In college I used to dye my hair regularly in my dorm. I got bored easily and it was so easy and fun. There may have been a phase involving hot pink streaks which may have coincided with my last passport photos. Yikes!
Eventually I got tired of raggedy hair and missed that textured look of natural hair with natural highlights and I stopped dyeing it.
And then after some random interwebs browsing, I stumbled across the concept of using henna to dye hair. I’d only ever heard of using it for henna tattoos.
Anyway, I was hooked on this idea and did all kinds of research and this past weekend I finally grew the balls to try it!
This is what my hair looked like before. I really have no idea how to described my natural hair color. Sometimes it looks super dark, sometimes it could pass for light brown. Sometimes there are strands of red or blonde.
I got most of my information from hennaforhair.com, but it was still kind of confusing. A lot of people recommend using something acidic to maximize the dye release; lemon juice, vinegar, or black tea were popular. Then there’s a whole other school of people who say that acids break down the cell walls of the dye molecules so you should use something neutral. And then there’s the people that say you should let the dye cure for 8-12 hours versus the people who claim 1-2 hours is more than enough. And if that’s not enough, some people say you’re supposed to mix it with boiling water, while others insist this destroys the dye molecules.
I decided to go with a strongly brewed chamomile tea mixed with room temperature water to become lukewarm.
I mixed the henna until it was about Greek yogurt consistency but I think in retrospect it probably should’ve been a little thinner. It kept clumping off. I let it sit for about an hour and a half and then put a glop on my palm, let it sit for 30 seconds, and then washed it off. It stained my palm orange so I decided we were good to go!
The next part was tricky and a huge mess so I kept the camera away.
I sectioned my hair into four sections, put on an old shirt, and started smearing henna onto my hair. I didn’t have a paintbrush or anything handy so I kind of kneaded it in to make sure it was getting to all hairs. I also forgot to find gloves so my hands are still slightly orange. I recommend gloves. -stares-
Once my whole head was covered (and magnificently heavy), I put a plastic bag over the whole thing, tucked the ends in to make sure no henna would leak out, covered the whole thing with a towel, and then wobbled over to my bed where I accidentally passed out for two hours. In my defense, it was surprisingly relaxing!
In the end, I left it in for about three and a half hours. Washing it out was a bit of an ordeal but I ended up dousing my head with conditioner (no shampoo!) and it all washed out easy peasy after that.
And this is sort of what it looks like!
Keep in mind, henna coats your hair, so it adds a red tinge to whatever color is currently on your head. It won’t lighten it!
And this is what it looks like in the light!
Plus my hair feels super nice and silky now! And a lot of my split ends are gone!
-Henna needs time to oxidize so give it about two days to deepen in color. Don’t shampoo your hair in this time!
-Make sure you’re getting 100% natural henna, without weird chemicals. If you were to dye your hair after henna those chemicals could react with the dye and melt your hair!
-Henna is a plant. It stains things red. There is no such thing as black henna or blonde henna. (For black or golden coloring, look into indigo or cassia, but again these are plants that stain. They won’t lighten!)
-Henna sort of smells like hay, which some people love and others hate. You can add essential oils to your dye to lessen or change up the smell a little if you want. Mine was fine while on my head but after it washed out my hair sort of smelled like celery. I’ve washed it once since and the smell is slowly going away.
-Mixed henna can be frozen and stored for up to two months (I think. Possibly longer.). This is great if you mix too much because you can use the extra to touch up your roots when they grow in!
-Gloves! I’m not kidding.
Anyways, I highly recommend this for anyone who wants to dye their hair without chemicals. And if you decide to try it, let me know! I’d love to see the results!