Some leading henna boffs state that hair should be dyed only with “body art quality henna” (pure henna ground and sieved several times so it practically resembles fine talcum powder) and claim that it has the highest percentage of lawsone (henna dye). I think that’s misleading. Lots of henna for hair starts off as body art henna for the first few months after the leaves have been ground and then, when it’s past a few months old, it’s sold as henna for hair. The only difference between henna which doesn’t start off as “body art henna” and the henna which starts out as body art henna is in the grinding and the sieving ( the hair henna may not be as finely ground). But the beautiful thing about henna is that, either way, it lasts forever is sealed and stored correctly.
Henna is henna. Pure is pure. And pure henna is just that : pure henna. It doesn’t have to have a name like “BAQ” attached to it if you know what henna is and if you buy from a reputable source. Henna simply doesn’t have to be hot out of the grinding machine and ground and sieved several times to give superb colour in your hair.
Body art quality henna – which happens to be a lot more expensive than just as pure henna which has not been sieved as many times – is more concentrated by means of finer grinding and extra sieving. Bodies require the finer concentrated henna to achieve a smoother paste free of globs which can pass smoothly through fine tipped tools which are used to paint henna art on skin. You may or may not achieve as deep a colour skin stain with pure henna for hair as you will get with body art henna, but the fact is that you don’t need the body art henna for your hair colour. Because hair absorbs colour differently to skin and is more receptive to dyes than skin, “fresh” henna for hair can last as long as ten years ! Henna doesn’t go off if stored correctly; but I generally advise to use it within five years of the date of grinding to ensure you definitely catch the colour and the goodness whilst the henna is still highly potent. Highly concentrated body art henna = concentrate on high cost. So don’t be mislead into thinking you have to pay more for body art henna for your hair – you don’t ! Henna for hair is pretty much the same as body art henna except it’s not been sieved/&or ground as much. But it’s essentially the same stuff and it’s a lot cheaper. And it remains a wonderfully healing and therapeutic treatment on both skin and hair.
Here’s what henna expert Kenzi – founder of henna tribe at www.hennatribe.com – says about the differences between body art henna and henna for hair :
“I can’t tell you exact numbers, but I have had good results from henna many years old, sitting open, exposed to air, heat and light. Hair takes up the color so well that you really don’t have to worry. i really don’t know about the therapeutic qualities of hair henna vs. body art henna; I tend to think that it doesn’t make any difference since it’s all still henna. I think that less refined henna might actually be worse because it’s diluted with twigs and sand, but also because it’s less finely ground, the stuff that gets into your hair and does its business is less available in the larger particles of henna. Just my opinion, based on conjecture. …….As for twigs, I mean little bits of henna or leaves or stems that don’t get ground up as finely as the powder. It is very possible that these get into the henna when it is harvested (these are plants being harvested by human being who are infallible). Most henna probably has some stuff in it that isn’t henna (dust from the air, bits of rock dust from the grinding stones etc.). I think that where the good quality and fine henna differs from the bad, coarse stuff is in the grinding and the sifting. A fine grind will give you fine henna, and then if it’s sifted you get even finer henna, and what is left behind by sifting are just the bigger particles of henna. Whether the particles are big or small, they will still stain the skin and hair; it’s just that for body art the fine stuff is better so that we can use fine-tipped tools without the henna clogging them…….I think the main difference between hair henna body art henna is freshness. Perhaps a better way to say it is that all henna is body art quality until it gets too old to use on skin at which point it becomes hair henna. Some hair henna can be very finely ground, just like some body art henna can be coarsely ground.”
What the Encyclopaedias say about Henna / Henne
This is what one famous Herb Encyclopaedia says about Henna:
“A single species of evergreen shrub makes up this genus, which occurs in northern Africa, south-western Asia, Australia, and is naturalised in America. Found on plains, low hills, and river banks, the species was traditionally planted as a windbreak for vineyards. Referred to as “camphire” in the Bible, Lawsonia inermis is now more familiar as “henna”, (*from the Arabic name “al hinna”; and incidentally, the Italian word for henna is “henne”).
“in spite of its medicinal applications, henna is mainly used as a dye plant. Lawsonia inermis has been imported as an orange red colourant for hair, skin, and nails in the Middle east since ancient times; introduced to Europe at the end of the 19th Century, it became an important constituent of hair tints and conditioners”
“an astringent herb with a tea like aroma, that controls bleedings and is anti-bacterial. It is regarded as an alternative and nerve tonic in Ayurvedic medicine”
“used externally for skin diseases (including leprosy), wounds, ulcers, and herpes. Used for dying hair, feet, and hands.”