If you’re considering using henna hair dye, let us separate the facts from fiction.
It is said that henna was the secret to Cleopatra’s long and lustrous hair. Her kingdom was certainly abundant in henna (or Lawsonia Inermis), and perhaps it was this plant which made her locks famously strong, shiny and vibrant.
But here’s the thing; 100% henna hair dye comes out orange-red, and Cleopatra’s hair was black!
Solving the Mystery of Cleopatra’s Henna
Pure henna always produces an orange-red tone. During Cleopatra’s time, we know she used henna to protect her hair from damage (interestingly it is also believed she used henna to color her lips and nails).
But if her hair was black, then what type of henna hair dye did she use?
If you encounter henna in shades of brown, blonde or black, it is called compound henna. This is a mixture of plants and herbs together with henna in powder form. This is a permanent dye and will stay on hair until it grows.
It’s all in the mix…
Here are the most common ingredients in compound henna:
|Indigofera Tinctoria||This produces a dark blue-violet hue.|
|Woad or Isatis Tinctoria||This produces a blue color.|
|Walnut or Juglans Regia||This gives out a brown tone.|
|Cassia Obovata||This is called the neutral tone and produces blondish-gold.|
|Catechu (Tannin Dyes)||This can produce blonde, light brown and dark brown.|
|Saffron||This promotes blonde.|
|Karchak and Vashma||This is black in color.|
Henna hair dye manufacturing companies combine these plants with henna to create a range of gorgeous shades:
Going back to Cleopatra, can we attribute her long, beautiful black hair to Henna, Indigo, Vashma and Karchak? Probably, these plants were everywhere and their secrets were well known to the Ancient Egyptians.
Henna Hair Dye Today
One of the great things about henna hair dye is that it hasn’t changed much since Cleopatra’s day!
It remains purely plant based, with no PPD or P-Phenylenediamine (a component in most permanent hair dyes), no metallic components or pesticides and no ammonia. This means that anyone can use henna without fear of an allergic reaction.
Henna hair color is also a great treatment for your hair, acting as a conditioning product and even aiding scalp problems like dandruff and hair loss. In fact henna hair dye can make the bonds of your hair stronger – with its tannin components it strengthens the keratin source of your hair which over time becomes thicker and less fly away.
Henna hair dye is a great choice if you have graying hair, as the color appears stronger on the silver strands giving the illusion of highlights or lowlights depending upon the shade you have chosen. You can re-apply henna at any time, so no more hiding from the world with six weeks worth of untreated regrowth, making the transition between colorings much simpler.
A Word of Caution
Everything said here pertains to all-natural and organic henna and henna compounds. However there are chemical-based henna products on the market which can damage hair. Our advice is to always check the packaging, and only buy henna hair dye products with the ingredients explicitly stated. And of course we would always recommend you carry out a strand test at least 24 hours before a full color application.
If you were to use a henna hair dye containing metallic elements it may be difficult to go back to a chemical (i.e. permanent home hair dye or salon) color until the henna treated hair has completely grown out, so it is worth checking that the product you are using makes the grade!
Do It Your Way
Now that you know the individual components of organic henna dye, you might even decide to create your own color shade. Don’t forget that the color will continue to develop up to two hours after application!
Deeper colors can be built up by repeated reapplication, so whether you are brave and bold like Cleopatra or prefer to experiment with a more subtle sheen, henna can be a fun, natural way of changing your look.
Hi! What was Cleopatra’s natural hair color? If it was black, it would still appear black if she put henna on it. Just like millions of ladies (and men!) in the Middle East and India today. She could have used pure henna and it would be stronger, thicker, and have a slight reddish tint in sunlight.