Hibiscus or Rose Mallow (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis), also known as Chinese hibiscus, China rose and shoe flower, is a species of flowering plant in the family Malvaceae, which is native to East Asia.
As well as being a beautiful five petaled large flower, Hibiscus can be used in hair and skin preparations.
There isn't a great deal of contemporary scientific research on the benefits of rose mallow / hibiscus for hair, but it has been used for hundreds of years and the benefits stated by individuals following natural or ayurvedic hair regimes, include:
- Encourages hair growth
- Prevents spilt ends
- Thickens hair
- Mild cleanser
- Gives a great tone to hair, and works well in henna preparations
- Can alleviate sore scalps
- Can help add shine
- Can help add definition to curls
Packaging and storing
This herbal powder is packaged in plastic packets, within in heavy duty foil packet which helps to preserve freshness. I store my henna powder in a cold, dry place in order to keep the henna in pristine condition. If you do not have such a place in your home, you can store unopened packets of henna in your freezer, but avoid putting open packets in the freezer as the condensation can spoil the henna powder.
The paste can be difficult to work with and therefore it best to blend it with cassia, henna or amla (all available from my ebay shop)
You need to ensure that you and your surroundings are protected from the paste staining e.g. walls, floors, clothing.
Make some strong black tea by mixing three standard tea bags and about 250ml of boiling water. Let the tea cool to lukewarm. Sift the rose mallow powder into a bowl and then add the cooled tea. Mix to a yoghurt like consistency, and then fill a large cone to apply to your hair. You can apply the paste straight away or leave it to brew and settle for an hour or two. I usually leave it for an hour to brew.
Leave the paste on your hair for the amount of time to achieve the colour and condition you want, 1, 3 or 6 hours.
Shampoo out and condition as normal.
There are a seven other things to remember to ensure that the application is a success.
Here is each step in more detail:
1. Carry out a strand test
Using natural herbals on your hair is as much an art as a science. The colour / condition cannot be guaranteed as it depends on your existing colour and hair texture. Using a strand test will help you determine how long you should leave the paste on, and show you what to expect.
2. Use clarifying shampoo
Preparation is everything as build-up of natural oils, shampoo, conditioning and styling products can shield the hair shaft from henna, especially if you use silicon containing products. It is therefore really important to remove this product build up by using a ‘clarifying shampoo’ on your hair before applying herbal hair pastes. Clarifying shampoos cut through natural oils and product build up to leave your hair squeaky clean and ready for herbal application.
3. Use a large cone / piping bag to apply the herbal paste to your roots
The simplest and least messy way to get herbal paste to your roots is to use a large cone or icing bag, to direct the paste right on to your roots. You can then use your fingers to push the paste down onto the hair shaft. Ensure that all your hair is completely covered. Pay attention to the crown of your head, back of your neck and the full length of your hair, as these areas can miss out on the paste.
4. Wear gloves
Herbal pastes will stain quickly, and it just to stain skin and nails, so make sure you wear gloves for both application and rinsing out. If you don’t wear gloves you will stain your hands , and your nails as well (this will be permanent until your nails grow out)
5. Leave on your hair for a minimum of three hours for a strong colour / condition
The longer you leave the paste on, the stronger the colour / condition. I usually leave my henna on for 3 hours, but if I want a particularly strong colour, I’ll leave it on for up to 12 hours.
6. Cover your hennaed hair in cling film to ensure it doesn’t dry on the hair
I have conducted experiments that show that if the herbal pastes dry on the hair, it essentially stops the dying / conditioning process. To ensure that you get the best colour / condition, wrap your head in cling film, and foil, to keep the paste nice and sticky.
When it comes to rinsing out your herbal paste, you will find that my products rinse out like a dream. To make the process even less messy why not ‘mermaid’ your hair? To do this you fill your kitchen sink or other large bowl with warm water and soak your hair for a few minutes. This loosens and removes a lot of paste and means that you can then rinse your paste very quickly out of your hair with a shower attachment. Remember that whatever the paste comes into contact with, it will stain.
8. Leave for three days to let the colour fully develop
Dry and style your hair as normal, and make sure that you wait for three days for the colour / condition to develop.
9. Use beautiful natural herbals
You should notice much improved condition and shine when you use herbals on your hair – so keep on using it. But do make sure you buy from a reputable supplier. Here at Hennacat, independent henna and herbal suppliers, we use our products all the time and make sure that they are of the highest quality. Where possible we work with organic suppliers, and always buy direct from the manufacturers to ensure the provenance of our products.
Photo credit "Hibiscus flower TZ" by Muhammad Mahdi Karim (www.micro2macro.net) Facebook Youtube - Own work. Licensed under GFDL 1.2 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hibiscus_flower_TZ.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Hibiscus_flower_TZ.jpg