Henna Glosses: Debunking Myths and Offering More Effective Alternatives.

In the henna for hair world, a “gloss” is usually a mixture of prepared henna and/or indigo paste diluted with conditioner, yogurt, aloe gel, coconut milk, or some other medium. The result is supposedly a more subtle color change along with “deep conditioning.” Glosses are extremely popular and attractive, especially to those who are new to henna. They seem to somehow be easier, less intimidating, and user-friendly. The idea of a subtle color change and killing two birds with one stone by mixing henna and conditioner seems wonderful…right?

              I’m sorry to burst your bubble. There are better ways to achieve both a subtle color change and conditioning. Glosses are a waste of good henna and your money. Because the diluting medium inhibits dye uptake, color results are temporary, and most of the conditioning benefits of henna are unavailable.  While they have their place in rare occasions, more often than not, there is a better alternative to the gloss. This article will explain some of the myths behind glosses, and offer better alternatives which will result in the same subtle color change, but with permanence and all of the benefits we love about henna.

A gloss is a mixture of plant dye paste and conditioner. The result of a gloss is not as saturated, nor as permanent.

Where Did the Gloss Come From?

For as long as henna has been used to color hair, the mixture has always involved henna and an acidic liquid. Oils, yogurt, milk, and other ingredients were sometimes included in these recipes, and the recipes were passed along. These uses became part of the mythology of “How people used henna back in the day.” Earlier in the history of The Henna Page and Ancient Sunrise®, we tinkered with and recommended methods for using glosses. These were always meant to be a quick, temporary fix, not the go-to method.  Over time, the use of the gloss grew, spread through natural beauty blogs and videos, other henna companies, and word of mouth within families and communities. Some companies now even sell oil-based bars containing henna, promising color and conditioning.

              If people have been adding all kinds of things to their mix for hundreds of years, it must be the correct way to do it, right? The desire to use natural beauty products sometimes comes with a desire to go back to a mythical time of purity: A time before commercialization brought about harmful chemicals, when humans were more intuitively connected with nature and all things healthy. Looking back on older methods and recipes seems to make sense. Sadly, this mythical time did not exist. People also once painted their faces with lead and brushed their teeth with urine.

              Past methods come shrouded in nostalgia, packed with folk remedies and wives’ tales, and lacking good science. We have science now! By systematically studying how these ingredients work at the molecular level, we can now determine the most effective methods, and come to the conclusion that adding certain ingredients into henna mixes renders the mix much less effective. An effective henna mix only requires quality henna powder, an acidic liquid, and an understanding of temperature and time. Oils, fats, silicones, and glycerins block dye molecules from binding to the hair strand. Much of the valuable benefits to henna are doing right down your drain.

“But, I love dyeing my hair and getting a deep conditioning treatment at the same time.”

Henna is an amazing conditioner. In addition to adding strength and shine to your hair, it re-balances moisture, reinforces the keratin cuticle, and has anti-fungal properties. Make it into the gloss, and you won’t get all of those amazing benefits at their full strength.

              There is an ongoing myth that henna is drying or damaging to the hair. This myth has contributed to the use of oils, conditioners, and other “moisturizing” ingredients in a henna mixture. The idea was that the addition of these ingredients would protect the hair from negative effects of henna. Some henna for hair products are made of poor quality henna, full of large plant particles and sand. Compound hennas contain metallic salts, PPD, and other additives that did nasty things to the hair. If you are using finely sifted, 100% pure BAQ henna, the idea of henna being drying or damaging is absolutely untrue.

Most earlier hennas available in the US were compound hennas, containing harmful additives. There are still compound hennas sold today, which claim to be pure. Always go with lab-tested henna!

              Some people report their hair feeling dry and unmanageable after using henna. This is because, when the paste is processing on your head, the low pH causes the outer keratin scales of the hair to temporarily lift, allowing the dye to enter more effectively. During the following days, as the dye oxidizes and settles into place, the hair will go back to normal. Rinsing with cool water and/or vinegar can smooth the cuticle down more quickly.

              There is nothing wrong with using a conditioning treatment after washing out your henna. Feel free to apply whatever you planned to mix into your henna, separately and after you have hennaed your hair. Many people find that it is not necessary, as henna is an effective enough conditioning treatment on its own.

“I’ve done it this way for ages, and it works for me.”

Many people begin with glosses when they start using henna, and find that they love the results. They continue to use the same method for several years. While they do get some color and conditioning benefit, without learning new and better methods, they never know how much better it could be! It’s like having a California roll for the first time and deciding that you love sushi, but never eating anything other than California rolls following that. (Okay, a bit of a stretched analogy, but I will personally fight you on the ways of proper sushi.)

              Try one of the methods I’ll describe later in this article. Henna, indigo, cassia, and fruit acid powders make natural hair coloring amazingly versatile, and you’ll find you can achieve nearly any natural hair color with the right mixture. You will find that skipping the conditioner gives you a much richer color that doesn’t fade, and longer-lasting strength and shine.

“I don’t want a huge color change.”

You don’t have to have one. At Ancient Sunrise®, we’ve mastered the art and science of formulating mixtures to suit every need. We work one-on-one with our customers to help them achieve their desired color. Very often, our customers simply want to cover their gray hair to match their natural color. If you want just a hint of red, or to darken your color one or two shades, that’s no problem at all. It can be done with the right mix of henna, indigo, and/or cassia.

“I like glosses because they’re easier to apply and rinse out.”

It is true that many henna for hair products contain henna that is poorly sifted and full of large particles that get tangled in the hair. If you have not yet tried Ancient Sunrise® products, you may be surprised by the difference. Ancient Sunrise® plant dye powders are finely sifted. Ancient Sunrise® Rajasthani Jasmine henna, Ancient Sunrise® Zekhara indigo, and Ancient Sunrise® Zekhara cassia are the finest out of all of them, and great for those who have thick, curly, or textured hair, as well as those with delicate damaged hair.

              Indigo powder can be a little gritty, and this can be solved with a little CMC powder, which makes the paste much silkier without inhibiting the dye.

              If you are already using Ancient Sunrise® products and are still frustrated with application and washing, contact Customer Service. They have a number of tips and tricks that make the process much easier. For example, some prefer their paste thicker or thinner. Some work from the top of their head down, or vice versa. Some like to enlist a friend or significant other to help. When washing henna out, a “mermaid rinse” works very well. Soak and swish your hair in warm water to loosen out the majority of the paste, then shampoo and condition as normal. Sometimes massaging a handful of conditioner through your hair after the mermaid rinse helps the extra particles slip out. Again, there’s nothing wrong with using conditioners after henna; just don’t mix them in.

“What about indigo glosses?”

Indigo glosses are a mixture of a small amount of indigo paste and a diluting medium, usually conditioner. These are used to subtly darken or tone down hair that is too bright or light after a henna/indigo treatment, or if the indigo has faded from the hair over time. We recommend them occasionally, but they are best used as a temporary fix rather than a true method. The result is not permanent.

              If you used indigo in your mix but it did not bind effectively, leaving brassy roots, mix up a small amount of regular, full-strength indigo paste, dab it into the areas that need to be fixed, and rinse it out after a few minutes. If you have just dyed your hair and it looks too bright, wait a few days for the color to oxidize before trying to adjust it. It may settle out on its own.

              Indigo glosses can be avoided as you perfect your mix and technique. This may involve increasing the amount of indigo you use in your next mix, and thoroughly cleansing your hair prior to application.

Apply indigo paste, or a henna/indigo mixture to roots that came out too light.

Alternatives to Glosses

The first and most obvious alternative to the gloss is to simply omit the conditioner, and apply the henna mixture as is. The color results will be more vivid and permanent. Your hair will get the full power of the strengthening and conditioning properties of henna. If you have naturally darker hair, you do not need to worry about your result being too bright or red, as henna is translucent and cannot lighten the hair.

If you have a naturally lighter hair color and worry that henna will make your hair too red, mix it with cassia. A mixture of 1 part henna and 4 parts cassia will give light hair a warm, strawberry blonde glow. Both the henna and cassia will make your hair shiny and strong. You may also choose to play around with acids, or add a small amount of indigo if you don’t want the result to be too bright. This article goes into further detail.

You could try using cassia paste in place of conditioner. Mix cassia powder with distilled water, and combine it with your henna or henna/indigo paste. Cassia that has not been dye-released will impart very little color. It can dilute the strength of your other plant dyes without inhibiting uptake the way conditioner might.

Mohair dyed with cassia and henna in different proportions. The sample to the left is the original color.

If you are new to henna and are attracted to glosses because you are worried about having a permanent result you don’t like, instead of relying on the temporary nature of a gloss, strand-test a few different mixtures on hair that you’ve collected from your hairbrush or a trim, and use those to settle on a color, rather than using your head as a guinea pig.

Test some hair collected from your hair brush with a small amount of paste to determine the color result.

If you are using glosses because you want your color change to be temporary, then sure, a gloss may be the way to go. Henna is permanent when used properly, and can only be removed from the hair using lightening treatments.  You may want to try mixing up some zizyphus paste to use in place of conditioner in your gloss. Ancient Sunrise® Zizyphus spina christi powder is a natural cleanser and conditioner. Its natural plant waxes may prevent the henna from binding as successfully.


Glosses are overused. They gained popularity through the spread of some less-than-accurate information. More often than not, a full-strength mix of henna, indigo, and/or cassia will give you the same, or better results. It may require some recipe or technique adjustments, but we believe that you will be much happier with the color and condition of your hair after ditching glosses. You will not need to re-apply as frequently, saving money and time. If you need assistance, contact Ancient Sunrise® Customer Service via phone, email, or online chat.

Does it Dye Hair? The Official List

People have been using plants and other materials to change the color of their hair long before commercial hair dyes were invented. The resurgence in natural and DIY beauty has led to a long and strange list of ingredients being mixed up and put on the hair. Many of these are food items. Others are borrowed from natural fabric dyeing. However, just because something is natural and has a color does not mean that it will 1) bind permanently to the hair strand, and/or 2) be safe to use on the hair.

              Many plants which will dye fabric require simmering and/or being set with a mordant. Because one should not do either with the hair, it will not work the same way. Most foods are, well, best used as foods. Eat them, and you get nutrients and a happy tummy. Put them on your head, and you get a lot of food rinsed down the drain for very little effect.

              There are very, very few dyes that are capable of binding to the hair in a permanent manner. Out of these, there are fewer which are safe (Hint: if it is effective and safe, we probably sell it at Mehandi.com). At a molecular level, a dye needs a small enough molecule or a chemical reaction to break past the keratin layers on the surface of the hair strand, and then oxidize into a larger molecule that cannot easily escape back out of the hair, binding it there permanently. This is what oxidative (store-bought) dyes do.

Dyes like henna and cassia bind to the hair via a Michael addition, facilitated by the low pH environment of the paste. Despite having beautiful, vivid colors, most plants cannot dye the hair because the molecule is too large. Without simmering for long periods of time or the use of a mordant to chemically bind the dye, the color simply sits atop the hair and will wash right out.

              Below is a list, in alphabetical order, of the many things people attempt to use, either mixed into a henna treatment or on its own. Each item will be examined for the following questions: 1) Does it affect hair color? 2) Is the color change permanent? 3) Is it safe? Additionally, most will include explanations for how the ingredient came to exist in hair recipes if it is not safe or effective.


              Amla does not contain a dye. When used to dye-release henna, it affects the resulting color of the henna by muting brighter tones. It assists a successful indigo bind by temporarily loosening the hydrogen bonds in the hair, allowing more dye to enter. Real amla is safe. If an amla product claims to change the color of the hair, it may contain other ingredients, and may not be safe.


              Beets will stain your hands, change the color of your urine, and can dye fabric when simmered and used with a mordant. Because you do not want to simmer and use mordants on your hair, you cannot achieve a permanent stain using beets. It is safe but will do nothing for your hair.

