Henna Virgins

So, this past Saturday my good friend A and I finally lost our henna virginities. Well, technically, she did, but I supervised!

We attended the Desired Beauty Hair Expo* on 4/6/13 and she picked up a package of wedding grade henna for about $7 from Henna Sooq (www.henasooq.com or 410.579.4543). The young proprietor was a very sweet young woman whose name escapes me!

Fast forward to last Saturday:
Me: It's been like two weeks. So, when are we gonna do your henna? (Because I knew my natural hair know-how and moral support would be required, not requested)

A: Next weekend!

Fast forward to Wednesday:
Me: Don't forget to DC (deep condition) before Saturday!
A: Why? What?
Me: (sigh) Did you pay attention to the instructions she gave? Watch a YouTube vid?

***more reminders and questions***

Saturday/The Big Reveal:
After deep conditioning the night before and mixing the henna early Saturday morning and allowing it to sit for a few hours for dye release (maximum color/results) A then applied the henna evenly to her deep conditioned and rinsed, but not freshly washed hair and covered it with two plastic caps and a crochet tam/beanie so she could be seen in public.

After allowing the henna to marinate for about 4 hours, during which we went to the local farmer's market, ate, and piddled around, we checked a small section of hair and decided it was time to rinse. Against my advice, A hopped in the shower to rinse it out "shampoo-commercial style", but soon realized that my suggested "dunk and swish" method would work better.

The results were awesome! She has naturally reddish hair, but it has gotten darker and less red as we've gotten older (FYI: she's a medium-toned Black woman with two Black parents). The henna didn't make her hair quite as coppery as it was when we were kids, but it did make her reddish/dark brown hair much more red than brown. As an added bonus, her curls/coils looked healthier and more defined (she has fine 4B/C hair with low porosity and minimal definition).

Warning: Use gloves or enjoy having orange hands for a few days! (My friend forgot to use gloves and looks like she's part Oompa Loompa!)

Preparing to Use Henna:
*Have a pair of gloves handy
*DC at least one hour before application (but don't wash your hair, as henna can be drying)
*Be prepared to spend 4-8 hours with mix in your hair (plan to cover your hair with a scarf or hat if you need to be in public)
*Have an inexpensive conditioner for rinsing henna mix out of your hair.
*Enlist a trusted friend/spouse/child to help ensure even coverage and removal. Also good for catching any drips while out and about!
*Don't wear a favorite shirt! Wear a shirt that you don't mind turning orange. An old shirt that buttons up is also a good idea.

Henna mix and application:
One package of henna (50-75 grams)
Green tea (1/2 of a cup)
Lemon juice (1/8 of a cup)
Olive oil (2 Tablespoons)

Mix well and allow to "proof" for at least an hour. Henna is an all-natural dye and the "proofing" allows the plant dye to release for best color results. Apply throughout hair evenly. Because henna isn't a chemical, it doesn't matter what section of hair you start/end with, but to ensure even coverage, you may want to start from the nape area and move methodically through the rest of your hair. Allow henna mix to remain in hair for at least 4 hours; wipe a small section to check the color and then allow to sit longer as needed for desired results.

*Leftover henna can be saved in the freezer until next time*

Rinsing Henna/The Fun Part:
Fill your tub or a deep sink with enough lukewarm water for you to dunk your head (about halfway full). Smooth two handfuls (or more, as needed) of inexpensive conditioner over your hair, massaging gently and squeezing it through your hair. Dunk and swish at will! Do not vigorously rub or agitate your hair (as usual), but use your hands to work the conditioner through and loosen the henna. If you absolutely must, use a detachable shower head (lukewarm water) to rinse your hair. Follow up with deep conditioner (30 minutes) and/or leave-in of choice.

Enjoy your new color!

Whew! Don't let the length of this post discourage you, as we both found the henna process pretty easy. She's planing to keep the color up, so I'll be posting about henna rinses/glosses in the future. These are similar to chemical color touch-ups in that you're only doing the new growth/roots and therefore need less henna/henna mix.