My Life

My love HATE relationship with Henna

So, as most of you know, I (Davina) have recently started taking Hairfinity vitamin tablets. The tablets promise increased growth and strength to your hair, and though the dream of having long hair is something I crave, I have an ulterior motive…

As of July, I will be shaving off my hair. And no, not just one side, I’m talking all off (like the pic below of the gorgeous @cydara, minus the green hair).

Screenshot 2014-05-16 09.37.56

‘Why the heck are you spending an arm and a leg on hair growth tablets then, chump?’ I hear you scream. Well firstly, I don’t appreciate the aggressive tone, and I certainly don’t like being referred to as chump. But as we are all friends here, I will forgive you, and I will tell you EXACTLY why…

There are plenty of reasons why I want to cut it all off, which I will be explaining at a later date in a YouTube video. However, the main reason I want to take hair growth tablets before cutting off my hair is due to one five letter word. Henna.

 

Now when I say henna, most people think of the beautiful, elaborate henna designs Asian women have on their hands. And you wouldn’t be far wrong, as it is the same Body Art Quality (BAQ) henna that I used… only, I used it on my hair.

I first read about henna treatments when I first went to University 4 years ago (‘memoryyyyyy, All alone in the moonlight, I can smile at the old daaaaays, Life was beautiful then). I was absolutely obsessed with www.curlynikki.com, and Curly Nikki herself was a self proclaimed ‘henna head’ as well. For hours, I researched the benefits of applying henna to curly hair by reading online articles such as this . To paraphrase, the main benefits that appealed to me were:

– Stronger Hair, as henna coats the hair shaft, filling in the rough spots, creating a second layer of strength around each hair strand
– Smoother, Shinier Hair that is less susceptible to damage
– A non-fading red colouring to the hair
– No Chemicals
– And finally (and most controversially) a looser curl pattern

Now, in a former post, I described my curls as being like slinkys… constantly wrapping around themselves and curling up so tightly that my hair shrinks to half its true length when its in its curly state. However, before hennaing my hair, my hair was even more curly!

lil fro

curls

Before I henna-ed my hair, my hair was extremely tightly coiled, and I got really upset and frustrated by the fact my hair wasn’t showing new growth even when it grew inches and inches (from picture 1 to picture 2, my hair had grown about 5/6 inches). There was not a single part of me that wanted to go back to having relaxed hair, but within my first year of uni, my hair was constantly flat ironed and put into weaves, just so I didn’t have to face my hair in its shrunken form.

Screenshot 2014-05-16 10.16.02

Now don’t get me wrong. Its not unheard of for me to get the occasional weave now. I actually like having my hair in weave during the winter months to avoid my hair being exposed to cold weather. But by my second year of uni I had had enough of constantly leaving a trail of weave everywhere I went and the constant itch I felt that no patting could stop. Patting you head one month a year? Bearable. Patting your hair 3/4 of the year round? Problem.

So in October 2011, I took my weave out and decided enough was enough. I ordered some Jamila henna powder and mixed it up into a thick, browny-green paste (YUM) and slapped it on my hair.

henna-paste-with-sugar

Jamila-SummerCrop20122

Safe to say I didn’t get the hang of a clean henna application for the first few months, so I pretty much destroyed my uni bathroom (my flatmate was NOT amused). And the five hours of walking around with cling film wrapped around my head wasn’t a barrel of laughs either. But after the first few applications, I finally started seeing the length I had been hoping for.

abdou and i

Notice how my hair was stretched out and generally looked fuller? The frizz in this picture is far from desirable, but I was in LOVE with the volume. So, like any addict, I kept on applying henna regularly (every 2-4 weeks).

At first, everything was peachy! My hair felt stronger, less of it was coming out when I brushed my hair, my hair had turned to a nice burgandy colour (in the sunlight) and my curls had loosened to show more length.

However, by my birthday (22nd February – make a note in your diaries, pals), problems started to arise. Most of my hair seemed to be benefiting from the henna, but the curls in the front of my hair had pretty much faded into non-existence. At first I thought it could have been delayed heat damage, but by each application, it became clearer that the henna was literally relaxing my hair at the front.

cur

Up until October 2013, I continued henna-ing my hair – refusing to accept that something that conditions my hair so well could be damaging my curl pattern at the same time. I started doing ‘henna gloss applications’, meaning that I mixed conditioner in with the henna so that the effects weren’t as strong. It finally took me until November for me to say ‘I am done.’ I threw away my henna and decided I had had enough of the not-so-creamy, slighty-smelly, greeny-browny crack that I had been addicted to putting into my hair.

Why is it so important to me that all of the henna is gone once I cut my hair? Well, by this point, I think its pretty safe to say that when I cut off my curls, no henna will remain. But if there is even a chance, I want to remove it. This time, when I big chop, I want to embrace my true curl pattern and experience it as it grows – that means without hair extensions and weaves. And it definitely means I don’t want to have waves rather than curls in the front.

Another reason I want it gone is the colour. The problem with henna is it is near enough impossible to remove from your hair. Once you apply it, you’re committing to your hair remaining that colour, as bleach and other colourants can’t penetrate it properly. If I was to bleach my hair now, it would most likely turn bright orange!

Though my students would probably like to think otherwise, I’m still young! I’m 22 years old, and I have never ever bleached my hair, or experimented with colours. I want my natural hair to be fully versatile rather than constantly the same shade, so I am excited about cutting it off and trying out different colours. Currently, I am obsessed with @BeautyByLee’s hair colour (see below) and would love to see how a caramel shade would look on my freshly cut hair, as well as how it would look one it grows out a bit.

Screenshot 2014-05-16 10.50.29

So, thats where I call on you beautiful people. What colour would you suggest I dye my hair? And does anyone know of any good barbers/natural hair salons in London that would know how to cut my hair and dye it well? Comment people and let me know of your own henna experiences!

With love from London,

Davina

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