I haven’t done an “Ask the Hippie” in ages, but I’ve gotten several questions about henna lately.
Q. What is henna, and how do you use it?
A. Henna is an exotic plant whose leaves contain a naturally occurring red dye that I’ve used on my hair for the better end of 20 years, because it produces a consistently rich, natural-looking color, doesn’t contain any scary chemicals, and is an excellent conditioner.
Its only drawback is that it’s more labor-intensive than other methods, especially if you don’t have access to commercial salon equipment. If you can find a stylist willing to work with henna, praise God and tip well. If you can’t, here’s a quick DIY lesson:
1. Assemble your ingredients.
2. Put the henna in your non-reactive mixing bowl.
3. Boil a cup of distilled water, red wine or coffee.
4. Mix it up. I start with a cup of red wine, mix to a thick paste, then add coffee to thin it down to a workable consistency.
5. Use Vaseline to prevent stains.
6. Guard your silver.
7. Put on gloves.
8. Make sure your hair is clean, dry and free of styling products. When the henna is cool enough to handle, begin applying it.
9. Keep applying.
10. Cover to hold in heat.
12. Rinse. This is the worst part, because the henna thickens as it heats. Under running water, comb out the tangles, starting at the ends and literally inching your way up. Don’t worry about getting all the henna out at this point; just detangle. Work in plenty of conditioner, rinse, and repeat until the grit is gone. Conditioner and a comb will save you a good 15 minutes if your hair is long and/or thick.
Yes, it really turns out that shiny.