odour as well as adds shine.
- Condition generously if you have dry hair.
- Try and avoid using a blow dryer on the same day. Towel dry or if you have to use a hair dryer; use the low heat setting.
- Don’t wash your hair for at least 2 days after you have applied henna.
- Most importantly- Don’t hesitate to go to a professional if you are not comfortable applying it yourself. J
- Never use anything that says ‘Henna based hair colour’ or Henna powder that comes in more than one shade.
- Nothing is Henna except for the herb ‘Lawsonia inermis’. Check this on the pack before buying.
I hennaed my hair yesterday. It’s silky, soft and shiny with a subtle hint of colour.
I love it. Hope you will too. Go on. Try it.
Until next time…
Thank you, Mrunmayee You have got gorgeous hair.