Henna and Me – Shelli’s HairStory


(Post 2nd henna; May 2010; First attempt at a TnC)

How long have you been natural?
I’ve been natural for 11 years now.

How long have you been using henna? When did you start?
I began using henna around May of 2010, so for a little over a year.

What made you begin using henna?
A friend recommended CurlyNikki.com to me as she indicated Nikki had hair that was similar to mine. She thought I might enjoy the site. Wow, was that an understatement!! I started visiting the site in February of 2010. I was blown away by Nikki’s hair! It was so lush, voluminous, shiny and defined. It also had a great shape and consistent curls. I read her post, I’m a Henna Head, on the benefits of henna. Then, I began to read every post she had on henna. I was especially interested in the strengthening, thickening and conditioning claims. After three months of research and growing intrigue, I bit the bullet and ordered my first six boxes of Jamila henna from Mehandi.com. Yeah, when I go, I go hard;). Nikki indicated that henna has a cumulative effect and it takes three treatments to see appreciable thickening and strengthening. She also stated that when she began using henna, she did weekly treatments in order to get these benefits as quickly as possible. So, who was I to question perfection;-)?

How would you describe your first experience with henna?
I’ll admit, I was very nervous as the process seemed involved, messy, long and overwhelming. But, I was well prepared. I’d watched Nikki’s video tutorial repeatedly. I had my old towels, plastic gloves, bonnet dryer, plastic spoon, bowl, green tea, honey, Sally’s GVP Conditioning Balm and HE HH. I was ready to go. I made a little bit of a mess the first time  around, but most of it was caught by the old towels. My hands got a little tinged by the rinsing process. However, the rinsing was easier than I expected. 

What type of henna do you use? Where do you purchase it?
Currently, I use Jamila and Dulhan. I get Jamila online from Mehandi.com and Dulhan from my local Indian grocer, Patel Brothers, for $1.49!! I usually mix a batch using both to make my Jamila go further. I also use indigo that I purchase from Mehandi.com. I use indigo on the back half of my head in a two-step henna/indigo process. I love the way the henna turns my grey hair into fiery red highlights in the front. However, I think it makes my head look patchy if I allow it to stay red in the back. That’s why I use indigo on the back.

(Post 3rd henna; June 2010; WnG)

What is your mix? What is your process?
My mix and process have changed over the year that I’ve been using henna. Initially, I did “Conditioning Henna Treatments” as Nikki called her first attempt at a henna gloss. For the first several months, I mixed about 1 cup of the Sally’s GVP Conditioning Balm into dye released Jamila henna. I mixed about 100/150g henna with about 1 1/2 cups of warm green tea and a tablespoon or two of honey (I didn’t measure). I’d let that sit 12 hours and then I would apply it to co-washed hair. Now, I tend to alternate between a full strength henna on my roots only (except my nape hair, which is almost straight) and a full length gloss, both done on dry hair. I only do a full strength henna on my roots now as henna significantly loosened my curls when I was applying it religiously and repeatedly to the full length of my hair. I realize now that I only need to do about three treatments on new hair and then just gloss the length during that application or a couple of weeks later. I currently tend to mix 100g Jamila, 100g Dulhan, 1 1/2 to 2 cups warm brewed green tea (3-4 teabags) and a tablespoon or two of honey. As I only do my roots, this is usually enough for two applications. So, after dye release, I’ll split the batch and freeze one half of it in plastic wrap and aluminum foil. Frozen/thawed henna provides more intense color/dye uptake. Bonus, I don’t have to repeat the mixing and dye release waiting the next time. I just take the frozen henna out of the freezer a day or two before I want to use it and let it thaw in the refrigerator. If  I don’t think too far ahead, I let it sit on the counter in a bowl to thaw.

Once I’ve applied the henna to my whole head (in 6 sections, 3 on each side; working from back to front on each side), I wrap my hair in plastic wrap and don a plastic cap. Normally, I’ll let the henna sit in my hair for 4 hours, 2 under my bonnet dryer on the warm setting. After four hours, I rinse the henna in the shower using HE HH. Then, I mix a small batch of indigo with lukewarm water and a dash or two of salt and apply it to the back half of my head. I’ll let that sit for at least an hour (sometimes with heat, sometimes without) and then I rinse the indigo and apply my DC of choice (usually JessiCurl Weekly Deep Treatment or Darcy’s Botanical Pumpkin Seed Curl Moisturizing Conditioner; I tried SM Raw Shea DT Masque one time and I wouldn’t recommend it post henna as it doesn’t have enough slip). I leave my DC in anywhere from an hour to overnight. I let my hair cool for about 15 minutes. Then, I apply a diluted daily conditioner (Aussie Moist or HE HH) over my DC, rinse well with cool/cold water and then I’m ready to style.

