I’ve been dying my hair only with henna for over five years now. Four years ago, I switched from corn-ladened commercial shampoos and conditioners to the “no poo” method of washing my hair.
That’s all. Baking soda, apple cider vinegar (ACV) and henna. Those are the only things that go in my hair—ever.
Misconception 1: Henna comes in multiple colors.
Nope, it only comes in red and comes from the leaves of the lawsonia inermis plant. Natural henna is actually cassia obovata. It provides a temporary faint yellowish tint and is very conditioning for your hair. Natural black henna is indigofera tinctoria. It’s also temporary color.These other plant powders can be mixed with henna for a variety of dye colors.
For more information, go to the Henna for Hair website. It’s a huge resource with a great forum for henna recipes. Be sure to check out their article on para-phenylenediamine, a dangerous chemical in most commercial dyes including the “natural” and so-called “henna” ones!
I buy henna powder from a reputable source and mix it with lemon juice to release the dye and honey to help the dye remain wet long enough to penetrate the hair. That way I ensure that I’m only getting safe ingredients on my hair and scalp.
Misconception 2: The baking soda and vinegar “no poo” method will damage your hair.
My hair is full, healthy and shiny. I get compliments all the time—even from hair dressers. Major silver linings but no silver in my hair.
Ratios are very important in this process. You can increase the baking soda if your hair is more dirty and reduce it if your hair is feeling dry.
My “No Poo” Process
Shampoo: 1 tbsp baking soda per cup of water
Rinse: 1 tbsp ACV per cup of water
Apply the baking soda solution with a squeeze bottle, scrub it into your wet hair and let it sit for a couple minutes. Thoroughly rinse it out or your scalp will itch. Then, pour the ACV solution over your hair and rinse it out as well. That’s it. Cheap and easy if you follow my guidelines.
This combo works because the oils in hair are acidic. When you put the weak alkaline baking soda solution in your hair, it neutralizes the excess acidic oil and allows it to rinse away. Then when you put the weak acidic vinegar solution in your hair, it restores the pH balance on your scalp. If you don’t get carried away, this process is very gentle.
Bonus travel tip: You can get ACV capsules, break them open and make your ACV rinse from them. So much easier than packing liquid ACV or buying it at every destination.
- You can’t use baking soda or vinegar separately and expect good results. Baking soda alone will make your hair feel like straw. ACV alone will make your hair feel greasy. They must be used together.
- Henna is permanent as it penetrates the hair shaft and fills the hollow core. You can’t strip it out. See the diagram at the Henna for Hair website showing the henna migrating the the center of the hair shaft.
- Baking soda will strip hair dye off your hair gradually. Henna is the only one that it can’t remove. Don’t use baking soda exclusively if you use commercial dyes, but you can use it occasionally to remove product and dye build up.
- Dying your hair with henna is a time commitment. The dye should stay on your hair for a minimum of three hours. The good news is that you can’t hurt anything by leaving it on too long. I wrap my head up in plastic stretch film and a shower cap, then put the ratty old towel on my pillow and go to bed. (No pictures will ever be provided for this step! LOL) I wash it out in the morning.
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