The history of henna goes back as far as Ancient Egypt. According to legend, the queen Cleopatra would use henna as paint to decorate her body, while mummies were also adorned with decorative patterns.
There are also links between henna and the Middle East and North Africa, as well as India, where it has been used as part of wedding ceremonies for centuries. But beyond its decorative properties, henna is also a powerful natural ingredient that can be used as part of our beauty and general wellbeing daily routines.
Why did henna become so popular?
Going back to its origins in warmer climates, henna was popularly used as a coolant to soothe wearers’ skin when temperatures shot up. It also proved a fabulous alternative to jewellery – the poor could look just as extravagant as the rich thanks to intricate body art.
However, looking deeper into the history of henna, these cooling properties also turned out to be extremely useful as a skincare product. Henna is known for its natural antiseptic properties, which means it helps to filter away impurities and leave our skin feeling soft, without irritation.
When applied to the scalp, for example as part of henna hair dye or as a shampoo and conditioner, it can help to calm inflammation. It is also an anti-seborrheic, which means it can alleviate dandruff – all while increasing the hair’s natural shine.
Henna in history – as a hair dye
Fast forward around 500 years through history and we see henna being used as a hair dye. In the 19th Century, women were inspired by pre-Raphaelite artists, and would mix henna powder to create their own natural shades of red.
Henna also has historical roots in Muslim traditions, where it has been used by men to dye beards. According to tradition, in Islam, it is permissible to dye the beard as a way of differentiating men from other faiths such as Christianity or Judaism. Many Muslim men choose shades of brown or red to achieve this distinction and cover greys, though the colour black (achieved with henna and indigo powder) is forbidden.
Why itselixir chose to work with henna
We’re passionate about producing organic beauty products that are kind to the environment. We’ve seen first-hand the effects of high street products on the environment, from excessive plastic wastage to chemicals entering natural water streams.
Our products are made entirely of organic ingredients, sourced from henna extracts in India and Brazil. We wanted to sell products that were kind to the skin, and to Mother Earth.
Our henna hair care ranges
Thanks to the rich history of henna and its kindness to the environment, we’ve developed a range of everyday haircare products and henna hair dyes. The Henne collection combines henna, mango butter and green tea to fortify the hair, while the Surya Brasil range comes from the Amazon rainforest, and helps to achieve your perfect shade.
From history to modern day
From Egyptian times to modern-day haircare, henna offers the perfect vegan alternative. Try it yourself and embrace your inner Cleopatra!