Henna head

Posted on | Sunday, November 7, 2010 | 1 Comment

Today we will be discussing hair. I have been dyeing mine off and on since I was about fourteen. In this past decade it has been plethora of shades and colors varying from the normal blondes, reds, and browns, to the not so normal purples, blues, greens, and even the occasional pink or orange. There was a point in time in my rather short life that it wouldn't surprise many to see my hair change colors on the monthly basis.

Yet no matter how many colors I dye my hair I always go back to red. I love having red hair. I love how I look and how my skin glows, that my eyes suddenly look fifteen times brighter. There is only one problem with this (aside from the fact that red is not my natural hair color). The upkeep for being a faux redhead is enough to drive a person mad. For years I had two options: I could either use box dyes every four weeks, or going to a salon every six weeks. Both options left my hair fried with split ends aplenty.

Then through serendipitous circumstances I heard one of my friends mention henna. I had heard of henna before, but it hadn't occurred to me that people would use it to dye their hair. Except perhaps during the occasional I Love Lucy reruns. I asked her a few questions and then began researching. ( I would recommend Henna For Hair for anyone who has questions, it's a great resource). After a month or two of debating I finally bit the bullet and purchased some body art quality henna powder. I spent the next few days impatiently waiting for my parcel arrived. I then proceeded to squee loud enough at my mailbox to have neighbors openly gawk.

Dying hair with henna is much different than what a person would expect from boxed dyes or even salon treatments. It involves a bit of planning and a large chunk of free time. And you also need to lack any fear of getting dirty.

About six to twelve hours before you plan to henna your hair it needs to be mixed. The easiest way to do this is to pour the henna powder into a ceramic or glass bowl and mix until it's the consistency of mashed potatoes or yogurt. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rest until you are ready.

Yes, it will look like smooshed avocados. Don't let that frighten you. It's also going to smell like mud.

Although you can't change how it looks you can change how it smells. I added cinnamon and allspice to mine to neutralize the muddy earth smell and it turned out lovely. You can also add ginger, lavender, vanilla, and various tea infusions. I ended up using some chamomile tea to help reconstitute my mix after it had rested so that it would be easier to apply.

Initially I had planned to photograph the entire process but I quickly realized that was not possible. Let me tell you right now -- this is going to get messy. It will get everywhere. If you ever decide to henna your hair and are brazen enough to attempt this feat by yourself there will be a time that you think "What on Earth am I doing?!" You might even stomp your foot in frustration. Soldier on.

Oh. And wear gloves. Unless you want your hands to turn orange.

It looks ridiculous, yes. But wait, it gets better. Once the concoction is smooshed into both scalp and hair grab some saran wrap and cover your head. Now look at yourself in the mirror and have a good laugh. It's okay.

You want to keep the henna moist and the heat from your head will help to activate the henna and allow it to release. You will feel like a featherbrain who has gone off the deep end wobbling around with a plastic covered avocado wig. Take a deep breath and grab a good book. Let the henna work its magic for at least four hours, longer if you can tolerate it. Unlike chemical dyes, the longer you leave henna in the better it gets, the color will become richer and your hair will feel more conditioned and nourished.

Washing it out is like a scene from The Swamp Thing, your tub will look like a marsh pit. Keep rinsing. And rinsing. And rinsing. Use that old bottle of suave conditioner hidden in the back of your linen closet. Rinse some more. Question whether or not this was a good idea. Rinse, rinse, rinse.

Then when you are done look in the mirror and grin and your amazingly red hair. Go outside and frolic in the trees much to the amusement of your neighbors. They will never have hair as red and pretty as yours. Unless of course they're Vikings.

Now here is the fun part. Henna oxidizes over time. This means that it's going to darken in color over the next several days. If the first day your hair looks more orange than red don't panic. Just give it time. Around the third or fourth day your hair will have reached it's mature color.

Ain't that pretty? I think so. The best part? It won't fade over time like chemical dyes. And it won't make your hair frazzled or create split ends. Although if you are like me and use half a container of lemon juice it can make it a bit dry, but that's nothing a bit on conditioner can't fix. I've read that lemon juice is prone to drying out certain kinds of hair and that some people use apple cider vinegar or tea infusions to reconstitute the henna powder instead. Next month I will give it a try.

My hair. It is teh happy.


One Response to “Henna head”

  1. somethink.different
    November 7, 2010 at 7:04 PM

    Henna! My personal recipe: boil a few tea bags with: Sliced lemon, cinnamon, bay leaves, cloves, and cardamom. Mix that up with a few drops of lavender oil, if you have any. Let it sit in a warm spot until it starts turning brown, then apply it. (If you're using it for mehndi, add honey or sugar to make it extra stringy!)

    Your hair looks super awesome!


Photobucket I was born and raised in California. I have also lived in Hungary, Texas, Alabama, Oklahoma, and I will be moving again this summer. Kael is my incredibly awesome kiddo who is growing up far too quickly, and Alex is my fiance who makes me happier than should be legally allowed. I write about them a lot. I'm mildly obsessed with cooking and photography. I write about those things, too.