Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Organic Hair Colour - Henna
One HUGE step in my journey to become self sufficient is switching to organic hair colour. I made this step last week and I am thrilled with it!
I have coloured my hair for decades. My natural hair colour is light brown with reddish tones. It's a dirty dishwater, dull, mousy colour that takes on a greenish cast in the winter, so I have coloured it since I was old enough to make that decision, even more so now that it is half gray. Don't get me wrong, I like gray hair on a lot of people. Long healthy gray hair is beautiful! Mine has a reddish/yellow tone. I would have to colour it gray anyway, so why not colour it red instead, since it looks natural on me. I have the orange skin tone and green eyes. It's the colour that looks best on me, so I have gone permanently, organically copper red.
Natural, organic hair colour is not dull or subtle. It's amazing in it's strength! I'm talking about henna here (lawsonia inermis), the red organic hair colouring herb. There is also indigo, which is black and cassia which is a more subtle golden yellow shade. You can mix them to get the colour you want. I went with straight henna and I love the colour!
You can buy boxes of so called "henna" hair colour in various shades off the shelf these days, but they have a lot more than just the organic hair colour in them. Even the "organic" ones have a mix of herbs with very little henna in them. So little that they are not permanent, but wash out after several weeks and fade. Other so-called "henna" hair colours are not even "organic" and contain metals, salts and some have chemicals in them. These commercial "henna" hair colours are not to be used on chemically treated hair and if you do so, you could end up with a really ugly colour, such as "frog butt green". This is the reason most hairdressers will warn you again using henna, so make sure that you buy only pure henna powder. If you get "body art quality" (BAQ) you can be sure it is only pure henna. Sometimes you can buy it cheaply at an Indian grocery or drug store in your area. It's worth a look. Read the label!
Pure henna, sometimes hard to find, will not harm your hair or give you anything other than a shade of copper red. (Online sources listed below.) You can use it on top of any chemical colour you want and even over a perm and get nothing but a shade of copper red. What shade will depend, of course, on the colour under it. Henna will not lighten at all, not one little bit. As a matter of fact, you will probably get a colour a bit darker than you started with.
If it comes in other shades, its not pure henna. Henna only comes in the one colour, copper red. Indigo can be added to henna and/or cassia to make it darker or used alone to make black. You can add cassia to henna to make a less intense shade of red. You can mix the main three organic colours to suit your hair in any proportions you want. You can also add a few other herbs to shift the henna shade a little, such as paprika, but it takes a LOT of these other herbs to shift the henna colour even a little.
So beware, henna is always a deep copper red, but if that is what you want (and I do) you will love it!
If you do colour your hair with henna, don't be shocked at the brightness of the colour for the first few days. You will need about 2-3 days off work to colour it and let it settle down before you take it anywhere significant. The henna colour is VERY bright and intense at first but it does change a lot in three days.
This is my colour immediately after henna:
This is four days later:
So don't be alarmed at the brilliant colour of orange you will have for those first couple of days. It will darken and settle into a beautiful and natural looking copper.
Another difference between the two pictures is the deep conditioning treatment. Many henna mixing instructions say to use lemon juice. The acid is necessary to break down the leaves to get better dye release but you can use vinegar or tea instead. I made the mistake of using lemon juice (3 parts water to 1 part lemon juice) which is drying and I already have dry hair, so I had to deep condition it afterwards (more on the deep conditioning treatment below). After further research (and after using the henna!) I learned that the acid is not necessary if you mix the henna with water and then freeze it. As you know from reading my wine making posts, freezing breaks down the cell walls and releases the juices and the dye. The next time I use henna, for my roots, I will just freeze it and forego the lemon juice altogether or I might mix in a little apple cider vinegar insead. No more lemon juice on my hair! It's dry enough already! I also mixed in 1 egg just before use, to furter strengthen the hair by adding protein.
Pure henna will not damage your hair in the least. It will strengthen your hair, forming a permanent bond with the keratin in the core. Henna and cassia are both great conditioners and will leave your hair strong and shining! People have already commented on the shininess of my hair since the henna.
Henna is permanent and rarely fades much. I assume mine will fade after a summer in the sun and it will fade after a dip in a chlorinated pool, but very few other circumstances will cause it to change colour. It is permanent. You don't flirt with henna, you marry it. Henceforth (from now on) I will only need to do the roots and brighten up the colour with a little henna mixed with conditioner occasionally. It's this permanence that first drew me to henna as an option for hair colour.
I intend to grow my hair to my knees and keep it there. Colouring the ends repeatedly is just not an option at that length. The longer your hair gets, the older and more delicate the ends become. I would not subject my hair to continuous chemical colouring at that length and it would cost me a fortune, as well.
This is the recipe I use for deep conditioning:
- 4 parts conditioner (I use Outrageous and love it!) Some conditioners with dimethicone will cause this mix to curdle, so a cheaper one is better to use for this.
- 1 part pure aloe vera without alcohol
- 1 part honey, heated to kill the enzyme which produces peroxide or it will lighten your colour. Not boiled, just hot. This will warm the conditioner when added, making it work better, too.
Mix well and apply to hair, coating every strand. Cover with plastic and then a hat to keep it warm. Leave on for 1 hour or all day or overnight. The longer, the better. Next time I am considering adding an egg for the protein. I might also consider using coconut oil on my hair ends regularly. Out of all the fancy oils people use on their hair, coconut is the only one that actually penetrates the hair shaft. I just wish it weren't so expensive!
These are the colours my hair has gone through in the past two weeks:
I am thrilled with my switch to organic hair colour! I am looking forward to having copper hair to my knees! (When I get there. it's a s.l.o.w.w.w.w process...)
Again, I cannot stress this enough: Use Pure Henna Powder!
Here are a few places it can be ordered online in Canada and the US:
They have different shipping costs, ranging from $5.95 to $12 but, at least, there won't be any customs surprises or duty charges.
Any Indian Grocer or drug store near you...or:
Henna Vancouver = The best deal. Pure Rejasthani henna (from Rajasthan, India). Cheapest shipping.
Mehndiskinart in BC
Mehndiandmore sells BAQ powder $5/cup
Dragonfly Designs in Edmonton
Atlantic Henna in New Brunswick
Healing Body Art
Hennaart in Edmonton. I would not recommend this company. Their advertising is deceptive. They lead you to believe you are getting bags of 100g each when you are actually only getting 50g bags. Nowhere in the shopping cart or Paypal does it tell you the size of the bags, either. They have been very careful not to let the customer know exactly what they are getting. It is a good product, shipping to Ontario is $11 for 300g, but beware, you are only getting 50g bags!
I feel that they misrepresented their product and would not buy from them again!
Any Indian Grocer or drug store near you...or here are just a few more suppliers:
Halalco - Only buy the pure, body art quality henna. Other hair mixes are listed.
Posted by Providence Acres Farm at 4:48 AM