Henna, Lawsonia inermis, is a desert flowering plant. The powdered leaves have been used since ancient times as a natural dye. The red pigment, lawsone, is a tannin found in the leaves of the henna plant which are naturally dried, crushed, and sifted. You cannot see the red color in the leaves because it is hidden by the green chlorophyll pigment. Just think of a maple tree. Its leaves have beautiful colors that are hidden until the green chlorophyll disappears in autumn.
The pigments in henna bind with the keratin protein in hair and provide a permanent coating to the cuticle. Unlike synthetic hair dyes, henna pigments do not chemically alter hair.
While most people think of henna as simply a hair coloring product, it is also a great conditioner that coats the hair shaft, seals in moisture and natural oils, tightens the cuticle, enhances body, adds loads of shine, and makes hair silky soft.