Henna: Healthy Hair Color
*See my One Year Update Video at the bottom!
After 10 years of using chemical hair dyes to cover gray roots, I decided to switch to henna. With all the evil chemicals in hair dyes it makes sense to use a plant-based product instead. I tried a ‘natural’ hair dye from the health food store a few years ago but it made my hair feel like crispy straw. It listed lots of chemicals in the ingredients and I suspect it was anything but natural. Henna, however, is straight-up plant material with no nasty laboratory synthesized ingredients. Also, henna conditions the hair rather than damaging it.
Everything I’d heard about henna in the past pointed to it resulting in flaming red hair. Not that there is anything wrong with red. It just doesn’t suit my complexion and I was a little leery of trying it.
My hair is a medium to dark neutral brown and I want to keep it that way. So I did a whole bunch of internet research and found a product that uses henna and other plant dyes (and no other ingredients) to create varying shades of brown and COVERS GRAY and doesn’t require me to do color experiments.
To begin my henna journey, I picked up a packet of Light Mountain Natural Hair Color (this one doesn’t cover gray) at the local health food store. It comes in lots of colors from light red through to shades of brown and up to black. The trick to getting various shades is in the ratio of henna (for reds) to the other plant dyes which include indigo (for black) and senna (for light browns). Light Mountain products come premixed for specific shades. I chose Dark Brown. The results were great! It made my hair dark brown. However, because this product doesn’t cover grey, I was left with lots of very shiny silver roots.
Light Mountain’s gray covering product, Color the Gray, isn’t sold locally, so I ordered it online. It took time to ship so meanwhile I made another application of Dark Brown (I had only used half the package) to my roots and left it on for an hour – it gave a little bit more gray coverage but some stubborn silver remained.
Without further ado, here are the facts about my “Journey Into the World of Henna”…
Subject: 46-year-old female
Hair status: Baby fine, naturally curly/wavy texture, chin length bob. Starting to get dryer (whether from age or from chemicals is unknown).
Hair history: Final chemical hair dye application November 1
Applications of Light Mountain Natural Hair Color in Dark Brown: December 10 (waited 4-6 weeks after last application of chemical hair dye as recommended) and January 2
Application of Light Mountain Color the Gray: January 11
It took about 4.5 hours total for the Color the Gray procedure – including 2 showers and cleanup. As with all natural methods it takes longer than any procedures that use chemicals for convenience.
After reading a number of reviews of Color the Gray on Amazon, I choose to leave the product on longer than the instructions recommend – a lot of reviewers said they got better results this way. I also left the mixed products to cure longer than recommended. Its important to follow all the other directions correctly, such as never to use metal bowls, utensils, or hair pins because metal may cause the product to turn your hair green. An allergy test and a strand test are also recommended.
First I mixed the henna powder with water and left it for 1 hour. Then after mixing the henna I mixed the indigo powder right away and it was left to cure in the bowl for about 2.5 hours while I applied then rinsed out the henna.
Covering the gray is a 2 step process: 1) apply henna, rinse 2) apply indigo, rinse. The henna adheres to the gray hair then the indigo adheres to the henna. The company recommends leaving the henna on for 5-15 minutes. I left it on for 45 minutes. Its okay to leave henna on a long time because it smooths out the hair cuticle rather than burning it out with chemicals. Then after rinsing out the henna I applied the indigo and left it for 45 minutes.
Some people have complained that henna is messy and it stains your house and your skin. I didn’t find it that messy. I put the product in a plastic mustard bottle, parted a small section of hair at a time with a comb, squeezed a line of henna in the part, mashed the henna into the hair on both sides of the part, and went all around my head this way until the roots were all done. Then I applied henna to the rest of my hair and mashed it around to get complete coverage. The same method was used with the indigo. I wore gloves and an old t-shirt. Drips were wiped off my skin and the floor right away to prevent staining. Both products take a while to rinse out but conditioner helps with that by giving it a ‘slip-factor’. Some of the ‘grit’ splashed around the shower but it rinses right off.
Some have complained about the smell of henna. However, IMHO, the smell is better than eye-burning chemicals. Its reminiscent of wheat-grass juice or wet grass rotting in the sun. The indigo smells kind of smoky.
I’d highly recommend that anyone considering this product go on Amazon and read lots of reviews so you’ll get an idea of others’ experiences and learn from their tips and tricks. This video on Youtube shows results for a light brown color: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fUL4UkeDwwM
Henna is a keeper for me. No more chemical dyes. These products left my hair feeling soft and after the third application of henna, my hair is more glossy. Hopefully, my hair condition will continue to improve with each use. Meanwhile, I feel better about what I’m rinsing down the drain and into the eco-system.
One Year Update, January 2015
Its been a year since I made the switch. See my results in the video below.
*Disclosure: If you click on the product name in this post it will take you to my Amazon store. I get a percentage of any sales generated by click-throughs.
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