View Full Version : Henna for dummies...help me please.

September 14th, 2013, 10:45 AM
Ok I totally new to the henna thing. I basically know nothing about it.
I have a question that will probably sound dumb.
I have dark blonde hair and it is all 'virgin' hair right now. I used to be a dye/highlighting queen. I gave up blow frying and heat treatments..and have stretched my washes. It is growing much faster and looks so much healthier.
while I have been trying to accept my hair for the color it is...I miss it being lighter. It was naturally lighter about 10 years ago.
can henna be used to go lighter? or is is only for going darker?
Is there anything I can do that is non damaging to lighten my hair?

Barnet Girl
September 14th, 2013, 11:21 AM
I would advise trying strand tests starting with 30% henna to 70% cassia. Sometimes the resulting copper can give the illusion of hair being lighter as it reflects light more and makes hair shiney. If you don't want darker hairI wouldn't advise 100% henna. Another method for minimising damage and going lighter is to heavy oil hair with coconut oil a few hours before using bleach / peroxide. Reports in other threads discussing this suggest that there is very little to no damage.

September 14th, 2013, 11:46 AM
I doubt it. I'm no expert, but common sense tells me that to go lighter, a chemical must open the cuticle of your hair to remove the pigment. Once that is done, the cuticle will never be able to close all the way. That's the damage. And that leaves the cortex of the hair more vulnerable to other damage.

September 14th, 2013, 12:21 PM
Henna won't lighten, it can only make it darker.
I feel your pain. My hair was strawberry blonde until my mid-20's, then started coming in darker and ashier. My "natural" color is medium ash brown and gray now. I don't have a shred of natural red or gold left. I used to highlight and chemical color, until I discovered henna. Now, it's a tad darker than I'd prefer, but I feel good in it. Red hair makes me feel like myself: terra cotta, copper, auburn, rust, ginger, burgundy; bring it!

Henna is kind of like cheap nail polish: the color of your nail bed shows through until you get a few coats on. If you put cheap nail polish on a dark surface you can't see it much, but if you put it on white, you can see it more. More coats = deeper color.

To the best of my knowledge,, you can't lighten much without damaging; but others here know more about it that I do. I'm a just henna girl.

September 14th, 2013, 03:46 PM
Well, given what you've said, I don't think henna's the option you want, but I'll give you a quick synopsis anyway, because I've been meaning to write one.

For lightening, I don't know if there's a zero-damage method. Some people will tell you that you can lighten hair without damage using a strong honey solution; however, honey lightening ultimately works because some enzymes in honey generate a small amount of peroxide and a few people have stated that their hair was damaged by it. I suspect that weak, slow peroxide treatments lightening to a similar degree will cause similar results. There is some evidence that if you saturate your hair in coconut oil several hours before a lightening treatment, then lighten your still-oily hair, that you can avoid much of the damage typically associated with bleaching. Based on that, coconut oil and some Sun-in (or similar, possibly diluted and used sparingly) might not give you bad results. If you go that route, limit yourself to about one treatment per week -- I understand that the lightening can sometimes continue for a few days, and it's certainly easier on hair to lighten gradually.


About henna:

Henna is basically the ground up dried leaves and stems of the plant Lawsonia inermis. When mixed with water or other liquid, this powder releases an orangey-red dye that people like to use to color their hair and/or make designs on their skin. It's a translucent dye, so the effect is like looking at the hair through a red-orange filter. As such, it doesn't lighten hair, though some dark brown-black hair occasionally can look a bit lighter with it in some lights. Multiple applications of henna tend to be darker and go toward more burgundy tones as the layers build up. On the majority of people, henna is permanent and cannot be completely removed without major hair damage, though it fades on a few rare people. Most folks find henna strengthening, conditioning, and shine-enhancing, though some also find it a bit drying and appreciate adding some oil or doing moisture treatments afterward.

Henna tends to get mixed with other things (which get inaccurate names like "neutral henna" or "black henna") such as Senna italica (an old name you'll often see is Cassia obovata) and Indigo tinctoria. Senna has a light yellow dye color that's usually temporary (typically fades over a few months) and doesn't show up much on hair that's not white or light blond, so it's often used to dilute the henna for lighter, more coppery tones. Indigo on its own is a gray-blue color; mixed with henna it can create brown tones. Layered over henna, it can make a dense black. Indigo is finicky -- sometimes it fades from hair, leaving the henna behind, other times it stays steadfastly stuck and resists all attempts to fade it. Additionally, peroxide and indigo often result in hair turning an alarming muddy dark green, so bleaching is strongly discouraged.

Because these dyes can be so strongly permanent, it's a good idea to strand-test them before applying them to your hair, and they're not particularly suitable for anyone who likes frequently changing their color. Everyone has their own favorite recipes, but the most basic one is just to mix the plant powder with warm water to make a batter, let it sit at warm room temperature for a while until the henna can make an orange spot on the palm of your hand in a short period (this could be in minutes or a few hours, depending largely on where the plant was grown), then apply it to the hair. Cover your hair with plastic to keep it moist, leave it in anywhere from an hour to overnight, then rinse thoroughly (liberal amounts of cheap conditioner often help). The results tend to start out more vividly orange and settle down to a more natural-looking color within a few days to a week.

September 14th, 2013, 03:56 PM
I'm a bleacher and don't have much damage.. I oil heavily the day before with olive oil, dilute the bleach with water and only bleach my roots to match my hair. I know this threads about Henna but to my knowledge the only way to go lighter is to bleach :/..

September 14th, 2013, 06:06 PM
thanks barnet girl! Since coconut oil dries my hair, do you think olive oil would work instead?

September 14th, 2013, 06:22 PM
Thanks for all the information everyone.
I guess I am just going to have to try a little harder at learning to love my current color.
Maybe someday when I am closer to goal I will consider it some more.

Barnet Girl
September 14th, 2013, 07:14 PM
thanks barnet girl! Since coconut oil dries my hair, do you think olive oil would work instead?

From what I understand, coconut is the only oil with chelating properties and so would be the only one to use to minimise bleach damage.

September 15th, 2013, 07:09 AM
thanks barnet girl! Since coconut oil dries my hair, do you think olive oil would work instead?

Yes, Has to be coconut!

September 15th, 2013, 07:15 AM
Thanks for all the information everyone.
I guess I am just going to have to try a little harder at learning to love my current color.
Maybe someday when I am closer to goal I will consider it some more.

Have you considered trying cassia to give golden tones? I think it might work on your hair color (people say it only shows up on white or very blonde hair, but it does on my hair, which is medium-ish blonde). You'd have to let it dye release and leave it on for a few hours to get any color, but it does have the thickening and conditioning properties of henna without being permanent (which is a good thing!)
I'd stay away from henna if I were you, I seriously wish I had. I'm growing mine out and it' a nightmare!