Have you ever looked at Caucasian or Asian hair close up? It may sound like a strange question but relatively early in my hair journey I wanted to know what it was about black hair that made it different from other hair types. Aside from the obvious curl difference, a microscopic cross section view of Asian hair revels that it is round in shape, Caucasian hair varies from oval to round while afro textured hair is a much flatter elliptical shape.
Without the aid of a microscope however you should be able to see an obvious difference in the thickness of individual strands of hair. Black hair tends to be thinner than other hair types, perhaps owing to it’s flatter cross section and because black hair holds less moisture it will also tend to be lighter, one of the reasons why our hair may feel cottony rather than silky.
It would stand to reason that anything that thickens the strands would also increase the strength of the hair thus reducing breakage. And of course I mean to thicken the width of individual strands rather than thicken the volume of hair per square inch.
Henna is one of the only natural treatments that genuinely does thicken hair strands over time and as such adds to the strength of your hair. The dye molecule in henna called lawsone has a high affinity to the keratin in our hair and hair that has been treated with henna* has been shown to weigh more than hair that has not been treated. Pretty basic stuff really.
But it’s difficult for me to talk about henna from a third person perspective being intimately acquainted as we are. I discovered the merits of henna very soon after my big chop. At the time it was all the rage in the natural community as a way of improving your hair’s strength, adding a gorgeous glow of color without the damage of traditional hair color and it was also said that multiple uses of henna also improved shine in natural hair.
Now I can’t speak much for shine, my hair is cottony and as such never reflects light on it’s own without the use of oil, but in regards to hair strength, henna is the bomb.com! This is purely anecdotal you understand but I have always found that henna zaps my breakage just as well than Aphogee two step treatment. A bold claim if there ever was one.
Here’s the thing, protein from hydrolyzed keratin, or whatever the protein flavor of the month is, attaches itself to your hair thereby improving moisture retention. Henna does a similar job. Since it has such a high affinity for the keratin in our hair it is considered a permanent color so you will find that a henna* treatment will fill in the gaps and damage in your strands in a very similar way that protein does so can easily be used to partly replace protein in your hair regimen.
An added benefit of using henna is that you can do multiple henna applications for added lawsone deposits into your strands and this weight will give your hair great ‘drop’ and swang when worn down.