Henna for Hair 101: Body Art Quality (BAQ) Henna, Compound Henna, and Hair Dye That Really Isn’t Henna



Defining the Word “Henna”

 To those who are new to using henna as hair dye, the word “henna” itself may be confusing. Health stores and internet suppliers carry an array of hair dye products labeled as “henna,” which may be either in powder, cream, liquid, or solid form. They might offer color results from blonde to jet black, and call it “blonde henna,” “light brown henna,” and so forth. To add to the confusion, one might be familiar with images of body art using traditional henna, “black henna,” (Run away. Fast.) white henna,” and even metallic henna temporary tattoos.

 It is therefore important to establish what “henna” actually is. While it is all too commonly used in these ways, it is not a word to catch all natural (or claiming to be natural) hair dyes, and it is not a body art style. Henna is one specific plant, lawsonia inermis, which produces a natural dye called lawsone. This dye binds to keratin, staining it an orange-red color. The processed product of lawsonia inermis is a powder that can be mixed into a paste, and used as a dye.