How often do you henna?
I try to henna once a month, but sometimes go longer if I don’t have the time to do it. I try not to go longer than 8 weeks though. My goal is to do a full strength henna on my roots once a month and a henna gloss two weeks later. That hasn’t happened yet! LOL! What I do usually do is mix the henna left over after a root application with a lot of Conditioning Balm and gloss the length of my hair so that I get the full strength on my roots and the gloss on my length in one sitting. 

(Status ??? henna [I'd lost count]; Aug 2010; TnC)

How has your hair changed with henna?
Repeated applications of henna loosened my curls into waves, which wasn’t an effect I was seeking. But, other than that, henna has improved my hair in every way. I do believe that my hair is stronger, smoother, less porous and, therefore, less frizzy. I believe that my individual strands are thicker, but I don’t think henna has made my whole head of hair look more voluminous. My favorite thing about the changes henna has generated is the intense red of my grey hair and the overall color and shine.

How do you feel about henna and the process now?
The hardest part is making the time, but I enjoy it now. It’s like a spa day for myself and I get to watch TV or work on my blogs=).

What advice would you give someone who is thinking about trying henna?
First, do your research. Read everything you can about henna to decide if it’s right for you and so that you understand all the things you need to do to protect your hair and obtain the best results (i.e. ALWAYS deep condition with a moisturizing, cone free conditioner after henna). Second, be mindful that what works for others may not work for you. I was using amla to try to retain my curl pattern. I continued to use it despite noticing significant itching during the process. My head almost NEVER itches. After four months of this and what I believe was a significant increase in shedding, I faced the fact that my scalp did not like amla. I might have saved some hair if I’d listened to my scalp and accepted this issue earlier. I also might have preserved more of my natural curl pattern if I’d stopped doing full head applications sooner.

Anything else that you’d like to add?
I love henna!! The amla reaction and the curl loosening are issues I could have ameliorated or eliminated if I’d used a little more common sense. So, despite those challenges, I think using henna has been one of the best things I’ve done for my hair. So, if you’re interested in trying it, do your research, be prepared and go for it!

(Febuary 2011; Finally achieved the CurlyNikki!!; TnC)

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84 responses »

  1. I think your hair does look a little more full. It’s not dramatic but from your first pic to your list, there does appear to be some more fullness.

    You definitely have me on the henna band wagon. I’ve done 4 treatments and so far what I notice is a slight thickening of my strands. I have virtually notice breakage. Bonus! The only issue I have too is the itching so I’m definitely not using amla. I don’t care much if my curls loosen further. I already have loose curls as an s-pattern. If I want curls I’ll use rollers LOL

    • Thanks Michelle, but the difference in volume is just because of the difference between my TnC technique then and now. I was only curling the very ends of my twists then, whereas I spiral roll all the way to the root now. Also, I didn’t do any real fluffing/separating in that first pic, whereas I did in the last.

      As to the henna, it’s addictive, isn’t it??! At first, you were like, “I don’t have time for all of that;-).” But, it really is like a treat for yourself. Like, “Ya’ll go shoo, it’s mommy time.”

      • :-) I think it’s easier now because I put it in and just go about my business. Before I was feeling like I had to sit around for HOURS but it’s not the case.

        Also, the results are great. I was sharing it with a lady here at work and when I told her you had to keep it in for at least 4 hours she said the same as me LOL too much time.

        • Exactly! It’s not like you have to sit motionless for 4 hours! But, that’s a natural reaction though some women sit in salons for more than 4 hours waiting for their hair services. I’d rather be at home. That’s another reason going natural was easy for me. I hate salons. I’ve always preferred doing my own hair.

          • I was talking to one of my friends from work regarding henna and she is from India. And she said in India it takes all day as well and she said it like a day at the spa. They get hair, mani, pedi and even facials. So it is a long process but sounds like it is worth it. I can not wait to start henna in my hair. I have a fro now. I can not wait to see the results.

  2. It looks great . I will be sending you my story once its editied (I dont want the grammar police on my tail) I recently use my Lush Caca Rouge henna thats a story within itself,. I didnt like that brand too much. And Im still trying to master my twist and curl but I cant do it as good as the first time. SMH. Trial and error I guess. I want some oyin shine and define , My hair is really dry and never looks shinny. Got any tips for shine?

    • I got the pics and love the braided (?) bun! So can’t wait for the rest of the story (and LOL at the keeping the grammar police off of your tail;). As to the TnC … I got different results on every TnC I did until this year. So yeah, it’s definitely is trial and error and it took me almost 10 months to get it perfected. The journaling helps though, because, when you get it right, you can reference what you did. As to shine, what are you talking about? Your hair always looks shiny to me! Wait, you know, I’m trying to respond to so many comments. But Tiffany, didn’t you say that you use (and love) the SM shampoo? I’m not trying to knock it, but if you are saying your hair looks really dry and never looks shiny, I say start at the beginning. You might want to try co-washing only with the HE HH and go from there. I think the kimmaytube leave-in really helps me with shine. I don’t use anything for shine (no serums or sprays) and I rarely apply any additional product to my hair, except Eco gel w/CD’s HHB to smooth my edges, during the week unless I’m really changing the style. Oh! And, like I mentioned in my prior post about the SM Milk and Smoothie combo, my hair felt really dry and crunchy when I used the DevaCare One conditioner instead of the Kimmaytube. This Sunday, I used the Kimmaytube leave-in. I released my twists this morning and they felt soft and moisturized then and still do now at 6:30 pm. Video from this morning’s take down coming soon;-). Finally, do you regularly deep condition? That is key to the health and growth of my hair, in my opinion. So, if you aren’t incorporating DCing, I’d suggest starting to do it at least 2x a month and see what happens (there’s a lot controversy on the natural hair “boards” about deep conditioning, but I swear by it.).

