Henna is well known as a natural hair dye. But, did you know that it can also foster thick hair growth?
Henna has been used for centuries to promote hair health. Besides protecting your hair shaft from external damage, henna gives it a lustrous shine and soft texture. However, it is important to know which type of henna and herbal combinations best suit your hair type.
Read on for a detailed guide to using henna for healthy hair growth.
Our Ayurvedic Doctor Speaks
“The virya of Madayantika- henna is Sheeta - cooling. For hair, this means that it alleviates Pitta dosha problems like - hair ageing, greying, scalp inflammations, dandruff, hair thinning and excessively oily scalp.”
Dr. Zeel Gandhi (Bachelor Of Ayurveda, Medicine & Surgery), Chief Ayurvedic Doctor, Vedix
What Is Henna? Is Henna Good For Your Hair?
Botanically termed Lawsonia Inermis Linn., henna, is an ancient herb with various therapeutic properties. It contains a varied range of potent phyto components such as naphthoquinone derivatives, phenolic compounds, terpenoids, sterols, aliphatic constituents, essential oils, flavonoids, coumarins, and amino acids.
Henna is widely used in traditional, Ayurvedic, and Unani medicine for its antioxidant, antipyretic, antibacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory properties. Being a natural coloring agent, henna caters to various cosmetic needs such as hair dyeing or body art.
Referred to as Madayantika in Ayurveda, henna helps to cure numerous Pitta-Kapha-related Kushtha (skin) and Keshya (hair) rogas. Its cooling nature soothes scalp irritations and the presence of varied phytochemicals promotes hair growth. It is also used to treat hair loss and androgenetic alopecia.
Types Of Henna For Hair
Due to its heavy demand during festive seasons and cultural ceremonies, various adulterated forms of henna are available in the market. Hence, you need to carefully read the labels and procure your henna from trusted sources.
1. Natural Henna
Natural henna is made from the leaves of the Ayurvedic herb, Lawsonia Inermis Linn. When used on the hair, it dyes an auburn or orange color on the shafts. This pure henna is known to heal various scalp conditions and stimulate new hair growth.
2. Neutral Henna
Neutral henna is extracted from a different plant known as Cassia Obovata Coll . In modern times, it is also used as a laxative. While neutral henna displays mild antibacterial properties when applied to hair, it is not a true dyeing agent. Bleached hair or hydrogen peroxide-treated hair may notice slight color changes when neutral henna is applied. However, it is mainly used as a conditioner with UV protection abilities.
3. Black Henna
While henna leaves give a temporary orange-brown color to your hair or skin, various chemical dyes are added to it to create a darker and long-lasting shade. This adulterated henna is known as black henna , which often contains phenylenediamine, a coal-tar dye. Phenylenediamine is also one of the prime causes of contact dermatitis.
Henna is a natural remedy for migraines. Applying a fresh paste of henna leaves on the forehead gives a cooling sensation and reduces stress headaches.
Benefits Of Using Henna For Hair
As per Dr. Zeel Gandhi, Chief Ayurvedic Doctor at Vedix, “The virya of Madayantika- henna is Sheeta - cooling. For hair, this means that it alleviates Pitta dosha problems like - hair ageing, greying, scalp inflammations, dandruff, hair thinning and excessively oily scalp. This in turn nurtures a healthy hair growth environment, when used regularly.”
1. Promotes Hair Growth
According to a study on androgenetic alopecia in mice, henna caused a drop in androgen hormone count in the area of application. In turn, this aided hair re-growth in the affected areas. Also, plant compounds such as naphthoquinone, flavonoids , saponins, and alkaloids exhibit anti-hairfall activity.
2. Prevents Dandruff
An imbalance in your scalp’s natural microbiome can lead to excessive proliferation of malassezia yeast, causing dandruff outbreaks. Henna’s antifungal properties help curb the yeast problem. Moreover, its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant  abilities aid healing and ensure healthy scalp conditions.
3. Improves Hair Texture
The nourishing properties of henna make it a perfect remedy for dry, damaged tresses. It conditions and improves hair texture, prevents split ends, and makes hair more manageable.
4. Soothes Inflammation And Scalp Irritations
Itchiness and inflammation on the scalp can be easily healed by applying henna. According to Ayurveda, henna is ‘kanduhara’, which means it can relieve irritations of the scalp and skin.
Besides leaves, even the extracts from the bark and the root of the henna plant, display powerful anti-inflammatory  properties. It is due to the presence of components such as isoplumbagin and lawsaritol.
5. Prevents Premature Graying
While premature hair graying can be triggered by internal health conditions, its connection to oxidative stress is most highlighted. When your hair is in the growth phase, there is an active production of melanin.
However, a decrease in your body’s antioxidant defense can make the pigment-producing cells (melanocytes) vulnerable to free radical damage, causing premature grey hair.
The presence of powerful antioxidants in henna such as tannins, gallic acid, apigenin 5-glucoside , and other polyphenols reduce oxidative stress and prevent premature hair graying.
