Tag Archives: cassia

My First Cassia Treatment

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A few months ago, when I was replenishing my henna, indigo and zizyphus stash from Mehandi.com, I decided to order some cassia from too. I’d been wanting to try it for a while as an interim treatment between hennas, because it is supposed to have many of the same conditioning benefits sans the time-consuming and messy process!

What is Cassia?

via Mehandi.com

There is NO such thing as neutral henna or blond henna! Much of what is sold in boxes called neutral or blond (sic) henna is Cassia Obovata, usually with unlisted adulterants. Cassia obovata will make damaged hair silky, thick, lustrous, and helps keep your scalp healthy, just as henna does. This has a golden yellow dye molecule, but it won’t show up on your hair unless you are very pale blond (sic) or gray. Cassia will not make dark hair golden. Cassia will make gray or blond hair golden.

Those who don’t want the red color that accompanies henna may be interested in cassia as it provides many of the same benefits, without the deposit of the red dye (lawsone) molecule. It also isn’t supposed to cause the curl loosening that is a potential side effect of henna. That being said, it’s the deposit of the red dye that provides much of the strengthening, thickening and shine-enhancing benefits of henna. Henna is a plant resin that bonds to the keratin in the hair strand, carrying the pigment with it and filling in rough spots in the cuticle (hope that I got that right ;)!). Cassia is a different plant and though it coats the hair with a plant resin as well, it is not as strong. Therefore, the effects of cassia only last about 1-2 weeks, whereas the conditioning benefits of henna lasts 3-4 weeks and the color is permanent. However, preparing, applying and “marinating” cassia is far less time-consuming as it only needs to “sit” for 30 minutes and be left on the hair for 30 minutes to an hour. No gloves or bathroom protection are necessary either!!

My Cassia Mix & Process

Now that we got that out of the way ;), on Sunday I debated doing a cassia treatment. But, I was persuaded to go for it on my Facebook page (see here :)). I had applied a pre-poo mix of Aubrey GPB and Honeysuckle Rose conditioners mixed with Vatika Oil on Saturday. I’d previously read the instructions to apply cassia to dry hair, but after searching around a little, found that some applied it to wet, washed hair as well. So, I knew that I was okay to wash my hair first. During the same search, I also found that there are different cassia recipes just as there are for henna. So, I decided to make a pseudo cassia gloss using the same ingredients that I use with henna, with one exception. I used warm filtered water instead of green tea as adding an acid to cassia releases the yellow dye molecule. That isn’t a problem for my dark hair, but it might have caused my grey roots to yellow. No bueno.

So, with that, here was my process:

  1. Mixed 100g cassia powder with approximately 1 cup of warm filtered water and let it sit for about 30 minutes.
  2. Hopped in shower and shampooed hair in 6 twists with diluted DevaCare No Poo (diluting No Poo provides it with nice slip). Released each twist to lightly finger detangle and re-twisted before rinsing shampoo (20-30 min.).
  3. Got out of shower and mixed about 1/2 – 3/4 cup Sally’s GVP Matrix Conditioning Balm and 1/4 cup of honey into the cassia mix.
  4. Applied cassia mix to hair in sections, smooshing it on scalp and through length to thoroughly coat strands.
  5. Piled hair on top of head, wrapped it in plastic wrap and put on a plastic baggie.
  6. Donned Hair Therapy Heat Wrap for 1 hour.
  7. Hopped back in shower, rinsed and finger detangled with loads of Herbal Essence Hello Hydration (HE HH). Threw in some Suave Naturals Tropical Coconut conditioner too (just to use it up; won’t be repurchasing as it gives me no slip. I’ve been taking CurlyNikki’s advice and using it for shaving though ;)).
  8. Deep conditioned in 6 twists with Darcy’s Botanicals Pumpkin Seed Moisturizing Conditioner (1 hour w/heat wrap).
  9. Rinsed DC under tub faucet using Cool and Seal techniquewith diluted HE HH.
  10. Styled WnG with Sheilo Leave-in Protecant and Jessicurl Confident Coils Styling Solution using Rake & Shake technique.

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My hair was still damp when it was time for bed, so I put it in a pineapple, made one big loose twist and formed a loose bun by securing the ends with a jaw clip. This morning, I released the bun to find my hair still damp. But, I used a little Wonder Curl Polishing Pomade to smooth out a little bit of the crunch anyway.


Excuse my “I just woke up” face please ;).

