Why should you learn about henna now?

It is important to learn about henna NOW because people are increasingly allergic to chemical hair dye. People in North Africa, the Middle East and South Asia have been dyeing their hair with henna for centuries, but their mixes were unknown in the west. Henna, indigo, and cassia are ecologically sound crops for small land holders in marginal farming areas, and if the market for these products increases, it will benefit family farms and soils, as well as preserving our own health.

For a comprehensive, downloadable, printable guide to the plants used to dye hair, click the image. Our "Henna for Hair" e-book is available free of charge and with no obligation. In it you will learn about henna, indigo and other plant products and how to use them to dye and condition your hair without using artificial chemical products.

What kinds of henna are there?

There are no "kinds" of henna; there is just Lawsonia inermis. This is the only plant that is actually "real henna." Learn about the history of henna for hair: http://www.hennaforhair.com/history/

Then what are all of those other colors that some other henna merchants sell?
Some Blonde, Brown, Auburn, Mahogany, and other "shades" of henna are mixes of amla, indigo, walnut, rhubarb, and Lawsonia, with other plant or synthetic dyes added, and may have metallic salts added. Many of these products have no henna whatsoever and are chemical dyes. Some commercial brands that claim to be 100% natural may include a bottle of "developer;" beware! This is a completely bogus addition, as far as henna itself is concerned and is the biggest indicator that your product is NOT even close to being 100% pure henna! The labeling on these products is often misleading, inaccurate, false, or entirely missing. The quality is often very poor.

Learn more about what's in henna packaged for hair.

Ancient Sunrise henna does NOT have metallic salts or unlisted adulterants. Our henna is what we say it is and we can prove it.

Does henna fade; is the dye permanent?
Once the henna's dye has oxidized and reached its final shades, the lawsone molecule is permanently bound into the keratin by a Micheal Addition (that's a special sort of molecular bond that's very strong and stable.

As with some chemical dyes, repeated applications of true henna or henna mixes develop a richer, deeper color with each succeeding application. Think of a teaspoonful of coffee in a white cup. It will look very light brown. Add 10 more teaspoonfuls and it looks like dark brown, fill the cup to the top and it looks like "black"coffee.

Each application coats the last, changing the depth and bounce of the light wavelengths off your hair and giving the appearance of progressively deeper richer color each time. To avoid darkening, just do your roots once you get the color you want.

I've heard of something called "black henna." What is it?
The most important answer is that henna is NOT black.
Did you ever have a 'black henna' temporary tattoo? If you did, you have a 50% chance of being allergic to chemical hair dye. You have a 20% change of being so allergic that if you dye your hair with chemical hair dye you may need hospitalization. 'Black henna' temporary tattoos contain an illegally high level of para-phenylenediamine, the same chemical that is in chemical hair dye.

The growing problem of PPD sensitization was the topic of my PhD dissertation, which is now available online.
The Geographies of the Black Henna Meme Organism and the Epidemic of Para-phenylenediamine Sensitization: A Qualitative HistoryThe Geographies of the Black Henna Meme Organism and the Epidemic of Para-phenylenediamine Sensitization: A Qualitative History

I presented a talk on the PPD problem at the Society of Cosmetic Chemists 2015 convention:
Black Henna’ and the Epidemic of para-Phenylenediamine Sensitization:Mapping the Potential for Extreme Sensitization to Oxidative Hair Dye

If you dye your hair, you should think seriously about using henna instead of chemical dye.
Why should you use henna instead of chemical hair dye?

What is Henna?
Henna is a desert shrub, lawsonia inermis.The leaves of this plant, when dried and powdered, smell like hay, The leaves of the henna plant have a red-orange dye molecule, lawsone, a napthaquinone. Henna will stain your hair red-orange: this stain is translucent and will combine with your natural color. Ancient Sunrise® henna has a much higher dye content than the henna usually sold for hair, and every shipment is sent for testing to an independent laboratory. Henna is a fantastic hair conditioner, and is GOOD for your hair. It will make your hair heavy, thick and silky.

Henna, Lawsonia Inermis

Where does henna come from and what is it?

What is Cassia obovata?
Cassia obovata, is a flowering shrub whose powdered leaves can be used to make an herbal hair conditioner. Cassia is sometimes called "neutral henna" but this is a misnomer. Cassia is neither henna nor neutral. Cassia obovata contains anthraquinones, particularly chrysophanic acid, a remarkable anti-fungal, anti-microbial and anti-bacterial. Cassia obovata has a golden dye molecule that will stain dull blonde and gray hair yellow. It will help damaged hair, make hair full, glossy, healthy.

What is Cassia Obovata?

Learn more about Cassia Obovata

What is Indigo?
Indigo is a dye made by processing the leave ot the indigofera tinctoria plant. Indigo is sometimes referred to as "black henna" but it is neither "henna" nor "black." When used in the right proportion with henna, indigo can be used to dy hair shades of brown to deep black.

Indigo, Indigofera Tinctoria

Help! My hairdresser tells me that henna is bad for my hair .

© 2004 Angie Diller and Catherine Cartwright-Jones
Henna is GOOD for your hair, but there may be reasons why a stylist believes otherwise. It's not that hairdressers are necessarily "anti-henna". They are mostly just uneducated in the use of it. Please keep in mind that if you frequent this site and have hennaed your hair you probably know much more about this subject than you hairdresser does! A lot of factors go into that. First off, most aren't trained in how it works, and many only know what they are taught about "beauty supply henna" which is indeed a chemical and CANNOT be mixed with real henna due to reactions from metallic salts used in the "fake" henna. When you think metallic salts, think of a range of products including Grecian Formula, we call them progressive colors. They learn to be scared of it based on info like that, and they well should be, as in the world of beauty supply products that is the type of henna product that they still see most often, and the type that will cause the most adverse reactions.

Some brands of henna contain metallic compounds that react with the ammonia activator in synthetic hair dyes. These reactions yield disasters like frog butt green hair, fried and brittle hair, and in some rare cases, the combination of metals and a freshly done chemical job might melt the hair off your head. Many henna hair dye producers do NOT provide accurate and complete labeling on their products. Other producers lie about what’s in their product, or do not know what they’re selling. If you have dyed your hair, use Ancient Sunrise® products to be sure you won’t get frog butt green fried hair!

Why should I trust this FAQ?
I'm Catherine Cartwright-Jones PhD and I wrote this FAQ. I wrote my master's thesis and PhD dissertation on henna-related topics and some people will tell you that I'm among the leading academic authorities on henna in the world.

This is a partial list of my publications on henna:

Contact Catherine Cartwright-Jones, PhD: LinkedinE-mail