  3. Hey Tiffany. I don’t know what Shelli will recommend but I’m finding the Jane Carter Nourish and Shine is AMAZING for dull hair. It adds so much shine and also makes the hair feel soft and nice :-)

  4. Thank you for the post. Am I the only one who doesn’t understand how to order from Mehandi? I just wanted to get samples and try it on a small portion of my hair. What hair type were you before the Henna?

    • You just go to the “Henna for Hair” link from the home page and you’ll get here: http://www.mehandi.com/shop/hairhenna.html. The henna brands are listed on the left with pics of the boxes (mostly) and the “Add to cart” links are on the left. A lot of them include 3g samples, which the site says is, “just enough to test for hair harvested from your brush.” But, to pay a S&H charge that is more than the sample ($1.50), I’d suggest that you just go ahead and order a box for $8 and use a little of that to do a strand test. As to my curl pattern before henna, I have a mix of 4 different patterns, but I guess it was a mix of 3b/3c whereas now, it is more like 3a/3b. But, that’s at my ends. The roots are retaining more of their curl since I’ve stopped doing so may applications to the length.

  5. When you say you don’t use the full strength henna on the whole strand, only the roots, does the henna end up loosening the curl too much? What happens?

    I’m just curious because I am looking at using henna for the first time and I’m just picking up as much information as possible.

    I’m hoping to loosen my curls…I have so much hair that it just piles up on each other!
    Beautiful hair!

  6. Hi Rachel! Thank you and yes. I stopped doing it on the full length because it loosened my hair into waves and I liked the curls. However, that effect doesn’t happen to all. From what I’ve read, it’s more common for loose curls to loosen more than tight curls. Think that may also be a factor of how fine the hair strand is. So, if you have fine hair with a lot of density, it may loosen the curl too because it’s the weight of the henna that seems to cause the loosening. That’s why I said I should have stopped doing full head treatments earlier because my curls loosened and I kept layering more and more henna on top, which would weigh the strands down even more. What it will also do is smooth the hair cuticle. So, if a part of the density of your hair is related to frizz, henna will help with that. You also may want to consider a Ouidad cut if you aren’t happy with the way your curls stack on top of each other. I’m jealous because I love huge, voluminous hair=). However, if it’s too much for you, a Ouidad stylist uses a technique in which they cut out individual curls so that your curls lay next to each other (like in an alternating pattern) rather than stacking on top of each other. The cut reduces the triangle effect. Ouidad has a site and you can find a lot of info online about the cut as well as Ouidad trained stylist in your area. The Ouided salon is in NYC, but there are trained stylist across the country. Hope that helps!

  7. Thanks for posting this! I’d been hoping to read your whole henna story. I’m about to do another treatment. I’m still contemplating using indigo over the henna. Haven’t quite accepted the bright, sparkly red of my henna’d silver-greys yet!

  8. Okay, the closest Ouidad salon is three hours away so maybe I’ll find time sometime this summer before school starts.
    Also you mentioned a bonnet dryer. Which brand would you recommend? I never realized you can buy them for your home until recently.

    • I can’t really recommend a brand as I haven’t tried either one that I’ve been eyeing to know if they are good. The one, I expect must be amazing as it costs, like, $300. It’s a Pibbs. This one is similar, but less than half the price: http://lclbeauty.com/proddetail.php?prod=PRO-1028. Someone recommended it in the comments of an old CurlyNikki post. It’s about $130. That’s why I haven’t purchased it yet. When I first found it, it was $99.97. Should have gotten it then! There is free shipping though!

  9. You inspired me to henna again!! I’m using the Lush brand because its what I have at home already. I also read your grow challenge updates, its inspiring! I did the kimmaytube conditioner mix this past weekend and I plan to do my own personal grown-out this month… High-five!!

    • I never tried the Lush brand, but it seems like a lot of people use it. I have read that you need to make sure that it is really dissolved and rinse it very well. And good luck on your own personal challenge!! Wait, is that a “grown” out or grow out?!?! LOL!! You know, like “grown and sexy?” *lol* Anyway, since the Kim Coles/Curly Nikki Grow Out Challenge is over at the end of the month, but my personal goal is for WL hair by the end of the year, I’m going to try to “host” a grow-out challenge here until the end of the year or maybe January to make it 6 months. You are welcome to join=)!!

