Wednesday, July 10

Small Steps: Mastering Henna

When I was a business major, lessons about what was and was not appropriate business attire were frequent, consistent, and presented as gospel. The Disney standard prevailed: no tattoos, no extraneous piercings, muted professional clothing, and no crazy hair colors.

Back in November or December, I finally decided that although it was helpful to know what that standard was, it no longer applied to me. I can’t use traditional dye on my hair, as one try was enough to prove that it (A) it is prohibitively expensive, and (B) it fries my locks to permanent straw until it completely grows out. (Which, by the way, takes years considering how long my hair is.)

As usual, Amazon came to the rescue with Wine Red Henna hair dye. The first time around I made an
Not my hair... this is the demo picture on Amazon for the
dye packs I buy.
ungodly mess, but the results were decent enough that I wanted to keep going. I’ve re-dyed my hair a couple times now, and have finally mastered the process. Having burgundy hair is much more fun than my natural brown, and the Henna is completely safe and has actually been really healthy for my hair, so I thought I’d share a few helpful tips that I’ve learned through the process.

Use natural hair care products, and sparingly. Around the same time I took a chance on Henna, I made the switch to all natural, very simple hair care products. I no longer wash my hair every day, but only as needed. Most of the time, I use just a cider vinegar rinse and it is more than enough to get my hair clean and soft. When it really needs a cleaning (after playing in the mud or too many woodchips), I use an olive oil based shampoo bar (from Frugally Sustainable or Wickedly Scent). This saves me a ton of time, significantly extends the life of the dye, and makes for noticeably stronger, healthier hair.

Use plastic wrap instead of the shower cap. Being stylish while your hair is “baking” is not happening, so you may as well at least be practical! Skip the shower cap - it won’t contain long hair anyway, and is prone to drips. Grab a roll of plastic wrap from the kitchen and wrap your head up turban style in that. It banishes annoying drips, contains long hair, and lets you actually move around get stuff done while you’re waiting! Plus it answers the question of what to do the second time around if you’re able to get more than one use out of a dye pack.

Use good gloves. The flimsy, ill-fitting gloves that come with most packs are useless. Grab some all-purpose disposable gloves in the correct size for you, and use those instead. They’ll make your life so much easier. (It’s always good to have a box in the house anyway!)

If at all possible, use a hand-held shower head. When it’s time to rinse, a hand-held shower head is by far the fastest, easiest and least messy way to go. (If you have short hair, you could use the kitchen sink and it’s sprayer instead.)

Last but not least… don’t panic. If the color doesn’t look just like the box when you’re done rinsing the mud out, don’t worry! It tends to deepen slightly as it sets over the next 24 hours, so it may settle in. If not, unlike commercial dyes, Henna is completely safe and non-destructive on your hair, so you immediately layer other shades (of Henna-based coloring) over it to temper, boost or otherwise adjust the color to something that works for you.

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