Sometimes you really just need a change, you know? I think I was actually meant to have been born a red head, but it wasn’t in my genetics. But there are just days when you can’t shake the feeling that you need some spicing up. Since we are TTC, I wanted to avoid using hair dye with a lot of chemicals in it. But isn’t that the name of the game? If you want to change the color of your hair, you need a ton of chemicals to force the change. Not necessarily.
As a belly dancer, I was already familiar with henna. Henna tattoos are very popular among our ilk. We decorate our hands, feet, arms and, of course, our bellies for performances and just for fun. The henna is temporary and will wash away with time. The true game among us dancers is to preserve the henna for as long as possible.
Traditionally, henna tattoo designs on the skin are part of elaborate marriage rituals everywhere from Africa to South Asia. The bride’s hands and feet are decorated with designs so elaborate, the bride can’t touch anything or do any task for herself. And after her wedding, she does no chores around the house until the henna if faded. This is probably why there are so many ways people try to preserve henna. 😀
I knew that the dye in henna was very strong. But that it took a long time to dye skin. Well apparently, the same goes for hair color. My friend Amy introduced me to henna hair dye in late June. Thankfully, she’s a master at it. On a sweltering Saturday afternoon, she came over to help me apply and then rinse out the dye. Because there are tricks to these things.
First of all, you must prep the henna the night before. Following Amy’s instructions, I poured the powdered henna into a a container I didn’t intend to use for food prep again. I mixed in enough water to bring the henna to a consistency “somewhere between mashed potatoes and sour cream.” Those were her exact words. I learn so much better when you equate what I’m learning about to food. 😀
Once that was done I threw in about half a shot of apple cider vinegar. The acid in the vinegar allows the henna to release its dye in a form my hair can use. And I’m warning anyone who wants to try it out, that yes, the concoction will look green when you do this. At least mine did. However, if you cover it (press plastic wrap right down on top of the mix) and leave it overnight, it will look more red in the morning.
The next day, Amy came over to help me apply it. It’s less runny than normal out of the box hair dyes, but that causes its own complications. You have to really work it into the hair to make sure it’s covering every strand. I didn’t cry, but Amy was very thorough. However, before you do that, you must use petroleum jelly all around your hair line. Henna will absolutely dye your skin if it gets on your face or neck during the process. You have time to wipe it off since it takes a few hours of the dye to seep in. But you want to take precautions in case the dye drips down during the five or six hours you’ll be wearing it.
Once you’ve worked the dye all the way through your hair, you’ll wrap your head in plastic wrap. This just helps to keep your hair off your face and neck while the dye does its magic. And you’ll feel like a genie freshly escaped from her lamp. EDIT: I have been informed that the TRUE purpose of the plastic wrap is to keep the henna moist and the heat from your head in. This assists in getting the dye to settle into your hair.
Well, now you have a full four to six hours to fill up while you have henna on your head. Just what are you going to do? Eat popsicles of course.
But if you start feeling antsy and want to get our of the house while the henna does its thing, Amy recommends the turban. It is très chic, no?
After a run to the Asian food market a few towns over, we returned to my house to do the rinse. And it was not pretty. Just know that you will be washing your tub after you rinse out your henna.
Amy recommends using a conditioner that is very runny. She likes the VO5 brand. You’ll wet the hair down and then use the conditioner to loosen the henna from the hair. It will take multiple rinsing and might even take an entire bottle of conditioner to get it all out depending on the thickness and length of your hair. Mine took about a half a bottle to get all of it out.
Don’t use shampoo for a day or two just to give any residual henna in your hair a chance to finish the job. You’ll see the results immediately after rinsing. But the full color will come out when your hair is completely dry.
I’ve used a lot of different red hair dyes in my day. One time I even went orange with it (but that was another story.)
I think the henna color looks more natural than any other commercial dye on the market. So if you’re interested in hair color without the chemicals, and you’re ready for the long wait time, give henna a try. Amy’s favorite vendor is Mehandi.com. The quality of their henna is far superior to other brands she’s tried. And their customer service goes above and beyond.
In this post I used Rajasthani Twilight. According to the description on the website, “it does a wonderful job of covering gray in brunette and black hair. This henna will dye light colored hair deep auburn.” But make sure to look through the whole selection. She has henna that is best for African hair, with more rose undertones, for delicate or damaged hair, for gray hair and even henna meant to turn your gray streaks into warm red highlights. This vendor has it all.
If you decide to try it, please let me know how it went. Not everyone can have an expert on hand like Amy (I’m so lucky!) but I hope this post helps you through the process. And I wanna see pics!!!