You may have heard that henna hair dye is making a comeback. Whether to replace trips to the salon or to satisfy curiosity about this natural colorant, women and men around the world can be found covering grays or changing their hair or beard color at home with the dye. Mega beauty brand L’Oreal has even developed Botanēa, an international line of henna-focused salons, in response to a growing interest in natural hair color. Besides replacing chemical-laden hair coloring products, today’s henna offers a host of benefits for all hair types. Here’s what henna hair color and supplemental herbal products can do for your hair:
- Add gloss
- Boost volume
- Strengthen hair
- Lock in moisture
- Help prevent dandruff
- Restore pH balance to scalp
- Repair and prevent environmental and heat damage
Henna hair dye works much differently than conventional hair color. From application techniques to knowing what to expect, there’s a lot to learn about this natural hair color before diving in. However, the benefits of henna for hair are well worth the time investment.
Henna Hair Color and Scalp Health
The ground leaf of the henna plant, or lawsonia inermis, helps improve overall scalp health.₁ Its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties² make it a perfect remedy for scalp issues. The flowering plant helps with the prevention and treatment of dandruff, offering relief from itching and flakes. Lawsone, a hennotannic acid found in the leaves of the henna plant, is responsible for healing and preventing scalp conditions. Other herbal treatments can boost henna’s scalp-loving benefits; try shikakai powder or fenugreek powder for dandruff; bhringraj powder excels at treating itchy scalp.
Shiny, Glossy Locks From Henna for Hair
Henna hair dye doesn’t just color your hair naturally; it also imparts healthy shine to complement your new shade. Because henna doesn’t penetrate the hair’s middle layer, or cortex, individual strands retain moisture. Unlike chemical-based hair dyes, henna locks in hydration so your hair is actually healthier after coloring. Cassia obovata, sometimes erroneously called ‘blonde henna,’ enhances henna’s shine-boosting ability. While it doesn’t deposit color, cassia powder covers blondes’ gray hairs, enhances blonde shades, and moisturizes and adds shine to hair of all colors.
Henna’s strengthening and smoothing properties go to work while it adheres to the alpha-keratin, a structural protein, in the cuticle layer of each strand of hair. Smooth, frizz-free hair looks shinier and healthier, and henna nourishes follicles while fortifying roots for a head full of stronger, more damage-resistant tresses.
Henna Hair Dye for Stronger Hair
According to a study of the healing properties of the henna plant, the antioxidant-packed lawsonia inermis eats cell-, protein- and DNA-damaging free radicals.³ Thanks to this scavenging process, the henna plant can reverse damage in organisms throughout the body -- including the hair. This is great news for those of us who have put our locks through blow-drying, curling, straightening and a number of other damaging treatments and processes. Pollution, including smoke, gaseous irritants, and tiny dust, soot or grime particles, can also wreak havoc on hair. Stronger tresses and fewer split ends equate to the top item on many of our beauty wish lists: gorgeous hair that’s as healthy as it looks.
Help with Hair Loss Reduction
Let’s face it; life can be pretty stressful -- especially these days. In addition to everyday stressors, hair fall is caused by nutritional deficiencies, weather conditions, smoking, chemicals in hair products, and other factors. Whether your level of hair loss amounts to a few hairs every day or a shower drain full of the stuff, hair fall is a big concern for many of us. Henna is thought to help slow hair loss; enhance this impressive capability by adding amla into your routine. Amla, also known as Indian gooseberry, can be made into a paste with coconut oil and applied as a hair mask. Or make a mask by combining amla and cassia obovata powders in equal parts with water.
Choosing the Right Henna
If you’ve shopped for henna, you know the sheer volume of options can be overwhelming. Henna hair dyes, as a lot, have vastly improved over the last few decades. But, even with increased awareness of the benefits of natural beauty products, some hennas are better than others. To ensure the highest quality, select a henna dye that’s natural and free of parabens and paraphenylenediamine, or PPD. PPD is an ingredient found in darker hair dyes that can trigger contact dermatitis as an allergic reaction to the chemical. As a result, many companies no longer use PPD as an ingredient in their henna dyes. Hennas addressing concerns like gluten sensitivity, vegan diets and the humane treatment of animals are also available.
Whether you’re considering henna for your next hair coloring adventure or you’re a longtime user, understanding the many benefits of henna for hair can help you make the right choice. From slowing or preventing hair loss to taking your hair color from blah to wow, henna is one natural hair product that provides amazing value for your health and beauty budget.
₁ Vitamins and Supplements; Henna. WebMD.
² From body art to anticancer activities: perspectives on medicinal properties of henna. National Institutes of Health; National Library of Medicine.
³Antioxidant and immunomodulatory constituents of henna leaves. National Institutes of Health; National Library of Medicine.