I was looking to change up my hair, but was tired of the chemical hair dyes. So, I researched and found out about using henna to dye hair. I read lots of horror stories, a few success stories and of course decided I should try it out for myself! Being an herbalist that dyes my hair with henna just seemed right :).
I found a lot of helpful information on HennaforHair.com. They have examples of color options, information, and forums on their website. I originally planned to go a medium brown to play it safe for the first time. So I bought the Medium Brunette kit (with pure henna and indigo powder). Then it sat at my house for 2 weeks while I worked up the courage. I read some more and decided I wanted to go all out with straight henna and become a redhead. If I was going to go through all the work of dying my hair with henna I wanted it to be very different and vibrant!
So, the process starts with mixing the henna powder with water and lemon juice. I read that mixing it with lemon juice helps to release the dye and increase the red tones. I wanted it red, so I made a solution of half lemon juice and half water. I mixed the solution and henna powder together until it formed a thick paste. Then I covered it in plastic wrap and let it sit for 24 hours.
You have to let it sit overnight to allow the henna to release the dye. You can test it by putting a spot on your hand to see if it dyes.
I only had it on my hand for a minute or two but I could tell that it had stained, so it was good enough for me.
I also read that clove power makes the color richer and deeper, and it makes the henna smell better. So after testing the dye release to make sure it has soaked long enough, I added 1-2 T of clove powder.
Finally the henna was ready to be applied. I added a little more water before using until it was the consistency of greek yogurt.
Then I took the ‘before’ picture. By the way, it is SO hard to take a selfie. I don’t know how people get good pictures taking it of themselves. It took me 5 tries to get a picture that wasn’t blurry. Also, where do you look? Okay, enough about selfies. Moving on.
Then I sectioned my hair into four parts and put in bobby pins. I read it is easer to apply the henna when you work in sections. Of course this makes sense. I try to do sensible things sometimes :).
I also read many horror stories of people flinging henna paste everywhere and staining tubs, kitchen counters, bathroom sinks, etc… I wanted to be prepared (and put my husband at ease who also heard about the mess potential of henna) and put down a drop cloth. Turns out I didn’t need it. Didn’t even spill a drop. These other people that are dying their hair with henna must just be messy hippies. ha!
In addition to whatever mess preventions you feel are appropriate, you need to wear gloves. Or you will have dyed hands for a month. You have been warned. I also took the precaution of putting a little coconut oil around my hairline to keep the dye from getting on my forehead and neck.
I started at the nape of my neck, scooped out some henna and smeared it on. I worked my way up in sections and occasionally referred to a small mirror to make sure I was getting it in the right places around my hairline. It was a bit time consuming, but definitely not complicated.
It took me about 25 minutes to get my hair covered. I took my time and made sure to be thorough and massage everything in really well, especially at the roots.
At this point I got a little nervous, but I was WAY past the point of no return.
Henna has to stay in for 2-4 hours for best results.
So I wrapped my head up like a present.
Then I wrapped my head in a towel, and strengthened my neck muscles walking around with a towel on my head for 3 1/2 hours before I couldn’t wait any longer.
Then it was time to wash it out.
I slipped off my plastic wrap turban and deliberated over the best way to wash out a head full of henna paste.
I wanted to keep the water usage and mess to a minimum. So I got a basin, filled it with water and crouched down in the tub with my head in the bucket to wash the henna out of my hair. I think it worked really well. It took me four or five rinses until the water was almost clear. Then I took a shower and rinsed the rest out.
Funny story here. I was so curious to see my hair that I peeked in the mirror and my whole face was red!! I was so afraid that I had dyed my face while trying to wash out the henna, but it turns out your face turns red when your head is upside down for 10 minutes. Who knew?
Tada! This is what it looked like right after I rinsed out the henna. It is a nice fiery copper. I loved the color to begin with, but henna dye darkens a few shades the four days following dyeing and four days later I am even more in love with my color!
This is 4 days after dying. I has deepened and turned a lovely red, and a brighter copper/red on the parts where my highlights used to be. I have gotten so many complements on my new hair color. I also love that henna strengthens my hair, is a natural plant based colorant, reduces dandruff, and fades naturally so I won’t have the obvious root line that comes from chemically processed hair growing out. The color also gets more complex, richer and deeper with each subsequent coloring. So it only gets better from here! I am a henna convert and look forward to doing it again in a couple of months!
Have you ever tried henna? What was your experience?