For years, I have been focused on ensuring that what put in my mouth, on my skin and in my hair is truly nourishing. Over time, I have fine tuned what I define as nourishing. For example, I first thought I was consuming the highest quailty chicken when I purchased a Rosie’s organic chicken at Whole Foods. That has evolved to a pasture-raised chicken purchased at the farmers market, to pasture-raised chickens purchased directly from the farm via a buying coop that is also soy-free, corn-free and has no genetically modified organisms.
My hair care has also evolved over time.
As I’ve aged, and started to gray, I’ve decided I wanted to enjoy being a brunette a bit longer. I researched several products to use for hair color. I thought NaturaColor was relatively natural and used it for a number of years. It was fairly well reviewed and I had read in an article about Herbacuticals Naturacolor that the only real concerning ingredient is sodium metabisulfite, an irritant and possible toxin – but, according to tests only at high doses.
Ingredients in Naturcolor:
Spagyric (TM) Herbal Infusion, Burdock, Centella Asiatica, Nettle, Sage, Hops, Lavender, Rosemary, Lecithin, Lavender Oil, Coconut Oil, Soy, Oleic Acid, Ethanolamine, Shea Butter, Mango Glycerides, Chamomile Extract, Vegetable Resin Extract, Bilberry Extract, Red Sorrel Extract, Walnut Extract, Sodium Metabisulfite, Jasmine Absolute Ascorbic Acid, Hydrolized Wheat Protein, P-Phenlyenediamine, P-Eminophenol, M-Aminophenol.
Ingredients in Naturfix:
Water, glycol, hydrogen peroxide (3%), etidronic acid
The photo below was captured on April 13, 2014 with NaturaColor on my hair.
While I knew it may be more natural than some hair color solutions, I suspected that it was somewhat of a comprise and was seeking something more natural. We’ll I’ve found it!
I have returned to my Moroccan roots and started to use Morrocco Method’s henna. Made from the leaves of the Lawsonia plant, henna works without damaging, without drying and without chemically altering the structure of the hair. Henna binds with the keratin of your hair, preventing brittleness and breakage. It wears off gradually over a period of approximately 8-12 weeks, eliminating the dark-root problem you must contend with when using chemical tints. What is referred to as neutral henna in the form of Cassia obovatacan can also serve to benefit our hair and scalp without any color as well.
As I’ve written before in my article How can we get our hair clean with mud?, I discovered Morrocco Method hair care in 2005, and have been using their shampoos and conditioners. Now that I’ve started to use their henna, I’m only putting truly natural products on my hair and scalp. Before I switched from Naturacolor to Morrocco Method’s henna, I had used henna twice in the past. The first time I used a henna purchased from an outdoor market in Israel, and my hair became fairly orange. The next time, I used henna purchased at the health food store designed to cover grey, and my hair remained grey. With the Morrocco Method henna, I have had full coverage of the gray, as well less tangled, well conditioned, smoother, silkier hair in a rich brown color.
Below are photographs captured on November 22, 2014, after a haircut followed by my own application of henna the night before.
Henna has been used as a hair dye for 6,000 years.
As Wikipedia explains: Henna has been used since antiquity in Ancient Egypt, as well as other parts of North Africa, the Horn of Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, the Near East and South Asia to dye skin, hair, and fingernails, as well as fabrics including silk, wool, and leather.
Henna is prevalent in my mother’s Moroccan culture, so I feel like I am truly returning to a nourishing tradition. Henna is considered the only way for for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding to safely color their hair since it is nontoxic. There are no chemicals of any kind in Morrocco Method henna.
The henna in the Morrocco Method product is Lawsonia inermis, which is naturally a red-orange dye. In order to achieve their variety of colors they use other plant powders. Their browns and black are mixtures of Lawsonia inermis and Indigofera tinctoria in varying ratios. As was mentioned above, neutral Henna is pure Cassia obovata. Blonde Henna is actually Cassia obovata mixed with marigold and chamomile flowers.
Benefits of Henna on Hair
While my primary motivation was to find a natural hair color solution to cover gray there are other benefits to henna. The following have been noted: henna contributes to stronger strands and less breakage, smooths hair cuticle giving hair a healthy appearance, thickens hair, promotes growth due to antibacterial and anti fungal properties, as well as less shedding. In addition:
- Less tangling. Being that Henna coats the strands of hair with the Lawsonia, it makes the cuticles lie down flatter, which can result in smoother, shinier hair with less tangling.
