Natural highlights with henna and spices

A few months ago my daughter begged me to put henna in her hair.  Not just henna, but the full works, a mysterious blend of herbs and spices that strengthens hair and leaves it a coppery hue.  Our friend Lalla Khadija is one of those people who knows what to buy and how to use it.  She has her own family henna recipe and helped us purchase the right ingredients from a spice shop down near Jema el Fna.  I love the way that Moroccan women view such indulgences as henna, the hammam, and natural beauty remedies as necessities rather than luxuries.  That’s just how they roll.

This hair henna recipe contains 4 major components: the spice mix shown below, a red mineral called “lakar el fassi”, about half a gram of saffron, and of course freshly ground henna.

Can you spot dried roses, pomegranate peel, cinnamon sticks, lavender and cloves? These ingredients help darken the henna effect and scent the hair.

Boil it in water until, as Karima says, it looks like eyeballs. It smells so good though, edibly good.

This is "lakar el fassi" (translation: lipstick from Fez). I think it's pulling the real weight here, as far as color longevity.

When we added "lakar el fassi" to water it turned bright reddish orange. We also added about half a gram of saffron. See the cool gold flecks from the mineral?

We strained the "eyeball" mixture keeping only the nice burgundy colored water, added "lakar el fassi" and saffron brew, then stirred in the ground henna. It got too messy after this to document...

But what we got is a bright red goo, like clay in texture, that I smeared all over K’s hair.  It took a while, it was messy, we survived.  She kept it in for an hour then rinsed (also messy).  Her hair is normally dark brown, but it turned dark orangey red.  She was kind of shocked in the beginning, but after that wore off she grew into the look.  We’ve all been there, right ladies?  That’s just what we do.

Beware, henna does dry out hair, so if you already have frizz going on it’s not a good match.  It also has a strong smell…the rose petals and lavender help but the henna has a very distinct smell.

Voila. Natural highlights that have lasted for months, much longer than expected.



9 thoughts on “Natural highlights with henna and spices

  1. I so like your images, they look sunny even when they show what we see in a bowl…and they make us smell and feel…
    I remember experimenting with Henna as a kid – and it looking a lot less nice than what you’re sharing with us here…next time, I promise I’ll have it your way!

  2. Thanks Sanne, I love your photos as well, and I have to say I was intrigued by your blog name. I’ve only dipped my toes in the photoshop world and I both like it and fear it. Why are you so passionately anti?

  3. I love the colour of you daughters hair. When I henned my hair when I was a teen it was always very red, and too much of a block/solid covering. You daughters hair looks natural and still with natural highlights. Maybe I will have to look out these spices when Iam in Marrakech tomorrow.

  4. harmonypower5265 says:

    Hair looks great, the colour is quite unusual and very nice.
    It makes a difference I am sure to use a natural and home-made recipe………how interesting!

  5. hühnerschreck says:

    For a darker and less coppery hue, I mix indigo with my henna (1 pts henna : 1 pt indigo). Walnut peel works as well, makes the tone brownish. For an anti-drying mix, try to add some oil in the mix. I prefer sesame, but I am told that pretty much every vegetable oil will work.
    To apply the color, I use one of these bike bottles with a “sport” closing (those things you can pull upwards with your teeth for drinking water while riding the bike) and mix my henna to a rather runny texture. Works great, a lot less messy and quick to apply (only about 45 mins, my hair has tailbone-length).

    Love your blog, btw!

    Greetings from Germany!

      • hühnerschreck says:

        You’re welcome :o) Glad I was of help.
        (And of couse I detected a typo: for the colour mix, it’s 2 pts henna : 1 pt indigo … tsss … Too many fingers, I guess ;o)

        Have a very nice weeek!

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