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This post was written in April 2012.
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…I stated on the Cave Girl Eats Facebook Page that I was literally seconds away from dying my hair with Henna.
And then, a concerned group of citizens informed me that I was quite literally about to ruin my life forever. And possibly the lives of everyone I know. And puppies were going to be kicked and kittens would cry and Kardashians would rule the world and I would become yet another fool taken in by Henna Lore.
So, of course, I put the Henna away. I shuddered to think of the pain I’d almost caused myself. I replayed the scene from Anne of Green Gables where Anne’s hair turns green because she attempted to flaunt nature as I almost did (except, in my scenario, I was simply trying to cover a crop of pesky premature YES THEY ARE PREMATURE I’M NOT OLD YET greys).
I believe that, while nourishing the inside is crucial, it’s also important to be aware of what we’re putting on our outsides. (Did YOU know many hair and makeup products contain harsh surfactants? Random industrial substances? GLUTEN? I say on principle: Blech.)
I’ve accumulated some amazing resources and body/home care favorites since starting this journey. While all you ever REALLY need – for ANYTHING – is baking soda, vinegar, and a nourishing skincare oil (See: No ‘Poo Results), I still like to luxuriate in a few more exciting self-care routines: I love the Oil Cleansing Method, along with the products from Primal Life Organics for my face; Great Marsh has a phenomenal foot soak and a lovely facial serum; and 100 Percent Pure carries some gorgeous eyeshadows.
You can assume, then, that I generally like to appear marginally presentable, all while enjoying the self-care process. And also, I like to try weird, sometimes smelly skincare stuff. Which includes henna.
As I’d developed a compulsion for yanking out those thick, wiry grey hairs I discovered once I quit the monthly salon dye I’d been doing for a decade, I needed a solution that was both natural AND capable of hiding all the greys and quelling the compulsion. Because mom was right: when you pluck out a grey hair, they grow back and stand STRAIGHT UP like one of those inflatable crazy-flailers at a car dealership. Which is fine, unless you have a weird crazy-flailer phobia. Which I do.
(But wait, you say – I heard that henna can’t cover grey anyway!
…Just wait, my friend. I’ll get there.)
I like to play with hair color, anyway – it’s like risky semi-permanent art, all done on a human.
After doing a bit of research, I decided to turn full-speed onto the henna highway. It’s only hair, after all…
Here’s what I found as I researched henna: it seems that you simply have to be extremely selective about the henna you use – many brands masquerade as “henna” when they’re actually full of hair-perverting gunk. Some of them contain an eensy-beensy bit of henna, sandwiched inside a laundry-list of unnecessary industrial chemicals. Not cool.
Additionally, you have to be aware that henna alone is coppery-colored. That’s its natural tone. Read LOTS more here. You CAN achieve a range of colors using henna and other herbs. You can do this yourself (read about other peoples’ recipes here) or you can buy a pre-made blend from a company you trust.
I chose to go with a pre-made blend. I used a blend of henna and herbs from Mountain Rose Herbs. I’ve loved everything I’ve ever purchased from them, so I trusted that their product would be my best bet to start out.
It looks so innocent in the bowl, no?
This particular henna blend starts as a powder. You add hot water (or, in my case, strained boiled coffee and apple cider vinegar – a grey coverage trick), then you put on gloves, wrap plastic bags around your ears, muck up your head, destroy your bathroom sink, and hope for the best. (Clean any spatters right away. You’ve been warned.)
If you’ve got short hair, you’ll no doubt have an easier time than I did attempting to cover the entire length of your hair with this mud-like stuff. As I’m far too lazy to get a haircut, I’ve got quite a lot of hair to cover. Long-haired gals: be prepared for a bathroom crime scene. And also lots of Dr. Seuss-esque fun (below). And possibly a drug raid on your house – because this stuff smells like – ahem – herb.
Update: I no longer “do” my whole head every time. Just the roots. Over time, the color fades as hair grows, so I end up with a kind of ombre-like look, which suits me just fine.
My first go-round with Mountain Rose Herbs’ Henna was highly successful. I used Medium Brown, and it was fairly neutral on my hair – with the exception of my greys, which turned a lovely coppery color. (I only have a few greys, but they blend in well this way.)
To be sure it wasn’t a fluke, I wanted to use the same henna a second time before I wrote about it; so, six weeks later, I dyed my hair again – this time with a blend of Medium and Dark brown. (Side note: The MRH team was EXTREMELY helpful and responsive to my badgering about henna how-tos, and every shipment contains extensive directions. For this I’m thankful!)
Another note: The ease of prep makes this Henna FAR easier to deal with than the Lush brand, in my opinion. Although Lush will apply it for you at their stores, if you don’t have a Lush near you, you’ve got to do it solo, which I find to be too much.
I think the result was lovely. (My ability to take photos of myself in the mirror, however, is questionable.)
All-in-all, my hair feels great – natural highlights seem to have been preserved, and – judging from my first go-round with MRH henna, the color simply fades over time. Unlike with conventional dyes, I never had a clear line delineating new hair growth – which is fantastic. While the process is challenging and a bit awkward, it takes a mere few hours and, in my opinion, it’s well worth the trouble (plus, it’s highly affordable).
I still use the “No ‘Poo” strategy, and dry and style as usual.
Anyone out there use Henna? Experiences? Thoughts?