This is MoHair and Tola’s first joint post y’all so please show some love. Today we are talking about the wonderful “erbals” known as henna and Cassia and why its worth using them on your hair whether you are natural or relaxed.
Lawsonia Inermis aka henna is a plant used traditionally to dye skin, hair, fingernails, wool and leather. Henna’s coloring properties are due to lawsone, a burgundy organic compound that has an affinity for bonding with protein. Lawsone binds to keratin and acts almost like a hair filler and strengthens the hair much in the same way as intensive protein treatments. It also has fantastic anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties which are beneficial to maintaining a healthy scalp. If you are looking for a cheaper “natural” alternative to commercial protein treatments like the Aphogee Two-Step Protein Treatment or suffer from certain scalp issues, we would recommend henna.
“I use henna primarily for its protein bonding properties and secondarily for its colouring effect. A few grey hairs have had the audacity to move into my hair and as far as I am concerned they are unwelcome trespassers trying to take over my beautiful mane by adverse possession and I am not NOT having it!. I buy my henna from Indian shops for about £1”.
If however you don’t want an orange/reddish tint to your hair or you are proud of your greys, we recommend using Cassia Obovata an entirely different plant which is often mistakenly referred to as “neutral henna”. Cassia has all the strengthening effects and scalp benefits of henna but without the red color. Cassia deposits a very light yellow colour which really only shows up on blonde or grey hair.
“I use Cassia primarily for the benefits to my scalp and it’s conditioning properties for my hair. I suffer from Seborrheic Dermatitis and I find that the anti-fungal and antibacterial properties of Cassia helps keep it under control. I used to use henna but I wasn’t overly fond of the patchy red colour I got. Cassia works great because I get the great strengthening and conditioning without the colour transfer. I buy mine from Revive Holistic & Beauty Therapies.”
All Hair Types
- It is REALLY important that you purchase ‘body art grade’ or pure henna and from a reputable supplier. Some dyes purporting to be henna are actually mixed with salts and minerals which can literally cause your hair to melt.
- It is important to note that true henna only deposits one colour and that is orangy red. Cassia is sometimes referred to as Neutral henna and Indigo (Indigofera Tinctoria) is often called black henna. If in doubt check for the plant name.
- Make sure you use glass or steel tools to mix, hold or store your henna recipes. Any plastic or wood utensil will be stained with the lawsone dye.
- Apply henna or cassia while standing in the bath, or on old towels as the process can be messy and with henna can stain wood floors or carpets.
- Always wear gloves, even cassia can leave a slight stain.
- Deep condition or moisturise your hair after a henna or cassia treatment as the process can be drying, You can also add a natural oil to your henna/cassia recipe.
- Both henna and cassia are plants so they may make your hair smell grassy or herbally. Consider using essential oils in your recipe or a heavily fragranced deep conditioner afterwards.
Tola on Relaxed hair:
- I find it easier to part my hair into four sections then apply the Cassia either with my fingers or a relaxer brush.
- You need to be careful how you handle your hair when applying the cassia especially when parting the hair. GENTLE is the key word, otherwise you can cause unnecessary breakage.
- If I want to really amp up the shine, I oil my hair with coconut oil the night before then apply the cassia on top. The Cassia then locks in the oil and gives the hair incredible shine.
- If you want to soup up the anti-fungal benefits, add some neem oil or powder to your mix
- I always add an additional Ayurvedic powder such as Amla, Fenugreek or Brahmi to my Cassia mix. They increase the conditioning power and have many other great benefits.
- I find plastic shopping bags work better for me than shower caps and are great at locking in heat.
- When washing out the cassia, I rinse first, co-wash second, then shampoo last. The co-wash really helps lift out all the debris.
MoHair on Natural hair:
- Buy finely ground henna powder or grind it again yourself at home with the blender, plants leaves are murder to wash out of kinky or curly hair. Co-washing also helps to lift out the debris without drying out you hair.
- Be aware that henna may loosen your curl pattern, this is largely due to the bulking or filling effect
- I prefer to apply henna to dry hair which is why I use a full cup of tea in my recipe which gives me a thick paste. There is less mess and drip and as my hair is not saturated with water, there is more space for lawsone to penetrate.
- The more acidic your recipe the harsher and dryer you hair will feel afterwards, although this will release more lawsone dye. I prefer to use tea (early grey mainly but green occasionally) as its PH level is closer to hair’s natural PH level than lemon juice.
- I also use hot tea which I allow to cool a little so my mixture is already warm when it gets into my hair, my plastic shower cap keeps the heat in.