Trading Creamy Crack (Relaxer) for Henna?

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Last night I was up until 1 in the morning washing henna from my hair and deep conditioning.  Me being up so late was partially my fault because I do not like to sleep in it and I started late in the day.  For those of you that don’t know, henna’ing your hair is a long process.  First you have to mix up your henna concoction and it has to sit for a while to achieve “dye release.”  Then you can apply it to your hair.  It’s kinda goopy and messy.  Once applied, you wrap your hair in seran wrap and wait.  The wait is the killer part.  In order to reap the benefits of henna, it has to sit in your hair for at least 4 hours!  Because of this, most people will allow it to sit in their hair overnight and sleep in it.  If it already takes you a couple hours to do your hair on a normal wash day, adding another 4 hours is not going to be any fun.  Unfortunately for me, I do not sleep…um, calmly, to put it nicely.  The seran wrap helps to trap your body heat which kinda activates the henna.  By hour 5 of my “not calm” sleeping, the “activated” henna is starting to drip, and all of my counter maneuvers (cotton balls and paper towels stuffed into a plastic cap on top) start to fail.  I end up with henna dripping down my back and a ruined pillowcase and pillow.  As a female, a big reddish brown spot on your pillow is not a good look.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the effect henna has on my hair.  It’s hard to explain it though.  There is a marked difference in how my curls behave and the way my hair frizzes.  It’s not that it cuts down on frizz for me as others claim, but it frizzes differently.  It’s a prettier frizz.  My curls still do whatever they want like misbehaved children, but they get into less trouble.  It also makes my hair stronger, which is great because the back section of my head is very different from any other part of my head.  The hair back there was born of a very fine haired curly alien.  At least that is what I tell myself.  The hair back there just doesn’t make sense in comparison to the rest of my hair.  All in all, henna is great, but the process is not.

Doing a henna process reminds me of when I used to relax my hair (creamy crack).  I LOVED how bone straight my hair would get but I HATED the process.  I used to dread having to do a retouch and I would try to stretch the time between them by at least a week.  I started relaxing my own hair in high school when I went to boarding school (shout out to Pine Forge Academy).  I’m impatient and one day I wanted my hair retouched and the girl that normally did it was eating dinner.  I didn’t feel like waiting and I had seen enough girls in the dorm doing it themselves or getting it done by someone to do it myself.  After all, if my father could do it back in the ‘80’s then I could to.  From that point forward, I started doing them myself.  The few times I went to a salon in college and after to get a retouch, it would never be quite as straight and I always ended up with more burns and scabs.  The last few times I retouched my hair, I went to a salon, because I was lazy.  I had come to hate the process so much, that I was willing to pay someone else to do it.  I paid an extra price the last time in serious burns and scabs.  That was when I made a definite decision to stop and go natural.

Although henna is not bad for me and has good benefits other than aesthetics unlike chemical relaxers, the process, or really the way I feel about the process reminds me of how I felt about getting my relaxers.  In a sense I kinda feel like I traded one process for the other.  I’ve read about doing henna glosses which is not as extensive as a full henna treatment.  So, I am thinking about trying that instead or at least substituting a full henna with a gloss.  I henna once a month, so maybe I’ll gloss every other month instead.

Freelance Graphic Designer, Lifestyle Blogger, Natural Hair Enthusiast and Fitness Convert...yeah, I wear a lot of hats. :)

  • Alicia

    Henna is also great for people with scalp problems. I discovered this quite by accident. I wanted to try it for natural color and I noticed afterward all of my severely itchy scalp and dandruff had gone away. Usually I would have my scalp problems return only days after washing my hair. (which was horrible for a natural sista) I liked to wash once a month and cowash in between but that was next to impossible with dandruff :-/ The henna would keep me from having problems for at least a month! I fell in love with it then and there

    • NaturalArtMaven

      Do you still henna with your locs?

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  • Snowflake

    “Creamy crack”? Really? Never heard that one before. I use both henna and relaxer. Relaxers don’t give me bone straight hair but wavy 3c hair curl, so I wash and go without having to blow dry hair, I just use a little leave in conditioner (the only time my hair sees a blow dryer is when I go to the hairdresser). I have found that henna relaxes those curls in a way I don’t like so I use it sparingly (3xs a year) and only on new growth. I love the way henna makes my hair look and feel and I like the way relaxers make my hair manageable.