For the past several weeks, I keep getting nudges to write about hair. Some clients have mentioned hair issues, and I’m sitting here with a mud pie of henna on my head, so here goes. Back in June 2009, I wrote a comprehensive post about all things henna, along with lots of information about natural hair care, hair nutrients and general tips for full, shiny hair. I wanted to reblog it, but over eight years later, I have too many updates for the little reblog box. You can read my original post here. In today’s post, I’ll just add additional things I’ve learned about henna and Morrocco Method over the years.
Please note that anything I say about henna refers only to body art quality, pure henna (Lawsonia) from a reputable source. Do be careful when experimenting with henna. Some companies add toxic ingredients to get all sorts of unnatural colors and effects, still calling their products “henna.”
To provide some background, though, yes, I henna my hair. I started back in 2006, because a mehendi artist told me that henna would tame the crazy, wild knots I used to get on the back of my head. Using henna did tame those knots, but it didn’t change my hair color until we moved to Monterey, CA in February 2007. Overnight, my hair turned very red (with no additional henna treatment), and my skin went several shades paler. I can maybe explain the sudden redness due to more salt in the air, but that still doesn’t explain how I got so pale. Surrounded by fresh breezes, gorgeous views, and a only short walk to the farmer’s market, fun shops, Indian buffet, and an Aveda salon, plus weekly massages from my all-time favorite massage therapist and lovely friend, Pamela, I became a full fledged redhead.
I’ve always had quite a bit of red in my hair, but bizarre as it sounds, I have mood hair. The happier I feel about my location, the redder it gets. When I lived in Monterey and Sonoma County, I had very red hair. When I lived in Goshen, Indiana — much less so. Only in the sun. Henna’d hair often looks more brown indoors and redder in direct sunlight. Whenever I vacation or live somewhere that makes my soul sing, my hair goes red inside and out. Living in Kalamazoo, it’s back to red:
OK, onto the things I’ve learned since the 2009 Henna for Hair post:
- Henna doesn’t just feel good; it is good. I’ve continued to use henna since 2006, because it tames my knots, eliminates the need for conditioner, and also feels like a magical elixer on my head. I recently learned that pure henna has wound healing, anti-headache, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory properties. It cuts hair loss, and many people swear by henna as their only cure for psoriasis. For more on henna’s health benefits, please click here.
- Grey and white hair can signal other issues. Points 5) and 6) in my previous post discuss nutrition and hair, especially B-vitamins, but I should also mention the importance of minerals in darkening gray or white hair. Genetics, stress, hormones, age, and other factors play key roles, too, but demineralization often shows up as aging hair. Dull, gray/white and brittle hair can sometimes signal a need for more nourishing foods, and/or indicate poor absorption. Dr. Ann Wigmore’s grey hair famously returned to its original color once she started using wheatgrass juice. Taking digestive enzymes, eating more live (raw, fermented) foods and reducing enzyme inhibitors can also help. I recommend Sally Fallon’s book, “Nourishing Traditions” for people concerned about graying hair, tooth decay, chronic fatigue, and/or brittle bones. Likewise, Ramiel Nagel’s book, “Cure Tooth Decay,” includes loads of information about which foods help or hinder mineralization. I don’t personally follow many of the recipes in those books, but the principles can help you receive the most benefits from whatever foods you do eat. A note for vegans: neither book advocates vegan or vegetarian diets, but you can adapt many of the recipes to enrich foods you already eat. Both provide excellent tips staying mineralized.
- Keep your application tools simple and sustainable. I’ve used the exact same “for henna only” shower cap for the past eleven years. I used the same gloves for ten of those years until they finally wore out. Those fancy hair dye applicators from beauty supply stores get clogged with the mud pie consistency of henna, but maybe a ketchup bottle would work. I don’t know. I find my hands work best. A wide toothed comb before henna application means fewer knots while rinsing it out. I tried a ponytail method of separating hair for easier rinsing, and it did work well; however, you’re left with lots of ponytail holders to wash and dry. I ended up going back to hand application.
- Quality henna makes a big difference. I always buy my henna from reputable health food stores or Morrocco Method. I have to say, the Morrocco Method henna lasts much longer, provides deeper conditioning, and it rinses out far easier than any other brand or bulk henna I’ve tried. I have no financial ties or affiliate connection to Morrocco Method, but in my experience, their henna works way better for my hair.
- Amla conditions and tones down red, but it changes hair texture. Henna straightens hair, and adding amla supposedly reduces that effect. For its great conditioning effects and to experiment with browner hair, I tried adding amla to henna earlier this summer. My hair felt soft, but I didn’t recognize myself. My naturally straight hair got really curly in certain spots. Not everywhere. Just some areas. I stopped using amla so I wouldn’t look like a freak. People with naturally wavy or consistently curly hair often swear by amla as a luxurious conditioner. Some people use it with henna so that their curls remain even if they want red highlights. If you have straight hair, amla may or may not work well for you.
- If you use switch to Morrocco Method shampoos, definitely get their Volcanic Powder Dry Shampoo. A little goes a long way, and using the dry shampoo makes the “hair detox” period so much easier. I used Morrocco Method shampoos for a couple years and always got compliments on my hair, but I switched back to store bought natural shampoos for about five years. I don’t use toxic products on my hair, yet even so, my recent switch back to Morrocco Method brought the dreaded “hair detox.” I was grateful this occurred during this summer’s hermit phase; however, my hair started curling up and forming dreadlocks on one side. It also felt waxy right after shampooing. Once I started using the dry shampoo, all the detox symptoms cleared up. No more almost-dreadlocks, and as a bonus: extra full, manageable hair. The volcanic shampoo contains a little amla for conditioning, but mixed with everything else, it just makes my moody hair behave. It feels clean, full and healthy. Even with bangs, I can go four days between regular shampoos, as long as I use the dry shampoo. (The photo in this post was three-day old hair with bangs swept to the side.)
- Following directions can save you time and money. When I first used the Morrocco Method shampoo system (rotating five elements), I eventually quit due to time and money. It seemed to take so much shampoo to get my hair clean. Although it felt healthy and vibrant, I couldn’t justify going through so many bottles of shampoo. This time around, I read the directions. Doh! These shampoos work much better if you take a small, travel size bottle and squirt a nickle-sized dollop in there, then dilute with water and shake. Apply that mixture to your roots, massage it in and rinse. Repeat if desired. The diluted shampoo method not only works better, but it reduced my shampoo usage to about 1/5 my original use. The dry shampoo further stretches wet shampoo quantities. Not needing to wash as often saves lots of time, water, shampoo, clogged drains, and ends up making hair healthier and fuller, too.
- Go with what works for you. Everything in this post comes from my own experience and research. I have weird hair, so what works for me, might not work the best for you. I’ve known Morrocco Method to help clients regain hair after major hair loss or trauma, and their Zen Hair Detox helps remove toxins embedded in the scalp — very useful for people with brain fog. General information often changes with individual application. In a world of toxic hair products, I just felt led to share some options I enjoy. For more information on henna or hair nutrition, please click here.