      • I have jamila now…. I only used the Lush because I didn’t know which ingredients to use at the time. Keep us posted on you hosting a grow-out challenge!!! I’m sure you’ll win the Kim Coles Challenge.. :)

        • I will!! I’m going to put up that post again on Friday probably because that’s when Nikki might feature me as a guest blogger. So, I get a lot of views from that and want to gauge how much interest there is to determine the size of the event. Even if it’s not that many of us, I’d still like to do it. Looks like we are going with August 27th, but I hope to be able to start posting some real plans next week! And thank you so much for the vote of confidence! I’m keeping my fingers crossed!! *lol*

  10. yahhh Shelli, yes you should host a grow out challenge til end of year :-)

    can you include hair care tips along the way and maybe even a 30 days of something “to do” each day to work toward growth? i’d REALLY appreciate it ;-)

    My goal is bust length by end of year. Need to be realistic :-) I don’t know if my life cycle can go to waist. I guess I’ll never know til I get to bust length first!

    • That 30 days of tips is a good idea. I’ll have to see if I can think of enough. Also, I’m no expert and don’t proclaim to be! So, I’ll just say things that have worked for me or that I’ve come across that might be helpful. I think I’ll make a category for that! Great idea! Thanks Michelle!

  11. This is probably off subject, but about what hairtype do you have? Does your length affect your curl at all? It’s lovely!

    • Hi Bunny … I’m a mix of 3a/b/c naturally, but the hair that has been hennaed a lot is probably more 3a/b now. I don’t know how much length has affected the curl (it may weigh it down an itsy bit) but henna definitely has loosened it. And thank you!!

  12. Question for you Shelli, I recently did my first henna treatment about a month ago and a second henna a couple weeks later in which I mixed in Amla (can you say scalp irritation) because i notices a slightly looser curl. Love the results both times, Problem is I’ve noticed substantial curl loosening especially after my 2nd henna. Do you have any tips for helping get the curl back. I really enjoyed the benefits of henna but not at the risk of losing my curl pattern.. Whats a Henna Head to do??

    • Okay, so the only thing I’ve done is stop putting henna on the length of my hair and my nape hair. One thing that I’ve contemplated but haven’t tried is applying henna about an inch or two down the length of my hair (far from the scalp) to see if that restores the curl. As the amla won’t be on the scalp, no irritation. If you try that, let me know how it works! Maybe I’ll do it too! LOL! Oh, and when I was researching the irritation issue, I asked Nikki and Catherine @ Mehandi.com if there were any other options for mixing with henna as amla was a big no-no for me. If I remember correctly, they both indicated that I could try cutting the henna with cassia. This would result in less henna dye deposit (the “weight” of which causes the loosening), but would still provide conditioning benefits because cassia is similar to henna. Again, haven’t tried it though as keeping henna apps to 3 on the same hair has worked to reduce the amount of loosening I was experiencing. I should still try that amla thing though as the bottom half of my hair is looser than the top since I applied way more henna treatments last year.

      And girl, I feel you!! I love henna so much, but was not loving that loosening at all. But, I just couldn’t give it up because of the color and smoothing benefits!!

    • True henna is always red. You can use cassia, which is sometimes referred to as neutral henna. It’s a different plant with the many of the same benefits of henna. However, the effects don’t last as long.

  13. I just recently used henna for the first time. I loved it. You only notice the red color in the sunlight. I am currently transitioning, so I’m hoping that the henna will give me stronger hair as it grows out of the relaxer.

    • Hi Nancy! The color, strength and shine only improve with more henna treatments. Three to four is usually when you will get the full effect of all. If you experience curl loosening and it’s not desired, after 3-4 applications, you may want to try doing your roots only. Welcome to a new henna head=)!

    • Hi Lee (I’m seeing a lot of O’Neal’s on here!! You’re not related to my LaShonda are you?!?)! You can do henna on wet or dry hair. I used to co-wash my hair first and then henna. But now I do it on dry hair (less shower time!). I don’t know if you finished it yet, but the first time can be a little nerve wracking as it seems to be an overwhelming process. But seriously, there is a fast learning curve and it becomes easier each time. After about 2 to 3 treatments, you’ll feel like an expert;-). Just remember to DC!!

  14. Question…. First, your hair is so beautiful! Skills do you or any others on the post perform an apple cider vinegar rinse? If not, what will it do to hair that is treated with Henna? I love ACV rinses, the treatment is a must for my hair.

    • Hi Freddie=)! Thank you!!! I’ve only used an ACV rinse a couple of times, but it was with henna and it was fine. You can definitely use it if you use henna with the same benefits as you currently experience. Just don’t do them the same week that you do a henna. Probably wait a week or two in between to ensure that your hair doesn’t become overly dry. Hope that helps!

  15. Pingback: Experiments with Amla « hairscapades

  16. I just found your blog and I’m looking forward to exploring. I have research the Henna treatment and want to do one. I noticed you love the red that your gray changed to. My fear, I don’t want the red. My hair is a light brown and I want my gray to turn to a dark brown. Do you have any suggestions?

