Henna is a natural paint used since ancient times for coloring the hair, nails and textiles (clothing, lingerie, etc.) It is also used to get complicated tattoos, especially at various ceremonies in countries from Southeast Asia, North Africa and India.

Henna – history and traditions

Henna is obtained from a plant called Lawsonia Inermis, which grows frequently in high-temperature areas (Southeast Asia, northern Australasia, and in semiarid and tropical areas where temperatures reach 45 °C).

The use of henna as a hair dye is attested since ancient Egyptian times. Apparently, with the discovery of the mummy Ahmose-Henuttameu, the princess and queen of the XVII-XVIIIth century dynasty, archaeologists have found that her hair was painted red at the roots, most likely with henna paint.

Cora Peral

In Europe, the popularization of henna intensified especially towards the end of the 19th century, thanks to opera singer Adelina Patti and Parisian courtesan Cora Pearl.

Cora Pearl also nicknamed La Lune Rousse for her intense reddish hair, confessed in her memoirs that at one point she dyed the fur of her own dog in bright red to match with hers.

In Muslim culture and in hadith (the narrative of the Prophet) women are encouraged to paint their nails with henna as a sign of feminity.

Muslim men are accustomed to paint their hair and beards with henna dye as part of a ritual left by Prophet Muhammad.

 Nowadays, henna dye is mainly used to decorate the bride, especially the brides before the wedding. This ritual is considered as a kind of blessing that brings luck, happiness and beauty to the bride. Bridal tattooing with henna lasts in some countries, like Yemen, up to four, five days to get a pretty elaborate and spectacular design.

Recent advances in the world of cosmetics (technology and applications), as well as encouraging authorities in countries such as Libya, Pakistan, Bangladesh and India to cultivate henna led to the increase in henna use and in marketing this product.

Henna tattoed brideIn some countries (especially in North Africa) where off-farm work is socially discouraged for women, henna decoration art has been an alternative way of gaining financial independence and even generating a fairly generous profit for them.

Henna for hair

Natural henna powder (without the addition of other plants or metal salts) often gives a reddish hue to hair.

For light-colored hair, natural henna powder will provide a darker shade, while for brown-to-black hair, it will shine lightly with bronze-red shine.

Generally, henna is well tolerated by most users, but there are also exceptions. People diagnosed with G-6-PD red blood cell deficiency are extremely sensitive to the chemical composition of henna. Children in certain countries (Middle East and North Africa) are also sensitive to henna.

Henna powder can also be used as a hair conditioner with regenerative properties for hair, offering it a natural shine.

To get different shades, henna powder can be mixed with natural ingredients (coffee, lemon juice etc.) or other plants. Of course, you can buy already prepared henna powder, but be cautious about the ingredients added in the mix

100 percent natural henna powder has become increasingly appreciated even in beauty salons, as it offers a natural shade of hair without altering its biological composition. On the contrary, henna powder strengthens the hair, giving it more shine and volume.

Another plus for using henna dye is the reduction of the contrast effect between the natural color of the hair and that created “artificially”. Unlike synthetic base dyes, where this effect is quite visible and unpleasant, the henna-based dye gradually loses its intensity (after about three months) in a subtle way.

   (Hair color without henna)                                                                       (Henna dyed hair)

Henna dyed hair

Photo source: How To Dye Hair with Henna & Lush Henna Dye Review

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