Top 10 Myths About Henna

As we all know that everything you read on the internet is not true and I feel there is so much information out there that it is difficult to distinguish the true facts from false ones.  It gets confusing and when many major sites are talking about the same thing, it almost seems like what you read would have to be the truth if everyone else is saying the same thing.

At Silk & Stone, we care about you and your health, therefore, we do OUR OWN testing rather than relying on what we read or hear.   We do our research, testing and experimentation before making any of our products to ensure the best products with the best results for your hair, skin and overall health.  We also use ingredients of the highest quality to make our products. 

Below, I have chosen the top ten major myths about henna that I would like to clarify.  If you have others you would like to learn more about, I encourage you to send me an email and I would love to have a discussion.

The Top 10 Myths:

1. MYTH: Should I Use Lemon Juice in My Mix?

Lemon juice is commonly being used in henna mixes for the hair to release more dye from the plant and to make it more permanent.

REALITY: Lemon Juice is very acidic and will strip your hair of natural oils and color.  Repeated use of lemon juice can also make your hair brittle.  Henna is a plant that rejuvenates, conditions and strengthens the hair.  When it is being mixed with lemon juice, the effects are counteracted.  The lemon juice works against the henna, preventing it from doing its job in making the hair healthier.  Using lemon juice in the mix has become a major trend because of all that we read on the Internet.  Being from Pakistan, I have never seen nor heard of anyone using lemon juice in their mix and the people in this country have been using henna in their hair for centuries.  Their mix consist of henna, water and tea, nothing else.   A simple recipe that has amazing effects!  

SOLUTION: The reason people are using lemon juice is because it breaks down the lawsone in the henna, thus releasing more of the dye.  The lemon juice is commonly used in henna that is to be used for the skin to release more dye but it should be avoided for the hair. 

The dye release can also be achieved by using warm to hot water (preferably around 70°).  This will break down the lawsone and release just as much dye as the lemon juice.  Also, leaving the henna to oxidize in a warm place in an airtight container overnight will also give you a richer color.  This is equal to leaving henna in your hair for 9-10 hours.

2. MYTH: Henna Powder Should Be Kept Frozen

Many people have a huge freezer designated just for henna powder.  They freeze it (in its original packaging) as soon as they get it to give it a longer shelf life.  This has become a major trend. 

REALITY:The problem with freezing is that, for one thing, you have to have space in your freezer or have an entire freezer designated solely to this purpose.  The other major issue is that when henna powder is kept frozen, condensation occurs and the moisture penetrates the inside of the package.  When you remove the package from the freezer and open it, you will see that the henna powder has some clumps and some of it is moist.  If this powder is not used all at once or if it is restored in the freezer, it’s freshness will be lost faster.

SOLUTION: Henna does not need to be kept frozen unless it has been mixed into a paste.  If the powder is kept in a dark, airtight container it will stay fresh for years.  It is best to store it in the airtight container in its original packaging and take out only what you need.

3. MYTH: Do not use any metal containers to make your mix.

There is information all over the internet, henna hair colors and books about not using metal containers when mixing your henna.

REALITY: Yes it is true that metal containers should not be used when mixing your henna, but the exception to this rule is stainless steel.  In many countries, aluminum and iron containers are popular for cooking and as kitchen utensils.  Metals like these will react with the henna and may not be healthy for your skin or overall health.  But stainless steel does not react with any of the Silk & Stone herbal powders including henna.  It is also very easy to wash and sanitize. 

SOLUTION: Use stainless steel, ceramic or glass containers for making your henna mix.

4. MYTH: Henna is Bad for the Hair 

There is a popular myth that henna is bad for the hair and many stylists promote this idea without confirmation.

REALITY: The only henna that is bad for the hair and scalp is the Black Henna, aka ‘Kali Mehndi’.  This henna has a very toxic chemical in it called PPD (paraphenylenediamine), a chemical that is also present in most dark hair dyes on the market.  It is known to make the hair dyes more permanent and result in a darker (brown to black) hair color.  When mixed into henna, it turns the natural red into a black stain.  What most stylists don’t realize is that this chemical is just as harmful in the hair colors they use as it is in the henna. PPD in henna is banned in the USA but for some reason, it has not been banned in the hair dyes, although there have been serious reactions to the scalp and hair including burns, blisters, scars, hospitalization, and even death. 

SOLUTION:  Anything with PPD should be avoided including chemical hair dyes that contain this substance.  Henna in its natural form is safe to use and unlike traditional hair dyes, it is healing, conditioning and rejuvenating for the hair and scalp.  Chemical dyes are worse for your hair and health the more you use them but henna and herbal hair colors (as long as they are used in their pure forms without additives, preservatives, chemicals, etc.) are healthier the more they are used.  Choose only hair dyes that are natural and the ingredients are in their pure form for optimal results.

5. MYTH: Henna Makes Your Hair Brittle, Especially if Used Over Bleached Hair.

I watched a home video online once, which mentioned that henna made hair brittle, it was bad for the hair and if used over bleached hair, it will make the hair break off.  The video did not mention what kind of henna it was. 