    • Hi there! Absolutely you can do this. What you have to do is purchase indigo in addition to henna. Based upon how dark you want your hair, you mix henna and indigo together (for dark brown, you use more indigo then henna, you can also add cassia or amla for a “cooler” color). There is a lot of fantastic info on how to achieve the color you want on mehandi.com. As long as you aren’t trying to lighten your hair, you can obtain a variety of tones/colors with henna and indigo. Just one thing, when mixing henna, I always suggest using green tea instead of the lemon juice or ACV recommended on the site because it is milder and not as drying as the other two acids. Henna is already drying, so I don’t suggest mixing with an acid that is the same. However, each head of hair is different, so if you prefer that or find that you want to experiment with different acids, go for yours. But, again, I would suggest trying something milder for your first go at henna. Well, I hope you come back and enjoy the content on the site!! Thank you so much for visiting and subscribing to my YouTube channel! You know, you can subscribe to the site too ;)! LOL! Thanks!

  17. Hi Shelli, I need help. About 3 weeks a ago i have been applying henna once a week to my hair and I am loving it everytime I use it. My only issue with using henna on my hair is when I wear white shirts (mainly button up) the henna stains my shirt. even if i wear my hair in a bun it still some how rubs my hair and stains. It is embarrasing because if anyone notices they are probably gonna think Im dirty :(…ugh!!! I use the nupur brand in the green plastic package. When I rinse the henna i co-wash 3 or 4 times. I have even shampooed out the henna before and still have the same problem. I use the kimmay leave in and elasta qp mango and olive oil hair cream and Im not heavy handed. Just wondering if you have experienced this or any of the other ladies?? Thank you for your help!!!

    Newly Distressed Henna Head!!!!

    • Oh wow. No, I have never had that problem! And, the thing is, I never really get all of the henna out of my hair! I always have red coming out my next wash day. Is your hair completely dry when you dress, but somehow it is still getting on your clothes? I know Marsha on here uses that Nupur henna (I have a bag in the freezer, but haven’t tried it yet). I’m thinking that maybe you should try a very diluted ACV rinse and then go hard with the deep conditioner. But, let me look around and see what I can find. How long does this happen? Also, again, is your hair wet or dry? If it’s wet, then that may definitely be the problem. What kind of conditioner are you using to wash it out? Is it something really slippery? Also, do you “head dunk” first (i.e. fill the tub with enough water to cover your head, then submerge your hair to get the henna out first before getting in the shower to rinse with conditioner)?

      • Hi Shelli, now that you mention it my hair was kinda damp when I took it down from a TnC that I had done the night before. I use v05, and suave naturals for my co washes after I rinse the henna out. My hair stains my white shirts any time I wear one, I only moisturize and seal at night. When I rinse the henna out I do not head dunk first so maybe I should try that next time and try a different conditioner to co wash with afterwards and also try the ACV rinse . Thanks for your help, it’s really great to be able to talk to someone about this, none of my friends or family are even interested in henna but Im hoping through my trails and error they will be inspired by what it does for my hair. If you think of something else I appreciate it, I need all the help I can get…. lol

        • Hef Stef, try the dunking thing first before the ACV. The ACV rinse should be a last ditch effort. As to your conditioner, both of those sound fine. Do they have a lot of slip? If so, that’s all you need. If you want to experiment though, I use Hello Hydration. And, no problem!! I’m so glad to help (which I hope that I do!!)! As you said, maybe you’ll convince some of your friends and/or family to become henna heads too;-)!

    • Okay, first things first … How gorgeous are you?!?! OMG!! So pretty, you and your hair=)!! As to what I consider a full strength treatment, I mean henna with no conditioner mixed into it … so it would be henna mixed with enough warm (not hot) green tea to make it the consistency of cake batter or yogurt. Then, I’ll usually add a couple tablespoons of honey (after dye release). As to how much, your hair looks pretty long, so I’d go with at least 200g (boxes tend to be 100g, so get at least 2 for a full head application … shoot, to be on the safe side, you may need to go with 3. My hair is fine, but your hair looks like it is thicker. You can always freeze leftovers and thawed henna has even better dye deposit). I use about 1 cup of green tea for each 100 g of henna and about 2 teabags per cup of water (so 200 g henna with 4 tea bags in 2 cups of water). Hope that helps! Feel free to let me know if you have any more questions!

      • Thank you :D
        I am going to do my first henna this Thursday (if I get home in time) so I can wear it on friday for a football game!
        I ordered the Jamila Henna so it should arrive home sometime this week.
        Also is it good to wash your hair prior to Henna application to detangle?

        BTW there is a new show called Terra Nova starting tonight on some channel. One of the girls in the trailer looks like she has natural hair which is a first compared to most shows out.