Black Tea

              Many natural hair blogs claim that strong black tea will darken your hair. If it does, the result will be very subtle, and very temporary. Some people use black tea as their acidic liquid for henna, but it is generally not quite acidic enough for a good dye release. A strong brew of black tea may cause caffeine jitters when absorbed through the scalp. Relatively safe; not effective for hair coloring.


              On its own, blueberries or blueberry juice will not create a noticeable change in your hair color. Added to henna as a dye-releasing liquid, the anthocyanins in blueberry juice will add a subtle ash tone to the color to cool it. This effect may fade over time. It is safe, but subtle and not permanent. Ancient Sunrise® Nightfall Rose fruit acid powder is made from powdered purple aronia fruit, which is like a hardcore version of the blueberry.

Buxus (Katam)

              Buxus is mixed with henna in the same way that indigo is, to create soft brunette tones. It is safe. Here’s the problem: Buxus was produced in Yemen, which is under civil conflict. There are few if any producers of buxus left, and Yemen is not exporting goods to the US at this time. If you find anyone claiming to sell buxus, it is most likely a mixture of henna and indigo or some other type of counterfeit.


              Calendula is a bright yellow flower. It is used as a natural fabric and food dye. It is sometimes used to give a golden tone to cheese and butter. Calendula will show up in an internet search for natural ways to dye your hair. Like so many other items on this list, calendula’s dye will not break into and bind to the keratin cuticle of your hair without the use of heat and mordants.


              Carrot juice is delicious. Carrots are a good way to make friends with rabbits or horses. Despite their bright orange color, soaking your hair in carrot juice will not do much. Safe, but better eaten. Any color result that may occur will wash out.


              Hooray! The first effective contestant on the list. Cassia Auriculata will dye light hair a golden wheat color. It provides similar benefits as henna. Not quite as strong or permanent as henna, cassia may need to be applied more often, or mixed with a small amount of henna for a more effective bind. Cassia is great for diluting henna or henna/indigo mixes to great vibrant fiery reds, or lighter browns. On dark hair, cassia will not cause a color change but is great for conditioning. Cassia is very safe.


              Chamomile shows up in natural beauty sites very often because it is supposed to naturally lighten hair. The instructions usually involve soaking hair in chamomile tea or spritzing the hair with tea in a spray bottle. Like lemon, some use it in their hair prior to going out into the sun. Chamomile seems to deliver very subtle, very slow results that appear if one’s hair is already blonde or light brown. If your hair is dark, no luck. If your hair is dyed with henna, chamomile will not remove the henna. With hair that is already light brown or blonde, it would take weeks of daily hair-soaking and dozens of tea bags to achieve a noticeable difference if any at all. Chamomile is not a strong enough acid to use for dye-releasing henna. It is safe, but drinking chamomile tea may make you sleepy.


              Many people long to have hair the same color as black cherries. That deep, purple-red is gorgeous, and sadly, only achievable with chemical dyes. Cherry juice might be a good contestant for dye-release liquid, but because of its antioxidant and anthocyanin content, not because of its color. Cherries are safe, as long as you are not allergic, and remember to spit out the pits.


              Cinnamon is another common ingredient in natural beauty recipes for lightening hair. It smells wonderful, but cinnamon is irritating to the skin. I once tried the cinnamon-and-honey hair mask out of curiosity, and it felt like I rubbed tiger balm all over my scalp. Like lemon, honey, and chamomile, if there is any effect at all, it would show up on hair that is already light, require several treatments, and be very subtle. Not entirely safe, and not very effective. Will do nothing to the color result of a henna mix. If you want to make your henna mix smell nice, try ginger or cardamom powder instead.


              This is one of the most common items people ask about. Some henna sites still recommend mixing henna with strongly brewed black coffee. Coffee seems to temporarily darken the hair, but caffeine is transdermal and will cause jitters and headaches if you leave it on your scalp for several hours. You will also have to put up with the smell. Imagine breathing through a used coffee filter for three hours. A coffee “rinse” would do nothing. Do not put coffee in your mix. If you want to darken your henna, add a little indigo.


              Bright yellow flower. Fun for making wishes. Used in salads. See Calendula above.


Pure, BAQ henna is safe, effective, and permanent. But if you are reading this blog, you might know that by now. Feel free to read the other articles to learn all about how to use it. Henna allergies are extremely rare. Henna’s dye molecule binds to keratin and will not fade. Because henna is not well regulated, all henna is not equal. Make sure you know the difference between true henna and compound henna, which is unsafe and contains a number of additives.


              Honey produces small amounts of peroxide, which can bring out some highlights to hair that is already light. The effect is minimal. It will not do anything to dark hair. Do not add it to a henna mix; it will inhibit dye uptake. It is safe unless you are an infant, or allergic to honey. Honey is great with some peanut butter on toast. It is also nice in tea. In your hair, it is a sticky mess that won’t do much.


Used in conjunction with henna, indigo creates permanent shades of brunette. On its own, it may dye lighter hair a gray-blue color, which may fade. Henna helps indigo bind permanently. It is safe. Some with mold allergies notice a reaction to indigo. Patch test beforehand if concerned, and avoid inhaling powder particles. Read more about indigo here.


              Jagua is derived from the fruit, Genipa americana which grows in South America. Its juice has been used in body art to create deep blue stains on the skin. Jagua is extremely expensive. The amount of jagua juice needed to mix with 100g of henna powder would be over a hundred dollars. Not worth it. Jagua is also known to cause allergies in those who are allergic to certain fruits. Some distributors may sell products containing PPD claiming it is pure jagua. Verdict: Not for hair, expensive, and proceed with caution.


              Dyeing hair with powdered drink mixes is popular among young people because it is cheap, temporary, and can result in unnatural colors. The high concentration of food dyes can cause a temporary stain on lighter hair. It is relatively safe, but not permanent, and not necessarily “natural.” It will probably stain your clothes and pillowcase as it fades off. Adding it to henna would probably not do anything, as the lawsone would greatly overpower any food dye.


              Lemon juice has been used to add highlights to blond hair. It works similarly to peroxide. You will not see much change in darker hair. It will not lighten hair that has been dyed with henna. When used as an acid in a henna mix, the low pH will actually cause the resulting stain to oxidize greatly over time, causing a darker color. Those who are sensitive to citrus may notice an itchy, bumpy, or red scalp when using henna mixed with lemon juice. It can also cause UV sensitivity. When used with henna, it is smart to dilute lemon juice with 3-4 parts distilled water.


              This is another plant that is popular in natural beauty blogs. Hibiscus is a beautiful red flower with a sweet, tart flavor. The flowers are dried and sold whole and in powder form. According to those who recommend using it, hibiscus supposedly brings red hues to the hair. If effective, the result would be very temporary. Hibiscus is high in anthocyanins, so if there is any effect of it being mixed with henna, it would act more like Ancient Sunrise® Nightfall Rose fruit acid powder, or blueberry juice, cooling the henna color rather than adding red tones. Hibiscus makes for a delicious cold summer drink. Save it for that, instead.

Iron (rust)

              Some cultures have mixed henna in iron containers, and this recommendation has come through to blogs and natural sites today. Some sites recommend adding a few rusty nails (or any rusty iron item) into the henna if you do not have an iron pot. A low-pH liquid would react with the iron to create iron oxide, which may impart a dark color to the hair temporarily. You do not want minerals in your hair. Not only does mineral buildup inhibit dye uptake, but can cause the hair to become stiff and dry. This is why we recommend clarifying the hair before applying henna and using distilled water.

              Note: This is not to say that henna and metal should never mix. Henna can be mixed in stainless steel bowls, or with any run-of-the-mill spoon just fine.


              Nettle has been recommended on some natural beauty sites claiming it will darken hair and stimulate growth. It can dye fabrics but requires simmering and mordants to do so. There will be little to no effect on hair. There are no studies that show significant effects on hair growth. While nettle can be eaten, or used for tea, harvesting nettle from the great outdoors can result in some nasty stings. 


              This is another one pulled from fabric dyeing. Onion skins can dye fabrics a lovely yellow color. It will not work on hair. Some claim that rinsing hair in water that has been boiled with onion or onion skin will promote hair growth. This claim has not been proven. Do yourself and others a favor, and do not put onions in your henna, or in your hair at all. You will end up smelling like onions for no reason.


              Pomegranates have an absolutely beautiful color, and anyone who has opened one will know that the juice can stain your skin, clothes, and cutting board. It will not stay in your hair. There’s nothing wrong with using it as your dye-release liquid, other than expense. It is high in anthocyanins, so it would most likely work similarly to blueberry juice.


              See: Blueberry, Cherry, and Pomegranate. Safe, and decent for a dye-release liquid; will not dye hair.

Red Cabbage

              You may have done the experiment in science class where you use cabbage juice as a pH indicator. If not, it’s pretty cool. The purple liquid turns shades of pink when mixed with an acid, and blue to green when mixed with a base. Fabric dyers can use this to their advantage to create a variety of shades. I feel like a broken record by now but guess what. Works with simmering and a mordant; won’t work on hair.


              Rhubarb supposedly adds a golden tone to light hair. It is recommended on natural beauty sites and is sometimes included in “herbal” or “natural” hair dye mixes. Despite its pretty, red stalks, rhubarb will not add red tones to the hair. It contains chrysophanic acid, the same molecule responsible for cassia’s golden results. However, rhubarb root creates a very vivid, unnatural yellow that isn’t generally desired as a hair color. In addition, the dye does not bind well and fades over time. Better saved for fabric dyeing and pies.


              Rosemary oil has long been recommended and used for hair growth and darkening hair. After scouring research databases, I found one clinical study which showed the effectiveness of rosemary oil against androgenetic alopecia, and none on hair darkening. Because only the abstract was available I could not make a determination on the soundness of the study. The claimed hair-growth effect is due to rosemary’s rubefacient quality. Rubefacients are by their nature, irritants. They stimulate circulation (redness) in the skin by dilating blood vessels. Do not put essential oils in henna. They dull the resulting color and can cause headaches.


              Holy expense. Not only will it fail to alter your hair color, but a gram of real saffron can cost up to $25. It is the most expensive spice in the world, and counterfeit/adulterated saffron is common. Saffron rice is delicious. If you get your hands on some real saffron, make rice. Safe, expensive, and pointless for hair.


              Similar claims as Rosemary. Just like Rosemary, there is no definitive proof of sage’s ability to dye hair. Pretty safe. Good for clearing your home of ghouls and ghosties, or bad smells. Not effective for coloring hair.

Para-phenylenediamine (PPD)

              NOT SAFE. Para-phenylenediamine is the active ingredient in most commercial hair dyes and is highly sensitizing. Yes, it effectively colors hair. It is also known to cause serious allergic reactions. Sensitivity to PPD is increasing due to the popularity of “black henna” tattoos, which use a concentrated form of dye. As a coal tar derivative, it is not natural. Read more about it here, here, here, and here.

Most commercial hair dyes contain PPD. Even products labeled “natural” or claiming to be henna can have PPD.


              If you’ve ever spilled pasta sauce or ketchup on your clothes, you were probably quite happy to find that the stain did not stay permanently. Soaking your hair in tomato juice is not an effective way to dye your hair, and like many other items on this list, any color result obtained will wash out. Tomatoes are acidic, so I can’t think of anything wrong with using tomato juice as a dye-release liquid, other than the fact that it would smell very strange. Better idea: enjoy a Bloody Mary while the henna is in your hair.


              Turmeric gives curry dishes their bright yellow color. It is used in fabric dyeing. When mixed with an alkaline solution, turmeric’s ochre yellow color turns vivid red. When turmeric paste is rubbed onto the skin, it will leave a yellow stain. Turmeric may temporarily stain light hair yellow but will wash out quickly. Be prepared to turn your tub and towels yellow. Safe; beautiful color; will not dye hair.

Turmeric was used to stain the skin yellow in this body art piece. It will fade away after a good scrub.


              Black walnut powder has been sold on its own and in pre-mixed henna powders. It leads to darker results. Black walnut will dye hair but has a high risk of allergic reaction. Indigo will work just as well, if not better. Somewhat effective, but not as safe.


