For at least 4000 years plant-based colour substances not only have been used to dye textiles, but also to colour hair. For centuries henna has been used to colour hair and body. Especially the use of henna has been extremely popular with the ancient Egyptian people. Henna is considered a "permanent" hair colouring product because it does not wash out with shampoo.
Lately most of herbal hair colouring products have been replaced by chemical based hair colouring products. Generally the public gives preference to natural hair colouring because of the natural ingredients.
More information about Henna
The red colouring paste is obtained from the Henna shrub (Lawsonia inermis) that grows in India, the Middle East, Northern Australia, South Asia and North Africa. Often the main ingredient of plant-based colouring products is henna (more about henna, see below) mixed with other plant dyes like indigo, camomile, senna, rhubarb, saffron or walnut. Henna protects the hair structure.
The so called colourless (green) Henna is a product of the Cassia obovata leaf. Also known as Senna obovata and is to be found in Egypt and Nubia. The normal henna refers to the red henna and will stain your hair red-orange. But this stain is translucent and will combine with your natural colour. Indigo is a plant that has a blue dye in it, but it has been marketed as black henna because it dyes hair black.
The colouring is reached by using a derivative of 1,4-Naphtochinon. If henna is mixed with a powder of the leaves of an indigobush (blue violet colour) special colours, from goldbrown until red and black, can be obtained. By using a camomile extract the hair turns into a golden yellow blond shade and it looks more vivid.
The lighter the hair the more intensive henna red becomes. Light blond hair can turn into a light orange tone and that's why blond hair is really less suitable for a henna colouring. On the other hand dark hair only turns into a light red glow. Besides that the factor time and origin of the hennapowder is of importance with regard to the colour intensity.
The red dye is created by shredding the leaves and twigs to form the paste.
It is then mixed with hot water, then applied to the hair and left for a couple of hours.
By varying the strength of the mixture, one can attain different shades of red, from a bright copper tone to a darker auburn colour.
Depending on your own hair colour henna can eventuall turn more orange than red. The lighter the hair the more intensive the henna red. Golden blond hair often turns into red-orange shades and therefore is not very suitable for using henna.
The best results can be obtained with people that have dark hair. It gives the hair a beautiful red shade. Obviously factors like the absorbing agent and the origin of the henna powder will also be responsible for the intensity of the final colour.
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