        Personally if I watch it, its because of the actor Landon Liboiron :)

  18. Hi Shelli, I went Henna shopping to day but did not pick any up, said i was going
    to research some more. I went in the Indian store and they only had two brands.(do not remember name)
    so i left. will research other brands first.

    • Good luck! There are a lot of brands that people like. I have this Nupur and Trichup that I picked up from the Indian grocer to try. I’ve read that people are getting good results with Nupur, so I want to try that one soon. But, Dulhan is the one that I started with because Nikki posted great results with it last year.

  19. Shelli,

    I want a touch of color but I have a problem. the front of my hair is gray. I mean really gray and when I did a henna treatment a few months back of course it turned bright orange with nice highlights through out. I want to try the burgandy bundle by butters-n-bars, but I don’t want the gray to be burgandy. Can I use indigo in front to cover the burgnady. I don’t want my gray to show at all up front, but I don’t want bright hair in the front either. I want to have color on the gray hairs throught out my hair like highlights. I hope I didn’t confuse you.

    Thank you,


    • Joy, I’m a little confused because I’m not sure what colors you want your grey to be. But, here’s the thing, if you want your hair black, do a two step henna/indigo. Henna first, then rinse, mix the indigo and immediately apply it. You leave that on for one hour at least and it’ll give you blue black. However, if you want your greys more brown, you mix henna with indigo and amla (if it doesn’t bother you, my hair doesn’t like amla). Basically you can do different mixes for different colors and, if you want different colors in different areas, then you do those areas with different mixes. Now I’m wondering if I’m making sense:). Essentially, I love my deep reds on my front grey, but not on the back, so once I rinse the henna, I only apply indigo to the back half of my hair. You can go to Mehandi.com and look at their Henna for Hair online pamphlet for lots of great information about different henna mixes for different colors (found more towards the middle/end of the pamphlet):


      Hope that helps!

  20. Shelli, how many times did you henna your hair before seeing a difference? I bought Colora Henna and was think of trying it out. I know it’s not the good stuff like mehandi, Jamila but I’m a PJ and couldn’t leave the beauty supply store without it.

    • Hey Katina, it usually takes about 3 times to see an appreciable difference, but some notice after one application. Hmmm, I don’t know about that Colora Henna. I’ve heard of it before … but can’t remember details. Is it 100% body art quality (BAQ) henna? If not, I’d really suggest that you don’t use it and find a local Indian grocery store that says BAQ henna. It only costs about $1.50 at most Indian grocers. The henna in a lot of BSSs have the metals that you want to avoid at any cost. You don’t have to order online at all if you don’t want … I know many people who use the cheaper versions with much success, including me. Dulhan works just fine:)!

  21. Shelli! I don’t have a camera with me (actually I don’t think I’ve used a camera in over two years!) and I can’t wait to post my henna story! Since I colored my hair a little over a year ago, the henna shows up more on the lower half of my hair. Other than that I love the results!

    • Hey Rachel!!! I realized that I never replied to your comment about Terra Nova. Yeah … I tried to watch a little of the first ep … my attention span is so short now and I’m always trying to work on the blog when I’m not at my 9-5. So, if they don’t catch me quickly, I’m out!!

      As to the henna, so you’ve liked the results?!?! How many applications have you done and which brand are you using?! YEA!!!! Another henna head:)!!

  22. Hi Shelli,
    I love your hair, it is beautiful ! I have 4b hair. Last night, I henna’ed for the first time with Godrej – Nupur. I actually want to loosen my curl pattern a bit – similar to the way that Nikki’s and yours loosened over time. I know every head of hair is different, but what brand would you recommend to actually loosen my curl pattern ? I actually plan on returning the Nupur because it has amla, which I realize would counteract any curl loosening.

  23. actually, to be more specific, the other brands I can easily get on the ground are Dulhan, Reshma, Karishma and I think Mumtaz. I found Jamilla for hair- not BAQ. Do you think any of those will help me loosen my curl or will I have to get Jamilla BAQ

    • Thank you Charlene! As to curl loosening, if you don’t have fine strands, you may not experience it at all. It seems the weight of the henna is what weighs down finer hair. If you have thick strands, your curls probably won’t loosen. However, if you do have fine strands, don’t think it really makes a difference. But, you are right, avoid henna with amla because that might prevent any curl loosening. The one thing I’ll say is that a henna with a high dye content will probably result in the most loosening because it’s the dye that bonds to the hair and creates the weight. I tend to use 100g of Dulhan from the Indian grocer with 100g of Jamila. The dye content of the Jamila is high, but I don’t think it’s listed on the Dulhan. I have a friend who uses Reshma with great success. Here is her “Henna and Me” hairstory:


      I’m not sure of her curl pattern, but her hair is curlier and thicker than mine and henna made a noticeable difference in the appearance of her twist-outs. They became so much smoother, shinier and defined. I’m not familiar with the other two brands of henna, so can’t provide any feedback for those. So, hope that helps a little!