- Hair conditioner. Henna covers each hair shaft and builds a protective layer that safeguards the strands from damage. It is said that regular use of henna makes your hair thick and strong by locking the essential moisture in the hair. Morrocco Method offers a neutral henna in the form of pure Cassia obovata that doesn’t impart any color but, simply conditions.
- Can help alleviate dandruff. Henna is naturally antifungal and antibacterial and some people have reported that consistent use of henna has helped with dandruff and scaly scabby scalp.
- Loosening and softening curly hair. Some people report that henna loosens their curl pattern, which may nor may not be considered a benefit for more highly textured, curly, or coarse hair types. Rather than hair standing straight up from the scalp it now hangs downwards. Also users notice they have a lot less shrinkage when hair dries. This benefit is often noticed by those who have used henna treatments at least three or four times in a short space of time between three to eight weeks. This is due in part to the weight the various coatings henna adds to the hair strands and of course natural gravity.
- More body, density, bounce. People with fine, thin limp hair also notice that continual henna treatments give their hair more body, density, shine and all round bounce. Again, this is because the regular coats of henna will build up the hair’s structure and result in thick stronger strands.
Below are before and after pictures of my hair illustrating how well henna covers my gray hair. Yes, that is my hair in both photographs. I promise.
- Some have expressed concern that henna isn’t safe or is bad for their hair.
Henna is not bad for your hair; it is a natural colorant and strengthener, and has all sorts of other benefits such as the reduction of dandruff, elimination of ringworm and head lice.
- Some have claimed that henna has dried out their hair.
If you already have dry hair, it won’t dry it further necessary but, it also won’t condition it because it seals in moisture that is already in your hair. As such, Morrocco Method recommends you use less of the apple cider vinegar or lemon juice as you make the recipe, and be sure to add some Euro Oil, but no more than 3 teaspoons to ensure the henna sticks. Conditioning several days before is recommended, followed by shampooing only before henna applicaiton. Also, washing out the henna with a conditioner is also recommended for those with dry hair. Of course, Morrocco Method conditioners are recommended. My hair feels conditioned after henna rather than dry. I’ve applied Morocco Method henna to my hair three times so far and have never experienced it as drying.
- Some have had bad results switching to henna.
Some brands of henna contain metallic compounds that react with the ammonia activator in synthetic hair dyes. This could be an issue if you’d recently use synthetic hair dyes. These reactions could result in green hair, fried and brittle hair, and in some rare cases, the combination of metals and a freshly done chemical color might melt the hair off your head. I only use Morrocco Method’s Medium Brown Henna Hair Color, which is 100% pure plant dye. There are no chemicals, metallic salts, or purified protein derivative in any of their hennas. You can safely use henna on previously chemically dyed hair however, they suggest waiting 6-8 weeks after your last dye job to allow for detox.
I absolutely love the way my hair looks and feels after a henna treatment. I am very confident that henna is a truly nourishing product whether or not you use it to color your hair. The smile you see below is authentic. I am happy the day after.
Below are some pictures taken during my preparations of the henna recipe. The henna is green, but happily my hair isn’t. I add organic black tea brewed in filtered water, apple cider vinegar and spices to the henna to release the dye. I follow these directions, and have called and emailed them with any questions I’ve had. As mentioned above, their customer service is, in my opinion, suberb.
Added below is some apple cider vinegar and ginger. Ginger and other spices such as cinnamon are suggested to soften the smell of the henna. I don’t mind the smell as is but, enjoy the added spices. Later, after the henna mixture has cured for up to 12 hours, I add the indigo to the mixture that has already been pre-measued and is part of the medium brown henna kit.
Promotion for our Nourishing Community
Morrocco Method has become a sponsor of Nourishing Our Children, which means they have agreed to support our non-profit educational initiative with a contribution. As a point of clarification, they didn’t pay for me to write this post and my wholehearted support of all of their products has come from my own initiation. These are the only hair care products I use and believe they are the most nourishing products available to us for retail sale.
They are offering our community an exclusive coupon for all of their hair care, including henna! Please read my article about their shampoos and conditioners to learn why I use and recommend them! One of the benefits of using any of the Morrocco Method products is the level of support they offer. They have held my hand every step of the way. I think their customer service is exemplary.
- Follow our referral link to Morrocco Method‘s online store.
- Use coupon code Nourishinghair33 and you’ll receive 15% off any order.
- One per customer.
- The coupon expires December 27, 2014.