Mehandi.com no longer carries indigo for body art due to it being hard to resource.

              Woad is one of the most ancient dyes, used to dye fabrics “Celtic blue.”  It is speculated that the Celts also used it on their skin, as seen in the movie Braveheart. The process is extremely smelly, like rotten cabbages. The dye molecule, indigo, in woad is the same as it is in the indigo (indigofera tinctoria) plant. Just use indigo plant powder. It is easier to get your hands on and doesn’t have the stink. If you want to paint yourself blue.

Ancient Blue® is an indigo product that mimics the use of woad on the skin, without the cabbage stink.

Final Notes

All in all, it is best to keep a henna mix to its bare essentials and to keep food for eating purposes. Many foods do have nutrients that are beneficial for hair and skin, but in order to take advantage of them, you need to process them through your digestive system. Additionally, if you don’t already have these items laying around, going out and finding them only complicates and adds expense to your henna method, for no real pay-off.

              Please don’t hesitate to contact  Ancient Sunrise® Customer Service if you have any additional questions. If there is an item you’d like to see added to this list, please comment below.

Author: Rebecca Chou 2/23/18
Edited: Maria Moore 11/16/22

Seven Great Gift Ideas from Mehandi.Com

The holidays are coming fast. Ancient Sunrise® and Becoming Moonlight® products from www.Mehandi.com make great gifts for a variety of people. You might know someone who has been interested in trying henna, or someone who has been a devoted henna-head for years. Maybe you have a cosmetics-lover in the family, an artist, a frequent flyer, or someone who is always busy but wants to look their best. Here are eight gift ideas to make everyone happy.

You could also share this post with loved ones (nudge, wink) to point them toward what you might want this season.

1. A Stocking-Stuffer Starter Kit the Curious But Hesitant

Your friend has been admiring your hair for ages, and they’re finally ready to try henna, but they don’t know where to start. Put together a sweet and simple gift bag with everything they need to begin.               

If they’re not sure about their mix, start them off with a few kit samples that are closest to what they want. They can use these to conduct strand tests to help them decide on their mix. Add in a packet or two of our famous Ancient Sunrise® Rainwash treatment, some disposable gloves, hair clips, and a warm knit cap. Write a nice note offering to order their first kit and help them apply it once they’ve figured out what they want.

Sample orders ship free!

Toss in some extras goodies that are sure to please anyone:

Ancient Sunrise® Zizyphus Spina Christi is a wonderful cleanser and conditioner for any hair type and color. Learn more about Ancient Sunrise® Zizyphus here.

 Ancient Sunrise® Cassia adds strength and shine with minimal color change.

Spellstone hair ornaments make beautiful, unique gifts, and are 50% off with coupon code “Spellstone” until January 6th! They come in a variety of designs to fit every hair length and texture. Each design has a unique meaning. Each piece is made from ethically sourced water buffalo horn or bone.

2. The Ultimate Pampering Package

Know someone who likes to turn their henna day into a full spa day? Make them a basket of Ancient Sunrise® products to make their experience extra special.

Ancient Sunrise® Amla powder makes for a great facial mask that cleans, exfoliates, tightens, and brightens. It is high in Vitamin C which is known to brighten complexions, and has anti-microbial properties. Ancient Sunrise® Amla powder is tested for purity by an independent laboratory. Amla has many beneficial uses which you can learn about here.

Ancient Sunrise® Amla powder is great for the face. Just mix with water and apply for 3-5 minutes once or twice a week.

Ancient Sunrise® Henna Attar has a wonderful earthy aroma reminiscent of chocolate and tobacco with a faint, sweet floral note. Dab it on the wrists, behind the ears, or dilute it with a carrier oil. A little goes a long way. Add in a comfy robe or a candle, and this gift is a winner.

3. For the Constant Doodler and/or Glitter Lover

 Becoming Moonlight® body art products are wonderful for those who have an artistic spirit, or those who were a unicorn in a past life.

The Gilding Kits are a great introduction for those who have not used gilding paste. They can be used to create beautiful, sparkling “white henna” patterns and more. Each kit comes with a cone of Becoming Moonlight® gilding paste, glitter, gilding powder, gems, alcohol swabs, and instructions.

Create gorgeous works of art on your skin with Becoming Moonlight® body art supplies.

This is a great gift for teens who can’t stop drawing on themselves, and is much safer than those “white henna” tutorials online which use anything from white acrylic paint to white-out. Becoming Moonlight® gilding paste is specifically designed for body art use, and is non-toxic and latex-free. As it is flexible and water-resistant, Becoming Moonlight® gilding paste lasts up to a week or longer on the skin.

Print out the free 2018 Henna Page Calendar or one of the many free pattern books, to provide some artistic inspiration.

Becoming Moonlight® glitters, gilding powders, and gems are all body-art quality and make for great stocking-stuffers, too. The gilding powders are wonderful as eye-shadows and highlighters.

4. For the Frequent Flyer

You may know someone who is always traveling, be it for work or for wanderlust. Put together a travel bag they can easily take with them wherever they go. These products are much better than those little bottles in hotel bathrooms, and won’t be a problem when going through airport security.

 Ancient Sunrise® Shampoo bars are fantastic for travel. Your loved one won’t have to worry about bringing another liquid through TSA, or having a shampoo bottle leak in their luggage bag. They can even cut off small pieces rather than taking the whole bar. The shampoo bars are made from all natural ingredients, are vegan, cruelty free, and pH balanced. They leave the hair soft and moisturized;  following with conditioner isn’t necessary, so that’s yet another bottle they won’t have to pack!

Each Ancient Sunrise® shampoo bar lasts several months. As they are water-soluble, keep them dry to make them last longer.

Water quality varies greatly from place to place, and hard water wreaks havoc on the hair. Luckily, Ancient Sunrise® Rainwash Treatment is easy to pack and clarifies the hair to leave it smooth, soft and manageable. It comes in both single-use packets and 50g jars (enough for about ten uses).

Ancient Sunrise® Zizyphus is a great option for those who are going to the beach. It is a natural 2-in-1 shampoo/conditioner that protects the hair from salt water and wind. It comes in a powder form which is mixed with water to form a paste. For campers, it’s safe to rinse outside or in a body of water because it does not contain anything that is harmful to the environment.

If the person in mind colors their hair with Ancient Sunrise® henna, ask them what they use, and portion it out into single-use packets that they can take with them to touch up their roots when away on long trips. Root touch-ups usually take about 50g of powder. Add a fruit acid powder into their henna/cassia so they can just add water. Just remember to keep the indigo powder separate from the rest.

5. For the Busy and Bearded

You may know someone who colors their facial hair or beard with henna. As facial hair grows quickly, it can become time-consuming or annoying to do frequent touch-ups. Give the gift of convenience by mixing up a batch of henna and separating it into single-use portions which can be kept in the freezer and thawed quickly.

Dye-release henna and separate into plastic bags for easy application.

If this person uses a henna/indigo mix, measure portions of indigo powder into individual baggies so they can just thaw their henna, mix their indigo, combine, and apply. This is a great idea for root touch-ups, too.

Throw in a tinting brush or toothbrush for easy application, and a cool handkerchief so they can keep the paste warm and look like a bandit at the same time.

6. For Those Visiting From Afar

Shipping costs can add up quickly, especially for those henna-heads who live on the west coast, or outside of the United States. If you live closer to Ohio and have friends or relatives visiting from a far-off land, offer to order their favorite plant powders in bulk. Ancient Sunrise® products can be brought across borders without problem. If you order for the both of you, you get the benefit of a bulk discount as well.

 Just make sure to account for shipping and handling times so they don’t go home without their goodies. Most orders take about 5-6 business days. Shipments within Ohio can be faster.

7. For the Henna Nerd

The Ancient Sunrise® Henna for Hair E-book has become something like the henna for hair bible. Many long-time henna users still visit it over and over again. The newest chapters include wonderful knowledge about the history of henna use. The best thing is, it’s free to download.

Create a unique gift by downloading the chapters onto a USB drive, and taking it to a printer to have it printed and bound. It will be a lovely addition to a library or coffee table, and very useful for when your loved-one is midway through mixing their paste and just needs to do a quick check.

Final Notes

When ordering your items, remember to check how long the shipping will take, to ensure your package arrives on time. Express shipping is available at extra cost if you order directly with Customer Service through phone, email, or online chat.

Office hours may change during the holidays. Liking and following our Facebook pages is the best way to keep up to date on any changes. Mehandi’s Facebook page is here, and also be sure to join the Ancient Sunrise Henna group if you haven’t already.

Indigo powder and gilding paste are affected by cold temperatures. If you live in an area whose temperatures fall below freezing, you may want to request extra insulation or express shipping to make sure your indigo stays safe.

  Be sure to check the return/exchange policy here.

We wish you a wonderful holiday and hope your friends and family absolutely love their gifts.

Author: Rebecca Chou December 2017
Edited: Maria Moore September 2022

Twelve Ways to Prevent Hair Damage

Human hair is a complex thing. Each strand consists of several layers which contribute to the structure, shape, and color of the hair. The outer layers are made of several tiny keratin scales (cuticles), which overlap like shingles. The core (cortex) of the hair strand consists of bundles of long, thin cells that contain melanin, the hair’s natural pigments. The hair also contains lipids, or fats, which balance moisture. Additional lipids are deposited onto the surface of the hair via the scalp’s sebaceous glands.

Healthy hair does pretty well at maintaining its own moisture levels. The sebum and keratin on the surface of the hair provide a hydrophobic barrier to prevent excess water from entering the cortex. It may sound counter-intuitive, but too much water is not good for the hair. If water enters the center of the hair strand, the cortex swells and the overall structure of the hair weakens. This is why hair becomes more stretchy when wet. Healthy hair will stretch to an extent, and bounce back. Hair that has been damaged will remain stretched, and break if stretched too far.

On the other hand, if the cortex is completely depleted of moisture, the hair becomes brittle, and breaks. Think of the cortex like a bundle of al-dente pasta. If it soaks up too much water, it becomes mushy and unstable. If it is desiccated, it becomes brittle and snaps.

Hair is made of a bundles of cortical cells containing melanin, surrounded by keratin scales.

Maintaining healthy hair requires keeping the keratin layers as intact as possible. When new hair growth exits the scalp, it has several layers of keratin cuticles which are tight and flat. Normal weathering causes the cuticles to lift, then chip away. If most or all of the layers erode, the cortex is exposed, and it unravels like the end of a rope. This is what causes split ends, also known as trichoschisis. There is no way to “fix” split ends, except to trim them away with professional shears (regular scissors can cause split ends). You cannot glue the cortex back together and put a new coating of keratin over it. Maintaining healthy hair is all about being proactive, not reactive. There is nothing that can reverse damage once it has occurred.

When keratin cuticles are entirely weathered away, the cortical cells are exposed and eventually split.

The biggest outside threats to hair health are friction and pulling (especially when the hair is wet), heat, UV exposure, and chemical processes. Friction causes the cuticles to lift, making the surface of each strand rougher. Strands then catch on each other, causing tangles. Lifted cuticles are like open doors for water to pass in and out. This is why damaged hair is stretchy and mushy when wet, and brittle when dry.

Heat drys out the hair and causes air pockets within the hair strands to expand. UV radiation breaks down melanin cells and melts the hair’s cortex, making it porous and brittle. Lightening agents, oxidative dyes, perms, and relaxer all use chemicals to break through the keratin layer to permanently alter the cortex to deposit dye, destroy melanin cells, or force the hair into a new shape. This creates weakness in both the internal and external structure of the hair.

While some weathering is normal and expected, there are many ways to reduce the amount of day-to-day damage. Here are a few ways to keep your hair happy and silky.

1. Squeeze and Wrap; Don’t Rub.

After showering or bathing, you might be tempted to grab a towel and rub it all over your head, or rub your hair between your towel like you are trying to start a fire with a stick. Don’t do it. Your hair is extra fragile when wet, and this amount of friction will add up in the long term. Repeated towel drying contributes to the weathering of the keratin scales that form the protective outer layers of the hair. Over time, this will lead to split ends [1].

