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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

How to Henna Your Hair

When people find out that I dye my hair with henna, they are usually very curious about it. So, for the benefit of the inquiring minds dying to know (no pun intended) my most intimate beauty secrets, I've composed a step-by-step on basic hair henna-ing (Complete with embarassing photos).

I had dyed my hair with various chemicals, various colors, for almost ten years, finally deciding that I wanted to be a fiery redhead. I tried all sorts of red hair dyes and even the best ones only looked great for a week before they started to turn brassy or fade. After doing some research, I decided to try henna and have been a henna head ever since. Henna is a natural conditioner, and unlike chemical dyes, it's great for your hair! It is messy, though. It takes several hours, but hey, if you're home anyway, it doesn't matter. You can do some chores or have some spa time. Also it smells funny, but no worse than that knock-out chemical smell of other dyes!

Famous henna heads include Lucille Ball and my beloved late Grandma Hayes. If you want RED hair too, here's how it's done.

If you do some research you can see everyone has their own technique and add-ins to get the color just so. The concocting is not my area of expertise, so I will instead refer you to Henna For Hair as an invaluable resource when first figuring out what to do and how to make your own mix.

Before you get started, you'll need:
* Henna (pure, high quality)
* a glass mixing bowl
* gloves
* plastic spoon
* vaseline

DO NOT USE ANYTHING METAL! It will react to the henna and might turn your hair green.

I use Caca by Lush. Whether you get the brick style Lush henna, or henna powder, the steps are the same.

Using a double-boiler method, slowly add hot water to the henna, stirring constantly until it forms a lovely cake batter consistency. Add in any special fixings you like. I add about a tbs of olive oil for extra conditioning, a tsp of clove and a tsp of paprika to enhance the red. The heat will help the dye release.


Mmm, looks lovely, doesn't it? As you can see, the bowl is sitting in the sink. This is going to be very messy. I cover all around my hairline and ears in vaseline so I don't stain myself orange. Starting at the front of my head, I use the spoon to part my hair, and spread henna all around. I really reccomend the spoon method rather than a traditional hair dye brush. The brush doesn't hold nearly enough henna to be effective, and I ended up splattering all over the place. Part your hair & spread in the henna in about 1/2" - 1" sections, doing the roots first and working towards the ends. Don't be shy either, really glop it in there.


This is about halfway through the application. As you can see, I'm pretty well covered. Keep going! At this point, I just scoop up handfuls of the henna and squish it into my head until I run out. If you have long hair, pile it on top of your head as you go. I don't wear gloves because I am hardcore. But really, it will wash off your hands, and everything else if you wipe it up right away.


Ta-Da! This can be a little tricky. I have wrapped my head up in about a mile of cling wrap. Trust me, you want to do this. Otherwise, you will be leaving a trail of green crud everywhere you go. I stay wrapped for as long as I can stand it - about three or four hours. There will be some dribbling. This is normal. You may want to keep some tissues handy or try wearing an old sweatband to help mop it up.

The wash out: I soak in the tub and swish my hair around, then stand up in the shower to get the last of it out. Rinse Rinse Rinse! I finish off with a little conditioner. I do this every month to keep my locks vibrant and shiny!


Ta-Da! In spite of my very contrast-y face, my hair color is pretty accurate.

6:29 PM   5 comments


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