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Henna does not cover gray hair: it is written on the product packaging and is part of the hair dye culture. But times have changed. And you no longer have a choice between gray hair and commercial hair dyes.
There are two ways to cover gray with henna.
1. Henna kits, which are specially made for gray hair.
2. Use pure and powdered henna in a completely new way.
Henna Kits for Gray Hair
Most henna kits for gray are two-step processes. Your hair is first covered with a naturally prepared, non-toxic mixture. This makes gray hair more receptive to henna.
There are also pre-mixed cream henna on the market that covers gray hair. However, most require 2 or 3 applications before gray hair is completely covered. Some products, such as Surya henna cream, are simpler, one-step procedures that claim to cover gray on the first application.
Henna, as you probably know, covers hair. It does not open or roughen the hair shaft, as most commercial dyes do. And because gray hair tends to be thicker and softer than pigmented hair, henna tends to slide out of gray hair. For this reason, henna is classified as a semi-permanent hair color. Even the best application of henna is washed out a little with each shampoo. For this reason, most single-step boxes of powdered henna warn against using it on gray hair.
Pure Henna Powder
Most henna users are already familiar with this green powder. It comes in a plastic bag (some buy it in bulk) and is made from leaves of the Lawsonia tree. To create different colors, other natural ingredients, such as walnut or clove, are added.
If you are grey and want to use pure henna, you can do so. It’s a long process, but it worked for me and I’ll never go back to anything else. Light mountain henna is good like many other brands.
Before we start
Perform a filament test. When you cut your hair, save a lock of hair for the strand test. Otherwise, cut a small piece of hair from below or from behind so that the cut is not visible. Hold the hair sample with a rubber band and go through the entire coloring process with this strand. This is important because it is the only way to calculate the exposure time. Unlike commercial hair dyes, henna varies greatly in the amount of time it is allowed to absorb to achieve the desired color. Gray hair coloring time can be anywhere from 2 to 6 hours.
Another reason for testing henna: to make sure that the final color matches your wishes. Henna in gray hair will look lighter than henna in pigmented hair. Henna on blonde hair is unpredictable. The henna test will tell you about this.
A hint to buy henna. Read the ingredients carefully before you buy them. Make sure there’s nothing on the list you don’t understand. Any hair dye that contains PPD (p-phenylenediamine, sometimes called paradiaminobenzene, para-aminoguanidine, p-aminoguanidine, paradiaminobenzene, or PPDA) is prohibited for health and safety reasons. However, most chickens found in a reputable health food store are pure and safe. Henna purchased on the Internet usually has the ingredients listed and I recommend that you read them.
On your marks, get set, go
The first step is to apply a line of fabric softener to your forehead. This will prevent henna from staining your face.
Then, in a non-metallic container, mix a brown-based henna powder with only boiled water. If you like, add a few suggested eggs to keep the mixture sticky. Slowly add more hot water until the mixture forms a smooth, thick paste.
Apply to clean dry hair that does not contain styling products, conditioners, sprays, or moisturizers. This is a key.
Apply first to the roots of the hair, as you would with regular hair dye, but use more product, at least a golf-ball-sized piece of paste each time you separate and apply. Each strand of hair should be completely covered with henna. Use the plastic gloves included in the package and apply them with your hands to achieve the best possible coverage. Continue to split your hair into 1/4 inch rows and rub the henna into the hair until all the gray is covered.
Yes, henna will color the scalp, but it is not toxic and will wash the scalp (not the hair) with shampoo or two.
Once the gray hair is covered with the paste, apply the remaining henna to the rest of the hair if desired.
Cover your head with a plastic cap and cover the cap with a towel.
Remove the towel and plastic cap once an hour (or less if you have a short exposure time) and lightly spray the henna package with water. Put the cap back on and rub your hair with your hand (but gently) to absorb moisture from the scalp and make sure that each strand of hair is covered with henna. Apply the towel again.
You may want to burn the color even more by wearing a heated cap or hooded hair dryer for 10 minutes per hour.
When the time is up, rinse the henna from your hair in warm (not hot) water. Your hair may be very dull: This is normal at the moment. So be careful, don’t rub or pull. Apply a small amount of a mild conditioner, such as Jason’s or Aveda Color Conserve, and rinse after about 30 seconds. Do not shampoo at this time.
Wait at least 2 days before your first shampoo. If you can shampoo every other day instead of every day after that, your new color will keep better. Be sure to use a shampoo that is safe for your color. Some brands you should try are Pureology, Aveda, Jason, Arbonne, and Aquage, among many others.
Note: I wouldn’t recommend too many styling products. Many of them have striped color. But if you have a leave-in conditioner that you know won’t bring out the henna with your next shampoo, use it to detangle your hair and protect it from the heat of styling.
Your new hair color should be beautiful, shiny and healthy. Because henna wraps around the hair, it makes it look thicker. And the best thing is: you have colored your grey without harming yourself or the environment.
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