Instead, gently press or squeeze your hair with the towel. Wrap your hair with the towel and allow it to gradually absorb the water out of your hair. Or gently shake the ends of your hair to flick away water droplets.

2. Don’t Brush Wet Hair Without the Right Tools.

This is similar to towel-drying the hair. Brushing, towel drying, and any form of friction on wet hair causes keratin cuticles to shed. Wet hair has reduced tensile strength, meaning it is more prone to stretching and snapping than dry hair. A study found that using a conditioning shampoo, in comparison to non-conditioning shampoos, reduced the amount of cuticle loss during wet hair combing [2]. This would make sense, as shampoos cleanse away the natural lipid layer of the hair, and lift the cuticle, increasing friction.

 If you must comb your hair while it is wet, make sure the hair is conditioned, and use a wide-toothed comb, or a brush specially made for use on wet hair. Using a brush or comb made to be used on wet hair can be incredibly helpful. The tines and bristles are designed to prevent pulling and tugging, thus causing less friction. Work from the ends of your hair to your roots. Do not pull on a tangle. This will cause your hair to snap. Work out the knot from the bottom up.

Hair and drum skins are both made of keratin. Kitty’s drum got wet and it wouldn’t play anymore. So kitty tightened it. But when the skin dried, it tore. Oops! Poor kitty. Shouldn’t have stretched a wet drum.

3. Keep Your Hair Up

Loosely braiding your hair or keeping it in a twist protects it from friction and tangles during the day. This is especially helpful if you have long hair and it’s a windy day. Just be sure not to wrap hair ties too tightly, or force pins into a tight bun.  This can cause stress on the hair. Pulling the hair too tightly into ponytails, braids, or twists can cause hair to pull out at the root. Over the course of time, this can lead to traction alopecia. 

(Writer’s note: Back when I had long hair, I was a big fan of the octopus clip. It securely holds the hair up in a bun without pinching, or being too tight.  Spellstone combs and barrettes are also wonderful, and styles are available for every hair type.)

 Spellstone hair ornaments are made with ethically harvested water buffalo horn or bone.

4. Avoid UV exposure

Hair is susceptible to UV damage. When hair becomes lighter in the summer, the melanin cells within the cortex are actually being destroyed by UV rays. There are two basic types of melanin n the hair. There are what provide the hair’s natural pigment. Pheomelanin is much more sensitive to UV radiation than eumelanin. Blonde, and red hair contains less eumelanin and more pheomelanin. When pheomelanin becomes degraded, UV exposure will eventually melt the hair’s core, causing the hair to become weak and brittle [3], [4].

The natural oils, or integral lipids, that exist within the hair fiber are also affected by UV radiation. Overexposure decreases these lipids, which exist to moisturize the hair and contribute to its flexibility. Over time, this leads to increased porosity, desiccation, and brittleness. 

Covering the hair, and/or using henna protects against sun damage. More on henna in # 8.

5. Protect Your Hair While You Sleep

If you toss and turn in your sleep, cotton and synthetic fabrics can cause your hair to tangle. If you prefer to shower at night, you’ll probably wake up and fight your bedhead with brushes and products, damaging it further in the process.  Wrapping your hair in a silk scarf or using a silk pillowcase can decrease bedhead and damage.

Silk is very breathable and decreases friction. If you sweat during your sleep, silk is cooler and allows moisture to evaporate more quickly, keeping your hair drier. Just make sure you’re looking for actual silk, not a polyester satin, which can cause static and tangling.

6. Know How Often to Wash Your Hair

Each person produces a different amount of sebum. These oils protect and moisturize the skin and hair. However, too much sebum will become waxy, drawing dirt and dead skin cells, and clogging pores. Some people have naturally oily skin, and need to wash their hair every day. Others do so less frequently. If you have dry skin, or produce little sebum at the scalp, washing your hair too frequently, or washing with harsh surfactants like sodium lauryl sulfate might strip out the lipids from your hair and lift the cuticles. Shampooing dries the hair shaft and increases static and friction. Conditioning is meant to artificially restore lost lipids and smooth the cuticle layer.

If you have long hair, be aware that sebum gradually spreads from the scalp to the ends; the ends are drier than the roots. Oftentimes, it is only necessary to shampoo the scalp. The product that runs down the length of your hair while rinsing is enough to cleanse it without without completely stripping the lipids. Use conditioner in the opposite way. Apply only to the ends of the hair to avoid heaviness and buildup at the roots. It is better wash hair with cool water. Hot water can raise the cuticles, causing roughness and dryness. Cool water keeps the cuticle closed.

Hair has both surface lipids and integral lipids. In other words, there are oils that coat the hair strand, and oils that exist within the hair strand. Both contribute to the moisture and protection of the hair. Integral lipids can vary with a person’s ethnicity. While Asians have higher integral lipid levels, people of Caucasian and African descent have lower amounts of integral lipids. Over-shampooing can strip out integral lipids and lead to desiccation and breakage. UV exposure and chemical processes can also destroy integral lipids.

The consensus is in. The vast majority of dermatologists and hair experts agree that dry shampoo causes your hair more harm than good. The ingredients in dry shampoo absorb oil, giving the hair volume and making it look less greasy, but all of this just stays in the hair. The buildup of sebum and dry shampoo can eventually clog pores, causing infections. It can also lead to hair loss, as infected follicles cause the hair to shed. Dermatologists recommend using dry shampoo no more than twice a week.

7. Put Down the Dry Shampoo and Back Away

Microorganisms love munching away at sebum buildup, dead skin cells, and dirt. Dry shampoo creates a great environment for them.

8. Moisturizing Products May Be Making Things Worse

Hair products use a variety of emollients and humectants to make the hair seem smoother and more moisturized. Not all of them work in the same way. Glycerin, or glycol, products draw moisture from the surrounding environment. This is find when there is humidity in the air. In dry environments, the product will actually draw moisture out of the hair.

Some ingredients form a barrier, preventing water from entering or exiting. Because damaged hair is particularly weak when wet, it needs to be able to get rid of the excess water in the cortex. Products that coat the hair in this way keeps the hair in a weaker state.

Silicone ingredients, like dimethicone, mask hair damage by filling and smoothing the surface of the hair with a slippery coating. Decreasing friction prevents future damage, but -cones inhibit the passage of moisture in and out of the hair. If it builds up, it acts similarly to sebum, drawing dirt and dead skin cells.

Dimethicone and similar ingredients coat the hair with a low-friction layer, but do not mend damage.

Overuse of conditioners or oils can lead to a vicious cycle of worsening hair condition. The product coats the hair and prevents moisture from entering, causing the hair to dry. People then try to  correct or compensate for the dryness by using more and more conditioning treatments.

Hair needs to be able to retain the proper amount of water and lipids. Too much moisture leaves the hair weak and weighed down. Too little, and the hair becomes brittle. Henna, cassia, and zizyphus can help the hair maintain its moisture levels more effectively. Continue reading to learn how.

9. Limit Chemical Processes

Lightening agents, oxidative dyes, perms, and relaxers all involve chemically altering the structure of the hair. These processes destroy both the outer cuticles and the inner cortex of the hair strand in order to change the hair’s color or shape. This increases the hair’s porosity and decreases its strength and elasticity, leaving it vulnerable to breakage. A study by Robinson found that, while virgin hair exhibited progressive weathering root to tip, only hair that had been chemically processed showed patterns of fiber splitting at the mid-sections of the hair strand [1]. Cuticles were eroded until the cortical fibers were exposed, which then began to fragment. This type of damage leads to hair breaking off at any point in the length, not only the ends.

Bleaching the hair destroys the structural disulfide bonds in the keratin cuticle, and oxidizes the melanin within the cortex of the hair. Oxidative hair dyes also work by breaking these bonds so that dye molecules can enter the cortex, where they oxidize into larger molecules that cannot escape back out from the keratin layers. Hydrogen peroxide or hydrogen persulfate are used to break the keratin bonds to allow the bleach or dye to enter the cortex [4].

Perms and relaxers denature the disulfide bonds in order to alter the hair’s shape, using extremely alkaline chemicals such as ammonium thioglycollate, sodium hydroxide, and guanidine hydroxide [3], [4]. These processes all break down the hair’s hydrophobic barrier and increase softening and swelling of the hair fiber. The hair is then especially vulnerable to breakage from brushing and other sources of friction.

All of the tips discussed above can prevent further damage, but nothing can reverse hair damage. It is best to avoid chemical processes altogether; however, if you choose to do so, it is best to go to a certified stylist rather than attempting it at home. Stylists know how the correct products and techniques to use to avoid unnecessary damage. Products used in salons are often safer and gentler for the hair because they are regulated more strictly than products sold for at-home use.

10. Limit Heat Styling

Curlers and flat irons apply high heat directly to the hair in order to temporarily alter its shape. Because hair is naturally porous to some degree, there are tiny pockets within every hair strand. Damaged hair is more porous. Heat can cause the moisture within the pockets to expand, forming bubbles in the hair strand [4]. Long and frequent use of hair dryers can cause the “bubble hair” effect, as well.

Heat creates a low humidity environment which causes moisture to evaporate rapidly. This leads to desiccation, static, and structural damage [5], [6]. Interestingly enough, hair shows increased structural damage from heat if the it was initially wet, rather than dry; however, heat applied to dry hair causes signs of chemical damage as well as structural damage. One study suggests that using ethanol, or solvent-based protecting sprays prior to heat treatments is more effective than water-based sprays [5].  Better yet, skip the heat altogether.

Replace curling irons with no-heat curling methods. Allow hair to air dry most of the way, and finish it off with a hair dryer on a low setting. People with particularly damaged or porous hair have a dilemma. While drying the hair with a blow-dryer can be damaging, leaving the hair wet for long periods of time may also lead to damage [6]. It will be up to the individual to monitor their hair’s health and moderate their techniques. Gentle towel drying and a hair dryer on the cool setting may be the best option.

Heat caused bubbles to form in the hair shaft.
Source: Monselise, Assaf, David E. Cohen, Rita Wanser, and Jerry Shapiro. “What ages hair?.” International journal of women’s dermatology 3, no. 1 Suppl (2017): S52.

11. Condition with Ancient Sunrise® Henna or Cassia

The dye molecules in henna and cassia bind to keratin on the surface layers of the hair without coating it. This adds to the structural integrity of the hair strand. Porous, damaged hair becomes smoother and better at retaining proper moisture levels. Hair that stretches too much becomes more resilient. Henna and cassia provide long-lasting shine that doesn’t wash out, unlike conditioners.

Henna is permanent, and dyes hair red. When used with indigo, it dyes hair shades of brunette to black. Cassia provides a translucent golden dye on light hair, and no color change on darker hair. Cassia can be used without dye release to condition hair with minimal color change.

Henna also provides natural UV protection. It does this by reflecting and absorbing at the surface of the hair before it can penetrate to the cortex. This inhibits the degradation of melanin cells.

12. Cleanse and Condition with Ancient Sunrise® Zizyphus

Zizyphus spina christi makes for a wonderful 2-in-1 cleansing and conditioning treatment. Unlike henna and cassia, it has no dye. Zizyphus powder contains natural saponins and plant waxes. It gently cleans the hair without stripping it, and a thin layer of plant wax restores the hair’s hydrophobic barrier while providing shine. It is especially great for thin, weak, and damaged hair because it provides thickness and strength, and protects hair from excess water absorption. Zizyphus is great to use before traveling, as it protects the hair from wind and salt water. To learn more about how to use zizyphus, read this article and visit this page on Henna for Hair.


[1] Robinson, V. N. E. “A study of damaged hair.” J Soc Cosmet Chem 27 (1976): 155-161.

[2] Sandhu, Sukhvinder S., and Ram Ramachandran. “A simple and sensitive method using protein loss measurements to evaluate damage to human hair.” J. Soc. Cosmet. Chem 46 (1995): 39-52.

