It's been two years since my first henna tutorial post- or confessional rather. I finally admitted to you (and myself) that my hair was no longer the vibrant orange from my youth. I can remember the very moment that I became aware of the change my hair had ever so slowly made. So slowly in fact that I wasn't sure if it was my eyes playing tricks on me. They weren't. It had changed. I was having coffee with a new acquaintance and I mentioned something about being a redhead. "You're not a redhead!" he said. That was it. That was the moment. I had spent my whole life identifying as one of the 2%. I had the freckles, the skin, and up until then the hair. I had suffered through the nicknames and the jokes, and now this person had the audacity to say that I didn't have red hair! I wont relive the horror of my first dye attempt after this revelation. You can refer to the original confessional for that. However, shortly after was my foray into the all-natural world of henna. Now, two years later, I stand by my choice.
So why henna? Henna (Lawsomia Inermis) is a flowering plant whose leaves contain a natural orange/red pigment. Because it is such an effective dye, people have been using it to stain their skin and hair for thousands of years. While salon and drug-store hair dyes are full of nasty chemicals that damage your hair over time, henna is all-natural. In addition to depositing color, henna actually nourishes and revives your hair. After using henna, people notice more bounce and silkiness. Also, unlike other hair dyes, I find that henna fades slower and lasts up to 8 weeks before I feel the need to touch-up the roots.
How to use henna? I use Henna King in natural red, because it's good quality for a good price (about $12). It comes with gloves and a shower cap, but I recommend getting better gloves for more freedom of movement.
Step 1: Combine the henna powder with water and mix it into something of a paste (not too thick or too watery- think pancake batter!). Everybody has their own set of recipe tricks when it comes to henna. Some add olive oil, sugar, etc. I just use as-is.
Note: It retains it's green color until you wash it out. So don't freak out if you find yourself resembling the Swamp Thing.
Step 2: Apply to dry hair and make sure you get the roots. I recommend putting some oil around your scalp and ears so as to not stain them in the process. If you didn't make your paste too watery, the whole process will be easier.
Step 3: Now it's time to wait. You can keep henna in for up to 3 hours but no less than 1 hour. I find that any longer than 2 hours and it comes out a little too bright for my liking. So I aim for 1.5- 2 hours.
Step 4: Wash it out and Voila! Henna has been described as smelling like hay in a barn so you will be tempted to wash with shampoo- don't! Wait at least 24 hours before your first real wash in order to allow the color to set. You will smell like a dirty hippie for a day or two.
This is a photo of me a couple days after I touched up my hair. If you decide to give henna a try, let us know how it goes!