I believe gray hair is quite beautiful on men and women. There are plenty of people rocking their gray hair and they look fabulous, at least in my opinion. There is even a trend now where younger people are purposely coloring their hair gray because it’s current and they obviously can’t wait for it to come in naturally, LOL! But for those of us who are graying and aren’t quite ready to commit to a full head of gray, there is an alternative to traditional hair dye —Henna!
Henna is a plant dye used in ancient Indian ayurvedic medicine. Henna dye comes from the leaves of the Lawsonia inermis plant. If you are concerned that traditional hair dye is damaging to the hair and/or contains potentially harmful chemicals, henna may be a viable option. Henna is believed to be beneficial to hair by stimulating hair growth, conditioning the hair and coloring the hair red. If your hair is dark, henna is barely noticeable in regular light. In the sun, dark henna-treated hair emits a beautiful reddish tone. For gray, blonde and other lighter hair colors, henna colors the hair a vibrant red.
Don’t dismiss henna because of an aversion to the color red. There are mixtures sold at major chains such as Lush that are mixed with indigo, amla, etc. that can create different shades of brown. Take caution with the brand of henna as there are some mixtures on the market that contain heavy metals that may cause skin irritation. Also make certain to choose henna that is body-art quality such as those approved for tattoos or mehndi. Regardless, patch-testing prior to use is recommended to to make sure there are no adverse skin reactions.
Henna is sold online and in stores, such as your local Indian grocery or health food store. It usually comes in powder or solid, bar form. The powder can be mixed with water and/or an acidic product such as lemon juice. I usually mix my henna batches with coconut milk because it is less drying to my hair. Henna also has to sit for hours so the plant dye can be released. I mix my batch the day before I plan to use it (If your plans change, it can be safely frozen). Henna should be applied to the hair in the shower or on a plastic-lined area so as to not stain the floors and surroundings. Henna has to remain in your hair for 30 minutes to several hours for the hair dye to take. Some people sleep in it overnight with the hair covered in plastic of course! Afterwards, the hair has to be rinsed for a extended period to remove the henna. Use a moisturizing deep conditioner after rinsing because henna can leave the hair feeling dry initially. When you are finally done, you are left with colored, strong and well-conditioned hair. I believe that it is worth the time and effort.
Also, if you are planning to chemically lighten your hair with commercial dyes, do not use henna. Henna dye is permanent and almost impossible to lift for hair lightening. If you haven’t been spooked by all of the rules and warnings, it may be worth a try. It is relatively inexpensive and it does not take a certificate in cosmetology for effective use. If you want to cover your grays and decide to take the henna plunge, please post your results on Instagram and tag BeFabDaily. Good Luck!