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by Kim Wong-Shing

As natural hair remedies continue to rise in popularity, you might be wondering if there’s a natural way to achieve a new hair color. If you’re looking to cover up grays or simply need a change of pace, henna is the gold standard when it comes to natural dye. However, there are a lot of products labeled “henna” that aren’t as natural as they seem, and even pure henna isn’t ideal for every hair type. Read on to find out if this popular dye will work for you.

What is henna?

Henna is a plant-based dye made from the henna plant that grows in Africa, Asia and Australia. The reddish-brown pigment comes in powder form and is traditionally used to color hair, decorate the skin and dye textiles. To use henna as a hair dye, you must first mix the powder with a liquid like oil or water.

Why is it great?

Fans of henna love that, unlike most commercial hair dyes, henna actually improves the health of your hair over time. Henna molecules build up on the surface of hair strands, resulting in thicker, stronger hair. Many people notice shinier hair and a healthier scalp after using henna. Also, henna is a long-lasting dye that subtly fades over time, so it’s easy to upkeep.

Will it work for your hair?

Sounds great, right? Keep in mind, though, that pure henna only comes in one color: reddish-brown. Depending on your natural hair color, the end result can be anywhere from bright red to a subtle burgundy tint. You can use henna over bleached hair, though that’s a bit counterproductive if you’re looking for chemical-free color. You can also use multiple applications for a richer, darker shade — a necessary step if you’re looking to cover up grays.

Some henna is sold in multiple colors, like black or brown. This henna is known as “compound henna” because it contains additional ingredients such as synthetic dyes or peroxide. Not only is it not natural, but it can ruin your hair if your hair has been previously dyed.

In addition, because henna attaches to the hair and lasts for a long time, it’s not ideal for those who like to switch up their color on a regular basis. Lifting henna to go to a lighter shade is a difficult and sometimes impossible process.

Some curly- and kinky-haired women also notice that henna loosens their curl pattern, which may be either a pro or a con for you.

This popular pigment has gained popularity far beyond its traditional uses. It’s a game-changer for many women, who rave over its subtle pigment and strengthening properties, but it’s crucial to stay informed before bringing henna into your hair regimen.

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