There are several reasons why I stopped using henna on my hair. After you have read this article, you too may think twice about reaching for henna again!
As a natural product, henna is often used to color hair rather than using commercial dyes. However, henna has its drawbacks and may not be as kind to your hair as you think. Skin irritation and even allergic reactions are possible, and using henna too frequently can lead to dull, heavy, dry hair that is anything but healthy.
Henna has long been hailed as the best and most natural alternative to commercial hair dye. But is it all that it is cracked up to be?
Read on to find out more about the damage that using henna can do.
Why I Stopped Using Henna On My Hair
Henna is made from the leaves of Lawsonia inermis which are harvested and dried before being crushed into a powder (source 1).
It is this powder, mixed with water, that is used on hair to produce the well-known reddish brown hair color.
Henna is regarded as being wonderful at restoring hair health as it naturally contains vitamins and minerals that are often missing when using traditional commercial shampoos.
Apart from giving your hair a wonderful color, it is also considered to be useful for controlling and removing dandruff and also for improving hair growth.
Unfortunately, henna does not work for everyone, and after a few uses my initial excitement dwindled and I discovered the disadvantages of henna for hair.
Below are the reasons why I stopped using henna on my hair:
1. Super Messy
Henna involves using powders, which can get messy.
If you mix the powders into a paste too quickly the henna dust can get everywhere!
The henna application process is also super messy, and hard work.
Trying to apply the hair dye evenly to cover every strand always seemed more difficult than commercial products, because the mixture was thicker and less ‘moveable’.
It also seemed to go everywhere because the thick mixture clumped in patches on my hair, rather than easily spreading across my hair like the more liquid coloring of commercial hair dyes.
I also hated that the henna mixture would stain everything it touched!
I became quite paranoid about damaging my bathroom and clothes whilst changing my hair color with henna.
2. Hair Color Was Not Even
Even when everything went well and the consistency meant a better application, my grey roots stubbornly stayed lighter.
Or, they turned light ginger rather than dark brown!!
I did investigate this issue though, and found that there is an extra process that must be taken to cover gray hairs. Ultimately, this just felt like a big faff to me!
When you have young children, who has the time for multiple applications of henna hair dye when it takes a crazy number of hours to work?!
3. Did Not Cover Gray Well
Henna is supposed to be excellent at covering gray hair.
In my experience though, having tried two different henna dye brands to cover my gray hair, this did not seem to be the case.
Instead, neither henna box hair dye gave me good lasting results!
On one occasion I even had to henna dye my hair twice, to ensure the gray hairs changed color from gray to dark brown.
Maybe that was just my hair type, but it became a really frustrating and time-consuming process.
According to henna specialists, henna can be mixed with other herbs to change the color and potentially give more coverage to gray hair.
Indigo powder and hibiscus powder, as well as red clay, can all be mixed with henna to alter the color and cover gray hairs.
However, for me personally Henna ruined my hair. With henna, I just could not achieve the color I wanted and hide the gray hairs as well.
I did not like the scent of either henna product that I used.
I also noticed that once applied the smell gave me a really bad headache pretty soon after I applied it, which lasted for hours.
I am not prone to headaches, so experiencing a headache every time I used henna was a big no-no for me, personally.
Personally, I found that henna took ages to apply and work on my hair.
If it had just been an extra hour to the process then I might have considered sticking to henna, however, it was way longer than this.
In my experience, it took 2 hours for the henna to work on my hair effectively, which does not include the application or removal time.
This is far longer than using a commercial shampoo.
It felt like 2 hours of mess and smell for no real return!
As I said, using henna is messy!
I still have stains on my bathroom units from where the henna decided to go everywhere but on my hair.
My hair went darker over time (except for the grays!) and I could not lighten it.
On the first attempt at henna, my hair also went ginger/orange, rather than brown!
When I did try to remove the darkening effect that henna had, I did not find anything that would work.
I simply had to wait until my hair grew out naturally. It was a long wait! That is why there will be no more henna for me.
8. Dry Hair
Many people rave about how much their hair has improved since using henna, and how they achieve complete gray coverage with a beautiful color overall.
Unfortunately, this was not my experience!
Henna is meant to moisturize hair, but mine just went crunchy and dry after one application.
