The majority of us aren’t born with full, shapely, defined brows (unfortunate, but true). So we spend a great deal of our time powdering, brushing, filling, and blending what we do have to create a more desirable shape and depth.
What if we told you you didn’t have to do that every morning before work and every evening before you head out? You’d want to know more, right?
Well prepare to be amazed! There’s an option for those of you willing to try something a little different: brow henna! You might have noticed the intricate and beautiful henna designs (aka Mehndi) that adorn the hands and feet of (often) Indian brides practicing the tradition or (increasingly) as an option for semi-permanent ‘tattoos’. What you might not have known is that the same dye can be used for cosmetic purposes. Henna can be used to add color to your hair – and that includes your eyebrows.
What’s even better? You can do that from the comfort of your own home with a DIY Brow Henna Tint. But before you go mixing your own henna paste, you eager beaver, let’s learn a bit about what henna is and how it can benefit your brows.
WHAT IS HENNA?
Henna is a completely natural dye that is derived from the Lawsonia Inermis plant (aka: Hina, the henna tree, the mignonette tree, or the Egyptian Privent). The plant contains a naturally occurring substance called lawsone, which is an active coloring pigment.
Traditionally used for temporary body art on the skin, in the scalp hair, and for dying fabrics like silk, wool and leather, henna has made its way from Asia and Africa to both Europe and North America in the last few decades.
WHAT IS BROW HENNA?
Somewhere along the way, someone thought to use brow henna on their eyebrows, and the results were fantastic. Brow henna is somewhere between a temporary and permanent solution to sparse brows. It doesn’t wash off with makeup remover like a brow tint, but it’s not as permanent as brow tattooing either.
Brow henna acts as a stain and it offers long-lasting results that are relatively inexpensive. You can think of it as a method of eyebrow tinting, though it doesn’t exactly tint the hairs of your brows. Instead, it stains the skin beneath the brows, which offers a significant visual improvement in both the depth and fullness of your brow.
HOW DOES BROW HENNA WORK?
The lawsone contained in the leaves of the henna plant is what gives it the staining properly. The natural dye is accessed by mashing the leaves into a paste. When applied to the skin, lawsone binds with the proteins on the outer layer of your dermis to create a fast but semi-permanent stain.
Working with crushed leaves isn’t exactly ideal so henna leaves are more commonly dried, milled, and sifted into powder form. The powder is then mixed with a liquid to form a paste. Lemon juice, water or strong tea tend to be the favored liquids. Some henna artists will also add sugar or molasses to their paste to help it stick to the skin and make it easier to work with.
After the henna has been mixed, it’s left to sit for anywhere from 1 to 48 hours. This allows the lawsone from the leaf to combine with the liquid ingredients. A light stain is achieved by applying the henna paste to the area of interest and removing it in just a few minutes. For longer-lasting henna stain, like what you’ll want for your brows, the henna paste must be left on the hair and skin for as long as possible and allowed to gradually flake off on its own accord.
Henna stains appear orange when the paste has been removed but this will darken over the course of 1 to 3 days, turning to a deep, reddish-brown hue. On your skin, henna wold for a few days and then fade as your skin naturally exfoliates and sheds skin cells. But on your hair, henna can last anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks!
WHY BROW HENNA?
If you have sparse brows or your natural growth has slowed, this method of eyebrow tinting might be right for you. The beautiful stain that henna leaves on the skin visually corrects sparse brows by creating a shadow beneath your brows. Brow henna achieves that fuller look along with a number of benefits that make it one of the best ways to tint your brows.
Firstly, brow henna is relatively tidy… at least compared with other methods of home eyebrow tinting. Have you ever tried dying your eyebrows with boxed dye? It’s messy, to say the least. Once you get the hang of using henna, you’ll be able to apply it and remove it without making any significant mess. And the mess you do make it easier to clean (and less permanent) than box dyes.
Henna is considered to be a safe and more natural alternative to dying than box dyes and even temporary eyebrow tints. A good henna doesn’t contain anything other than the henna leaves or milled henna because henna doesn’t require any oxidant to activate the dye. That not only means that it’s great for sensitive skin, but it also has no pesticides, bleaches, surfactants, silicones, waxes, or added chemicals. Some henna kits will be blended with other herbs but these are also natural. And, as an added benefit, henna is cruelty-free and completely vegan.
Henna can range from orange to auburn to burgundy, so it offers a good selection of colors and will change depending on the original color of your hair. Though henna can be mixed with hair dyes to offer more variance on hues and shades, it is more-often-than-not mixed with natural stains like Cassia obovate (to achieve lighter shades of red and blonde), or Indigo (to achieve browns and blacks). How’s that for adaptability?
