Benefits of Henna for Beauty — Shahnaz Husain    

The author is Padma Award winner beauty expert and is called herbal queen of India

Shahnaz Husain
Shahnaz Husain

The art of henna (mehendi) has become increasingly popular in tattoos, hair colouring, and combating face wrinkles in recent decades in the beauty industry worldwide.

Henna is considered auspicious for the bride during her wedding. No festival or wedding is complete without applying henna on hands. It is believed that the darker the bride’s henna stain or mehendi, the more her husband loves her. While this may be just an alluring myth, it is a fact that intricate and elaborate patterns of henna look best when the henna stain is dark rather than orange. It is being used primarily as a natural hair dye or a trendy ornamental form of hand and foot art by beauty therapists mainly in metro cities.

Homemade facial mask with henna has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and anti-aging properties and is perfect means to treat oily and aging skin.

Traditionally henna has been used to colour the hands, feet, nails, and hair. It helps to add attractive highlights to the hair and contributes to its luster and health. It imparts a reddish colour to white hair but does not colour black hair.

One of the main benefits of henna is that it is a wonderful conditioner for the hair, with protective and restorative powers. In other words, henna can be used to bring back health to damaged hair and restore the natural acid-alkaline balance to the scalp. Unlike chemical lotions, henna does not alter the chemical structure of hair.  Instead, henna has the ability of coating each hair shaft, thus adding strength, thickness, and body to the hair.

Henna is also a powerful natural cleanser. It cleanses without disturbing the natural balances. This is one of its greatest benefits. It leaves the hair healthy, clean, shiny and easy to manage.  One of the best advantages of using henna is that it is safe because it does not have any side effect. Hence we can tag it as nature’s own hair conditioner.

First of all, make sure that the henna powder is of good quality. Henna leaves are available in powder form. It should be of a dull green colour. Henna leaves a reddish brown colour imprint when applied to the skin. Henna is used along with extracts of amla, brahmi, bhringaraj, bael, etc., to restore health to the hair and control hair issues. You can test henna by the colour and the typical fragrance that henna has. Many people are reluctant to use henna thinking that it will make the hair dry. Adding ingredients like yogurt and egg to the henna paste prevents dryness, as both these are nourishing for the hair. If the hair is dry, oil can be added to the henna paste. Also, wash off the henna with plain water, instead of shampoo, as henna has a powerful cleansing effect.

The amount of henna powder to be used depends on the length of your hair. Add 2 raw eggs, 4 teaspoons lemon juice, 4 teaspoons of coffee powder and enough yogurt to henna paste to make it a thick paste. The density of the paste should be of toothpaste-like consistency. If you have dry hair, add 2 teaspoons of oil. You can add pure coconut, olive or almond oils. In fact, sesame seed (til) oil may also be added. If you wish to avoid eggs, add more yogurt to get the desired consistency.

Amla is said to control greying. So, you can add amla to henna powder. However, henna leaves a reddish brown colour on white hair, as you know. It will not colour dark hair. If you would like to try it, you can soak a handful of dry amla in about 2 to 3 cups of water overnight. Next morning, strain the water but do not throw the water away. Grind the amla. To the henna powder, add the ground amla, 4 teaspoons each of lemon juice and coffee, 2 raw eggs, 2 teaspoons oil and enough amla water, so that the henna mixes into a thick paste. Keep the paste for two to three hours and then apply it on the hair, so that the entire head is covered. Keep it on for at least two hours and wash off with plain water.

For dandruff and oily hair, add “tea-water” to the henna paste, along with 4 teaspoons each of lemon juice and coffee, 2 raw eggs, mixing it into a thick paste. “Tea water” can be made by boiling used tea leaves again in enough water, cooling and straining the liquid. Apply henna on the hair and wash off after an hour. If you do not wish to use egg, add more tea water.

It is best to wear rubber gloves when applying henna. Protect your clothes by putting a towel over your shoulders. You will also need a tail comb to part the hair into sections. Apply the henna on both sides of each section and wrap it around the head, until the entire hair is covered. You can wear a plastic shower cap over this. Leave it on for at least half an hour and wash off with water. Weekly henna applications will help to keep your hair healthy and conditioned.

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