      • Thanks so much for your response Shelli ! and quick too! I have superfine strands and thin hair too. Usually my hair kinda gets tangled because its so fine. It tangles not just at the ends, as well. So, I guess I have some hope in turns of curl loosening and definitely overall strengthening. I will stick with the Dulhan and try to order some BAQ Jamila. Do you have a preferences in terms of ordering Jamila online?

        I saw you mentioned buying henna from Patel Brothers. Is that particular one located in Atlanta? If so, I also recently tried out Cherian’s which has an amazing variety of Indian groceries, in general, not just henna. I’ll also check out your friends henna hair journey !

        Thanks a bunch, that definitely does help !

        • No problem:)! Then you definitely may see a difference. I buy Jamila from Mehandi.com, but CurlyNikki had some info from Catherine at Mehandi that indicated the quality isn’t as good as it used to be. So she recommended Rajasthani Twilight to Nik. Nik got it and loved the color, but finds it harder to rinse than Jamila, so she’s back to Jamila. RT does have a higher dye content though. I used the RT and didn’t have any problem rinsing. I didn’t have any problem with Dulhan either, but Nikki has. So, I’d suggest starting with the Dulhan and see how that works for you since it’s cheaper and so much easier to obtain!

          As to Patel Brothers, I’m in NJ. I’ve never heard of Cherian’s, so I’ll have to look into it. Patel Brothers is an Indian Grocery Store, so it has all kinds of food items as well as cosmetics. Thank you!

          • Hi Shelli, I am so happy to have come across hairscapades! I read and read and read your posts, instructions and advice but chickened out on doing the job myself so, I went to a threading/henna tattoo salon in my neighborhood to have them put the henna in my hair (4b/4c type).
            Part of my reasons is fear but the overriding issue is that I have really debilitating pain in my shoulders which hinders me from holding my hands up for even 5 minutes. So, the first time was in February and my hair was soft afterwards but because I have about an inch and a half of gray hair “tiara” I now have an orange halo!! Needless to say it’s not a good look for a 55 year old black woman working in corporate America/parent of a 28 year old. So I went back two weeks ago and this time my hair is coarse and shedding which makes me believe that the henna they used is of inferior quality, maybe it was old I don’t know and they won’t say. Furthermore they have no idea what Amla, Cassia or Indigo are!! So toning down the orange is not
            The upshot of this is I need to find someone in NY who knows how to mix henna/indigo and because you’re in NJ I wondered if you knew of anyone who does it here. All I need someone to apply either or both as it’s done on http://www.hennaforhair.com. I see you’ve done your mom’s hair and it’s beautiful however my son is not gonna do it and my daughter lives out of town. Can you suggest someone in Bklyn, Bronx or NYC?

            Continued success and best of health,


            • Hi Coco! First, thank you so much for reading! Second, so sorry that you have so much pain and that your second experience wasn’t good. Before you have it done, I would recommend doing a moisturizing deep treatment. Unfortunately, I don’t know anyone in NY who does it. But, maybe you can purchase the henna and indigo yourself and mix it and have the same place apply it? If you are going for a deep brown, you can mix the two together. If you are going for black, you could mix the henna to bring with you (that way you know you have quality henna) and just bring the indigo powder with you and explain to them that it just needs to be mixed with water a little salt and then applied immediately after the henna is rinsed? There are a couple of ladies on here from NY, so I’m going to write on my FB page and see if anyone can recommend a good henna salon in NY.

              Thank you!!

  24. Wow I wish I would have read your blog before I did my first henna on Dec 17. I was very happy with the results. My goal was to cover my patch of gray hair in the front with indigo. I loved the orange red after the first process however my husband was not having it. I brought the henna and indigo weeks ago. Thanks CurlyNikki I took the plunge. When I went back to her blog I noticed she mentioned you a few more scrolls down. After reading your responses to the questions the other readers asked, my questions were answered. Funny I washed my hair with a clarifying shampoo after I did the henna because it was so gritty. Plus I wanted to make sure the indigo adhered to my gray hairs. The results were magnificent. Now my husband wants me to color his hair next. Might as well because I needed his help. I decided to leave the henna in my hair for four hours and the indigo for two hours. I followed up with Palmer’s Coconut Oil Formula Deep Conditioning Protein pack and it began to burned my scalp. Do you know why my scalp was burning? I left it on for 30 minutes (even though it scared the hell out of me) and after I rinsed it out I felt my scalp tingling for two days. My other epiphany is that I could have gone dark brown instead of black to make the process shorter. Even though you can use 10% henna and 90% indigo dark brown hair, will you get the full benefits of the henna? The best added value to this process is that my scalp does not itch anymore. I mean scratching to the point of wanting to feel the pain instead of the itching. (Did not know how to put it any other way.) So today I cowashed. Hair was so much easier to run my fingers through. So hopefully you will be able to help me with my questions. Yes, I too am now a henna head. Can’t wait to see how I will feel about in 6 months.

