I have pretty much been coloring my hair for 20 years. When I was a baby I had the perfect shade of platinum blonde, but as I got older, it faded to a sandy blonde color. While there is nothing wrong with that color, I was never happy with it. Summers in the sun would leave my hair streaked and then winters left me with a band of dark roots. For most of highschool I bleached my hair every month. Once I got into college, I experimented with every color under the sun (including black, which was very unflattering with my pale skin.)
When I decided that I wanted to be a cosmetologist, it was my love of hair color that really stood out. Nothing made a woman look different faster than a brand new color.
I loved doing color, but I always hated the smells. They almost always gave me a migraine, which was inconvenient since I worked in a salon.
Fast forward 5 years, and I am now making my living selling my own natural skin care line. Coloring my hair was the last vestige of my old ways, and I did not readily abandon it. I found creative ways to color or bleach my hair and minimize the exposure to my scalp. I would slather vegan non-petroleum jelly over my scalp and hairline, rinse my hair upside down, and then wash it with natural shampoo.
In the back of my mind, I knew that I was still exposing myself to a host of toxic crap.
Henna is not a new thing for me. I have always been fascinated with the body art made from this beautiful plant. I have gotten so many henna tattoos, and even tried a few on myself. I had heard about henna for hair, but was always scared to try it. I read that you couldn't use any other color on your hair after using henna, and that results were unpredictable. Even five years into making natural products, it still scared me.
Recently I have been doing a ton of research on henna as hair dye, and everything I read seemed to call my name. No chemicals, good for your hair, long-lasting color, and shinier hair. Could it really be true? Could henna be the answer to my hair color woes?
I already had a jar on the way. I spent hours choosing just the right shade for my hair. I wanted something that would be an auburn without being too orange or bright red. I had just dyed my hair a few weeks earlier with just medium brown, to start to blend the bleach blonde with my sandy roots.
The jar arrived on a day when I was home working. I had done a lot of reading on how to best use henna and what to use as the liquid. I made some Hibiscus Tea (not going to lie, I just mixed Boiling Distilled Water with powdered Hibiscus Petals that I use in my skincare :) I then washed my hair with Bear's Beauty Apple Amino Acid Shampoo. I needed to wash my hair thanks to a botched attempt at clay washing. It all sounds great until you are flopping what is essentially mud around your shower (more on mud washing later.) So I washed my hair and didn't condition (which really is not abnormal, as I don't really use condirioner as it is.)
So I mixed together half the jar of henna + enough hibiscus tea to make a paste + apple cider vinegar. What I ended up with was a bowl of green goo that seemed to almost be a jelly consistency. Something no one talks about, it smells. It smells like grass or plants, something very earthy and green. To be honest, it wasn't nearly as bad as the regular hair dye smell that always makes me feel the need to go outside.
Ok, so I used to work in a salon, but this is not complicated. You basically section your hair off in four sections, apply to hair, and spread it around. I would love to tell you that I carefully sectioned my hair into four sections, but I didn't. I parted my hair down the middle, used a brush to brush on the roots and hairline, and then used the end of the brush to cut a 1/2 inch section and flipped it over to the other side. I then painted more henna on the underside of that section and then the top of the next. I did this on both sides in the front, stopping at my ear. I then kind of did the same thing from the crown of my head down, and then used my gloved hands to spread and massage into the rest of my hair.
I covered with plastic wrap and went about my day. Other than the slight smell, it was really pretty forgettable. I left the henna on my hair for between 3-4 hours. I had tried to dye my hair red before and had it rinse out within a few days, so I know I left it on longer than I really needed to. So after a few hours I hopped in the shower, flipped my head upside down, and rinsed forever. Seriously, I rinsed my hair for like 10 minutes.
Once I got most of the chunks of henna out, I used some castile soap, with ACV added to adjust the ph, and lathered out the rest of the plant bits. I then rinsed, and that was it. I was legit scared of what my hair would look like. No conditioner twice in a row, castile soap, and unknown henna action.
Within an hour my hair was dry and I was super impressed. The color was not as dark as I had hoped, but the texture of my hair was surprisingly smooth. Within two days the color had darkened to a really pretty shade of auburn.
I have decided that I will do one more round before I go on vacation in July, but I love it. It didn't wreck my hair or scalp. The color is really natural looking, and it isn't full of toxic junk. Love!