[3] Sinclair, Rodney D. “Healthy hair: what is it?.” In Journal of investigative dermatology symposium proceedings, vol. 12, no. 2, pp. 2-5. Elsevier, 2007.

[4] Monselise, Assaf, David E. Cohen, Rita Wanser, and Jerry Shapiro. “What ages hair?.” International journal of women’s dermatology 3, no. 1 Suppl (2017): S52.

[5] Christian, Paul, Nigel Winsey, Marie Whatmough, and Paul A. Cornwell. “The effects of water on heat-styling damage.” Journal of cosmetic science 62, no. 1 (2011): 15.

[6] Lee, Yoonhee, Youn-Duk Kim, Hye-Jin Hyun, Long-quan Pi, Xinghai Jin, and Won-Soo Lee. “Hair shaft damage from heat and drying time of hair dryer.” Annals of dermatology 23, no. 4 (2011): 455-462.

Author: Rebecca Chou November 2017
Edited: Maria Moore September 2022

Ancient Sunrise® Amla Powder and Its Many Uses

Amla (emblica officinalis) is also known as Indian Gooseberry. It is both eaten and used in hair and skin care products in South Asia. To create amla powder, the fruit is dried, ground, and sifted. Ancient Sunrise® Amla powder can be used as an acid to dye-release henna and cassia mixes and to prevent loss of curl pattern, on its own as a hair treatment, and on the skin as a facial.

In a henna and/or cassia mix that involve indigo, amla lends ash tones to the resulting color. It helps to maintain a person’s natural curl pattern, which can loosen with repeated henna applications. Amla allows more indigo dye to enter the hair, for richer, darker brunettes.

Amla’s natural acids temporarily snap the hydrogen bonds in the hair, allowing the strands to be reshaped. Using amla as a treatment on its own can add body and wave to the hair. This same effect can be utilized for the skin. This powder helps to loosen dead skin cells on the surface and exfoliate them away, leaving clearer, brighter, and tighter skin.

Ancient Sunrise® amla powder is tested by our suppliers to ensure it is free of adulterants. We also run our powder under a microscope to check for any irregularities. It has a pH level of 3.5, making it an effective acid for dye release. It it gentle enough to use directly on skin for short periods of time.

Amla for Neutral/Ash Mixes and Better Brunettes

Amla contains gallic acid, ellagic acid, and ascorbic acid. Gallic acid pushes henna and cassia’s dye molecules toward ash tones, leading to cooler hair color results. This is useful for those who do not want red tones in their brunette mixes, or want a more neutral blonde result.

A mix with just henna and amla will result in a browner or cooler red, with less orange or copper tones. A mix with just cassia and amla will result in a more neutral, “wheat” blonde on light and graying hair, as opposed to a yellow blonde.

To use amla powder to neutralize red and yellow tones, mix 25g (just under three tablespoons) with every 100g henna and/or cassia. Mix the powders with distilled water and dye-release as normal. There is no need for additional acid powders or fruit juice.

If you are adding indigo to your mix, do so as you would normally, mixing Ancient Sunrise® indigo powder with distilled water and combining the pastes immediately before application.

With mixes containing indigo, the result will be a cooler, deeper brunette. This is especially useful for people who want minimal warm tones in their hair, and those who notice that the indigo fades from their hair over time, leaving a red tone. Amla allows more indigo to bind effectively with the hair.

When used in a henna/indigo mix, amla mutes warm tones and aids in indigo uptake.

Amla is not a dye, and will not affect the color of a person’s hair if used on its own. It merely aids in indigo uptake, as well as shifting the resulting color of henna and cassia dyes.

The Ancient Sunrise® Henna for Hair kits in Cool Brunette and Cool Dark Brunette contain pre-measured portions of henna, indigo, and amla for easy mixing and great results.

Amla for Curls and Waves

When henna’s dye molecule binds with the outer keratin layers of the hair, it smooths frizzy, damaged hair and reinforces thin, weak hair. The added molecules also make the hair heavier and thicker. For those with a natural curl pattern, this can mean looser curls. Some who find their curls unruly or unmanageable take advantage of this effect. However, many wish to keep their curls. Adding amla to a henna mix helps to maintain the natural curl pattern.

Keep your color bright and your curls bouncy.

This can be done one of two ways. If you are also looking to mute red tones or achieve a deeper brunette, use Ancient Sunrise® amla powder to dye release your mix as explained above. If you wish to keep a brighter tone, dye-release your mix with your choice of acid, then mix 25g of amla into a paste, and stir this into your henna or cassia just before application. This will protect your curls without neutralizing henna and/or cassia’s brighter tones.

To add bounce and body to your hair, use amla on its own as a hair treatment mixed with Clarity Cassia. The following section will cover this.

Amla as a Conditioning Treatment

Amla can be used with Clarity Cassia to add bounce and body to the hair, to clear the scalp of dead skin, and to balance oily scalps. Amla’s acids cause the bonds in the hair to temporarily loosen, making it possible to temporarily reshape them. The acids also help to exfoliate skin and break down excess oil, keeping the scalp healthy and the pores clear.

Mix a paste of amla powder, cassia powder and distilled water. 25g of amla is needed for every 100g of cassia. The amount total will be dependent on the thickness and length of your hair. Apply the paste throughout clean hair and wrap with plastic, leaving it in for for an hour. Rinse, massaging the scalp, towel dry, and set your damp hair in curls or a braid and allow it to air dry.

Those who have normally very dry scalp and hair, or those who are sensitive to higher levels of ascorbic acid may want to use this technique sparingly or for a shorter amount of time to avoid itching and dryness. One can also use a little bit of oil or serum on the scalp if it feels too dry after the amla treatment.

Ancient Sunrise® also offers a shampoo bar with amla.
All shampoo bars are made with natural ingredients.

Amla as a Facial

High in vitamin C (ascorbic acid), amla paste makes a great facial treatment. It exfoliates dead skin cells, encouraging cell turn-over, and clears away excess oil. It leaves the skin tighter and brighter. Those with acne may find that a regular amla facial helps to lessen and prevent breakouts, and fade hyperpigmentation that comes with scarring. Over time, the complexion becomes brighter and more even, and the skin’s texture is smoother.

            Mix 1-2 teaspoons of amla powder with enough warm water to create a paste. Massage the paste over clean skin, avoiding the eyes. Leave it on for 3-5 minutes. Rinse, pat dry, and moisturize. This can be used once or twice a week. Vitamin C can increase UV sensitivity for some; if this is the case for you, make sure to use an SPF.

If you have further questions about how to use Ancient Sunrise® amla powder, feel free to comment below or contact Customer Service via email, chat, or phone.

Plant Dye Powders and Seasonal Allergies

Fall is upon us. For many, this means sniffling, sneezing, headaches, and itchy eyes. Some people who are sensitive to hay fever and seasonal allergies may notice that they are affected when mixing their henna for hair, while it is on their head, or after it is rinsed out. This is far from serious, and easy to fix.  If this sounds like you, keep reading to learn what may be happening and how to avoid experiencing discomfort in the future. 


In cases of itching, sneezing, headache and other mild allergy symptoms, henna itself is rarely the primary culprit. Allergies to henna itself are extremely rare. Rather, during times when histamine levels in the body are already high (spring, fall, or whenever you normally get seasonal allergies), the body can confuse plant dye powders with pollen or other actual allergens. As a result, some may notice an itchy scalp, headache, or other discomfort while dyeing their hair with henna, indigo, and/or cassia. Most of the time, this is easily ameliorated with an over-the-counter oral antihistamine.

              For those who have a genetic G6PD deficiency, exposure to lawsone and a number of other things such as fava beans can set off oxidative haemolysis. This is particularly dangerous for male infants with homozygous G6PD deficiency. This is not an allergic reaction, but important to keep in mind.


Sensitivity to indigo powder is more common than to henna, and can cause dizziness or headaches for people who are allergic to mold spore. The presence of spore in indigo powder varies from batch to batch; if there is spore, the amount is minuscule and harmless except to a person with severe mold allergies.  Indigo leaves must be partially fermented to release the precursor, indoxyl, which will dye hair.  This partially fermented and dried indigo leaves are called vashma, the indigo used to dye hair. This change through microbial action is not unlike the process that changes wheat paste into bread dough; microbial action is necessary to make the base material useful. If your body is severely allergic to mold spore, you may have an allergic reaction to the remaining spore in fermented hair dye indigo through cross-sensitization.

A magnified image of mold spores.

Source: http://science.nationalgeographic.com/science/enlarge/allergy-mold-image.html

              To avoid indigo headaches, try not to inhale any particulates when mixing the paste, then apply and wrap quickly. Some people find that the smell of indigo is the main cause for their headaches. Mixing a spoonful of instant vanilla pudding powder can neutralize the smell. For others, switching from one type of indigo to the other (from Ancient Sunrise® Zekhara indigo to Ancient Sunrise® Sudina indigo or vice versa) or decreasing the amount of indigo used can minimize symptoms.

If I’m allergic to hair dye, is Ancient Sunrise® henna for hair safe to use?

Yes. You can feel safe in knowing that any reactions from Ancient Sunrise® plant dye powders are in no way related to para-phenylenediamine (PPD) sensitivity. Those who have allergies to conventional hair dyes can safely use Ancient Sunrise® products. Unless you have a G6PD deficiency, as mentioned above, any reaction to henna or other plant dye powders will be mild and far from life-threatening.

If it’s not seasonal allergies, then what’s happening?

Besides seasonal allergies, there are other explanations for the discomfort some can experience while using henna for hair, and they all have easy solutions.

Headache: If you experience a feeling of tension and pressure while the paste is on your head, it may be due to the weight of the paste. This is especially common for those who have thick and long hair. This weight can put pressure or strain on the neck, causing headaches. Make sure to apply and wrap in a way that makes your head and neck feel comfortably balanced. If you are able to, spend most of the processing time sitting or lying down in a position where your head is supported. Some prefer to apply their mix at night, and leave it in as they sleep.

              Headaches can also come from the altered direction of the hair follicles. Our hair tends to grow in a certain direction. When we apply a henna paste, it pulls and holds it in a different direction than it is used to, causing some minor discomfort. Play around with the way you apply your paste. Some prefer to arrange their hennaed hair in several twisted sections. Others try to keep their hair in its natural direction, twisting the length into a bun at the base of their neck.

Apply and wrap in a way that is comfortable for you.

              It is also helpful to note that applying henna to the full length of the hair is not necessary if you have previously hennaed your hair. Unless you would like to deepen the color further, a root application will suffice. Henna will not fade from the hair. Root applications will cut down on the amount of paste used, and therefore the amount of weight on your head. It’s also more cost effective!

Itchy scalp: Some notice that their scalp feels dry and itchy after dyeing their hair with plant dye powders. Seasonal allergies can definitely cause this. Other reasons include the acidity of the paste, and residue left over after rinsing.

              Henna is not drying nor damaging. However, some people are sensitive to certain fruit acids. Undiluted lemon juice can be too harsh for sensitive scalps, as can full-strength apple cider vinegar. If you use either in your mix and notice that your scalp feels dry or itchy afterward, dilute with distilled water, or consider using another fruit acid. Some find that they do better avoiding any citrus juice. Apple juice is quite gentle, but still acidic enough for an effective dye release. Ancient Sunrise® Malluma Kristalovino and Ancient Sunrise® Kristalovino fruit acid powders are the gentlest of the fruit acid powders offered by Ancient Sunrise®. They are derived from grapes.

              An itchy scalp and hair that feels dry can come from not fully rinsing out the paste. Plant powder residue, as it dries, can make the scalp itch the same way some dirt or sand might. It increases friction between hair strands, causing it to tangle. Be sure that your hair is fully rinsed by submerging and swishing it in warm water, then pulling a handful of conditioner through it to allow any excess plant particulates to slip out. If you prefer not to use conditioner, a vinegar rinse can help give the hair more slip as well. Follow with a good shampoo. Don’t be afraid to rinse and wash the hair multiple times.

