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Henna for Hair

So, how do you henna your hair?

Instructions for dying hair with henna from a manual for beauticians from 1940:

Henna Pack

Implements and Supplies:
Two steam towels
Dye cape
Double boiler
Wooden spoon
Wax Cap
Rubber gloves
Cream rinse
Record Card
Wide toothed comb
Clips, Hairbrush


1. Prepare Patron.  See that patron's clothing is completely covered with dye cape.

2. Mix and heat henna in top of double boiler.
   a. Use enamelware and wooden spoon.
   b. Measure 2 heaping spoonsful for average head and add enough hot water to make a paste.
   c. Place pan with henna on hot plate, stirring out lumps until mixture bubbles.
   d. Keep covered to retain heat and take patron to shampoo bowl.

3. Shampoo hair
   a. Use only one application of shampoo.
   b. rinse with clear water.

4.  Towel dry hair.  Leave hair a little moist, for henna will cling to a damp surface and action will be faster.

5. Protect hands with rubber gloves.

6. Comb and part hair in four sections.
    a. From center forehead to center nape of neck.
    b. From ear to ear across top of head.

7. Apply henna paste.
   a. Test henna for proper temperature.
   b. use gloved hand or brush for application.
   c. Start at nape of neck and work upward, making partings 1 inch wide.
   d. Carry henna out about 3 inches.
   e. Work quickly and apply thoroughly so that the coloring will be even
   f. Complete first, second, third, and fourth sections as numbered.
   g. :Leave 1 inch around face line free from henna until rest of hair has started to develop color.
   h. Apply henna to ends of hair.
   i. Apply henna to face line by combing it through hair, to avoid discoloration of skin.

8. Adjust wax cap.  Cap is used to avoid drippage and to assist in retaining heat.

9. Test for desired shade.
   a. Judge time according to original shade of hair.  Average time is 20 minutes depending upon how deep a shade patron desires.
   b. Remove cap and wash a small section of hair.
   c. Dry, and judge coloring: if not deep enough, reapply henna and re-cover.
   d. If henna is slow in coloring, apply steam towels or use therapeutic lamp or steamer to hasten action.

10. Rinse out henna with strong spray.

11. Shampoo hair thoroughly.  Use as many applications of shampoo as you find necessary to remove all henna and stain from scalp.

12. Give a cream rinse and set hair in desired style.

13. Clean shampoo bowl and utensils; sterilize tools.

14.  Make out complete record.

Review Questions and Answers:

1. Why is it not necessary to give a predisposition test for henna?
It is not necessary to give a predisposition test for henna since henna does not contain aniline.

2. Name three precautions to be observed in using henna.
Precautions to be observed in using henna:
   a: Do not apply henna so hot that it will burn the scalp.
   b. Avoid henna stains around the entire hairline.
   c. Protect your hands with rubber gloves.

3. What effect has henna on the hair?
Henna coats the hair shaft.  Continued use makes the hair dry and brittle.
Editor's note: this is absolute RUBBISH! HENNA DOES NOT MAKE HAIR DRY AND BRITTLE!  So this is where beauticians get this ridiculous notion ... their flippin textbook is wrong!

4. How should the clothing of an operator be protected?
An operator should wear  an apron over her uniform for protection.

5. How are henna stains removed from the skin?
Stains may be removed from the skin by massaging cuticle solvent over the area.

6. Why is the use of enamelware and wooden spoons recommended?
Enamelware and wooden spoons are recommended because aluminum tends to give the henna a metallic case.

7. When are cloves added to henna?
Cloves are added to henna when a deeper shade is desired.

What is a compound henna pack, and when it is it used?
A compound henna pack is a mixture of Egyptian henna and metallic salts.  It us used to dye white or gray hair to the desired shade whenever the patron is allergic to aniline (coal tar, PPD) derivative dyes. 

On what types of hair should Egyptian henna never be used?
It should never be used on faded blonde hair, gray or white, as it will give an unnatural orange or red cast to the hair.
Editor's note: Henna covers my gray just dandy and looks very natural.

Editor's note: the text seems to discourage henna, and promote the "more natural looking" paraphenylendiamine dyes, "with para-phenylendiamine, it is possible to duplicate the most unusual shade of human hair without impairing its lustre or texture. ... A small percentage of patrons are sensitive to aniline derivative dyes (PPD).  To identify such individuals is required for all patrons prior to applying the dye.  This is required by law." ( The tests require that a the PPD hair dye be applied behind the ear, and the patron return 24 hours later, to be examined for inflammation, redness,  itching, sensitivity.) Note: PPD dyes cause delayed hypersensitivity reactions which may not begin for 3 -10 days! 

To its credit, this book describes several contagious diseases and describes how to avoid spreading them from patron to patron: Diphtheria, Gonorrhea, Tuberculosis, Typhoid Fever, Influenza, and Syphilis. It mentions that pathogenic bacteria cannot be seen with the naked eye.  It warns against uncovered coughing, sneezing, and spitting in public.  It warns against unclean hands, unclean instruments, open sores and pus, mouth and nose discharges, and common use of drinking cups and towels. It warns that pus is a sure sign of the presence of an infectious disease. It states that implements can be sterilized with warm soapy water and alcohol (though electric clippers should be disconnected before putting into water)..
Editors note: I hope the 2004 edition has some amendments......

Various and Sundry quotes from this amazing book:

Hair tinting and Bleaching ... (referring to aniline, coal tar ... paraphyenylenediamine hair dyes) ... is sure repeat business.   The patron who once starts to have her hair tinted must keep right on coming to your shop at regular intervals.  ...it will become one of your most profitable fields of income.

Tinted or Bleached Hair has Advantages to Certain Women:

1. The business woman who perhaps feels that the shade of her hair is a handicap to her business.

2. The woman who is married to a man of much younger appearance.

3. The young unmarried woman, whose hair has turned prematurely gray.

4. Gray haired women who wish to appear younger.

And, never forget:
The Beautician must have Good Grooming!

Straight hem, no drooping slip!
Low-heeled sensible white working shoes, always clean.
Neat, clean hose, straight seams, wrinkle free at the ankles, or unstreaked leg makeup.  Keep a spare pair of hose to make a fast change in case of a run. 
No odor offense, halitosis will make your patrons whisper about you!
Wear deodorant.
Don't have nicotine stains on your hands.
Have eyebrows plucked to a thin line, but not too thin ( this drains the individuality from your face.)
Undies should never be worn a second day without washing. Launder your girdle from time to time, too. 

"The Van Dean Manual: Professional Training for Beauticians"
from the Lewis, Weinberger and Hill Academy of Cosmetology, Inc
East Liverpool - Youngstown, Ohio

 Henna for Hair
Henna For Hair is devoted to the art and science
of dying hair with natural dyes. 

Natural hair dyes are good for your health,
and good for your planet!

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For more information on henna as body art,
see The Henna Page

Logo by Alex Morgan:  Spellstone 2005

All material unless otherwise noted by
Catherine Cartwright-Jones 2003, 2004, 2005
Title Graphics  by Gwyneddh Jones 2003
thou shalt not steal.