In the previous post we took an in depth look at what henna is, how it works and the pros and cons of using henna as part of a healthy hair regimen. In this post we want to take a more practical approach and get to ‘mixin and applyin’. The whole point of processing the henna plant is to harvest the dye that it produces to reap the benefits of it.
When it comes to mixing, it is often recommended that you use something that is acidic or at a pH level of about 5.5 for ultimate dye release of your mixed henna. At this point we should note that there are studies that have proven that acidic substances such as lemon juice actually inhibit the release of henna dye and that methods of fermentation using plain water seems to work the best.
This however depends on what side of the world you are on, how you define fermentation and the type henna you purchase. Without arguing semantics, the basic science states that acidic liquid dissolves the cellulose in the powder allowing the lawsone (the dye in the henna) to be available to bind with the keratin particles in your hair.
We are getting sciencey again but bare with me. You see, its important that the hydrogen atoms in the lawsone remain intact for any binding action to take place. If it remains intact the lawsone should bind without any issues to the keratin, producing a rich dark color, if this doesn’t happen you will be left with something of an orange persuasion which also means less strengthening benefits.
The Henna Mix
It is difficult to say exactly how much liquid to add to your mix, but you want a paste like consistency. The best way to do this is to add a little liquid at a time until you get something similar to mashed potatoes or thick cake batter. Seal the bowl that you mixed the henna in and store in a cool dark place overnight for the dye release magic to happen.
Other popular acidic based liquids for mixing henna include green tea which is slightly acidic, often used by hair gurus such as Curly Nikki or coffee which is what I get at my henna salon. Rain water, grapefruit juice, wine and cola are all great candidates as well but somehow the idea of pouring a can of coca cola in my hair just isn’t as appealing as coffee but to each his own.