One Beauty Secret from 1001 Nights
The beauty of oriental women was poetized by numerous writes from ancient times to modern days. Although women in the East are traditionally hiding themselves under Hijab or other type of loose clothing, rare stripes of uncovered skin or hair and especially eyes are objects of envy for a lot of Western girls. It is hard to believe but Oriental ladies retain their gorgeous look with the help of natural remedies at the most.
The Orient can teach us a lot. However in this article, I am going to unveil only one secret oriental product that is a pure source of beauty and color – henna.
We know henna for body art and tattoos. Henna is also used to dye and cure hair, strengthen eyelashes and eyebrows, nourish and soften the skin. I do not know if the Oriental beauties would be so proud of their fabulous looks, if they wouldn’t use henna regularly.
Henna is flowering plant that grows in hot countries like India, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Palestine, Egypt, Kenya, Sudan, Morocco and Sri-Lanka. The hotter the climate, the stronger the dye effect of the plant. Young leaves of henna are collected, dried out, milled and sifted. This green-brownish or light green powder is the end product that is available on the market.
Henna powder for hair
Henna contains dyeing elements and tanning agents, precious gum and organic acids, vitamins C and K. It is not only a natural hair dye. Henna improves hair structure making it thick and glossy, smoothes away dandruff and nourishes splitting and damaged locks. Henna is also widely used to cure hair loss.
Henna dye produces all shades of red. Do not forget that henna is a natural substance and its end effect will depend on your natural pigment. However, ancient women left us tricks that we can use to play with the color: for example, by mixing henna with infused coffee one can get a deep maroon shade. Adding fresh red-beet juice will dye your hair purple, if you are bold enough to dare to wear such a color. Blond girls are recommended to use camomile infusion together with henna to get a honey golden shade.
The technology of dying hair with henna is not the same as any other chemical dye. Thus, I recommend doing this at a specialized hairdresser that can help you reach the desired shade according to your hair type and natural pigment.
Those of you who are satisfied with hair color, but still would like to benefit from the curing effect of henna, there is a colorless version of it – henna that lost its pigment during the processing. Colorless henna is ideal for a hair mask. How to mix henna for hair? Put 25-50 grams of colorless henna powder into a ceramic bowl, add boiled water, cover the bowl and leave it for 5-7 min. Mix the paste that you get with one or two tablespoons of olive oil. The mask shouldn’t be very thick. If the consistency is too think, add a little bit of water or oil, it’s especially good if you have a dry hair type. Apply the mask evenly on the whole length of your hair. For the anti hair loss cure apply a rich amount of the paste on the hair roots and directly on the scalp. Cover your head with a cap and a towel to keep it warm. The longer you leave the mask on your hair, the better the effect will be. However, try to keep it for not less than one hour. Wash and rinse you hair as usual.
If you repeat doing this mask once a week for a minimum of three months, your hair will look healthy and glossy, just like after expensive salon treatments.
Henna for skin
Colorless henna is my trick number one in combating small wrinkles and refreshing face skin color. Like with the mask for hair, mix 10 grams of colorless hanna powder with a bit of boiled water, olive oil and one egg yolk. (I always add a couple of drops of lemon juice to my face mask too, but I can’t give it as a general advice though, because you should know the reaction of your skin first, before applying such a strong acid, as lemon juice.) Spread the mask on your face, especially around your eyes and lips, where most mimic wrinkles appear. Rinse your face gently in 10-15 min and apply your regular cream, if needed. The effect of henna in this mask is twofold: pilling and nourishing. If you do this treatment, at least, once a week you will see that small wrinkles disappear and skin gets smooth, fresh and glowing. Sometimes, I apply the same mask on my hands and nails and the effect is simply superb!
Choosing good quality henna powder
I buy henna in Indian, Pakistani or Moroccan shops in the neighborhood. It also may be found in some drug stores. Before buying, I pay attention to the following factors:
- Freshness. Look at the production date. Henna is best used within few months, if it was not stored in cold. Being kept in a freezer and away from light, henna can potentially stay in good condition for years.
- Color. Good quality henna is light green and should be sifted several times. Henna fades to light brown, as it loses potency. Thus, some producers tend to add a chemical green to give their product a fresh, good quality look. In such case, henna powder is bright green, which in combination with the old date of production may raise concerns.
- Origin. Henna is produced in a number of countries in Southern Asia, Northern Africa and Northern Australasia. Experts say that African henna is warm red, Persian henna is deeper red and Indian henna is brownish red. India is number one in exporting henna powder. However, Pakistani or Moroccan powder is often of a better quality. Some countries like Oman, for example, do not export henna at all. Use every opportunity when you travel the world to get henna of different origin to explore and compare.
It is impressive how many efficient and affordable opportunities nature gives us to preserve our beauty and health! We need just to be curious, discover and select recipes that work best for us.
Stay smart, healthy and beautiful!