6. Balances Oil Secretions
The Kapha Dosha balancing properties of henna help manage oily scalp problems. Its astringent nature regulates sebum secretions and keeps your scalp odor-free, fresh, and clean.
7. Prevents Scalp Infections
Henna is often applied to hair and scalp to prevent bacterial and fungal infections  such as ringworm, folliculitis, and others. According to research, aqueous and methanol extracts of the henna leaf inhibited several strains of fungi and bacteria. The antimicrobial activity of the herb was reported to be mainly due to the presence of anthraquinones.
8. Prevents Head Lice
Head lice is a common problem in both children and adults. While various topical anti-lice medications are available, they often leave your hair dry and damaged. Henna acts like a natural anti-parasitic  treatment that not only kills head lice but also promotes healthy hair and scalp conditions.
9. Protects From Photodamage
On application, henna coats as a protective layer on the hair shaft, shielding it from environmental and sun damage. Further, its antioxidant properties help prevent UV radiation-induced hair damage that causes discoloration, dryness, and frizzy hair.
10. Wound Healing
Scalp wounds from cysts or excisions can be healed by localized application of fresh henna leaf paste. According to research, henna reduces inflammation and increases wound contraction rate. It also aids collagen production, thus, quickly healing the wound and promoting new hair growth in the affected area.
How To Prepare Henna For Hair?
Henna is usually available in the form of a powder. Follow the below-mentioned steps to prepare the perfect natural dye for your hair.
1. Measure out the right quantity of henna powder depending on your hair length.
2. Brew black tea, black coffee, or both and add it in sufficient amounts to the henna powder to make a thick paste. The hot tea/coffee decoction ensures a better release of the dye, giving your hair a vibrant hue.
3. Henna may have a drying effect on the scalp and hair. So, add ingredients like yogurt or aloe vera for a moisturizing effect.
4. You can also add a tablespoon of amla, shikakai or jatamansi  powder to the henna for a darker color and enhanced hair health.
5. Now, mix the ingredients well to remove lumps and store the paste in an airtight container. Glass/ iron containers are good choices for storing henna.
6. Let the ingredients soak overnight or at least for 6-8 hours at room temperature, for the full release of color.
7. Mix the paste again before applying it to your scalp and hair.
How To Use Henna For Hair Growth And Thickness?
A. Henna As Hair Dye/ Hair Packs
1. For Hair Growth
To use henna for hair growth, mix 3 tablespoons of henna powder with ½ tablespoon each of brahmi, curry leaf, amla, and purified gunja seed powders. Add 1 teaspoon of onion juice to this.
Now, add hot water to prepare a paste. Let the paste soak for a few hours before applying to your hair and scalp. Leave the pack on for 45 minutes to 1 hour, and wash off.
2. For Premature Hair Graying
For thick black hair, take 2-3 tablespoons of henna powder and add 1 tablespoon each of gotu kola and sahadevi (vernonia cinerea) powders to it.
Brew green tea, strain, and add it to make a fine paste. Leave the paste aside for a few hours for soaking. Apply it to the scalp and hair. Wash it off after an hour.
3. For Dandruff
To prepare a henna pack for treating dandruff, mix 2 tablespoons of henna with ½ tablespoon each of haritaki, neem, hibiscus, and vilwa leaf powders.
Add lukewarm water and mix the ingredients well to form a paste.
Soak the paste for a few hours, and apply it on the scalp and hair. Leave it on for 40 minutes and wash off with a mild herbal shampoo, preferably containing reetha and shikakai.
4. For Oily Scalp
Mix 2 tablespoons of henna with 1 tablespoon each of hibiscus and triphala powders. Prepare fermented rice water (ganji) and add it to the mixture to make a paste. Let the ingredients soak for 2-3 hours before applying to the scalp. Leave it on for 45 minutes and wash off.
5. For Scalp Infections
Mix 1 tablespoon each of henna and haritaki powders with ½ teaspoon each of cinnamon  and yashtimadhu powders. To this, add 2-3 drops of tea tree oil and 1 teaspoon of garlic juice . Add some water to the ingredients to make a smooth paste. Apply it to the affected scalp areas. Wash off after an hour.
6. For Head Lice
Mix 2 tablespoons of henna with 1 tablespoon of neem powder. Now, take 2 tablespoons of coconut oil and add 2 crushed cubes of camphor to it. Mix all the ingredients well to form a paste.
Apply it all over your scalp and hair. Put your hair in a bun and wrap it with a towel or a shower cap. Leave it overnight and wash off thoroughly with a herbal shampoo the next morning.
B. Henna As Hair Oil
1. Take half a cup of fresh henna leaves and blend them into a paste. Heat a sufficient amount of coconut oil (100 to 150 ml) in an iron vessel and add the henna paste. You may also add any other herbal powders such as amla, triphala, brahmi, etc. Let it simmer on low flame till the oil color changes. Remove the vessel from heat and let it cool down to room temperature. Strain the oil and store it in a bottle.
