Henna and Herbs: Alternatives to Hair Color

by Ibana Villasenor

The growing demand for “going green” is bringing back one of the ancient hair coloring alternatives: Henna for your hair! You will find hundreds of fans blogging about it and teaching how to.

But first, a quick explanation as to how henna and herbs work. Clients must be informed so that they understand the nature of these hair herbs—the Do’s and Don’ts.

Blonde, brown, auburn, mahogany and other “shades” of henna are mixes of amla, indigo, walnut, rhubarb, and lawsonia, combined with other plants. Henna will not lift (remove) hair color, but rather deposit pigments. It can enhance existing hair color, deepening or darkening the shade. Once the henna’s properties have oxidized and reached the final phase, the color is permanently impregnated into the hair strands.

Shampoo, chlorine, and blow-drying will all cause some type of degradation, but henna is permanent and will not be gone until you cut it off. Repeated applications of henna mixtures will develop even deeper, richer tones.

Processing times vary from 30 minutes to 5 hours or longer depending on hair porosity, percentage and stubbornness of gray, etc. Maintenance is the same as with conventional dyes and depends on hair regrowth. One of the major benefits of henna is the shine it imparts; it is also beneficial in detoxing the scalp.

Often found in Yemen, Pakistan, and India, henna is a plant having leaves that contain the pigment known as lawsone (red-orange). Its molecule is too large to penetrate the hair shaft, but rather binds to the keratin in the hair, staining it. Post-application, henna color will darken gradually over the next few days, usually 48-hour period, through a naturally-occurring oxidative process.

Cassia obovata, often called blonde or neutral henna, is not from the henna family, but rather a native tree from Egypt and Nubia. It contains chrysophanic acid which will stain the hair a yellow hue. Additionally, cassia has antibacterial and antifungal properties so it’s good for the hair and scalp.

Another non-henna colorant, Indigofera tinctoria, partially fermented, contains natural indigo dye, and when added to henna, creates a deeper or darker hue.

Obviously, there is much to know and understand when combining plants and herbs, and because of this there are a limited number of salons today who offer henna services. Additionally, there has been concern about henna and contaminants like pesticides and lead, and the compound hennas which may include metallic salts or synthetics (to add variation to color). Many hair colorists have had negative experiences either attempting to remove henna or when conventional hair colors (containing peroxide) have come in contact with the minerals added to henna, causing hair disasters and client distress.

Hair Holistic eco-friendly studio color expert, Ibana Villasenor, offers henna as one of the salon’s coloring choices. She personally customizes the henna to complement the client’s natural shade, creating the color desired along with extreme shine and healthy hair. Her concoctions are made from henna,

plants, spices and natural pigments. The regrowth is more natural than with conventional chemical hair colors, with the entire process friendly to the global environment and the client’s hair. The salon uses only top quality henna from a reputable supplier, with neutral pH and laboratory certified herbs which contain no PPD, chemical dye, lead, pesticide residue, contaminants or adulterants.

Note: Henna can cause severe anemia in G6PD deficient infants by penetrating the skin causing oxidative haemolysis of blood cells. G6PD deficiency is a recessive x chromosome sex-linked inheritable trait. Consult with your healthcare provider if there is any concern in this area.

Hair Holistic Eco-Friendly Studio is located at 881 E. Palmetto Park Rd., Boca Raton. For more information and to make an appointment, call 561-372-5354, HairHolistic.com. See ad page 59.

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