Finally, brow henna is close to impossible to remove except through the exfoliation of your skin and its natural tendency to fade. So, if you do your eyebrows every single day and you’re getting tired of all of that work, perhaps this semi-permanent brow henna stain is your answer to better eyebrows.
BROW HENNA VS BROW TINT
A brow tint is a semi-permanent dye that’s applied to the brows at a salon or using an at-home kit. They’re used to shape, define, and enhance eyebrows. But brow tints serve a specific purpose.
That is, they’re made to dye the eye brows significantly darker than what henna offers. Henna, on the other hand, provides a subtler, softer, powdered finish. It’s also a lot easier to use and significantly less expensive than tint.
HOW LONG DOES BROW HENNA LAST?
Using henna to tint your brows will take some dedication, but not as much as a daily routine involving pencils, powders, brushes, and temporary tints. Eyebrows have a rapid growth and shed cycle but even taking that into consideration, brow henna is lower maintenance than filling in your brows on the daily. You’ll likely have to apply henna from once every two weeks to once a month, depending on your body’s schedule.
Keep in mind that the first time you use henna on your brows it may appear orange (especially with just pure henna), but a repeat application can be done to deepen the color when and if needed. Plus, you only need about one tablespoon of henna powder mixed with your choice of liquid to get your brows completely covered.
BEST BROW HENNA TINTS
Mina ibrow Henna Kit $32
Free of toxic chemicals (like Amonea and Lead) and safe for use on all skin types, MINA’s eyebrow henna kits include 12 sachets (applications) and it’s considered some of the best and most effective henna. With long-lasting wear for up to six weeks and available in 8 colors (inclusive of blonde and dark brown), MINA offers kits as well as refills, cleansers and oils that are best suited to eyebrows treated with henna stain.
The Henna Guys Henna Powder $10.95
It doesn’t get any more raw than this henna powder that’s all-natural, vegan and pesticide-free. This 100 gram package will last you for months on end and can be mixed with your choice of liquid to form a paste that you can trust for application on your most prized attribute: aka, your beautiful brows.
DIY BROW HENNA TINT
If you’re going to use pure henna to tint your eyebrows, we’ve included some basic guidelines below.
WHAT YOU NEED
- henna powder (approximately 1 tablespoon)
- lemon juice (approximately 2-3 tablespoons)
- small glass bowl with a lid
- alcohol wipes
- shea butter or petroleum jelly
- mascara brush or cotton swab
- plastic wrap
HOW TO APPLY BROW HENNA
- Mix henna powder with lemon juice in a small glass bowl to form a paste.
- Ensure paste has a thick consistency with no air bubbles or lumps.
- Cover the bowl with a lid and leave it overnight to allow lawsone to activate. If you’re in a rush, you can leave it for as little as one hour, but this stain may not have the long-last or depth-of-color you desire.
- The following day, wipe makeup and dirt from your brows with alcohol.
- After a few minutes, apply shea butter or petroleum jelly around your eyebrows so that the stain doesn’t go into unwanted areas.
- Apply the henna mixture to your eyebrows using a mascara brush or cotton swab.
- Cover the area with plastic wrap and let it sit for 20 minutes or until it begins to flake naturally. The longer you wait, the more deep your stain will be.
TIPS TO MAKE YOUR BROW HENNA LAST
To help your stain last longer, apply a mixture of sugar and lemon juice to the dried henna paste. This will release more dye from the paste and make your color more intense.
Your best bet when tinting your brows with henna is to avoid going out for a couple of days. Avoiding the sun and UV rays will protect the stain and color (especially if you’re a first-timer).
You should also avoid washing the area for at least 12 hours and never use a harsh cleanser or exfoliator after hennaing. You can also protect and moisturize with shea butter or coconut butter.
WHAT TO KNOW BEFORE PURCHASING HENNA
Most people don’t experience any negative side effects when using pure, natural henna although some users do report allergic reactions. Test the henna on a small portion of your skin before applying it to your eyebrows so you’ll know what to expect ahead of time.
Be on the lookout for pre-mixed henna body art. These products may be mixed with risky ingredients that darken the stain or alter the stain color but can cause serious skin reactions, including redness, blisters, lesions, loss of pigment, sun sensitivity, and scarring.
Although it may not be relevant to most people’s eyebrows, brightly colored henna in blues, greens, yellows or purples definitely contain ingredients intended to alter their color and should be avoided. Remember that true henna is orange, red, or brown in color.
A lot of work goes into achieving the perfectly shaped and defined eyebrow… And we mean a lot of time-consuming, makeup-using, work. If you’re not one to leave your house without your brows on point, using henna to give you a deep tint might help lessen your already-full load. It’s a safe, natural and adaptable alternative that’s worth a try!