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We love creating hand-crafted hair sticks, hair forks and matching jewelry to show off the beauty of long hair! Our blog features our designs, different ways to put long hair up, as well as how to care for and grow long hair and features on other Etsy craftspeople.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Cassia - Natural Hair Conditioning

Cassia obovata, also known as Senna or 'neutral henna', is a herb used to strengthen and condition hair. It binds to the hair shaft, making the hair thicker and glossy. It is sold as a green powder, made from ground leaves.

Cassia has its conditioning effects by working in much the same way as henna, but henna is also a permanent red-orange dye. Henna should not be used unless you truly want to change your hair color, *permanently*. Cassia can be used to gain the strengthening benefits of henna, but without permanently dying your hair.

Cassia does contain a dye molecule, but it is much weaker than that of henna and is a pale, golden-yellow instead of red/orange. Unless your hair is gray, or light blonde, it will not show up on your hair, and even if it does, it will wash out in a few weeks. Gray hair will become light blonde, but very light blonde hair may become darker.

For one Cassia application, you will need around 20-80g, depending on how long and thick your hair is. For reference, my hair is approximately bra-strap length and normal thickness, and I use 25g.

First, you need to make a 'mud' from the cassia powder. Mix the powder with enough water until you have a thick paste. If you would like to encourage the golden-yellow dye, leave the mixture to sit for an hour before applying it. This allows time for 'dye release'. You could also try using orange juice (an acid) to mix the powder with - it is thought by some henna/cassia users that acid benefits dye release, although others have found that just water is sufficient.

You can either use a straight mix of cassia and water/OJ, or you can add other hair conditioners to your mud. Cassia can make hair feel dry initially, so adding another conditioner helps alleviate this. Honey is a great conditioner, and it's addition in a mixture also makes the cassia much easier to wash out of the hair. However, honey has the potential to lighten hair (more about this in another post soon), so if this would be a problem, microwave the honey for 10 seconds first (to kill the lightening enzymes). Add 2-3 tablespoons of honey, depending how long your hair. If your hair tends towards dryness, try adding a little (1 tablespoon) extra virgin olive oil, or coconut oil. If your hair tends to be greasy, you will probably want to avoid the use of oil, or experiment with a smaller amount to see how your hair reacts.

Once you have mixed your cassia, apply it to wet hair. It is easiest and least messy to apply in the shower cubicle, then wrap your head in Saran (plastic) wrap. Use an old towel around your neck to catch any drips. Leave the mixture on your head for 40-60 minutes, then wash out. You will need to use shampoo to get all the mud out of your hair. Some people prefer to wash it out by running a bath, then lying back and soaking their hair, but in my experience showering works just as well, especially if there is honey or oil in the mixture. If you just used cassia and water, your hair may feel a little dry initially, but this should get better after a couple of washes. You can repeat the cassia treatment every 3-4 weeks to maintain its conditioning effects.

Cassia obovata can be obtained from many online henna sellers or herbal companies. However, Cassia senna, a common constipation remedy, has much the same effect on hair and is more commonly and cheaply available. Cassia senna powder can be found at online herb stores or health food shops.


fluffnflowers said...

Fascinating and a great post! Can't wait to see your article on honey!

Walk in the Woods said...

:) I just gave myself fresh mahogany henna lights yesterday! I love the way henna makes my hair feel and look.

That said . . . let's hear more about rhubarb . . . I'm intrigued!

Art for Hair said...

Thanks guys! walkinthewoods, I'll do a post about natural hair dyes soon :)