Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Question of the Day: Is Henna Safe for My Hair?

Henna - every 19th century actress's friend.
Just ask Renoir.
Is henna safe for my hair? I've been asked this question many times, and I think it's a good thing to ask before you glop what looks like green slimy mud onto your hair. What is it, how does it work, will my beautician kill me when she sees what I've done? Will I throw myself from the nearest tall tree? All legitimate questions.

First off, let me tell you that I've hennaed my own hair for several years, and it never once fell out. I didn't have to go to the hairstylist and have my head shaved. And it didn't ever come out green, as the color of wet henna would have one think. What does happen is that my hair is stronger, it's shinier, and it's dandruff-free because that's what henna does. And yes, it's red.

I think where hairdressers get their concern is from having seen the results of a cheap box of stuff that says "henna" that isn't just henna, but a cocktail of strange and mysterious ingredients. When you purchase powdered organic henna (not a premade mix) and blend it and apply it properly, it is much safer than anything on the average hair salon shelf. In fact, if you screw something up like missing a big patch on the top of your head, you can apply more immediately without fear of damaging your hair.

And it smells like autumn leaves. No commercial hair dye smells like autumn leaves.

Yes, trying henna for the first time can be a bit nervewracking. After all, it's your hair and henna is permanent. So I suggest taking a sample of your hair from an inconspicuous spot (don't cut your bangs, for instance) and doing a test run to see how you like it. Remember, too, that henna oxidizes for the following two or three days, so white hair that starts out looking brassy will calm down a bit.

If you're not into going red, you can add other herbs to alter the results. I discuss that, along with step-by-step instructions for coloring your hair with henna in my book "Hair Gone Wild! Recipes & Remedies for Natural Tresses" which is available in paperback or as a Kindle ebook.

I've used henna more times than I can count, and I love the results. I often joke I'll be a 90-year-old woman with bright red hair. I bet even then I'll be telling people that with a little know-how, henna is safe for my old-lady hair, and for your gorgeous locks, too.



  1. Hi Diane,
    I found your blogs after you become my follower on Twitter. I have been using henna since I got pregnant with my first child 6 years ago and have been doing it ever since. I get a lot of compliments for the color and vibrancy of my hair that I am sure would not get otherwise :-)) I yet need to read your books but I really like your eccentric and funny writing style:-)) Congratulations and good luck! Violeta

  2. I started using henna when I was pregnant with our son 6 years ago, too!

    And ever since I first heard the word as a child, I've wanted to be called "eccentric." It has more meaning coming from someone other than a frustrated family member, so thank you. ;)

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