              Because an effective henna treatment requires a person to shampoo their hair both before and after, the scalp can be pretty stripped of its natural oils. It may help to rub some oil or serum into the scalp after rinsing and drying the hair. Please do not put oils into your henna mix!

If you have any additional concerns about Ancient Sunrise® henna for hair and plant dye powders, feel free to call, email, or chat with Customer Service. Please note that they cannot diagnose, prescribe, or offer medical advice.

Highlights: A Quick Trick for Freezing and Storing Leftover Henna Paste

A customer messaged me about a trick she learned from using piping bags and frosting, and sent me instructions on how she did it. This is really cool! It makes storing and thawing portions a breeze, and clean-up is so simple. You can even re-use the same carrot bag over and over, because the inside of the carrot bag stays clean. Thanks, Jeannine!

Note: Before freezing, be sure to dye release your henna.

Here’s how.

Separating and Freezing

1. Lay a rectangular piece of plastic wrap flat on your work surface.

2. Spoon your henna directly into the center of the plastic.

3. Fold the top and bottom edges of the plastic over the paste so each edge overlaps the paste completely.

4. Pinch the open sides together and twist. You can hold the sides and twirl your paste lump until both sides are tightly twisted. Don’t worry, henna will not go flying.

5. Repeat until all your paste is wrapped, and store in the freezer. (Note: sometimes the dye from the paste can leech through thin plastic. I put a piece of wax paper down in my freezer where I stored the portions.)

Thawing and Filling

1. When you need to use your paste, pull out a portion and allow it to thaw. Cut the tip of a carrot bag.

2. Once the paste is thawed, cut the tip of a carrot bag and drop the portion in so that one twisted end can be pulled out of the tip. (I’ve learned that it might help to tape the twisted end to help it thread through more easily, like licking the end of a thread.) Pull gently until the portion forms to the bag.

3. Close the open end of the carrot bag with a rubber band or clip, and cut the plastic wrap twist where it sticks out.

4. If you do not use all of the paste, simply tape the end and store.

5. When the carrot bag is empty, simply pull out the plastic wrap, rinse the carrot bag if needed, and put it away for next time!

If you have cool tricks and tips you’d like to share and see posted in the blog, feel free to email us at info@mehandi.com with “tips and tricks blog suggestion” in the subject line.

Author: Rebecca Chou September 2017
Edited: Maria Moore August 2017

Highlights: Money-Saving Tips for Ordering from Ancient Sunrise®

Henna keeps your hair healthy and strong, but it is also great for your wallet. While having your hair dyed in a salon can cost up to a hundred dollars or more, and a box of dye from the store can be around ten dollars, each application of henna can cost as little as $3.00 if you know the best ways to order. Here are the not-so-secret secrets that the staff at Ancient Sunrise® would love for you to know for money-saving tips.

1. Order Samples First

If you are new to henna or Ancient Sunrise®, we highly recommend ordering samples to try out before buying a full-sized product. Your patience will be well worth it. Ancient Sunrise® sells samples of all plant dye powders and Henna for Hair kits in portions just large enough to test on some hair harvested from your hair brush or a recent haircut, or to try on an inch-wide section on your head. Prices range from $1.50 to $4.49, and shipping for samples is always free.

            Call, chat, or email with the customer service staff to determine which samples would be best for you to try. Once you have done your strand tests, you will be ready to order a full-sized kit, or your plant powders of choice. If your test strands didn’t come out the way you wanted, the customer service staff will work with you to find the mix that works best for your needs.

            Ordering samples saves you from spending money on a product that ends up producing results you may not like. Switching to henna is exciting and you may be tempted to jump right in, but you’ll be happy that you took the time to test.

Kit samples contain pre-measured amounts of plant dye powders packaged separately to ensure that your test will be an accurate reflection of full kit results.

2. Order in Bulk

Most customers who start with a kit eventually switch to ordering their plant dye powders in bulk quantities once they are familiar and comfortable with the process. All of the products on the kits are available for individual purchase. The Ancient Sunrise® Henna for hair kits are convenient in that they provide all of the necessary ingredients in the correct proportions, as well as a detailed instruction sheet, gloves, and an applicator bag. The trade-off is that they are a few dollars more expensive. When you order in bulk, you’re shipping may increase a little, but it will be more economical than paying to ship every month.

                The plant dye powders will last for years if kept sealed, dry, and at a moderate temperature. Henna and cassia powders may be kept in the freezer (Indigo should never be frozen). Once you have decided on your perfect mix, you can stock up on your ingredients. Not only will you save money by ordering in bulk, but you’ll only have to pay for shipping once. Also, you’ll have the peace of mind of knowing you never have to place a last-minute order after running out of your supplies.

Freeze henna paste for easy future use. Just thaw what you need and apply.

            It is especially important to stock up on indigo powder before the winter months. Indigo will become unusable if subjected to freezing temperatures. We do our best to insulate indigo shipments during the winter (you can also request extra insulation for a fee). We cannot control what may happen to the packages while they are on their way to you. It is always best to stock up in the fall before freezing temperatures set in.

3. Stick to Root-only Applications

One of the best benefits of henna for hair is that it does not fade. In fact, over-application may cause your color to darken. After your first full-head application, it is only necessary to dye your roots as your hair grows.

            Most customers use anywhere between 30g to 100g for a root touch-up, depending on the thickness of their hair and the accuracy of their application. This means that the cost of a root touch-up can cost as little as $3.00 (or less, if you ordered your powders in bulk) and one 100g packet of henna can last for three applications. If a person is using only henna and touches up their roots once a month, the cost for a whole year’s worth of henna comes to less than $50.

Apply your mix only to the first couple of inches nearest to your scalp. Accurate application means less waste and more money saved.

            Those who are using only henna or henna/cassia mixes can take advantage of the fact the henna and cassia paste can be frozen. Mix a large amount of paste all at once, dye-release it, and separate it into smaller portions. The paste can be kept in the freezer for upwards of six months.  Just thaw and apply!

            When using a mix of henna and indigo (and/or cassia), contact the customer service office for customized measurements for root applications. This ensures that you are using the same ratios in a smaller amount, and prevents excess waste.

Pro Tip: learn how to measure your powders: https://www.ancientsunrise.blog/how-to-measure/

4. Keep a Backup Supply

If you are not ready to place a bulk order yet, it is highly recommended that you order at least enough for one regular application, plus enough for touch-ups. In the case that you use all of your order to dye your hair only to find that you missed a spot, or the color came out too light, the last thing you’ll want to do is place a second order and wait several days to receive more product.

            For those who use both henna and indigo, it is great to have an extra packet of indigo on hand. If your roots did not take enough color, or if you wish to darken your results, having extra indigo makes  solving these problems quick and painless.

If you missed a spot or your results came out too light, simply reapply just to those areas.

            As mentioned above, it is always great to have extra henna on hand because henna paste can be frozen for long periods of time.

            Fruit acid powder is great to have handy also. It prevents unnecessary runs to the store for fruit juice and ensures consistent color results.

            Finally, I personally always have a pouch of Ancient Sunrise® Rainwash Mineral treatment in the house for regular clarifying and pre-henna cleansing. One pouch of Rainwash is enough for about ten treatments and is much more cost-effective than ordering individual single-use packets. It is great for keeping my results bright and my hair soft.

5. Contact Customer Service Directly

It is always a good idea to order your product directly from a customer service agent via phone, email, or online chat. Not only are they very knowledgeable and fun to talk to, but they can make sure to apply any discounts that might be available, and check for your cheapest shipping option.

            Www.mehandi.com is a wonderful and fast way to place your order but may charge more for shipping depending on where you live. If you live near Ohio, customer service agents may be able to decrease your shipping fee. If you are placing a small order, such as three 100g packets or fewer, CS will be able to adjust the shipping option to a flat-rate envelope. If you are ordering a larger supply and are on the west coast, larger flat-rate boxes are available, which may cost less than shipping to your location by weight.

            One reason they are able to do this is that they can manually adjust an order to be packed more efficiently. On the website, bulk order options are calculated by weight and location, and there is a $2 handling fee. Customer service can place an order for as many individual packets as you’d like, and more than likely can save you a little bit.

Hooray for flat rate boxes!

Ancient Sunrise® customer service staff is available Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, 9 am – 5 pm Eastern Time through phone, email, or online chat. Phones are answered before chats, so if you need to place an order quickly, feel free to call. If you reach the voicemail, please leave a message with your name, number, and the nature of your call. This is still a small company, and on busy days, they will do their best to return your call as soon as possible.

            You may also like to send an email with your order, your phone number, and the time you’d like to be called. This can often expedite your ordering process because the representative can have your order set up before calling you, and you will simply need to complete your payment with your credit card information.

Call us to place your order and we’ll check for the best shipping option available for you.

6. Options for International Orders

If you are ordering from outside of the United States and don’t mind waiting longer for your shipment, you can choose to have it sent via First Class shipping rather than Priority. Priority packages ship within 6-10 business days to most places, but will be more expensive. First Class shipping is slower but more affordable. In some countries, customers find that they still receive their package relatively quickly. You can choose this setting when you order online, or request it when you order with customer service. Keep reading to learn about adding insurance to your international package.

Note: The First Class shipping option is only available for packages that weigh four pounds or less.

7. Consider Spending a Few Extra Dollars to Protect your Package

We will do our absolute best to ensure that your order gets to you safe and sound, but there are always rare occurrences that are outside of our control. Once the package leaves our warehouse, it is at the mercy of the weather, fate, and the US Postal Service. While it doesn’t seem like this belongs in money-saving tips, it actually can save a lot when unforeseen circumstances happen.

            All domestic packages valued under $100 are insured by USPS. That means that in the case of a lost, stolen, or damaged package, we can help you file a claim to be paid back the value of your package. If your order is valued at $100 or more, we offer the option of insuring the full value or your order with USPS for just a few extra dollars. No one wants to place a large order and lose over a hundred dollars on a lost product. Consider adding this insurance especially if you have noticed difficulty receiving packages in the past, or if you live in an area where it is common to have packages stolen from doorsteps. For international orders, you can ask for additional insurance on any Priority packages valued over $200.

            You can also request the option of requiring a signature upon delivery. This option also only costs $3.00 and will ensure that you and only you will receive your package. If you are not present at the time of delivery, USPS may leave a note on your door and return the following day to attempt delivery or may provide information on where you can retrieve your package.

            Finally, as mentioned above, some products such as indigo and Becoming Moonlight® Gilding Paste are sensitive to cold temperatures. During the colder months, we insulate such packages. You may request extra insulation for a fee if you live in a particularly cold area, or are concerned about your package staying outside until you come home. If you would like to request overnight shipping, you can call customer service with your order and request USPS Express shipping.

Indigo powder will lose its ability to dye if exposed to freezing temperatures.

8. Follow the Facebook Pages

            We offer weekly discount days as well as occasional sales on special products. The best way to keep up with our promotions is to “like” our Facebook page and join our public group. All discount days and special promotions will be posted on these pages. New product releases will be announced here, as well as new blog articles.

            The Ancient Sunrise Henna group is a great community of customers and staff members. We enjoy seeing photos of henna for hair results, and sharing techniques and mixes. This group is also a good way to ask questions and get answers outside of customer service hours. We sometimes use this group to ask for customer input through polls and surveys as well. If you have money-saving tips, perhaps share it with your friends in the group.

            In the rare case that we close early or have technical malfunctions, we will make announcements on our Facebook pages. These pages are truly one of the best ways to keep in the loop with everything that may be happening at Ancient Sunrise®.

Our Ancient Sunrise Henna Facebook group is a great community full of henna novices and long-time users.

9. Take Advantage of Discount Days

            We have special offers for call-in orders nearly every weekday. Our most popular discount day is Thrifty Monday. Every Monday, all products (except multipack prices, sale, and clearance) are 10% off. Orders must be placed directly with customer service through phone, email, or chat to receive a discount.

