On this grey September Sunday I decided to bring some life back into my dulling hair color. And since I use henna to color my hair, I prepared for it to take all day. Because henna always takes all day if you want good color. So I grabbed my favorite magazines, lit my brand new “Pumpkin Spice” candle, and got to work!
Why I Use Henna
Before henna, I used to dye my hair with regular boxed dyes all the time. I changed my hair color every few months and always tried to do something different. To no surprise, this made my hair extremely damaged, dry and brittle. But what’s worse – it was hurting my overall health, too.
Over 5,000 chemicals are typically used in conventional hair dye, many of which are known to be carcinogenic. In fact, hairdressers and barbers have been found to have increased instances of certain cancers, and that was enough to make me stop putting that toxic concoction on my head.
When you dye your hair with toxic chemicals, not only do you breathe the toxic fumes for hours, but your scalp (like the rest of your skin) absorbs them and carries them inside your body, where they can wreak havoc.
As usual, Europe is way ahead of the game – the European Commission recently banned 22 common hair-dye ingredients from being used in hair dyes sold in the European Union. Unfortunately, hair color companies continue to use those same chemicals for boxed dye sold in the United States. That’s what happens when you have minimal regulations…
In addition to carcinogenic chemicals, conventional hair dyes are full of other suspicious ingredients that can cause anything from allergies to immunotoxicity. You can check out Environmental Workings Group’s (EWG) rating and list of concerns of your favorite hair dye brand if you want, but be warned: almost all conventional hair dyes listed on EWG are determined to be high hazard.
What Makes Henna Better
Henna is a natural plant that has been used by men and women for over 6,000 years to dye hair, skin, and nails. Cleopatra was known for using henna both for hair and tattoos! The color henna produces ranges from an auburn to a deep red, depending on the type of plant, but you can also mix in indigo (a different plant that produces dark blue tones) and other herbs to create a whole range of colors.
Unlike conventional dyes, henna doesn’t contain any toxic chemicals and very rarely causes allergic reactions. Henna also conditions your hair, strengthens it, and makes it feel fuller. I’ve completely recovered my bleach-damaged (think: melting and breaking off) hair after just 3 henna applications.
Although my color choices are now limited to shades of red (which I’m actually ok with), I am definitely much happier using a product that is not harmful or carcinogenic, and happens to make my hair healthier at the same time!
How to Apply Henna
As I mentioned earlier, henna takes all day. Depending on what type of henna you’re using, and whether or not it contains other herbs, you will need between 1 -3 hours to make the dye “release”.
This means you mix the powdered henna with hot water, tea or other liquid, mix it up until it has yogurt-like consistency, cover and let it sit for a few hours so that it’s nice and potent by the time you put it on your hair.
Next, section your hair like you would normally and begin putting on the henna mixture. A few things to remember:
- Always use gloves, otherwise it will stain your skin and nails and it won’t come off for a good week.
- This will get messy. Cover everything in your bathroom with towels, newspapers, or plastic bags. Henna stains and doesn’t always come off from some surfaces.
- The texture of your henna mixture will be thicker than conventional dyes, so it may feel strange at first. Just make sure to cover every hair and don’t be afraid to use your hands!
- Henna smells like hay and tobacco. Most people don’t mind its subtle, “natural” smell at all. But if it bothers you, you can add a few drops of essential oils to your mix.
- It will take 48 hours after you’ve dyed your hair with henna for the color to fully oxidize. Usually it gets deeper and darker if you give it a day or two.
- I prefer to start from the back bottom section of my hair and work my way up and to the front.
Once you’ve covered all your hair, pile it up on your head and put on a plastic cap (or just wrap with with some plastic wrap). Now wait at least 4 hours. This is the time it takes for the dye to really come out vibrant for me. Some people even leave it on overnight. Unlike conventional dyes, this won’t damage your hair at all!
Wash it out using warm or cool water, without shampoo. If you need something to loosen the henna to help the rinsing process, you can use some conditioner or coconut oil – it’ll really help was out the little its and bits of henna from your hair quicker.
My Henna Results
For a while I used regular 100% henna, but today I used a mix of henna and hibiscus flower. The hibiscus really helps bring out a more cool red color and tones down the characteristic orange henna glow. But aside from the awesome color, hibiscus is basically a miracle flower for hair. It stimulates hair growth, prevents pre-mature greying, thickens hair, and detoxifies your scalp.
Here is my before and after! I had blonde hair before, then I covered it with several coats of 100% henna (left) and now it’s so much more red with this henna/hibiscus mix (right). I love it! I used Henna Guys “Deep Red” so if you want something similar – give it a try!
With my new blood-red hair, I feel extra connected to the Super Blood Moon tonight. Spent a few hours sitting on the patio with my darling, and there’s no better way to spend a Sunday night!
Good night everyone!