2. Take about 50 gms of organic henna powder in a mason jar. Pour cold-pressed coconut/ jojoba/ sesame/ olive oil in it to fill more than half the jar. This will be your base carrier oil.
3. Add a few tablespoons of bhringraj/ carrot seed/ argan/ almond/ onion seed or any other hair growth-promoting oil of your choice to the carrier oil. Mix well and keep the oil for a week or more in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight.
4. Now, strain the oil using a cotton or muslin cloth and store it in a bottle. Use your homemade henna oil daily or at least 3-4 times a day for healthy hair growth.
C. Henna As Hair Conditioner
Take 2-3 tablespoons of henna powder and soak it in hot water for 4-5 hours. Add 1 tablespoon of yogurt, 1 tablespoon of avocado paste, and 1 tablespoon of olive/ jojoba oil to it. Now, apply the paste through the length of your hair. Leave it on for half an hour before washing off with plain water.
How To Apply Henna On Hair?
1. Wear an old t-shirt, cover your neck and shoulders with a towel. Apply some coconut oil or petroleum jelly to your hairline to prevent henna stains on your skin.
2. Part your hair into small sections and secure them with clips or rubber bands before applying henna.
3. Now, use a hair dye brush and begin applying the henna from the roots to the tip of your hair. Make sure to apply henna to each strand completely.
4. Pure henna is perfectly safe for the skin. So, cover the scalp as you go.
5. Once done, put your hair in a bun and cover it with a shower cap.
6. Leave it on for at least 2-3 hours before washing off with plain water. Shampoo after a day.
Add 1 tablespoon of beetroot juice to your henna pack for a rich reddish tone on hair.
Disadvantages Of Using Henna On Hair
While there aren’t any serious disadvantages to using natural henna, it may have a drying effect on the scalp due to its astringent properties. So, those with severely damaged, dry hair may avoid using henna, or add moisturizing ingredients such as plant oils, fruit extracts, or yogurt to it.
Henna may cause mild eye irritations if it gets into the eye during the dyeing process. And, it may leave a temporary stain on your skin and clothes if appropriate precautions are not taken.
Also, it is important to select the right product while buying your henna powder. Adulterated henna such as black henna may cause skin allergies.
Frequently Asked Questions On Henna For Hair
1. How Often Should You Use Henna For Hair Growth?
If you are using henna as a natural dye for your hair, applying it once a month is sure to give you good results. However, if you are using it for a particular hair or scalp condition, consult your Ayurvedic doctor to know the frequency of application.
2. How Long Does Henna Stay In Your Hair?
Henna easily lasts about 4 to 5 weeks, after which it begins to fade. This is why applying it once every month helps to maintain your hair’s brilliant hue.
3. Can You Use Henna Powder On Chemically Treated Hair?
Yes, henna can be used on chemically treated hair without any safety concerns.
4. Can Henna Be Removed From Hair?
Once dyed, it is exceptionally difficult to remove henna from your hair. You may try some known hair dye removal hacks. However, it is better to wait until the color gradually fades away.
The Last Word
The benefits of pure henna for your hair are numerous. It not only gives your hair a salon-like make-over but also promotes growth and health, unlike other chemical dyes. But with its growing popularity, there are cheap and adulterated variants of henna powders with harmful chemicals in the market, promising darker, long-lasting colors. Hence, choose cautiously and use a henna combination that suits your hair type for naturally gorgeous tresses.
At Vedix, we analyze your hair needs and customize a well-suited Ayurvedic hair care regimen for you.Know Your Dosha Now
A Cosmetic Senna, Cassia Obovata: ‘Neutral Henna’, 1981 October
1. Temporary Tattoos, Henna/ Mehendi, And “Black Henna”: Fact Sheet
2. Phytochemical Screening And Chromatographic Analysis Of Henna (Lawsonia Inermis) Plant Obtained From Zaria, Kaduna, 2016 May
3. Lawsonia Inermis L. Leaves Aqueous Extract As A Natural Antioxidant And Antibacterial Product, 2020 December
4. Anti-Inflammatory, Antipyretic, And Analgesic Effects Of Lawsonia Inermis L. (Henna) In Rats, 1995 December
5. Antioxidant And Biological Activities Of Acacia Saligna And Lawsonia Inermis Natural Populations, 2020 July
6. Lawsonia Inermis Linn: A Plant With Cosmetic And Medical Benefits, March 2016
7. An Update On Ayurvedic Herb Henna (Lawsonia Inermis L.): A Review, 2014 February
8. Study Of Colouring Effect Of Herbal Hair Formulations On Graying Hair, 2015 July- September
9. Antioxidant, Antimicrobial And Antiviral Properties Of Herbal Materials, 2020 December
10. Herbal Treatment For Dermatologic Disorders, 2011
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