I’m excited to present this post written by the absolutely beautiful Callah from My Yoga Life. She recently dyed her hair with henna and was generous enough to share her experience with me and the readers of Five Seed. Thanks, Callah!
I have been colouring my hair since I was about 11 years old. Seriously. It started with temporary dyes, graduated in high school to bleaching my hair and dying it blue, purple and bright red, and just about every other “natural” colour in between- blonde, brunette, redhead, highlights, pink streaks (ok, that’s not natural), you name it. Safe to say I’ve loaded tons of chemicals onto my scalp on average probably 4-6x a year… for 13 years… that’s a lot of chemicals!
In the past few months (with much inspiration from Yancy at Five Seed!) I started my own journey phasing chemicals out of my life. I started with the easiest switches… shampoos and face washes. But, my roots were beginning to get pretty obvious to the point where my sister told me it was time to do something about my hair! The henna investigation began.
Some things you should know:
-henna is a plant (Lawsonia Inermis)
-true, pure henna is red and red only. Any variation of colour is done by adding different plant and sometimes even chemical (eek!) compounds. Read the ingredients carefully before buying anything!
-the process is kind of messy, and long. But isn’t spending a little time worth it to save a bunch of chemicals from absorbing into your scalp?
-in the first 24-48 hours, you may experience a green tinge to your hair. This should go away. I think this is only an issue who haven’t waited the 6+ weeks after chemically altering their hair colour. The colour continues to develop into a rich deep shade in the first few days.
-if you’ve chemically coloured your hair, wait a MINIMUM 6+ weeks before henna-ing, and probably a couple months after henna-ing. The chemicals react with the henna and can cause funky things to happen. It’s a commitment!
-If you don’t love the results, do NOT bleach it out- it only opens the hair follicles more, causing the henna to sink in even deeper.
After much investigation, I decided to use the Lush Caca hennas- I know a lot of their products have chemicals such as SLS and perfumes despite being touted a “green” products, but their hennas appear to be natural and easy* to use. (The ingredients from Caca Brun: Fair Trade Cocoa Butter (Theobroma cacao), Indigo Henna (Indigofera Tintctoria), Red Henna (Lawsonia inermis), Ground Coffee, Nettle Powder (Urtica dioica), Irish Moss Powder (Chondrus crispus), Clove Bud Oil (Eugenia caryophyllus), Citral, Eugenol, Geraniol, Citronellol, Limonene, Linalool, Perfume.) Ok, the perfume is a bit questionable but it’s my first time.
I started with a strand test, since my hair has been previously coloured. I decided to mix the Caca Brun & Caca Noir since I’m going for a deep brown shade over previously lightened hair, but black is too dark for what I’m after. Nothing funky happened, so…
D-Day! I chopped up the remainder of the squares I used for the strand text from each block, grated it up (using a knife to cut the last tiny ends into fine bits) and used strong brewed coffee in lieu of the boiled water for a richer brown tone. I added the coffee to the grated henna inside a pyrex bowl, just enough to saturate the powdered mix rather than drown it. It’s a little bit off-putting because the outside of the blocks look dark brown but inside it is green! You then mix up the henna until it is a thick, creamy texture.
I had boiled a big saucepan of water, and prepared the bathroom beforehand by covering it (literally) with newspaper. I had a few trivets on the counter, allowing me to bring the saucepan of water into the bathroom to keep the mixed henna warm and therefore easier to apply. Apparently the hotter the henna is, the brighter the colour (without burning your head of course!) I used a big hair clip and a brush with a fine pick for dividing the hair into sections, starting at the back and working forward- roots first, and then saturating the ends last. Gloves are absolutely necessary and I slathered some thick lotion around my hairline to make post-colour cleanup quick & easy). It was somewhat messy since the henna crumbles a bit- but cleaning up was very quick thanks to the newspaper. It took me about an hour from jumping in the shower to wash my hair, drying it, preparing the henna and applying it. Not as long as I thought. (Although I can see this being quite the task for long-haired beauties
Now, to sit and wait! Some people leave it on for ages (I’m talking 6-8 hours) – but since I’m pretty short on free time I decided to start with 2 hours. You can leave it uncovered for a richer, deeper brown shade, or cover it with saran wrap for a redder tone. I decided to leave it uncovered. You can also build up the colour over multiple sessions. It’s the perfect time to watch a movie… or blog!
Washing it out can be a process as well. The longer you leave it on, the more it dries. Mine was about half dried, so I just rinsed really well and then slathered on some (organic) shampoo a few times to work it out. I conditioned (which I usually skip) and let it soak in a few minutes, and then it was complete! My hair feels pretty soft (and felt even better the next day) and it definitely looks shiny. I don’t really notice any green tinge at all, and I’m really satisfied with the results! I think the time and effort are totally worth keeping it natural. I’ll definitely henna again and recommend it to anyone who asks!!
So, what are you waiting for? Next time you are tempted to add some colour to your hair, take the natural route and try henna!
(Note: there is also neutral, uncoloured henna which can be used to make your hair soft & shiny without the colour! Also, I used the Lush brand which is a solid bar- that powdered henna might have a different consistency when followed and to read the instructions carefully for whatever type they purchase!)
*Well, as easy as henna can get!