Saturday, August 27, 2011

Henna Hair Color

I admit it: I love to color my hair. My first experience with hair coloring came when I was 12 and my mom let me use Clairol Natural Instincts. There was also something on the market around that time called "hair mascara" - essentially temporary hair dye you applied with a giant mascara wand, and it would be gone the next time you shampooed. I used it to put blue streaks in my hair for Lilith Fair '97. But I digress. The point is, I love hair dye, but it can expensive (bad for financial wellness), damage your hair (bad for follicle wellness), and it often uses a lot of nasty chemicals (bad for the earth's wellness). I tend to gravitate towards the reds when getting my hair colored. 

Exhibit A
Lately, I've been trying to stick with colors in the brown family - they're easier to maintain, since they don't fade as quickly and they are closer to my natural hair color (light brown). This was a picture I took the day I last got my hair done:

Brown, with just a hint of red in there. Well, this picture was taken a little while ago, and my roots are starting to bother me. 

It's like my hair has horizontal stripes.
Hmm, I've been thinking to myself, my hair sure does look bad. But gallbladder surgery and wisdom tooth extractions have not been kind to my bank account. Then I realized, opportunity was knocking! I could try something I'd been curious about for a while: Henna. 

I've done plenty of at-home dye jobs, some good, some not-so-good (let's not speak of the time I decided to try black hair dye), but I'm confident enough in my abilities to give it a whirl. So, after work today, I went down to the store and picked up Rainbow Henna in Persian Burgundy.

The instructions say that to tone down reds/make browns richer, to use coffee instead of boiling water when making this concoction. Perfect! I've got some flavored coffee samples that I don't particularly want to drink, but they would be quite lovely in my hair. So, I got to brewing my coffee, only to boil it. The henna, as it turns out, is an odd green color. Behold:

When reading the instructions, I noticed that they advise to add a little vinegar to the mixture if you're worried about covering your grays. I'm not, particularly, but I know that it will help the color hold. So I tossed a little in there. I also noticed that the instructions advise to add a little olive oil if your hair is dry, so I add that, too, although this starting to sound suspiciously like a recipe for henna vinaigrette. What it looked like was particularly green baby poo:

I applied to my head while it was still warm, which was actually rather pleasant. I had to do a little resourceful improvising - I didn't have an actual dye brush on hand, so I used a (new) paint brush, and I didn't have gloves, so I used plastic wrap. But it worked, and I got my head pretty well gooed up. 

Back to the instructions. Since I don't have a heat source (unless you want to count the fact that it's been quite hot this week and I don't have A/C), I needed to leave this on for 60-75 minutes. Done. I wrapped a Target plastic bag around my head and watched this week's episode of Project Runway (sidenote: Danielle TOTALLY deserved to go home. She is not, as she claims, a great designer). 

Then it was off the shower to rinse out the dye, then dry my hair to see the results. Here are the roots, after henna:

Also after curling, so you'll have to pardon the slight frizz
Much better! I have to say, though, that the color was definitely not as dark or as red as I had anticipated. Next time I would probably go with a darker color and follow the directions for adding Red Zinger tea to enrich the red tones. Overall, though, this experiment cost less than $10 and definitely works between salon visits.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for reassuring me that the henna is supposed to be green, I have to admit I was worried for a minute there. I actually have this same exact color and am hoping that it adds a nice red hue to my brown hair.