Saturday, April 14, 2012

Hair dye alternatives: Henna

Lately, in my quest to go natural in all areas of my life, I have been confronted with the realization that my hair color addiction is pretty much one of the worst choices I could be making right now.  I am addicted to my red hair.  I have no problem with my naturally dark blond/strawberry blondish brown hair.  But I really love having red hair.  It’s fun.  It lets me have a slightly quirky side without going out and getting a tattoo or nose ring (all of which I think are perfectly fine and wonderful, just not for me).  So I have continued with my bi-monthly ritual of soaking my whole head in noxious chemicals for up to an hour at a time and breathing in those same chemicals just to have my fiery red locks.  

In the effort to really make this natural lifestyle actually work, I found that those of us who want to darken our hair can in fact continue to do so in a natural, organic, healthy way.  Hooray!  My aunt was the first person to introduce me to henna in the form of body art.  I also found out that she uses it in her hair!  She introduced me to the wonderful people over at Henna Sooq and their line of 100% organic, all natural, pure body art quality henna hair dye. 
Before I go into the process of applying henna to hair, I need to make sure everyone understands that there is a difference between 100% pure body art quality henna and many of the “henna” hair kits out there.  If you’ve ever gone to the beach and gone to a henna tattoo booth for a temporary tattoo and it goes on your skin black, you are being covered with henna that is mixed with other potentially very harmful chemicals that give it that color.  Henna is a plant and only has one color—varying shades of orange or red.  Pure henna only produces that color.  There are ways to achieve dark browns and blacks in your hair color by utilizing natural herbs and indigo, but I don’t know what they are.  See the people over at Henna Sooq for that info. For my purposes, henna in its natural form was exactly what I was looking for. 

To begin, henna needs to sit for about 3-4 hours to allow the color to develop before applying.  I mixed mine in a stainless steel bowl with a stainless steel spoon so as not to stain any of my lovely wood or plastic bowls.  You will find warnings out there against using metal to mix your henna but, again, these warnings only apply to henna that is mixed with other chemicals.  100% pure body art quality henna can be mixed in any bowl you like.   

 When I was ready to apply the dye (which was basically like a bowl full of thick, smooth mud) I wet my hair and patted it damp.  Then I started at the top of my head, applied it thickly from root to tip, and wound it around on top of my head so that I was working my way down and piling all my hair on top.  It only took about 10 minutes because it was so easy to do given the thick consistency of the henna.  
After washing the henna out of my hair--very orange
Once I had applied the dye and cleaned up the areas where I got some of it on my forehead or ears or neck, I wrapped my head in plastic wrap (you can also use a plastic bag) and then covered it with a microfiber towel to keep it warm.  I then went about my normal business for the next 3.5 hours.  I know that you can leave it on as long as 6 hours.  The directions on my particular box said 3-4 so I did it right in the middle.  It turned out really, really well.  I couldn’t have asked for a better result!  Not only is it just the color I like, it is a very rich, shiny, lush color.  That night I coated my hair in coconut oil and slept.  The coconut oil was supposed to help the color oxidize faster and reach it’s true color quicker.  Henna can also dry your hair out a bit and the oil is to help replace some of the moisture.  

All-in-all I am 100% satisfied with my henna experience. I can honestly say I will never go back to conventional hair dyes again!  If I ever need to lighten my color a bit I can just use a little lemon juice and the sun.  No bleaches or harsh chemicals needed.  For information on other color possibilities with henna you can go to   

After 48 hours allowing the dye to oxidize fully

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