    • Hi Nova! I’m happy that you are finding the site helpful! I actually have a post going up tomorrow at 6 a.m. on color choices with henna. You can use a 3/4 ratio of henna to indigo for dark brown results or try some other household “additives” to deepen your color results. A 1/9 ratio of henna to indigo probably wouldn’t give you the full benefit of a henna treatment as you wouldn’t get as much dye. As to the conditioner burning your scalp … I’ve never used that one, but I wouldn’t keep anything on my scalp that burned it. That surely will not end well! I’m not familiar with the ingredients, but maybe your scalp was irritated from shampooing after using henna and then the conditioner aggravated it? If it contains something like tea tree oil, the combo of the henna, clarifying shampoo and conditioner may be the root cause. So, I’d just recommend sticking with co-washing to eliminate the henna residue. I often have some henna in my hair after my wash session that isn’t completely gone until my subsequent wash. It doesn’t bother me, but I know some experience an itchy scalp if there is any henna residue remaining. So, you have to decide what you can live with and find what works for you. If you really feel like you need to shampoo, I definitely would stay away from a clarifying shampoo or anything with sulfates. There are a variety of lathering SLS free shampoos on the market now that may be good alternatives for you, like Shea Moisture Raw Shea Moisture Retention shampoo or Yucca and Baobab Thickening shampoo. Hope that helps!!

  25. im curious about something i want to try henna because im transitioning i havent relaxed my hair in almost a year because my hair is impervious to them if that makes sense lol like my hair wont straighten no matter what i do so i kind of given up on them but anyways i have alot of new growth and the hair that was relaxed is really curly still so i was wondering if i could use the henna to help with some breakage that im getting at the crown its not horrible but its kind of aggrivating and also i dont know if anyone has ever had this problem but my scalp has been horribly tender since ive stop relaxing is that normal?

  26. Pingback: Best of Hairscapades 2011 « hairscapades

  27. greetings,

    Love your hair…absolutely beautiful. I have a question if I wanted to Hanna my hair and i wanted it super black.. how would i go about doing it. I have researched how to get it really black but have not found a really good source for that information as of yet..

  28. Pingback: My Two-Step Henna Indigo Process « hairscapades

  29. Can you tell me if henna is offered in the salons? I never hear of salons doing henna. I’d rather try henna than a colored rinse for my hair or a permenante dye.

    • Some Indian salons do it Anon. So, if you have any of those in your area, you can see if they do henna treatments. But, you will want to check to make certain that they are using 100% BAQ henna that they would use for Mehandi tattoos. Some may be using hennas mixed with chemicals or metals. So, you want to make certain you are getting pure henna that would be used on skin and the only color it will be is red, unless they are mixing it with indigo after dye release. HTH.

  30. Thank you for sharing this information. I am doing research right now because I want to thicken my hair (I currently have thin hair). My hair is several shades of blonde and I can not find information that would show what color I should use on my hair or if I need to dye my hair dark before trying the henna. Please help. Also, I tried the alma oil the other day and my scalp was itching. I am just like you in that department.

    • Fraenda, sorry for the delay!! I lose track of comments sometimes as I read them in my e-mail and then, between responding on FB, e-mail and here, miss things! Anywho, hoping that you subscribed to the comments on this post so that you’ll get an e-mail on this. You may want to try cassia as it has a yellow dye molecule and won’t change your blondes, if that is the color that you want to keep. It also helps thicken hair a little, but the effects don’t last as long as henna. Here is a post I did on color options with BAQ henna a while back. I think it’ll help you figure out what will work for you:




  31. Thank you for sharing your henna experience. Between you and CurlyNikki, and after being chicken for the almost 2 years I’ve been natural, I’m ready to try henna. I ordered a few packets from Mehandi and can’t wait to get messy and try it out to see what benefits my hair can derive from it. I hope to strengthen, condition, and add shine.

    • Hey lady! Good luck with it! Just take your time and make certain to use a moisturizing conditioner after the henna. And, I’d suggest using a mild acid, like green tea, for dye release and nothing stronger (like ACV or lemon juice). I think a lot of people have excessive drying because of too strong of an acid and not deep conditioning with a good moisturizing DC.

  32. Hey Shelli, thanks for the post & thanks for recommending Tameeka, The Curl Whisperer, to us as well! I recently got a trim from her the other day & my hair has never been better! More definition & curls! Double Pow! so thank you thank you!
    I’ve been looking into ayurvedic treatments & henna is a reoccurring subject. Now I’ve notice that everyone talks about the color but I’m more interested in the benefits. My hair is slightly thin in the front area (i think thats the crown right?). Its not too too thin but there is a slight difference in density between the front of my hair & the back. So reading that henna thickens your hair is a plus. So here’s my question, as a first time user seeking to only use henna for the thickening, strengthening & of course shine (lol) should I do a full-head application or just the roots?

  33. Pingback: Tales of a Transitioner: My Henna Transitioning Story | hairscapades

  34. Pingback: My Haircare “Regimen” (Pt. 1 of ?) | Simply Curl-E

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