I've repeatedly told myself that I'm going to do a cassia (neutral henna) application in the near future but never get around to actually purchasing the cassia. The next time I do purchase, I will definitely record the process. I use cassia because it does not have dye release like henna so it does not alter hair color, but has all the benefits of cassia. *In the next question below, I explain what cassia/henna is and benefits*
In short, what I do is mix cassia powder with hot water and coconut oil (for my next application, I plan on adding honey and switching out coconut oil for grapeseed oil). When applying, I sometimes coat my hair with coconut oil to make the cassia easier to spread, but I've also done it without. Once I've applied the cassia to my entire head, I wrap my hair up in saran wrap, cover with a scarf, and leave on for a few hours. Then I wash, and proceed with a normal wash day.
For you ends, if they're not damaged (and you're not a fan of change/cutting like me), you may want to slowly trim the thinner ends away. It's better to trim thin ends rather than hold onto them because think of it this way: "there's strength in numbers." When you comb hair that is uniform in thickness, the force of combing/manipulation is spread out across all the strands of hair, decreasing the potential for breakage. With thin ends, there is less "support," making it easier to break off those ends when handling your hair. Also, uniform hair hangs better, looks better, looks healthier.
Roughly what I mean about uniform hair/thin ends:
Hope this helped!
What Is Henna?
Henna is a plant that smells like hay (to me at least). When henna powder is mixed into a paste it can be used to create temporary body art, dye fingernails, dye leather, or permanently dye hair a orangish/reddish tint. 100% pure henna will only dye hair a orange/reddish tint.
"Black henna" is actually derived from the indigo plant and dyes hair black/brown, but it must be used with henna to achieve those results. Unlike henna, indido must be mixed and used right away. Note: please be sure to check if your "black henna" contains p-phenylenediamine (PPD). PPD can be extremely damaging to your hair and skin, causing dryness and allergic reactions.
Cassia obovata is often called "neutral henna" but it's not derived from the henna plant. It's actually derived from the Italian senna plant. Cassia is called "neutral henna" because Italian senna has a low yellow dye molecule, so it can dye lighter hair colors (e.g. gray, blond), but on dark dark, it will not show any color. Cassia will give you the same benefits of henna but the results do not last as long so cassia applications must be done more frequently.
*When purchasing henna, purchase body art quality henna. This means the powder is 100% pure and natural and has the most dye content.
Benefits of henna:
For those seeking to dye their hair reddish tint, henna is a great, natural method (or henna+indigo for black tint). Henna also enhances shine, strengthens hair, thickens hair by coating it, and loosens curl pattern (it may be a benefit for some, e.g. those stretching their relaxers).
A Few Types of Henna [source: hennablogspot.com]
Jamila Henna Powder: " It does have the longest dye release, taking up to 24 hours to prepare for body art, and 12 hours for use on hair, before ready to use. It is a reliable henna powder, but not great if you need henna quick. It has the ultimate best sift of ANY henna powder. It is very popular among professional henna artists, and for hair dyeing. It washes out of the hair very easily, and the
Organic Rajasthani Indian Henna Powder: "For hair it yields a reddish-burgundy tone. For hair usage, this powder we recommend you allow it to sit from 3-4 hours, and then apply onto your hair. It is triple sifted and through nylon cloth. On lighter hair it may come out more orange-copper toned."
Yemeni Henna Powder: "For hair . . . allow this henna powder to sit from 3-4 hours before applying it. It is well known for being one of the stringy hennas . . . It is absolutely one of the most popular henna powders for hair dyeing, and covers grey very well. It gives the most gorgeous, deep red tones of any other henna powder currently."
Moroccan Henna Powder: "It has the quickest dye release . . . For hair usage, only allow to sit for a maximum of 1 to 2 hours and then apply it. The dye can demise quickly if left out too long. It’s not a good henna to freeze as a henna paste. It is also a stringy henna. It has great color, usually very bright and becomes quite dark suddenly (on skin). We usually recommend this henna powder for achieving brown to black tones along with indigo, when used in hair dyeing because the least amount of red tones will show through on your hair. We recommend it because it has a fast dye release, and alone on hair it gives orange to red tones."
If you're looking to only thicken your hair, any type of henna will do, but you have to be mindful of how how long you let the henna sit to avoid dye release. If want the same results that henna gives but do not want to bother with paying attention to dye release, I'd say use cassia.
Henna/cassia can be drying to hair so I always deep condition after using it. Mixing yogurt, conditioner, or oils with the henna or cassia paste can also minimize drying.
Here is the link to a henna thread on LHCF that is chock full of different recipes: A New Henna Thread
Few other helpful posts: Henna and Your Hair Type; Before You Purchase: The Beginner’s Guide To Henna; Ayurvedic Herbs: Organic Cassia Obovata;
Vendors: HennaSooq; AyurNatural Beauty
Hope this helps!