Inquiring Minds : Henna Myth or Fact (part 2 of 3)

If you haven't already, click here to see part 1 - Henna: How does it work?
Does Henna loosen curls or thicken hair? 

There are many users who state this but it has not yet been scientifically reported. The interesting bit of information though is that hair dyed with Henna actually becomes measurably heavier (International Journal of Cosmetic Science, pg153-174, 1982). This can be expected as Lawsone binds to the hair cuticle, therefore, the weight increase is related to how much lawsone has been deposited on the hair strands. I guess in theory, this increased weight on the hair shaft may lead the curl to look 'loosened'. This is different from texturisers which actually break bonds in the hair. Given the weight effect, it is safe to assume that the binding of lawsone to the cuticle may indeed lead to thicker hair. However what is not known is how much thicker the hair becomes or whether this thickening is beneficial. 

Does Henna make hair shed less? 

 No is the simple answer. Hair shedding is programmed from the root/bulb of the hair. Henna doesn’t have an effect there. However if someone is talking about absolute hair shedding (meaning actual shed hairs plus strands that normally get broken during manipulation of hair) then it is possible to make this observation. That said, this has not been shown scientifically.  

Does Henna make hair stronger? 

Again, this has not been scientifically reported which lends this question to theories. There are two contrasting observations with Henna. First, the use of Henna may lead to dry hair. Dry hair =Less elastic hair = Breakage=Weak Hair? Second the use of Henna may increase hair thickness. Greater thickness = resistance to breakage = Stronger hair? Confused? Well until someone strength tests hair treated with Henna we will never know. On balance from this research, I would recommend paying more attention to conditioning hair if you do choose to use Henna so as to restore and maintain a good moisture balance.
Click here to go to part 3: Henna: A Serious Note


  1. Awesome 3 part series! I just started using henna so this topic def peaked my interest. I agree with the weight of the henna binding to your strands will weigh down/loosen your curls over time and make them thicker.

    I was neve aware that its strengthening properties were never tested. Interesting! Thanks for sharing.

    Keep the awesome topics coming!

  2. wow! that's interesting about the weight loosening the curl.

  3. Hi JC! Love your blog btw. So I was just wondering...if people begin to Henna specifically for the gravity or weighing down effect to loosen their curl patter, can they still be considered natural??? This might be controversial for some people but the thought just crossed my mind. I read your other post about Lawson being chemical and just wondered what you thought. I know people henna for different reasons and some people experience the loosening effect even though it is more of a side effect, not goal. From the comments I read on some blogs, fotkis, etc I get the feeling that if some women could loosen (i.e. change) their curl pattern they would but they don't want the stigma of a chemical treatment(texturizer/silkener) to do so. Some people, even though they're natural, have not really accepted their natural texture and this idea of henna loosening the curl is appealing to them. What do you think about this?

  4. Thanks Leslie (love your fab blog too!)- These are such loaded and interesting questions, things I have not thought about before! I definitely agree that they do need to be addressed. I'm going to move your question to a main post and give my opinion on it.

  5. I know henna made my hair really dark. loosen my curl? not so much

  6. Hi - I have been reading your site in order to learn more about caring for my adopted daughter's hair. I clicked on to "henna" because I just used it a few weeks ago to "tone" my first greys and was surprised that it made my barely wavy hair go flat. (I'm doing my best to apply the hair knowledge that I've gained through research before/after adoption to be my own version of natural and not heat-destroyed straight; in other words, to be a committed 2A and not just mussy dishwater & grey fake 1A.)

    Interesting that you say the WEIGHT makes the difference. That would fully explain what happened to me. With cheek to chin length hair I have some waves, longer is just messy (but never advert straight without heat).



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