REALITY: If you are using henna with additives, preservatives or chemicals like PPD (as mentioned above) it will damage your hair as well as your scalp and possibly make the hair thin and brittle.  Also, using lemon juice in your mix can make your hair brittle as well because it is high in acid and will break down the hair. 

Henna in its pure form makes the hair strong because it binds to keratin, which is a protein substance that our hair is made of.  The top layer of our skin (stratum corneum) is also made of keratinized cells and so the henna stains the skin very well.  The hair is made of very dense keratinized cells so the henna penetrates and coats the hair much easier than the skin and gives you a rich hair color.   It makes the hair feel thicker, conditions the hair, closes the hair shaft so foreign particles can not penetrate the hair, thus leaving your hair healthier and stronger. 

SOLUTION: With repeated use, you will see how much stronger and healthier the hair becomes.  It is also a great product to use to bring life to dry, dull and damaged hair.  Mix your henna with warm water (approximately 70°) or black tea and avoid using acidic substances like lemon juice, lime juice, wine, citric acid, etc.

6. MYTH: Henna Makes Your Hair Course or Straw-Like?

If you have chemically colored, bleached or relaxed your hair before hennaing, your hair will feel course or straw-like afterwards because the henna coats the hair strands and since there are chemicals in the hair, now you are coating the hair with another substance, making the strands thicker and feeling rough.  Take a look at the hair near the roots where there are no chemicals.  Do those feel just as course?  It is highly unlikely.  They should feel soft and pleasant.  Once the chemical hair grows out, your hair will feel very soft and beautiful.

7. MYTH: Henna Makes Your Hair Fall

Henna naturally strengthens the hair and makes it healthy.  It helps prevent the hair from thinning, breaking and falling.  Continued use helps further strengthen the hair.  If your hair falls after the first application, chances are that those hairs were loose and needed to come out.  With continued applications, you should see less breakage and fall.  If for some reason, henna continues to make your hair fall, you should consult a doctor.  There might be something else going on that might be making your hair fall.  Also, just because henna is all-natural, like any other natural products, it does not mean it will work for everyone.  This is why we always recommend you do an allergy test before using henna and herbal hair colors, especially if you are prone to sensitivities.

8. MYTH: You Can’t Henna Over Chemically Colored Hair

Some say it is difficult to henna over chemically colored hair or if you dye your hair over chemical colors, your hair will turn green.  This is possible if your henna has additives in it.  The Silk & Stone henna does not turn green.  There is also a possibility, depending upon the chemical use, that your hair can turn green if you use indigo with your henna.  Be sure to do a strand test before applying to full hair.

9. MYTH: Henna Hair Colors are Only Red

The lawsone present in the henna gives an orange to red stain, turning your hair red and any white and blonde hair orange when used alone. Henna can be mixed with other plants like indigo to make a variety of shades including dark brown and black.  The Silk & Stone herbal colors are 100% pure and natural and range from light brown to strawberry blondes to reds, browns, purple and black.  Most of the tones are a natural earthy color and look very beautiful.  They also color 100% of the greys and are great for all hair types including kinky hair.

Vibrant colors like bright greens, blue, bright yellow, etc. are not possible with natural hair dyes.

10. MYTH: You Can’t Chemically Bleach or Color Your Hair After Hennaing

Most people are afraid to dye their hair with henna because they feel they will be stuck with it until the hair grows out and will not be able to chemically color over the henna.

REALITY: Depending upon how many times your hair has been hennaed, it might take a few tries to get the color you want with the chemical dyes.  But as long as you used pure and natural henna with no chemicals, additives or preservatives, you can dye your hair with synthetic colors.  It is best to do a strand test before applying the hair color over hennaed hair to prevent any undesired results.  Also note that if you have indigo in your hair, the hair may turn a greenish color depending upon the chemical dye used.  Again, it is best to do a strand test before proceeding to color your entire hair.

Once your hair has been hennaed, it takes longer processing time to bleach the hair but it will definitely get bleached.  The hair will feel dull and lifeless but that is the case with bleaching over any type of hair.  You just have to keep your hair conditioned very well to protect it from damage.

How Do I know What Henna to Buy?

There are 3 main factors to look for before purchasing your henna:

  • 100% pure & natural: It is very important to use henna that is 100% pure and natural and made solely from the leaves of the henna plant.  It should be free of any chemicals, preservatives, metals and other substances. 
  • It is packaged properly to keep fresh: The henna should be packaged properly in an airtight food-grade package away from moisture and light.  Henna is sensitive to moisture and light and will demise, giving you a very faint color or no color at all.
  • It is finely ground: The henna should be ground super-fine so that it washes out of the hair easily and does not leave residue in the hair when applied. 


The Henna You Never Want to Purchase

Be aware of henna dyes that contain substances other than henna.  Common chemicals and substances you will find in henna that is made for the hair (which you don’t want to buy) include:

  • PPD (paraphenylenediamine)- a very toxic chemical
  • tartaric acid
  • citric acid
  • red clay (this is a chemical and not a clay)
  • metals,
  • foreign particles (lint, bark, stems, rice, etc.)
  • preservatives
  • fragrance
  • green sand (this is often used to make it look fresher, although the color of the henna does not determine its quality)
  • large particles (it may not be ground properly or may have foreign particles in it)