You’ve probably considered dyeing your hair at some point. You’ve checked out the commercial dyes available in the market. Or maybe you’ve thought about coloring your hair naturally with henna. Have you wondered what are the advantages and disadvantages of henna for hair?
Sometimes it can get incredibly daunting to take that leap to change your hair color. After all, hair dyes stay in the hair for a long time; not to mention, they can dry out and damage the hair, too!
So, the idea of dyeing our hair can sometimes remain just that – an idea.
Using henna seems like a more feasible idea since there are no harsh chemicals involved. This natural dye is also less permanent than regular, commercially available hair dye.
Let’s explore the pros and cons of henna, for anyone looking to start their hair dye journey.
What is henna?
Derived from Lawsonia inermis, also called the henna tree, Egyptian privet, or mignonette tree, henna is an all-natural dye.
It is usually prepared by drying the leaves of the henna tree.
They’re first ground into a fine powder, and then mashed into a paste (usually in combination with liquids like water or lemon juice).
Through this process, the staining ingredient in the powdered henna, called lawsone molecules, is released.
This is what allows henna to bind with proteins of the skin or hair to color it.
Henna has historically been harnessed from nature, even as far back as ancient times.
It can be used to create intricate patterns on the skin, or to dye the skin, hair, or even fabrics like silk and leather.
As the plant typically grows in hot, arid climates, henna was first used in the African continent and in the Middle East and India.
Currently, however, art using henna is practiced all over the world, with the product gaining recognition and fame over time.
The rise in henna’s popularity can be attributed to its ease of use.
Moreover, the fact that it’s a natural product makes it less harsh to the hair or the skin.
Henna is also easy to remove and lasts for a relatively short amount of time.
This allows users to experiment with it without having to stay with it for longer than desired.
Users can also explore other options once the henna starts to fade.
Let’s explore further why henna is gaining traction as a chemical hair dye substitute.
Why is henna being used on the hair?
Henna is a natural alternative to typical hair dyes.
Because it is natural, it is also known to be gentler to the hair compared to commercial dyes.
If not used properly, commercial dyes can damage hair and make it limp and dry.
Henna works by coating the hair’s cuticle, thus giving the hair its new color.
However, unlike chemical dyes which seep even into the hair shaft, henna only covers the hair.
Think of henna as some kind of semi-permanent hair dye.
Henna also comes with different benefits, given its organic roots.
For instance, it is believed to aid in the treatment of dandruff and eczema.
It also nourishes the hair and helping it retain moisture.
We shall look into more benefits of using henna below.
Natural henna only creates a red dye for the hair.
In order to achieve other colors, henna must be mixed with other natural dyes.
The most common dye mixed with henna is indigo.
When it’s combined with henna, it results in a black or dark brown hair dye.
This also means that you have to practice caution when buying henna products in the market.
This is because henna powders that are sold in other colors are already mixed with various chemicals or dyes in order to achieve said colors.
They may therefore end up damaging your hair instead.
While henna stays on the hair for some time, hair dyed using henna is prone to fading after four to six weeks.
This means it lasts for a shorter period compared to chemical hair color treatments.
This is also the case with other natural dyes for the hair – since they do not contain preservatives and other chemicals that let them stay longer in the hair.
However, the good news is that the color fades out gradually, giving a very natural look to the hair.
This also means that you have the option to simply redye your roots to even out the color once more.
As a natural product, it’s also definitely safer to continue color treating your hair using henna, especially if you’re happy with the color it gives you.
Let’s delve deeper into the advantages and disadvantages that come with using henna for the hair.
Advantages of using henna on hair
Apart from giving a vibrant, fiery red shade for the hair, henna comes with other amazing benefits that make it a wonderful substitute for chemical hair dyes.
Here are the top benefits that henna offers the hair and scalp:
Repairs and strengthens hair
Packed with vitamins and nutrients that are good for the hair, henna boosts the hair’s overall health.
Besides, henna is known to nourish the hair by promoting scalp circulation.
This ensures that your scalp gets all the necessary nutrients and oxygen to remain healthy.
This ultimately strengthens each hair strand, which also means that the hair is less prone to damage and hair fall.
Research has also shown that using henna can help eliminate split ends.
It can also lead to a significant reduction in hair loss and hair damage.
By coating the hair, henna also makes strands thicker and less susceptible to breakage.
Conditions the hair and keeps it healthy
With the hair effectively protected against damage and breakage, it also becomes better at retaining moisture within each hair strand.
This leads to softer, shinier hair since the hair is more hydrated.
Of course, with an improvement in hair hydration comes the advantage of letting other necessary nutrients to penetrate the hair shaft better.
This helps keep the hair in a nourished state.
Ultimately, this improves how the hair looks – it’s softer, silkier, and glossier, without the dreaded frizz or split ends!
A healthier mane also means no tangles to contend with, especially when you have a long day ahead.
Helps with dandruff and psoriasis
Henna is believed to contain a myriad of medicinal properties, some of which are also extremely beneficial for the hair.
Most notably, it has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, making it yet another good organic solution to dandruff and flaking.
In fact, henna has been believed to keep the scalp healthy because of this.
