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My First Henna! (Gloss)

I’m not sure how much you know about henna, but up until about a month ago, I had no idea it was used for anything other than making pretty, intricate patterns on hands and arms. Apparently, henna is awesome for so many reasons – in particular, for your hair. For starters, it acts as a protein treatment – beefing up your strands, and ‘filling in’ the holes; it also acts as a conditioner, covers greys, and treats dandruff – what more could a lady ask for? I was convinced on the treatment front, but to be honest, was a little nervous about the colour.

See, I haven’t been super kind to my hair this summer – lots of days spent out in the sun, without a hat… (I know, I know…). My tips, which had been coloured previously, had changed to a fairly light blond. They were also getting a little crispy and weak. Now henna, pure body art quality (BAQ) henna, stains red. That’s it. That’s just what it does. If you buy henna that says it’s turning your hair brown, or blond – it’s not pure henna, and you won’t get the same benefits. I purchased Jamila pure henna after researching the best brands/batches. It’s inexpensive, and easy to work with. But the red…I was so nervous about my hair turning fire engine red. And honestly, for the first day, it was. Henna acts as a stain – if you have dark hair, there is no way it will lighten it. Usually, it turns brunettes to a deep auburn, which is what I assumed; but my blond tips definitely changed the colour of how my hair turned out. Now it looks more auburn near the roots, and red near the tips. Which is fine by me, because it looks very natural. Anyways.

This is the recipe I used – Curly Nikki is super knowledgeable, but there are a ton of options out there for people who are curious about henna. I wanted something that was conditioning, while providing all the benefits of henna. If you’re nervous about the colour, or to try it for your first time, you can significantly reduce the henna powder. I went full blast, and loved it.

Hair before - kind of a mousy brown with blond streaks

Hair before – kind of a mousy brown with blond streaks

Hair about 2.5 days after taken in similar lighting - much more auburn, and vibrant.

Hair about 2.5 days after taken in similar lighting – much more auburn, and vibrant.

My final bit of advice to people doing henna – it will oxidize after a few days. When I first rinsed the stuff out (rinse/co-wash/shampoo like CRAZY, you guys! It took me about 4 washes to remove everything), my ends were bright copper. Like, brilliant. I felt like I was glowing in the sun. After 2.5 days, it calmed down considerably to what you see in the photo above.

Other henna tips:

  • It will smell sort of like grass. I don’t mind the smell, and it will go away after one or two washes.
  • Have rubber gloves, and a few extra pairs lying around. Henna is messy, and it STAINS like crazy.
  • Use Saran wrap to cover your head while you’re waiting for it to seep in. It’s easy to put on, easy to take off, and does the best job at keeping heat in to let the dye release.
  • Have a few old towels and t-shirts that you don’t care about getting dirty. I wrapped my head in Saran wrap, then put a t-shirt over top to keep the heat in.
  • You can freeze any unused henna to use at a later date. I’m going to touch up my roots next week; one box of Jamila for my (medium-thickness, medium-length hair) has lasted for a full treatment plus a root touch up. Not bad.
  • If you want to make your batch more brunette, there are ways to do this; add coffee to the batch instead of green tea, or some alma.
  • LAYER on the conditioner after the treatment. Your hair will feel like hay, but it will also feel strong.

Things I’ve Noticed From Henna:

  • MUCH stronger hair. It doesn’t break as much, and there’s not as much hair in the shower. I’m curious to know how it will be after a few full treatments.
  • Awesome auburn colour that I really like – it feels sassy!
  • Hair gobbles up conditioner. I used to be able to go a few days without wetting and reapplying conditioner, but right now, it wants moisture all the time.
  • This could be a side effect of the conditioner, but my hair is definitely glossy.

That’s it! Have you ever tried henna? Tell me your storiesssssss!!

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12 Comments

  1. Tess

    I am dying to henna my very curly hair…especially since I was always ginger and now I have lots of grey. I cannot stomach the thought of dying my natural hair with chemicals. It took me a lifetime of love / hate to embrace my curls and I don’t want to lose them now, now that I have been loving them for several years. I am frightened of loosening my curls and getting the “darkening buildup of color” henna is rumored to give you. I think a glossing (testing the waters with my big toe) would give me the grey coverage I want without changing my natural hair that is not yet grey. If that does not come out carrot, I may attempt a deeper color.
    Have you noticed this loosening of your curls? My curl is very similar to yours, but slightly looser as it is very longer right now. But I am toying with the thought of a major chop anyway, which always brings back a much tighter curl for me. Have you had a buildup of henna …where it started out a beautiful vibrant red but has gotten much darker and almost not red unless you are in bright light or sun? I don’t want my hair reddish brown. Thank you, I would appreciate any input regarding henna on curls!

    • Hey! I have noticed a slight loosening of curls, however, I feel like this may be due to my hair’s naturally changing texture over time. I think the loosening effect generally occurs on less curly hair, and is typically when henna treatments are done on the regular (for reference, I usually henna my whole head 1-2 a year, and do root touch-ups every 3 months). For the record, I find henna amazing, and I love the deeper red over time (as well as the white hair coverage!). I will admit: if you have lighter coloured, or white/grey hairs, these may come out a very brassy, orange colour due to the nature of the stain. When in doubt, test a patch of hair!