            If you miss Monday, some or all of your order may be eligible for Relaxed and Natural Thursdays. The products we recommend for people with relaxed or natural textured hair will be 10%. This includes Ancient Sunrise® Rarity Henna, Ancient Sunrise® Delicate kits, Ancient Sunrise® Zekhara indigo, Ancient Sunrise® Clarity Cassia, Ancient Sunrise® Amla, Ancient Sunrise® Mango and Cocoa Seed Butters, Spellstone® hair combs and loc ties.

                     Finally, Fridays when you order directly with customer service, you won’t be charged more than $9 for domestic shipping.

10. Stylist Discount

If you are a stylist using Ancient Sunrise® products on clients, call customer service or email salons@mehandi.com to get set up with our discount program. Register with your copy of your cosmetologist license and spend $500 on qualifying Ancient Sunrise® products, then receive 25% off all future qualifying purchases.  Start by purchasing any four Ancient Sunrise® Henna for Hair kits and getting a fifth free! Purchases up to the $500 requirement can be made over time as your henna for hair business grows. We’ll even list your business on our recommended stylist’s page. Please note that this is only for those who use our products in a salon, spa, or similar business, and requires a valid license.

11. Use your Rewards!

They say save the best for last, and this is the BEST out of all of our money-saving tips. Each time you place on Mehandi.com or with our customer service team, you’re earning rewards. Every dollar spent on product = 1 point; every 10 points earned = $1 off your purchase. When you use your rewards on an order, that order will not gain more rewards. If you’re not sure if you have rewards, you can click on this link: https://www.mehandi.com/MyRewards.asp. The best part? There is no expiration!

12. Referral friends, families, and anyone who loves your hair!

Visit Mehandi.com, scroll down to the bottom, and sign up for our referral program. For every successful referral you make, you’ll earn 100 reward points (that’s $10!). Plus, the person you refer will get $10 off their first order. Rewards are only added for genuine referrals.

Final Notes

            We will always do our best to provide you with the best products for the best price we can give you. Please know that customer service representatives are not authorized to give out free products, to haggle on prices, or give discounts on non-promo days. Please do not harass them. Doing so will not increase your savings.  Customer service will always help to decrease your costs as much as possible within the limits of what discounts are available. Remember to say thanks, and tell them how awesome they are! They work very hard and love to hear your success stories.

Now that you know the best money-saving tips for ordering at Ancient Sunrise®, you can treat your hair to wonderful products for years to come, and save yourself from the cost and hair damage of visits to the salon. Tell your family and friends! Use the money you’re saving to buy their first Ancient Sunrise® Henna for Hair kit! Pitch in together to split a bulk order! We love spreading the henna love and are so happy you’re with us.

Author: Rebecca Chou
Updated Jan 2022: Maria Moore

Highlights: Zizyphus Spina Christi, An Alternative to Shampoo and Conditioner

Traditional Shampoos and Alternatives

All hair must be washed from time to time. This depends on a person’s sebum production, their lifestyle, the climate of their surroundings, and ultimately, their preference. Neglecting to wash hair, or using ineffective methods of washing hair can cause a host of problems for the scalp and for hair growth. Learn more about hair care here.

              Sebum is the oil that is naturally produced by the skin. Sebaceous glands produce sebum to protect skin from drying out by providing a waterproof layer.  A build-up of sebum will cause hair to look greasy and weighed down, and will harden into a waxy state, collecting dirt and dead skin cells. This creates a great living environment and food source for bacteria, and tiny creepy crawlers. Waxy buildup of sebum blocks sebaceous glands, causing infection.

Sebaceous glands produce sebum which moisturize and protect the skin and hair, but too much will clog pores and create an environment for bacteria.

              The skin produces a new layer of cells every day at the bottom of your stratum corneum, and exfoliates one layer every day. Sometimes the dead skin cells fall off and sometimes they stay in place and become nutrient rich biomes for fungi, such as the ones that cause dandruff and ringworm.  Unchecked, these can evolve into lesions. Washing the hair regularly serves to ensure that dead skin cells are properly removed.

              Washing hair too frequently with a strong detergent may dry the scalp and hair, leaving it unprotected. Many people experience irritation or contact dermatitis from harsh ingredients in commercial shampoos, causing them to search for other alternatives. However, some alternatives are ineffective, and may even cause more harm than good.

              Most of us turn to a store-bought shampoo, whose active detergent is often Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, or a slightly milder Sodium Laureth Sulfate (both referred to as SLS). SLS is an extremely effective detergent, and does what it is meant to do: strip away sebum, oils, and dirt. However, SLS can be too harsh for some, causing dryness, irritation, and in the case of those with sensitivities to SLS, contact dermatitis. Other ingredients such as synthetic fragrances, can also cause irritation and allergic or sub-allergic reactions.

Commercial shampoos and soaps often contain sulfates, which produce a lot of bubbles. Bubbles are not required for a good clean, despite what companies might have you believe.

              There are those who look to prevent the irritation they experience from commercial shampoos, or to avoid ingredients that may be harmful to their bodies or the environment. They turn to alternative methods of washing their hair, wash less frequently, or use water only. These alternative methods are often referred to as “no-poo,” short for “no shampoo.” Baking soda and apple cider vinegar is a popular method, as is “co-washing”, a method of using a conditioner-like product that does not contain a detergent. There are also a myriad of concoctions that can be made at home with common food items. These recipes are attractive due to their ease of availability and the feeling that that edible ingredients are safer and more natural.

              Washing hair first with a baking soda solution, and then rinsing with apple cider vinegar has grown in popularity, and is perhaps the most common form of “no-poo.” While it has been hailed by some as something of a miracle treatment, there are many downsides. Baking soda is very alkaline, and vinegar is very acidic.  Alkaline substances are shown to increase friction and static, causing damage to the hair. Overly acidic substances can be harsh as well. The logic behind using one after another is that the pH will balance out in the end. It doesn’t necessarily work that way, and the intense swing from one side of the pH scale to the other can wreak havoc on your hair and scalp. The fact that baking soda is a common kitchen item and used in cooking does not automatically make it safe or effective in hair cleansing.

Friction and desiccation cause hair strands to shed their protective outer scales, exposing the central cortex, which can stretch, split, and break.

              Dry shampoos, bentonite clay, and other powder substances are used between shampoos by those who choose to wash their hair less frequently.  While it absorbs some oil, the product remains in the hair. Dry shampoos do not effectively remove sebum and cause more buildup in the long run. Overuse of dry shampoo may cause hair loss, as irritated hair follicles begin to shed their strands.

              Commercial hair product companies, looking to maintain their customer base, come out with new products that appear to be more natural, or contain new (often exotic) plant extracts or ingredients. A product which contains ingredients from a natural source is not the same thing as a product that is completely natural. Additionally, “natural” does not necessarily mean safer, healthier, or more effective.  “Natural” has become more of a marketing method rather than an actual shift to safer and more effective ingredients. At the very best, these added ingredients may serve some beneficial purpose, but at the very least, they do nothing but make the product seem more appealing.

Zizyphus and its Benefits

With such a dizzying array of options and techniques available to clean the hair, and inconsistent information about the safety and effectiveness of each, it is reasonable to feel overwhelmed. Zizyphus powder is one option that is both natural and effective, thus making it a solid choice for those who wish to avoid sulfates and other harsh ingredients, as well as those who would like to shampoo less frequently. It functions as a two-in-one cleanser/conditioner.

Zizyphus, or Sedr, powder.

              Zizyphus (or Sedr) powder has been used for centuries as a hair cleanser, well before the advent of commercial shampoos. The crop itself is a thorny desert plant whose leaves are harvested, dried, and ground into a powder. Like many plants in arid climates, it produces a plant wax to maintain moisture within its leaves.

The Zizyphus Spina Christi plant.

              When used as a shampoo/conditioner, zizyphus’ thin, wax-like coating acts to smooth and moisturize the hair, as well as protect it from environmental damage.Zizyphus contains natural saponins (soaps) that are gentler than commercial detergents such as sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS). Studies have found zizyphus to have antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties.  It is an effective method for gently removing sebum and dirt without over-drying the hair and scalp. The result is clean, healthy hair with added shine and volume. Hair feels thicker after using zizyphus. Zizyphus is great for fine, limp, and damaged hair, as it adds weight and reinforcement to the hair.

              Because zizyphus is not a dye, it will not affect a person’s hair color. Those who have light, graying, or white hair can use zizyphus to condition their hair with no color change.

Zizyphus is great to use before swimming! It prevents excess water from being absorbed into the hair’s cortex.

              A zizyphus wash can be used regularly, or as an occasional conditioning and protective treatment. A zizyphus treatment would be great before a trip to the beach because it will protect the hair from salt, sun, and wind.

              Use zizyphus before and during a camping trip. It is easy to store, and you won’t have to worry about rinsing commercial chemicals into lakes, rivers, or ground water. Those who wash their hair less frequently report that using zizyphus keeps their hair cleaner for longer, allowing them to go longer between washes. Using zizyphus every day is unnecessary, and may make the hair feel waxy.

               Ancient Sunrise© Zizyphus Spina Christi is sent to an independent lab to test for purity. It contains no pesticides, heavy metals, or other chemical adulterants.

** Note: Those who have a latex allergy may be cross-sensitized to Zizyphus. Please conduct a patch test first.***

Continue reading below to learn how to use Ancient Sunrise© Zizyphus Spina Christi powder as a natural shampoo and conditioner, and as a deep-conditioning treatment.

Mix Zizyphus powder with water to create your natural shampoo.

How to Use Zizyphus as a Shampoo/Conditioner

  1. Mix a few spoonfuls of Ancient Sunrise© Zizyphus Spina Christi with warm water in a small container (a ramekin works nicely) until it is a yogurt consistency. The paste may appear “fluffy,” but will not produce bubbles and foam like a regular shampoo might.
  2. Let the paste sit for a few minutes.
  3. Take your paste with you into the shower or bath.
  4. Wet your hair, and use your hands to apply the paste near your scalp.
  5. Scrub the paste against your scalp, and pull it through the length of your hair.
  6. Leave the paste in your hair for 1-3 minutes, then rinse. Zizyphus contains some plant particulates, so those with thick or curly hair may prefer soaking their hair in the bath and rinsing with a small amount of conditioner, or with apple cider vinegar.
  7. Dry and style as usual, and enjoy your shiny, clean, conditioned hair!

              Zizyphus can be used every few days or once a week between regular washes, or as a shampoo alternative. Some find that using zizyphus allows them to need to wash their hair less frequently. Over-use may lead to build up of its natural coating properties, causing a feeling of stiffness or heaviness.

Maria applies zizyphus paste to her scalp, then pulls it through the length. After rinsing, her hair is shiny and thick.

Ancient Sunrise© also carries a Zizyphus and Juniper Shampoo bar! All of our shampoo bars are all-natural and handmade with saponified plant oils and other natural ingredients. Shampoo bars can be used every day, or as often as you wish.

Zizyphus for the Skin

Our employees also enjoy using zizyphus as a moisturizing body scrub. The plant particulates gently remove dry, rough skin while cleansing away dirt and oil. The skin is left soft and smooth, but not stripped. Zizyphus balances moisture levels and protects the skin with its thin wax barrier.  To use zizyphus on the skin, simply mix it into a paste with water, wet the skin, rub small handfuls onto the body in a circular motion, and rinse. Avoid the eyes, and use externally only.

Ancient Sunrise® sells Zizyphus Spina-Christi powder in 100g packets. A little goes a long way. Call, email, or chat to ask any additional questions you may have about Zizyphus, and to place an order.

Highlights: The Benefits of Henna For Hair

Pure, body art quality henna is an amazing thing. It practically works miracles on your hair, giving it beautiful, shiny color that isn’t damaging, and doesn’t fade over time. But there is even more to it than that! Here we count nine great benefits of henna and other plant dyes on your hair.

It’s Versatile

While henna alone dyes the hair rich, vibrant shades of red, copper, and auburn, there are an infinite number of color options possible when mixing henna with cassia and/or indigo. Some people who don’t know about cassia and indigo are hesitant about using henna because they don’t want their hair to be red. In reality, you can achieve nearly any natural shade of hair color from blonde to jet black.