After the second application, a few months later, I was the proud owner of a head of straw-like hair!!!
It literally felt TOO CLEAN, as my hair had obviously had all of its natural sebum oils stripped off each hair strand.
Black Henna For Hair Side Effects
Although henna is a natural product it does not mean that it is free of disadvantages!
However, it is worth bearing in mind that both black and brown henna can cause problems with your hair and with your scalp.
Black henna especially has several potential downsides to its use.
Black henna is not henna but a synthetic chemical, the same as used in some tattoos.
Apart from being messy and time-consuming, henna can also produce the following problems:
Henna and hair dye reactions can vary from person to person. This is why a patch test before use is always recommended.
Reactions vary from simple scalp irritation to a full-blown allergic reaction that can be extremely medically serious.
If used on previously colored hair, the results can be variable, and in some chemical reactions, a totally different color to that you had wanted.
For some people, rather than acting as a moisturizer, henna actually dries out their hair leaving it dull and prone to breakage.
With moisture removed, increased frizz is the result.
Weight / Curls
Some people find that henna causes their hair to be weighed-down and lack curl definition.
After application henna color may bleed which is obviously bad news for your skin and clothing as it is very difficult to remove.
There have been reports that heat styling can change the color of henna-dyed hair.
Substitute And Additives
There are many products labeled as henna that actually contain additives that are either synthetic or simply not good for your hair and scalp.
It is therefore important to make sure you only purchase henna from a reputable source and that you read the ingredient list before use.
Should I Use Henna Hair Dye?
You may be wondering is it safe to dye hair with henna after reading the list above.
If you use the correct hair grade henna, and do a skin and hair patch test before full application, you should have no issues with the safety of using henna.
Why Hair Dressers Hate Henna
It is not only me that has a problem with henna for hair!
Many hairdressers have stopped using it for similar reasons as to why I stopped using henna on my hair.
No hairdresser wants an unhappy client, and it is often thought safer to continue using chemical dyes where the results are almost instant and side effects can be significantly less.
With most commercial dyes unwanted results can be rectified afterwards.
This is not the case with henna and it is likely that growing out the dye is the only realistic solution.
If your hair is long, you could be living with the mistake for a very long time (source 1).
The main reasons why hairdressers dislike henna are listed below:
It is difficult to apply and messy.
One thing you do not want to do is get henna on a customer’s clothes or belongings. It will not come out easily and you will have a very unhappy client.
As it has to be applied with extra caution, more time is needed to dye hair.
Many hairdressers have given up on henna as they can never know the results for definite, unlike using synthetic products.
Henna hair dye can be difficult to remove, especially if it has been left on the hair for too long.
This is because it often hardens and a hairdresser is not going to want to scrub a customer’s scalp and hair to ensure the henna hair dye is removed!
Many hairdressers have found that it dries out their customer’s hair.
Clients want to leave a salon with soft, glossy, and healthy locks, not with poorly taken color and crunchy dry hair.
The final result is not the final result.
When a hair stylist has dyed your hair with henna it can take 2-3 days before the ‘real’ final color shows.
Before that, the color of the dye can be several shades different from how it will eventually look.
This means that customers may be worried at first and think that the hairdresser has made a terrible mistake.
Some people are allergic/or become allergic to henna.
A patch test should be carried out at least a couple of hours before using a henna treatment.
Many customers are not willing to wait this long.
If a customer forgets what they have previously put in their hair, the henna could react to this previous substance in a way that is difficult to repair.
It is likely that the stylist will be blamed rather than the customer’s poor memory.
Henna can only darken hair, not lighten it.
Bleach cannot be used to lighten or remove the henna, and trying to do so may have unwanted consequences.
This means that very few hairdressers will even attempt to do so.
Henna is often criticized for drying people’s hair out.
If this happens, it is possible that the henna will also dry the scalp out to such an extent that dandruff occurs, along with the tell-tale itchy scalp.
Henna is a natural product that has big claims for hair health.
For some though, henna is simply too messy, too time-consuming, and has too many other drawbacks to use on a regular basis.
If it covered grays entirely and the end results were even, it may be worth continuing with.
However, the above are the reasons why I stopped using henna on my hair, and are the main things to know before using henna hair dye.