With its antimicrobial properties, henna inhibits the growth of the fungi touted to cause dandruff, which is malassezia.
Henna also helps fight other microbes or bacteria present in the scalp.
This can help to eliminate a wide range of scalp problems, from acne to psoriasis.
All of these pave the way for a softer scalp.
The soothing properties of henna, then, do not only keep dandruff at bay but also get rid of the itching that comes with it.
Aids in hair growth
There is some anecdotal evidence that points to henna’s role in promoting and facilitating hair growth.
There aren’t studies yet to completely confirm this claim.
However, many users of henna say that it does help hasten the growth of hair.
While this claim is yet to be proven, though, what we do know is that henna can help in reducing hair fall, ultimately decreasing susceptibility to hair loss.
This may also be part of why people believe henna to help in growing the hair.
With its strengthening properties for the hair, henna prevents hair damage and hair fall, which then halts any possibility of hair loss.
This can help provide the perception of fuller hair that grows quickly.
Balances oil and pH levels
Part of why henna can help fight against dandruff, as well as facilitate hair growth, is its ability to balance both oil production and pH levels in the scalp.
Controlling sebum production not only eliminates dandruff – which can come from dirt in the scalp mixing with excess oil – but also ensures the sebaceous glands are functioning as normal.
These are just some of the many benefits that henna dyeing can bring the hair.
Stories and anecdotes vary across people, so you might encounter even more benefits once you finally apply it to the hair.
Disadvantages of henna for hair
While henna is an incredible option, especially for people who want a shorter commitment to dyeing the hair, it’s not without its drawbacks.
Let’s examine these disadvantages to better inform ourselves if we should try out henna dyes for the hair.
Applying henna can be messy and difficult
Using henna can be a daunting process especially because of how difficult applying it yourself can be.
Henna takes a mud-like consistency when made into a paste and applied to the hair.
This means it can be difficult to ensure that everything is coated properly.
Some of the henna can also fall into your forehead, arms, or all around the place of application.
Henna also stains everything – it can stain your fingernails, your hands, and even the shirt you are wearing.
Thus, mixing that with its penchant for getting everywhere can be stressful.
It is advisable therefore to use rubber gloves when dyeing the hair with henna.
You should also use shirts and towels you wouldn’t mind getting dye on.
Lastly, henna needs some time to stay in the hair to ensure it effectively coats and dyes the hair.
That can take up your day, not to mention, also limit your ability to do things around the house.
Can result in uneven coloring
Due to the difficulty that comes with applying henna by yourself, you may also have a hard time ensuring all strands are evenly coated.
Given its thick consistency, it’s less easy to apply all over the hair, unlike chemical dyes.
Using all-natural henna also means that you don’t know what color you really will be ending with after application – will you get a very vibrant shade of red, or will it simply give your hair a red tint given the proper lighting?
We really don’t know.
Using henna thus needs a lot of experimentation on your end.
You’ll have to look for the perfect amount to use, and the correct ratio of henna and other natural dyes (if you’re mixing it with other dyes) to ensure that you achieve your desired hair color.
Even application time and preparation time can be factors affecting your final hair color.
Think through this before you begin the application process.
Color correcting can be difficult
If you do end up unhappy with the resulting color from applying henna on your hair, you may find yourself unable to immediately correct your hair color using commercial dyes.
Since henna covers hair strands, it might take some time before chemical hair dyes are able to penetrate your hair and change its color and color over your current henna-dyed hair.
In other cases, using store-bought henna can also cause extremely bad reactions with commercial hair dyes.
Henna dyes bought in stores are sometimes mixed with other compounds to produce other colors, and some of them have metallic salts present.
When these salts react with chemicals in commercial dyes, like ammonia, the typical consequence is your hair smoking from their reaction, which is definitely not a good sign.
It is also not recommended to use henna over chemically-treated hair, especially if you’ve only recently dyed your hair, as similar reactions can occur.
Make sure, to be honest with your hairdresser about this, so you can avoid potential damage.
Darkens hair over time
Successive applications of henna to the hair can also cause it to assume a darker color over time.
This is especially true if you try to apply henna when a previous dye application is starting to fade.
A good option is to simply apply it on your roots to even out your hair color, rather than reapplying henna to the whole hair shaft.
It’s important to note that henna does not lighten the hair.
It simply wraps around your current hair strands, meaning you get a color that incorporates the henna dye’s shade to your current hair color.
These are just a few of the disadvantages that using henna dyes can bring.
Depending on your hair structure and sensitivity, you may also end up experiencing less or more downsides to using henna dye.
It’s best to do a patch test first on some hair strands so you can determine if using a henna dye is good for you.
Well, there you have it!
This has been a comprehensive list of the advantages and disadvantages of henna for hair.
Using henna for the hair is definitely packed with benefits that are sure to attract you into trying it out.
However, it’s also good to be informed about the possible repercussions of using henna on the hair.
After all, we wouldn’t want to be sad over how our hair turns out, especially when using henna was initially such an exciting prospect!
Hopefully, this list helps you make an informed decision before taking the first step towards your hair color journey using henna dyes.