Henna: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly – and why you can’t have chemical processing after henna treatments
Sounds great, right? Sure … unless you want to change your overall hair color, get highlights or lowlights, get a perm, or a keratin smoothing treatment. Nope, can't do that if you have henna on your hair.
Bottom Line: Henna creates a coating on the hair shaft which prevents chemical treatments from properly penetrating the shaft. Therefore …
- Henna is not compatible with any type of oxidative color, whether it be permanent, demi-permanent, or lightener/ bleach. You cannot put color over henna (read more below).
- Hair treated with henna cannot successfully be permed (permanently waved) as the absorption time of the perming lotion is increased to such a degree that chemical damage of the hair will be caused way before any permanent curls can be produced.
- Hair-smoothing keratin treatments on hair previously treated with henna or metallic dyes will dramatically lift or lighten your color, with the resulting color very unpredictable. And the keratin may not be able to penetrate the shaft properly, so it can be a waste of your time and money.
It is possible for your salon professional to try to strip the henna from the hair using alcohol and mineral oil, followed by a deep conditioning treatment, but it is time-consuming and expensive. It is strongly recommended to let your hair grow out from a henna treatment before returning back to conventional coloring products, perming or relaxing the hair.
Here’s the skinny on the good, the bad, and the ugly of henna hair treatments:
Some Pros of Pure, Organic Henna:
- Covers grey hair very effectively
- Provides permanent color
- Strengthens, smooths, and seals the cuticle
- Makes hair more resistant to breakage.
- Healthy for the hair
HOWEVER ... If this is a route you you are deciding to go ... you need to read on!
The Bad (Limitations):
Henna is permanent, penetrating and sealing the hair shaft. Henna coats the hair on the outside only, glossing over the cuticles. Synthetic color, as well as perms, relaxers, and keratin treatments, reshape the cortex inside. So, if you henna first, you are applying this varnish on the cuticles. Then, when synthetically processing the hair through a salon chemical process, those cuticles are lifted, pushing the henna inside and chemically changing it, which can make for a very unpredictable and possibly unwanted outcome. This makes it very difficult, if not impossible, to color over in a uniform fashion with conventional salon color. Chemical treatments – salon color (including highlights), perming, or keratin treatments – cannot be applied until the henna is completely out of the hair. As we said earlier, it is possible to strip the henna from the hair but it is time-consuming and expensive. It is strongly recommended to let your hair grow out before returning back to conventional coloring products, perming or relaxing the hair.
The Ugly (Compound Henna):
Most commercial applications of henna (found in stores) are not pure henna, and are mixed with other dyes and/or chemical salts and other additives which can damage your hair and often reacts badly with the ammonia in synthetic hair dyes which salons use. Unfortunately, many pre-mixed henna powders do NOT have these ingredients listed. Buyer/user beware!