Plant powder hair colors
By adjusting plant dye powder ratios and choice of fruit acid,  nearly any natural hair color is possible.

It’s also easy to adjust the color. If one mix isn’t quite right, you can add more henna for more red tones, add more indigo for darker and browner tones, or add cassia for lighter, more golden tones. Long-time henna users know that dyeing your hair with henna is part art and part science, and once they find their perfect mix, they stick to it.

The only thing that henna, cassia, and indigo cannot do for color is to dye dark hair a lighter shade, but it is possible to lighten hair before using plant powders, as long as you are using Ancient Sunrise® brand plant dye powders. You can also lighten over hair hennaed with Ancient Sunrise® products. Keep reading to learn why testing makes a difference.

What customers are saying:

“So happy to have found plant dyes that not only offer a wide range of beautiful hair colors, but are safe to use and condition and strengthen my hair at the same time.”


It Conditions and Protects the Hair

Oxidative dyes (commercial dyes) contain a cocktail of synthetic dyes, colorants, PPD, ammonia, metallic salts, and other chemicals which can be damaging and drying to the hair and scalp. Henna, on the other hand, is pretty straight forward. The acting dye is lawsone, which binds to and stains the keratin on the outer layers of your hair. These molecules act as reinforcement, and protect against future damage. Not only that, but henna acts as a natural sun-block, protecting hair against UV damage.

Unlike commercial hair dyes that leave hair more brittle and fragile, henna leaves your hair smooth, shiny, stronger, and sometimes even thicker. Over time, your hair can grow to longer lengths without breaking.

What customers are saying:

“I was tired of losing hair to the harsh chemicals to be a blonde. Stylists would say hair loss in your forties is normal. Crazy! Just like they would justify the burning sensation during processing the color. I love my henna hair weekends. My hair is healthy thanks to henna. I Love the rosemary shampoo bar as well. Henna/indigo has changed my life and saves my budget.”


It’s Permanent

Anyone who has dyed their hair at the salon or with boxed dye can relate to the experience of seeing a beautiful color for the first few days or weeks, and then watching the color fading and becoming dull, with gray hairs peeking through again. Even dyes that are labeled “permanent” seem to fade. Before you know it, you’re dyeing your hair again and again to maintain your color, all the while inflicting more and more damage to your hair.

Henna works differently. It binds permanently to the hair and doesn’t fade. In fact, it can slowly get darker over time if you’re not careful. This darkening is easily preventable. Most henna users only do their roots after dyeing all of their hair once; some do a full-head treatment once every few months for conditioning benefits, but it’s not absolutely necessary.

What customers are saying:

“Henna is a completely different way of dyeing your hair, when I started using it, I found a more natural red color (my favorite) that is not flat, but shimmery and doesn’t fade!”


It’s Completely Safe

Henna is a great choice for women who are pregnant, people with sensitive skin, people who are recovering from illness, or just anyone who wants to avoid using chemicals that may be harmful to them. It is a wonderful alternative for those who have PPD sensitizations, who cannot use regular hair dye without experiencing painful and life-threatening reactions. So many of our customers are those who thought they would never be able to dye their hair again before they found us.

We at Ancient Sunrise run our plant powders under a microscope and conduct other tests to check for PPD, metallic salts, heavy metals, pesticides, and other chemical adulterants. This is why we feel confident in saying that they are safe to use.  To read more about henna and microscopy, click this link: https://www.tapdancinglizard.com/henna-science-and-microscopy/. Much of the henna on the market claiming to be pure doesn’t have evidence to back it up.   Most suppliers are unaware of what processes their products undergo before it reaches them.  Other companies pre-mix their plant powders and add synthetic dyes, metallic salts, and other ingredients hoping to simplify the process and improve results; often the opposite occurs.

Because they contain nothing but plant powder, it is safe to use Ancient Sunrise® henna on hair that has been previously dyed, and it is safe to use commercial hair dye over hennaed hair. Same with lighteners, perms, and relaxers.  It’s important to note that your color may vary or you may need several applications of Ancient Sunrise® products if your hair is severely damaged from chemical processes.

Allergic reactions to henna, indigo, and cassia are very rare.  If you have mold allergies, you may experience a reaction with indigo, so test first (reactions are similar to hay-fever).  Mold spores can develop when indigo goes through its natural fermentation process.  The fermentation process creates a very moist environment which makes mold spores virtually unavoidable.  A small percentage of users experience mild hay-fever related symptoms. Those with a G6PD deficiency, a hereditary condition, should not use henna.

What customers are saying:

“After years of abuse, chemicals, heat and other various forms of hair torture, I finally found henna. Ancient Sunrise to be specific. My final experience with chemical hair color made me sick for a full 3 days, I even had to call off work to recover. Since then I’ve used only Ancient Sunrise with some apple juice, my hair has grown amazingly fast (I had to cut most of it off as it was so damaged it was like wet straw). Now after 2 years of AS henna, it’s healthy, shiny, and longer than it has been since I was a child.”


“With all the safety testing they do I am thrilled to get it for this price. Many other hennas out there have tested with molds and heavy metals. THIS company cares about having a clean safe henna. That’s priceless. I have mercury poisoning and have to be VERY careful what I use. My hairdresser turned me on to this product after researching many.”


It has Anti-fungal Properties

Did you know that henna can be used against fungal infections such as ringworm and athlete’s foot? Henna has antifungal properties and has been used for centuries as a remedy. It has also been safely used on animals. The owner, Catherine Cartwright-Jones PhD., soothes her pug’s summer itchies with henna.  If using henna on an animal, just make sure they will not be licking the paste–it’s not poisonous, but may give them a stomach ache. Also be aware that if you have a particularly energetic animal, you may have henna smeared here and there throughout your home.

Because fungus is one cause for dandruff, you may find a decrease in dandruff after using henna, as well. Because we are not medical professionals, we cannot diagnose, nor prescribe. However, several scientific studies have shown henna’s efficacy against certain skin fungi, and we have many customers who have chosen to try henna on fungal infections and with success.

To find relief from athlete’s foot or toenail fungus, treat yourself to a henna pedicure.

Henna is applied to the feet to kill fungus and to condition dry, cracked skin.

What customers are saying:

“[My husband’s] tinea inguinum and backside folliculitis have now scabbed over. As a sports medicine professional I am amazed that this was the only successful treatment…The henna caused both to completely dry up and scab over within 1 day. He has been dealing with this for 4 years of embarrassment and antibiotics and anti fungal creams.”


It Kills Lice

Lice are becoming resistant to many of the common over-the-counter and prescription drugs used against them. Having lice can be an incredibly itchy, frustrating experience.  Luckily, no such resistance exists against henna at this time. It is also a safer, natural alternative to the conventional lice treatment. It may even be quite soothing and enjoyable.

An application of henna paste mixed with a small amount of fenugreek or artemesia powder will kill lice and its eggs. Artemesia should not be used on children or pregnant women, but fenugreek is safe.

Henna will give the hair a reddish tone. If you don’t mind sending your children back to school as red-heads, this won’t be a problem. It’s better than shaving them bald. If your child has secretly dreamt of having red hair (as this writer did in her youth), it might even be a bonus!

If red hair isn’t your thing, you can adjust the color with a henna/indigo mix, or lighten your hair after the lice is eradicated.

It’s Better for the Environment

From growth to use, henna is healthy and sustainable. Henna is a hardy, drought-resistant plant that does not need very much to thrive. Henna farmers don’t need to worry about using large amounts of water to keep their plants alive, and pesticides are unnecessary. The small trees grow slowly and live up to fifty years. Only the leaves are harvested, so the rest of the plant stays firmly in the ground where it protects the soil from wind and erosion.

Henna trees are used as hedgerows in agricultural areas. It prevents desert encroachment, and its thorns keep away pesky animals that may attempt to enter a farmer’s field to munch on their crops. Thus, not only is it easy and environmentally sustainable to maintain henna crops, but the crops themselves offer additional benefits to the areas in which they grow.

In comparison to creating commercial dyes, henna’s processing is quite simple. The leaves are harvested, dried, ground, and sifted into a fine powder, before being sealed into air-tight packages. The powder’s long shelf life means that a sealed, dry packet of henna can stay good for several years. Preservatives are unnecessary. The packaging is minimal and functional.

Finally, consider what is going down the drain when you rinse henna out of your hair. Plant powder. Maybe some kind of fruit juice. Water. Using henna means feeling safe that you are not putting harmful chemicals back into the water supply.

It’s Economical

Buying hair dye at the local store can run anywhere between $5-15 dollars per box, or more. It’s not that much, but considering the fact that most people who dye their hair re-dye once every three to six weeks, those costs can add up. Conventional dyes also fade over time, leading to frequent touch-ups to keep the color fresh. Having your color done at the salon can run you over a hundred dollars or more.

To keep costs down and your color bright, dye only your roots as they grow out.

The color you get from dyeing your hair with henna is permanent. It doesn’t fade over time, and it may actually deepen if you re-apply too often. After dyeing all of their hair once, most people only touch up their roots. The average root touch-up takes 30g-100g of powder, which costs about $3-10 per touch-up, and less when you buy in bulk.

The plant powders last for years when kept sealed and dry. Many customers place a bulk order once or twice a year so their ingredients are all on hand. This saves money with our bulk discount, and cuts down on shipping costs. For some, enough henna for a full year’s worth of color is less than $100, or even less than $50. Awesome, right?

What customers are saying:

“I buy the henna in 1/2 kilo lots. My hair is short, so that 1/2 kilo will do 10 applications for me. At around $40 per 500g, that costs me $4 per application.”


It’s Empowering

We believe in putting the power of knowledge back into the hands of the consumer. This is why we make so many resources available on www.mehandi.com and www.tapdancinglizard.com. The owner and founder, Catherine Cartwright-Jones, pursued a PhD in henna-related studies so that she could spread accurate, science-based knowledge about henna and affect changes in the way women choose their hair products.

Many people are affected by PPD sensitization and can no longer dye their hair with commercial dyes. When they discover henna, they often encounter piles of misinformation on the internet, and from friends, family, or hairdressers. In the customer service office, we help new henna-users every day, who go on to fall in love with henna and never turn back to regular hair dyes.

The process of mixing and applying can be daunting to someone who has never used henna before, but it’s not as hard as it looks! Using henna was once common knowledge in regions of South Asia and the Middle East, where women came together to spend a day washing, dyeing their hair, and enjoying each other’s company. Henna brings a communal aspect into beauty rituals.

We have thousands of customers from all walks of life who mix and apply their henna at home, and enjoy the process. They get to take control of their hair, its color and its health. They are fully informed about what they are using and how to use it. They can rest confident that they are not harming their bodies. They share their information with family, friends, and complete strangers. We’ve lost count of how many times customers have told us that they get compliments from strangers, or that they themselves found out about us from someone they met.

What customers are saying:

“Henna user for over 20 years; finally understood the process and achieved great color with an easier process with your info. Have been using your henna/process for 6 years. (extra bonus: Your sifted henna doesn’t clog the drains as much!)”


“Using Ancient Sunrise Henna = self love”


The empowerment goes far beyond just the customer. By supporting Ancient Sunrise® and www.Mehandi.com,you support a small business that employs a diverse group of people with various cultural backgrounds, identities, and orientations. You support further research for henna and natural cosmetics, and advocacy against the use of PPD in commercial products.

We are also one of the largest importers of henna and other plant powders in the United States, contributing to the continuing agricultural economy of the areas which grow and process our products. This helps to ensure that henna remains a profitable crop for those who cultivate it. We believe in fair business practices, a relaxed and cheerful work environment, and a constant desire to inquire, create, and grow so we can keep offering the best products and services to a widening group of customers. It really is pretty cool.

If you still need some extra convincing before you switch to Ancient Sunrise® Henna for Hair, don’t hesitate to contact us via phone, email, or chat