Notes On Henna Hair Conditioner
Most people are familiar with the term henna hair conditioner, but fewer are knowledgeable as to just what the term means. Some believe that henna is a marketing name, others think of it as being a specific color, while to some it is not so much a conditioner as a dye. About the only thing most will agree upon is that henna rinses, henna dyes, and henna conditioners have been around as long as anyone can remember.
Henna in fact has an ancient history in the world of cosmetics. It is an herb, and the henna products we see marketed are based on the powder made from the dried leaves of that herb. A henna conditioner is often advertised as being able to stimulate the hair, although the question as to how dead matter can be stimulated never seems to receive a straight answer. There's no doubt however that following a henna rinse, the hair usually looks brighter, sleeker, and the natural color, when using a neutral henna, is often highlighted. The hair, if not exactly stimulated, is at least strengthened by application of a henna conditioner, and usually has a much softer feel.
Types Of Henna Dyes And Conditioners - One of the advantages to using a henna conditioner is that henna is a natural product, and therefore is often preferred by those who do not like the idea of subjecting their hair to harsher chemicals. The staining capabilities of henna, especially natural henna, makes it useful for changing gray hair to brown (it won't make gray hair blonde), one reason why many associate a henna rinse more with being a hair dye than a conditioner. Sometimes a henna conditioner is made from henna in combination with one or more other herbs.
Most henna conditioners that are used for the hair, are neutral henna conditioners, and are made from a special type of henna leaves that have little or no staining power, so one can undergo a conditioning treatment without fear of ending up with different colored hair. A neutral henna conditioner is also the type used for conditioning the nails.
Sometimes artificial ingredients are mixed in with henna powder to produce a black or coffee-colored paste. Obviously, this type of product is primarily intended for use as a dye, and generally as a dye for the skin for the purpose of making temporary tattoos. This henna, usually called black henna, is normally not used as a henna conditioner.
Growing Henna - One can make their own henna mixture as henna powder is usually available on the market. It is even possible to grow henna, a shrub-like plant which will grow to a height of anywhere from 3' to 8'. Henna seeds can be found in several of the better known seed companies' product lines. Henna plants require only occasional watering, as they usually grow in somewhat arid climates. Henna plants will not grow in areas of high humidity, having frequent fog or mists, or experiencing substantial rainfall. The henna plant also requires little in the way of fertilizer, so given the right climatic conditions, is a relatively maintenance free plant, and one which rarely has problems with pests or diseases.
Most henna plants are cultivated in the Middle East as well as the Indian subcontinent, but are cultivated in other areas as well. Hennotannic acid is the agent present in the plant that gives henna its coloring and conditioning properties, the chemical so named because of its similarities to the chemical properties of tannins.
Making Your Own - There are various recipes for making a henna paste, though for all practical purposes mixing henna powder in enough olive oil to make a paste is all that is usually involved. Some who make their own may add a little honey or another ingredient to achieve a special effect. In making a henna paste, unless neutral henna powder is used, wearing gloves is advised unless one wishes to have the skin of the fingers conditioned, good for the skin, and dyed, maybe not so good.