I don’t wear makeup very often, I use virtually no beauty products regularly… but I have colored my hair for YEARS. Since I was a sophomore in high school in fact! My natural hair color is a dishwater blonde that doesn’t really flatter my skin tone and it makes me feel very much like I recede into a crowd. Coloring my hair is fun, makes me feel good, and allows me to shape how others see me.
But in the last 2 years, as I learned to live an increasingly sustainable life, I couldn’t bring myself to use those nasty chemicals anymore! They are really bad for your skin, your health, and the planet. I even tried some of the “natural” hair tints in the natural foods store, only to look up their ingredients and find they weren’t much better than the “non-natural” varieties.
A few weeks ago, however, I was feeling low and frumpy and overworked, and I hit my limit. I needed a change! I couldn’t bring myself to go to a salon and use all the crazy chemicals there. So I went to the natural food store and read every single package of hair color.
Ick. This or that kind of alcohol or sulfite or SLS or – wow – I was so disappointed that there really wasn’t anything!
For twenty minutes I stared at these packages, hoping that somehow the ingredients would change before my eyes, or that maybe one of the colors didn’t have nasty stuff in it. But alas, I began to walk away, giving up.
In the same packaging it had when I used to color my hair in college 15 years ago… Henna.
I was a bit apprehensive. There were only 4 colors, and I’m used to having a high amount of control over the color process. But it was only $6. Yes, $6!! So I bought it.
I got it home and looked inside the package: green powder. I remembered henna being pretty and giving my hair some nice, natural color and shine. But I was still unsure. So just in case, I looked up how to get out the hair color if I hated it.
How To Get Henna Out Of Your Hair
There are instructions inside the box for how to use powdered Minute Maid to remove the color. Here are further instructions from Light Mountain – they recommend using the first two options within 24 hours:
A. For darker shades make a mixture of baking soda and molasses using equal parts. Make up enough of the mixture to be able to coat all of your hair. Apply this mixture to your hair and let it dry, a blow dryer can be used, until it is hard then rinse out.
B. For lighter shades make a mixture of Crystal Light lemonade mix and a rinse out cream rinse/conditioner using equal parts. Use 1/2 cup of cream rinse/conditioner to one tub of lemonade mix. Apply to your hair and let dry, a blow dryer can be used, then rinse out.
C. If the treatment is older, more than 24 hours, you can try using a high detergent shampoo and a deep conditioner. The conditioner should be one that you leave on the hair for 20 minutes. You can also try a “clarifying” shampoo, also known as “swimmer’s shampoo”.
Easy enough. Ok, I took the plunge…
Applying Henna To Your Hair
I followed the very detailed instructions that came inside the package. It’s like putting mud on your hair – it takes a little getting used to. (Yes, redefining normal: it’s ok to put a mud-like substance on your hair rather than a chemical mess!)
- Protect. The package comes with gloves. Use them! Henna will color your hands a pretty color, too! Also moisturize your face beforehand, and apply some kind of oil to your hairline around your face – I use jojoba oil, but olive oil or any other type of oil will work. This keeps the henna from dying your face. But don’t worry – chances are that you will drop some on your skin, and just make sure to get it off right away so it doesn’t sit there long enough to dye your skin.
- Mix. Pour the henna in a NON-METAL bowl with NON-METAL utensil. In a NON-METAL container, boil 3 cups of distilled or filtered water. Gradually stir in enough water for it to be thick but not too thick – about the consistency of pudding.
- Let it Sit. Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes to 2 hours – the longer you let it sit, the deeper and faster the color (I let it sit for 2 hours).
- Apply. Apply it as you would apply any hair color: divide your hair into sections with a NON-METAL comb or brush and NON-METAL clips. Apply from the roots outward with your hands, comb or brush. Cover with the plastic bag that comes with the henna.
- Heat. Optional. Heat will enhance red shades in particular, and decreased the amount of time you need to leave the henna in your hair. I blow dried my hair for about 20 minutes – I felt guilty about using the electricity but was too vain not to. You can also sit in the sun if it’s a warm day.
- Leave In. Up to 2 hours. The longer you leave it in, the deeper the color.
- Rinse. Rinse with warm water. If you like, you can use a dilute baking soda mixture to help rinse out the henna, but don’t shampoo. Wait for 24 hours before shampooing, so the color has time to set.
Seriously, my $6 application of henna came out just the way a $125 hair color would (and has) in a salon! Not only that, but it is healthy for my hair rather than a depleting process, it doesn’t make my skin break out the way salon dyes do, it smells nice, and I’ve received a whole lot of compliments.
I’m hooked! And I’m glad I didn’t have to use the Minute Maid.
What Do You Use?
Do you color your hair? If so, what do you use?