Henna….the other hair color choice.

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OKAY….SO….
I finally delved into the Henna Hair Color Method that I have been talking about and researching forever.
I’m pretty sure the reason it took me so long is because I was, well….terrified I would screw my hair up somehow. I mean…I DID just cut 8 inches off to get rid of chemical damage after all, and I didn’t want to take a chance of damaging my finally HEALTHY hair!

As I usually do when it comes to Natural Beauty Treatments, I did my research. Here is what I had learned PRIOR to delving in…in the way of DO’s and DONT’S.

  • DO purchase 100% natural Henna. If your hair is already chemically dyed, you MUST use 100% natural henna.  I used Rainbow Henna purchased at David’s Natural Market. The cost was 5.99 for a 4.oz container. You want to use BODY ART QUALITY HENNA.
  • DO know what color you are aiming for.  Pure henna will only give you a red/orange color. If you wish to have a darker shade you will need to mix your henna (Lawsone) with Organic Indigo. The Rainbow Henna that I used comes premixed – in several shades but is still a 100% organic product. For my next coloring I will probably NOT use rainbow henna, but purchase fresher Henna and Indigo powders separately and blend them myself. I’ve heard very good things about this company.
  • DO buy fresh. As with most products, FRESH IS BEST.  The fresher your powders, the easier your color is going to take.
  • DO arrange your tools and be completely prepared prior to starting.  You will need a plastic or glass bowl, plastic disposable spoon, a tail comb, a brush applicator,  plastic gloves, a towel that can be stained and an old  shirt to wear during the application. You will also need plastic wrap and a knit cap (the cap is optional)
  • DO apply to clean hair only.  You may apply to wet (towel dried) or dry hair, as long as it is clean.
  • DON’T use henna or indigo if you ever wish to highlight or lighten with bleach again. Bleach over HENNA will lighten the shade of red/orange, but quite often it can’t eliminate all the orange color completely without significant damage. Bleaching over INDIGO use is NEVER advised because bleach cannot lift indigo. It will remove all the other color in your hair, leaving the indigo green intact. This means your hair will be permanently colored green and may not be correctable with any type of hair dye, plant-based or not.
  • DON’T use henna on newly chemically treated hair; it may cause unplanned hair variations. While henna may be wonderful for hair, it doesn’t mix well with other chemical treatments, so if you have recently dyed your hair using conventional dyes, have permed your hair or even if you are planning on perming your hair in the near future, you may want to re-think using the henna. A good rule of thumb would be to wait at least thirty days from your last perm or hair dye before applying any henna product.
  • DON’T use “black henna” that contains para- phenylenediamine (PPD). It can cause serious allergic reaction and respiratory problems. ALWAYS STAY AWAY from any product labeled ” BLACK HENNA”. It is in fact, not actually henna at all.
  • DON’T mix your henna in a metal bowl, this could create some color differences in your product.

Some of those DO’s and DONT’S may have seemed a bit scary.  I will say that I think you have to consider this plant based hair color method long and hard before deciding on it because once you go Henna, you will pretty much be staying with Henna.
As long as you are willing to make that permanent decision about your hair color choice, you will only find benefits from that point on.  The benefits are as follows:

  • Thicker, fuller hair. Henna actually covers the shaft of your hair, adhering and binding to the keratin that is there.  If there are any damaged places in the strand it “fills it in”. Giving your hair a thicker fuller appearance and feel.
  • It works with the natural shades already there in your hair, so often if gives the appearance of highlights, even grey hair ends up looking like highlights.
  • Naturally conditioning.  Henna is KNOWN for its conditionaing ability, lots of people use it for that aspect alone.

Now I am going to FINALLY get to my own experience with henna.
I was definitely nervous going in.  I decided, on my first try, to apply it to dry hair. So I washed my hair the night before.
I got started early right after I woke up. I laid out all the things I would need and put on my old tee-shirt.

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I then mixed up my henna.  The first thing I noticed was the smell. Ew. It stinks plain and simple. I smells to me like a combination of overcooked spinach and fireplaces embers. As bad as it smelled though, it wasnt as bad as chemical hair color. I mixed my henna with distilled bottled water, using enough to achieve the consistency of yogurt, then allowed it to sit for 15 minutes until the green started to darken up. Then, I applied. Just like applying chemical hair color, I covered all of my roots first, (where my grey hairs are hiding) then I covered the rest of the hair.

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My friend Rachel says she has seen things of similar color and consistency in her newborns diaper!

It was easy to apply, but small pieces of the mixture seemed to drip all over my sink area.  I wasn’t messy about applying, I’m very neat, these pieces just seem to be part of the process.  However it all cleaned up easily and with no staining, the pieces where like little bread crumbs or grit.

Next I wrapped my entire head in plastic wrap (well not my face obviously) and then covered my plastic wrapped head in a knit cap to keep the heat in. I left it on for 2 1/2 hours. When it was time to rinse it out, I just got into the shower like I normally would with chemical hair color, only this was MUCH MESSIER in the shower.

  1. It is sooooooo gritty, its like having a head full of sand, that may be my fault , I may not have missed it up as well as I was supposed to, but I will know for sure if it happens again the next time. It took several minutes just to rinse MOST of the grit out.
  2. The smell is still awful at this point.
  3. You don’t want to shampoo if you don’t have to because it will diminish the hair colors intensity, so I used only my 100 % organic Rauhu conditioner with a teeny bit of Rahua shampoo mixed in.
  4. The grit all over the shower and shower curtain rinsed right off and left no stains unlike chemical hair color.
  5. My hair felt very dry.  So I left the conditioner on for quite some time.  I wondered why it felt so dry because Henna is supposed to be NATURALLY CONDITIONING.  I can only think maybe it is the brand that I used.  So I will know more about whether or not that was the issue after I do a touch up in about 6 weeks.  The dryness seems fine once my hair is actually dry, but when it’s wet the comb seems to get hung up. Tonight I will do a deep overnight coconut oil conditioning to see if that helps with the dryness.
  6. After my hair was cleaned up and dried, it still smelled awful.  Maybe I should have rinsed a LOT longer, but all night last night I was basically grossed out by the smell of my own hair. That is something I will also be looking for a solution to.  The good news is that this morning it smelled fine.  I just walked over to two of my trusted coworkers and asked them to do a smell test for me.  I passed both. WHEW!
  7. i had a mild allergic reaction to the product. the edge of my hairline turned a little red but nothing major and it cleared up within a few hours.

So clearly there is much work to be done here.  I plan to follow-up on this post several times!  However, I will say, for now, that I am extremely happy with the results.

Don’t mind the messiness, that is just TYPICAL ME! Plus I am trying to grow my bangs out which explains the bobby pin, pin back. BUT…The color is deep and intense, and my hair already feels thicker and fuller. Overall, I feel like I made the right choice and I just need to tweak the process a little.  (see future posts!) 🙂

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In the sun as well as in the low fluorescent lighting at my office, the red highlights really pop out.

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