With the increasing demand for more natural products, vegetable-based colors (like henna) are becoming more common and are even available in mainstream stores like Whole Foods. In the past, hennas were more associated with various tones of yellow, orange, and red (think of Lucy in I Love Lucy). However, more recent developments have enabled manufacturers to produce some brownish tints as well, broadening the range of options.
Sounds great! So what’s the problem?
In short, there are a couple major challenges with this choice of color. First, the results with henna are less predictable than with conventional color methods. Because everyone’s hair responds differently to pigments, it’s important to have options that enable us to customize the product to ensure correct results. This ability doesn’t really exist with henna and vegetable-based dyes. And as we’ll see in a moment, corrective color with hair treated with henna provides a very limited array of options.
The second (and even more important) challenge with these colors is that they are not at all compatible with conventional colors. I repeat; henna and vegetable-based dyes are not compatible with conventional color systems. If a client comes in with henna colored hair, there is no way to truly remove that from the hair. Bleaches and lighteners will not remove the color. The products advertised as color removers will not remove the color. Those products are all designed to work with conventional systems of coloring.
The best case scenario is that henna can sometimes be colored over (darkened) so it’s hidden until that hair eventually grows out and gets cut off. There is no option that will allow the stylist to lighten the hair by removing the henna. In cases where the lightener has an effect, it simply turns the color of a baby carrot.
So in a nutshell, I would advise folks to stay to steer clear of the henna and vegetable products. In the world of haircolor, many of the options are becoming much gentler on the hair and scalp. In addition, ammonia-free options are becoming more widely available. The pros and cons of that option is something we’ll be discussing several weeks from now.
When in doubt, the rule of thumb is always to come see your professional stylist! We’ll make sure you leave the salon with the look you want.