  2. I have been wanting to change up my hair and warm the tone but I’ve been nervous about how it would come out. We have such similar curls/color! Now I think I have the guts to try after seeing how amazing your hair looks. I just ordered the henna powder you mentioned in your post and I’ve read the gloss recipe you linked. Did you use a conditioner in the mix? If so, which? And how long did you leave the henna in your hair? Is there a method you’ve found best for sectioning and dying? And last (so many questions..!), did you have henna on your hairline or neck for days?

    Thank you!!!

    • Sarah! My apologies for taking so long to reply, but hopefully these can help:
      1) Yes, I used a conditioner – I prefer to use TRESemme Naturals conditioner, since it’s cheap and easy to mix.
      2) I usually leave the henna in for about 4 hours.
      3) I section my hair into four big chunks, and then take small sections and start applying things at the roots.
      4) I didn’t have henna on my neckline/hairline because I smother myself in vaseline so that nothing stuck!

      Good luck — have you ended up henna-ing yet?

  3. Sinja

    I love your curls! And I love the henna look on your hair. I always wanted to try henna since I like my hair in a light shape of copper/light red). Normally I used chemical colours for the copper tone in my curls, but I absolutely wanted to change that chemical routine and I came to your site :). I have 3a/b curls and I must confess I’m really really REALLY scared of losing them by using henna. I read about that in a lot of articles where curly girls wrote about their experience with henna and curls. Most of them (nearly all) said that their curls lost the pattern and transformed from curly to wavy only after a few henna applications.
    What is your opinion? Your curls are absolutely amazing and I would really like to know if they still feel the same and if the curls still are that curly 🙂 Also, I think a henna gloss is a good start for trying out the henna thing. I will try your recipe and hope it works as well for me 🙂 Would love to hear from you about the “curl issue”. Best regards from Germany- Sinja

    • Wow! Sinja, thank you so much for reading my blog and for your lovely compliments! It’s always awesome to meet a fellow curly.

      Let me see if I can help you with your henna questions. Firstly, I wanted you to realize that henna is a stain, not a dye – so you will have a wonderful copper look IF your hair is light brown/blond. If it’s darker, henna will just deepen that hue. Does that make sense?

      Onto your main concerns – losing your curl pattern. Just out of curiosity, what curl type did the people who complained of losing curl have? From my research, it’s much more prevalent with an ‘S’ wave to loose curl pattern. Since you’re saying you’ve got 3a in there, there is a chance that it will affect your curls a bit. This wasn’t a concern for me at all, since my hair is such tight 3b/3c spirals, I honestly didn’t think twice about it. However, I don’t do it on a weekly basis or anything – thus far, I’ve done two whole head treatments, plus one roots treatment. I have not noticed any major changes in my curl pattern. I *have* noticed thicker, stronger strands, which is initially why I hennaed. I’ve got a few posts that are more recent that show my curls, so if you view more recent posts, you’ll see that my hair hasn’t changed at all. I think if you use it sparingly, and you’re looking for colour instead of treatments, you should be fine, especially if you do an all over once, and then root touch-ups as necessary. I hope that helps, please let me know if you have any further questions! 🙂

      • Sinja

        Thanks a lot for your reply :).
        Since I don’t want a total colour change and my actual hair colour is light brown with even lighter strands (I used to dye them in a copper/light brown shade a few months ago), I think a henna gloss works good for me. I only want to give my hair a copper glow back. They look similar to your colour actually. My hair used to be healthy once and I would love to get that back without chemicals.
        I only use sulfate-and silicone-free shampoo and conditioner, do the curly girl method and try to do everything good for my head 🙂
        I would describe my curls as a mix between 2b strands, some 3a curls and a few 3b strands. I’ve got a bit from everything lol.
        Currently I’m waiting for my spiralicious styling gel from jessicurl. I wanted to push my curls a bit more than normally and jessicurl always works great for me.
        Think I’m gonna follow you on instagram ;).
        And thanks again for your lovely reply and help. I will definitely try the henna gloss once and lets see how it works for me 🙂

      • Yeah! Actually, Sinja, the more I think about it, the more I think the henna gloss that I’ve referenced on Curly Nikki will be perfect. I typically leave mine on for at least 4 hours, but in your case, just leave it on for a shorter amount of time until you get the colour you want. Because you’ll leave it on for a shorter time, it shouldn’t have a curl loosening effect!! 🙂 Good luck, let me know how it goes!

        And yes, feel free to follow me on Instagram – I’m spiraljess. I’m always looking to follow new curl people, too!

  4. Since I started dying my hair earlier this year, I use henna hair dye all the time now! Well not all the time since you know its somewhat of a process. It makes my hair feel amazingly soft and I love it! Your hair looks great. My hair is a lot darker than yours, and so I got the opposite effect. After 2 days, my hair turned brighter red than after the first wash. I also went with a henna that was meant to do that (from LUSH products), so if you ever want to go fire engine red, that’s the best one!

    Henna is definitely worth the extra effort if you want maintain healthy hair! I tried doing semigloss and argan oil hair dye, but all of it just leaves your hair dry after the third week. Thanks for the post!

  5. I love the effect! And I like the idea of having bright copper hair 🙂 I’m glad it turned out so well, especially since the application part sounds pretty tricky!

    • Thanks, Alina! I honestly can’t wait to treat it again. I’m so excited to see how my hair is going to improve with continued use.

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