Henna… to do, or not to do

I often get asked about effectiveness of Henna and its compatibility with modern hair treatment and colouring process. I have summarized below what I tell my clients.
Henna is a plant (Lawsonia inermis) found in warm climate of North-east Africa and India. Its leaves are often dried and crushed to form a powder that is used to colour hair. It is a natural vegetable dye, and its dyeing effect on hair is permanent. Henna does not lighten the hair tone, it simply colours it. Henna is generally safe on adult skin and hair with allergic skin reactions in isolated cases. Henna is considered unsafe for use in children, especially infants.
However, most henna dyes available in the market are manufactured by unorganised manufacturers, and are not 100% henna. In fact, these are sometimes laced with heavy metals and toxic ingredients like PPD (Para-Phenylenediamine). The long term effects of exposure to PPD include asthma, non-Hodgkins lymphoma, lupus and the chemical is also possibly linked to breast, uterine and bladder cancer. Natural henna comes only in a single colour – orange-red. If your henna packet claims to produce alternate colours, you should check its ingredients, as henna plants do not generate any other alternate coloured dyes.
Henna is not compatible with modern hair treatment and hair colours. Because of the unpredictable chemicals that are in henna there is no way for sure to know exactly how it will react to any other hair colour. In some cases hair may turn green, grey, or won’t lift past an orange red. There is almost no guaranteed way to get henna out.
Hair colour has come a long way in the past decade or even the past 5 years. The colours and treatment process used at Aspen Salon and Spa, is one of the best in the industry. Currently we use L’Oréal professional colouring and treatment process along with Amazon series Cysteine products. Not only does it condition the hair while it deposits or lifts, but it also helps re-bond your missing bonds. More about professional hair colouring and hair treatment in our next issue.

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