My Review and Results

Overall, I think this cassia treatment worked out well!! As expected, it was a lot easier and far less time-consuming than henna. It had a similar grassy smell, but that doesn’t bother me. I also got the same level of shine and smoothness that accompanies a henna treatment … unfortunately for me, that seemed to still be accompanied by curl loosening!! What the heck?? This is NOT supposed to happen with cassia! Okay, okay. I suspect that this may have to do with how much I conditioned my hair during this process … pre-poo, conditioner in the cassia, conditioner to detangle, deep condtioner. So, I’m hoping that my curls will bounce back with some protein-instilling Aubrey GPB conditioner (sans the Honeysuckle Rose mix) and another wash. But again, my hair looks and feels pretty good! In addition to being shiny and smooth, it feels very clean, light and fluffy.

Initial Conclusions
Depending on how my curls bounce back after my next wash session, I definitely think I’ll try cassia again in another month or so. Shoot, might as well … I have another bag of it ;)! Plus, the results are supposed to wear off after a week or two, so I really don’t expect the curl-loosening to be long-lasting or permanent. Since the whole process is so much simpler and shorter than henna with similar results, I’d definitely recommend it to anyone contemplating henna, but who is hesitating because of the color or time concern.

UPDATE: My curls did bounce back the following wash day. So, I’ll definitely try cassia again!

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Do you use cassia? What’s your mix? What kind of results do you get with it?

Henna for Nail Strength?!

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These are not my hands :), they belong to my sister Shana.

Last year around this time, I was heading to NYCC and suddenly noticed that my nails were all about a half-inch long!! If you knew my nail history ;), you’d be as shocked as I was! You see, although I’ve never had a problem with achieving relatively long hair, I could never “grow” long nails, especially on all ten digits at the same time (I’ve always had this theory that the keratin strength either goes to your hair or your nails, rarely both!). I’ve never had the patience for manicures, nail treatments or tips, especially given the need to regularly maintain them. On the rare occasions that I did get a mani, no matter how long I seemed to wait for my nails to dry, I always smudged and/or chipped one (or several) within hours of leaving the salon.

So, I was ecstatic last Spring when I learned of this new Opi nail lacquer which would be completely dry within minutes and would last for two weeks with a nearly chip proof finish! I proceeded to get my nails done every four weeks (because it lasted that long) for several months. And, my nails grew! But then, the side effects began to manifest. The removal process, which involved heavy-duty chemical solvents and a “chisel,” eventually damaged my nails so badly that one thumbnail looked like a shattered windshield! For months, my nails would bend backwards when I attempted to do anything and the tips would just peel away.

Now, you can understand my surprise when I realized in October that my bare nails were … dare I say it … long, healthy and strong. Super long? No. Super hard? Again, no. But, they were really long for me … so long that I had problems removing my contacts (TMI? lol). I started thinking about what could possibly be the cause of this and it struck me that I’d been using henna religiously for months, sometimes weekly. My nails would often be tinted slightly orange for a week or so after a treatment. Given that nails and hair share the same basic component, keratin, and that henna works it strengthening magic on hair by binding to that component, it stood to reason it could do the same  for nails. So, I began to research henna for nail strength and found this:

via Helium.com

Henna can be used to add strength to nails because it contains a resinous substance that adheres to the surface of the nails. This provides protection from splits, chips and tears. Simply combine one tablespoon of natural colored henna with one and a half tablespoons of water. With a knife or spatula coat each nail in the mix for around five minutes before rinsing off. Only use once a month to prevent a build up of resin.

I then found this post on ehow.com, which provides step by step instructions on How to Make a Nail Strengthening Treatment from henna. Both of these posts reference neutral/natural colored henna, which isn’t henna at all. Rather, it is cassia obovata as many of us on the natural hair circuit know;). However, both my sister and I experienced improved nail health via the rinsing process while doing regular (weekly/bi-weekly) treatments with real henna! As cassia can be difficult to come by on the ground, you may choose to try a BAQ henna “rinse” instead. If you don’t mind a slight orange tint for a few days, simply allow your nails to soak in dye released henna water for a few minutes and rinse. Another option is to mix a henna paste and apply it immediately, prior to dye release, and again rinse after a few minutes. However, I would expect that the strengthening of the latter technique is less than the former as the dye molecule in henna is what binds to keratin and, I assume, provides the most plant resin.

If you are not feeling orange nails (hey, it’s October, they’d be great for Halloween;), you probably do want to go with cassia. I’ve experimented with the Light Mountain Hair Color & Conditioner, Neutral as it contains cassia and I could find it on the ground at Whole Foods. The ingredients are listed as cassia auriculata leaf and lawsonia inermis leaf powder and not cassia obovata though. It seems to work okay, but not as well as good, old-fashioned henna.

Regardless of which option you choose, if you are in search of a nail strengthening product, BAQ henna is an effective, 100% natural, quick and easy alternative to expensive, chemical-laden and/or time intensive commercial treatments. It could be just what the nail doctor ordered!

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Have you experienced improved nail strength and increased length since using henna?