Welcome to Relaxed Redefined ~ a better, healthier way to care for chemically relaxed hair. This is a personal hair journal created to share easy, do-at-home tips and techniques that have made my hair stronger and longer. I hope you'll learn something here that will enhance your healthy hair journey or better yet insprire you to start one. Happy Hair Growting!

2.23.2011

Henna on Relaxed Hair (the first time)

I finally did it! And I loved it! Two weeks ago I used henna on my hair for the first time, it was a labor intensive and time consuming process, but it was all worth it in the end. The coverage of my gray hair, which was objective numero uno, is excellent-- all of the glaringly white hairs that had been gathering and around my hair line are now a pretty copper color. The color change of the rest of my hair is only noticeable in natural sunlight and bright indoor lights, but I've spied the auburn-ish hue a few times and I like it too (pics to come!). As for the strengthening properties of henna, I definitely noticed an increase in strand thickness which is great, but I still have lingering problems with elasticity (and breakage) that I don't think henna could have addressed anyway. I did not experience the increased dryness that I read about from other first time henna users in the blogosphere, but then again I have been very vigilant about keeping my hair moisturized since I was aware of that potential problem. Over all my first henna experience was a very good one, and even though it kept me home bound for an entire Saturday, I will do it again.

Notes from my (first) Henna Process:

Prep: I mixed 200 grams of pure henna powder with 2 1/2 cups of strong black tea (brewed with about 10 bags of tea) and around a 1/2 cup of orange juice diluted with distilled water. I stirred the mix into a runny paste and let it sit over night at room temperature. I realized after the application process that I mixed waaay too much henna, but luckily unused portions can be frozen and un-thawed for future use.

Pre-Henna: The next day I pre-pooed my hair with VO5 Moisture Milks Passion Fruit Smoothie conditioner for about 30 minutes, then shampooed my hair with Suave Professionals Almond and Shea Butter (a new clarifying shampoo for me). Before I started the application I added about 2 table spoons of honey to the henna paste to add moisture and aid with the rinsing process.

Application: I then proceeded to separate my hair into four sections and apply the henna paste to each quadrant in smaller sections, first to my roots with a color applicator brush, then to the length until all four sections were covered. It was a very messy, but pretty easy process, much like the application of any regular hair color. I then smooshed all of my hair together in sort of a high ponytail and "wrapped" my ends around the top of my head. Next I applied several layers of Saran-Wrap, topped that off with a plastic cap and left it alone for four plus hours (the minimum time needed for color to deposit).

Rinsing: First I stopped up half of my (double) kitchen sink and filled it with warm water. After I removed all of the wrapping, I dunked as much of my head as I could into the filled sink and gently swished it around to remove about half of the henna (this can also be done in a stopped up bathtub, but since our bathtub is bright white I did not want to take the chance of henna staining the tub). I then switched my head over to the other side of the sink and turn on my trusty sprayer, from there I used my gloved hands to try to work the remaining henna out, this was at least 15 to 20 minutes of just rinsing. By the end the water was 98% clear, with just a trace of brown tint as it ran down the drain. The most amazing thing about the rinsing process was how incredible my hair felt during and after, this feeling of softness and strength alone was enough to hook me on henna.

Conditioning: My final step was to apply Aubrey Organics Honeysuckle Rose conditioner which I let sit under a plastic cup for about 30 minutes. I did my final rinse in the shower and still had quite a bit of color coming out during that rinse, but by the end of my shower the water was completely clear. And my hair felt softer and more conditioned than ever at 8 weeks post relaxer. Detangling my hair after the wash was literally a breeze, it took less than 10 minutes to comb through my hair and apply my leave-ins, a process that can take upwards of 30 minutes if my new growth is acting out. That was the second reason for me to get hooked on henna, the color change of my grays which I noticed easily during the detangling was all the confirmation I needed to know henna is definitely for me.

Lessons Learned: I experience a little tingle on the left side of my scalp when I first started applying the henna to that section and also again when I started rinsing, it was almost like a very mild relaxer burn. It wasn't enough to make me run to the sink screaming, it was just a little curious. I originally thought I'd done something wrong or was using poor quality henna, but after some reading the next day I realized what probably caused that sensation was the orange juice, even diluted it is very acidic and can easily cause skin irritation. So before my second go-round I will do more research  to determine if there might better liquid mixers that won't irritate. I also think I may have put too much liquid into my henna mix because it never hardened the way I expected it to and I had drips of henna paste running behind my ear during the coloring phase. Next time I will use less liquid and make the paste thicker.

Despite these minor issues, the end result was exactly as I expected it to be which was very encouraging. Since the process requires so much time, I don't think I can commit to doing it more than once per month, but this first time easily convinced me that henna will be a new staple in my hair regimen!

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hey....I found your blog from another blog...I have been on my "journey" for healthier relaxed hair for almost a year...

I just finished my LONGEST stretch EVER 12 weeks and I had a set back....around 8-9 weeks I was fine...braid outs,wet buns heat ONCE only every other month..

then about week 11...combing my braidout to do my pre poo LOTS of breakage and shedding....I almost cried. after XTRA TLC... bunned all week...did my relaxer and I LOST SOOO MUCH HAIR RELAXING AND CONDITIONIG...I CRIED....felt defeated.

i'm just a little past shoulder length...started at chin length

I think I will stick to 8-10 week stetches....

Thanks for sharing...I'll be back...

Dee in san diego

MrsT said...

Hi Anonymous, so sorry to hear about your stretching set backs. It took me a long time to learn to stretch without complications. But I've also learned that shedding more at certain times is normal so that may not be a reason to be alarmed. If you're having trouble combing through your hair after a braid out, I would recommend trying to comb it out in small sections, applying a little bit of your pre-poo conditioner to each section before you comb. My hair can get pretty dry when I'm wearing a braid out, so I try to make sure I moisturize before I comb it out. Also it sounds like you could benefit from a protein treatment, this should also help with post relaxer shedding if you do a treatment the last wash before your touch up. Good luck with your next stretch and don't give up! Thanks for reading!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the advice. I need a good treatment.

any advice on checking my length??

dee in san diego

MrsT said...

Hi again Dee, Sticking with the natural products I like to use, for a protein treatment I would recommend Neutral Protein Filler, its sold at Sally's in the hair color section. It is not listed as a "natural" product perse, but the ingredients are very simple without extra chemicals or byproducts. Be advised though, it is a pretty strong protein and should be followed with a good moisturizing deep conditioner like Aubrey Organics Honeysuckle Rose. As for length checks, I only do them when my hair is straight so it doesn't happen that often. I would say be patient and focus more on health than length and the length won't be a problem when you get to check. :)

dionde said...

Thanks for the advice. I can't go to Sallys until April though...

my name is Dee and I AM A PRODUCT JUNKIE... I have put myself on restriction...lol

dee in san diego

MrsT said...

LOL, the first step to recovery Dee is admitting you have a problem! :) I try to keep my inner-PJ in check, its easier to do because I have a list of staples that give me good results so its easy to stick with them.

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