Pros: It's organic
Cons: Paste clumps, it's grainy, it does not stay on hair, does not color hair!
Henna is an alternative to chemical hair coloring products, as a small percentage of people cannot tolerate some of the ingredients found in commercial hair coloring (that would be me). I have been using henna on my hair for at least 15 years, without experiencing adverse skin reactions.
What is Henna?
The henna plant (also called Lawsonia) is native to the Middle East, parts of Africa, and West Asia. The leaves are dried, and then pulverized to make a fine powder. Henna can be graded according to its country of origin, Middle Eastern henna being prized more than others.
Henna coats each hair strand of hair and enhances the hair's natural color. Neutral henna can also be used as a hair conditioner. Aryuvedic doctors believe a henna poultice on the head can relieve headaches; maybe that's why I always feel so good after applying henna to my head. Henna is also used for body ornamentation, (in India it's called Mehndi), and so the purity of the product is essential when choosing a henna product. As you can see, henna has several uses.
Henna can be used on gray hair (less than 10%) and the gray strands typically absorb the color chosen, and end up being lovely highlights.
I'm on holiday, visiting my parents in Oklahoma, and since I didn't expect to stay as long as I have, I didn't bring with me my usual stash of favorite henna.
At a local health food store I found this Rainbow Henna, Persian Dark Brown (my usual color of choice). I have never used this product before, but the information on the jar said the product is 100% organic, without additives, chemicals and pesticides. I felt confident that I had found a reliable product.
As with most hair color (natural or not), I need to reapply it every 5-6 weeks, so I can safely say I've become quite adept at preparing a Henna paste before application.
Since henna is a stain, one must use plastic gloves (so as not to end up when icky red hands), and apply Vaseline or cold cream to the hairline and neck.
There are many ways to prepare a henna paste, but the most basic, one that I use is day-old coffee (or plain water), boiled, and added to the powder to make a thick, smooth paste.
Good quality henna when mixed with hot water or coffee renders a silky paste that binds to the hair and does not clump or separate.
For added conditioning benefits, one can add to the paste, plain yogurt, 2-4 tablespoons of olive oil for incredibly shiny hair.
My Experience with Rainbow Henna
Typically I only use liquid coffee and mix it up with the powder. When I mixed this product, it had a very grainy consistence, but I hoped it would work.
My hair was recently shampooed and combed out. One applies henna to the hair in the same manner one would apply commercial hair color. When I attempted to apply the paste to my hair, clumps of henna started falling to the floor. I added some yogurt to the paste hoping to make it creamier. The application was a bit easier to apply, but I still ended up making a mess on the floor and sink, with henna pellets everywhere.
One usually leaves henna on the hair approximately 60-75 minutes, the longer the better. I left on this product for 75 minutes.
After the correct time elapsed, I jumped in the shower (it gets messy, with dark water everywhere, but cleans up well), and rinsed, and rinsed, and it felt as if I had grains of sand on my scalp. Removing this grainy henna was extremely difficult. I must have continuously rinsed my hair with water for about 15 minutes.
Color Test and Conclusion
I have a stupid clump of gray hair (think Lilly Hermann) that I usually manage with henna, and I've always been pleased with the results, as it looks like highlights.
With this Rainbow henna, after 75 minutes, the gray hair should have taken on the henna color. I towel-dried my hair, and voila... nothing... my gray hair clump looked exactly as it did prior to application.
I was very disappointed with this product. Henna application is tedious at best, but since I can't use traditional hair colors, I put up with the mess and hassle.
This product, even when directions are followed does not give good results. The paste does not stick to the hair, it clumps up and falls off, and rinsing takes so long because you feel as if you have to remove a pound of sand out of your hair.
Needless to say I was pretty angry, angry enough to let readers know this product is useless.
Thank your for reading