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Friday, January 3, 2014

My First Experience with Henna as Hair Dye

When it comes to henna tattoos, the art of mehndi, I am an expert. Since 1999, I have spent years educating myself about henna: both the science and the art of henna. I teach henna classes at our studio and at henna conferences throughout the country. I host Guild meetings for local Orlando henna artists, and I'm constantly educating others about henna. Henna is a huge part of my life!

All this time of being immersed in henna, I had never used henna as a hair dye, until recently. I knew HOW to use it, but not from personal experience.

This past September, 14 years after my first experience with henna, I decided to dye my hair with henna. This was no light decision for me. Henna leaves hair a gorgeous natural-looking color, yet I am the girl of a million hair colors! Blue, purple, fire engine red, lime green, platinum blond (often with black roots)... I've been every color of the rainbow! I like crazy unnatural colors, so going to something as natural looking as henna was a stretch for me.

First Time Henna Hair Color Process

I decided to use the hair henna recipe that I suggest to others (obviously). Normally, I would use our ORa Rajasthani henna, but I had a box of Jamila that had come back as incorrect address. I couldn't re-sell it or use it on my henna tattoo clients, as the henna had not been stored properly and had been bouncing around the postal system for a month, but for the hair... I could use that henna for my hair!

You can print Hair Henna Instructions here.

I mixed the 100 gram box of Jamila BAQ henna with water and added a couple pumps of conditioner to it. I made it thinner than what I use for body art henna, about pancake-batter-thin. I let the henna paste sit for about 6 hours, because that's what worked best into my schedule and then applied the henna to my hair.

Being a henna artist, my biggest worry was getting the henna on my skin and having stained skin for a week or more. Despite that worry, I wanted to have the same experience than any newbie would have so I kind-of slopped the henna all over my head (while wearing gloves - VERY important!). It wasn't nearly as messy as I expected! Once I had a helmet of henna on my head (quite attractive), I put on a plastic hair cover and set to cleaning up.

First, I wiped all henna away from my skin. I was delighted to see only a very faint yellowish stain that came off easily with a little scrubbing from a wash cloth! Yip!

Then I cleaned any drops of henna I found in the sink, on the floor, and on the wall. Very little! MUCH less than the craziness I tend to see when I'm doing purple or blue on my hair.

I put all the leftover henna paste in a ziplock bag, which was about 2/3 of the paste left from the box (enough to do my hair with henna 2 more times!) and put the bag in the freezer.

I settled down to watch a 2 hour movie, and watched it with my crazy looking plastic covered hennaed head.

Next was the part I was dreading; washing out the henna. Everything I've read had talked about what a pain it is to wash the henna out of the hair. This is why I added a bit of conditioner to the henna, to make the henna paste a bit easier to wash out. I stepped into a piping hot shower and started rinsing out my hair. Compared to washing out bleach or vibrant purple, washing out the henna was a piece of cake!

Normally, when I wash hair dye out of my hair it looks like I've murdered Barney or a Smurf in my tub, but the henna rinsed right off the tub and shower walls with absolutely NO scrubbing! WIN!

The fact that hennaing my hair was so easy got me pretty excited, even though I knew it was not the kind of look I normally sport.

Henna Hair Color Results

Before dyeing my hair with henna, my hair was dark violet purple with dark brown roots. The roots were scattered with gray (I have quite a bit of gray, though having not seen my natural hair color in more than roots for years, I can only guess at how much, lol!). The dark parts of my hair were a dark auburn brown. You couldn't see where the roots ended and the purple began. Wherever I had gray is was a bright golden-orange-red. It was very fiery and fun.

Knowing that the color would substantially settle over the next couple of days, I withheld judgment.

By 3 days later, my hair had settled to a brown with reddish highlights. It was soft and silky (definitely the most healthy my hair has been as an adult) and beautifully natural looking. I was getting compliments left and right and my other half kept touching it!

That being said...it's not me... I don't quite feel like myself with this lovely natural-looking hair that compliments my skin tone beautifully, lol!

I am committed, however, to doing henna on my hair 3 times so I can see the effects, so around Thanksgiving, I did round 2 of henna.

Round 2 of Hair Henna

I thawed the henna in the baggie and dumped it into a bowl. This time I didn't need to mix henna though I did add a teaspoon of ground ginger to the henna. Ginger neutralizes the scent of henna. Though I loved the smell, Asad did not.

Knowing I didn't have to worry much about staining my face and neck, I slopped the henna on, put on my plastic hair cover, and cleaned the house. About an hour and a half later, I showered the henna out of my hair and round 2 was complete.

This made my color much deeper and richer. I think the 3rd henna treatment will allow my hair to reach a saturation point that will be a lovely color. Hennaed hair is still not my thing but gorgeous none-the-less!

I may have to try bleaching my hair and then hennaing it...or combine henna with crazy colors...I like hair henna so much, I have to find a way to make the look more Jodified!

If you want to try to henna your own hair, you can buy high quality henna powder here.

I hope this helps you with your own hair henna journey!


Round 3 of Hair Henna

So round 1 of henna was in September, round 2 in November, and round 3 was in January. I'm going 6-8 weeks in between henna treatments. Round 3 happened just like round 2, I thawed out the henna from the freezer, applied it to my hair, left it on for about 2.5 hours, and washed it out. This henna thing is EASY!

The color has really come to a head after round 3! People are stopping me on the street to say how pretty the color looks. The red is MUCH richer and the highlights more distinct. It really is lovely.

I think it's time to start adding some fun colors, bleaching bits out, or maybe adding indigo!

Official Final Impressions

  • Henna makes my hair feel awesome! My partner loves touching it.
  • Henna is much less messy than my normal bleach and crazy colors.
  • Henna is an easier clean up from both the skin and the bathtub.
  • The color is exceptionally natural and beautiful with stunning natural highlights.
  • The cost of henna is a bargain compared to what I have to buy for my normal color adventures.
  • It's worth trying henna out at least 3 times to reach that saturation point for ultra rich color.

Have fun and henna on!!!!!

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