My Henna Experience
When I was little my hair was a strawberry blonde/golden shade of red. My family loved it and always said how beautiful it was. Of course at school it was as not as beloved, I was made fun of daily. As soon as I was old enough to start dying my hair, I did. On my 13th birthday I got my Dad to bleach my hair blonde, and so the addiction began. Since that day I have dyed my hair 100 different colors, shaved parts of it, grown it back out, and chopped it back off, I’ve done everything to my hair and body that you could possibly imagine. From surgeries and fillers, to piercings and tattoos. You name it, I’ve done it. I used to think that I just got bored quickly, and my constant change in looks was due to boredom, but on some level I obviously didn’t want to look like the real me. Over the last few years I’ve removed my breast implants, stopped getting lip filler, took my piercings out . I came to a point where I realized I didn’t need those things. I was using it all as a way to hide the real me, or to distract people. I realize not everyone who changes their appearance frequently has deep insecurities, but looking back I now see that it was for me. As I am now becoming more comfortable in my own skin I am only interested in accentuating the real me and not so much looking like a different person. I’m sure my version of “natural” is FAR different from someone elses lol, I still love to get glam. But yea, it’s a lot more toned down than I was a few years back. I’m not really sure what changed, maybe self-confidence, maybe just age and not giving a fuck, nevertheless this leads me to my current task, changing my hair back to my childhood color. I want to embrace my inner insecure ginger child. I look at natural red heads now and im in awe of how beautiful they are. It saddens me that I let stupid kids convince me that red hair was ugly.
Here is a few of the different cut/color/styles I’ve had over the last 5 years. As you can see I am different person from one month to the next. The photo of me doing a curtsey is from 2 weeks before I henna’d my hair.
I knew I wanted to go back to a copper toned red shade, but not too light, and most importantly, I needed the dye to be Vegan. Unfortunately almost all dyes contain harsh chemicals that are bad for the environment and test on animals. While researching it didn’t take long before I came across henna as an option. Henna seemed to be the answer to all my issues, vegan, all natural, not damaging to hair, and would leave me with a natural red shade. I had never heard of dying your hair with henna, I had only heard of henna for hand art so I had to do a lot of research. After watching 1000 YouTube videos I decided to try it, and so far have been really happy with the outcome.
If , like me you have dyed your hair with regular hair dyes your whole life then you will have to do some research before jumping into the henna world. Henna is not like hair dye in that you don’t mix it with developer, it can’t lighten your hair, it will only deposit color. I read that henna is actually translucent, so whatever your hair color is before application, it will stay roughly that tone or darker, and whatever color you start with will slightly shine through. Some sites state that Henna is a semi-permanent color, it is not, it is permanent If you chose to use henna you can’t remove it like normal dye, your only choice is to bleach it out. The whole process takes about ¾ of a day, so this isn’t a quick spur of moment type deal.
In the last few months my hair has been light brown ombre, blonde tips, then bright navy blue, I stripped that colour out and died it medium brown, and that is where I am at the beginning of this process. I began by ordering some henna from the brand Light Mountain Naturals . The color chart on the back said that if I used their red shade on medium brown hair then the color change would be minimal. I considered bleaching my hair to a lighter brown but I didn’t want to damage it. I found a vegan colour stripper and applied it, it stripped the medium/dark brown shade and left me with a lighter medium orangey brown shade. I figured it was close enough to my natural hair color that when my roots grew in that it wouldn’t have a drastic color difference. In the instructions for the henna it says that the henna powder can react badly when it comes in contact with metal or chemicals, so I thought it best to wait a few days after the stripping before applying the henna.
Pic 1 : Vegan hair dye remover Pic 2: Hair color after using the color remover
The Mixing process
First step, the box says you should do an allergy test and a strand test. Apparently a lot of people are allergic to henna, so follow the instructions on the box and hope for the best. Henna reacts badly with metal, so make sure all the tools you use are plastic or wood, that includes the bowl you use to mix the product in, and the spoon you use to stir. Note that whatever tools you use, if porous they will stain. You want to add hot water to your henna powder, I was told to not boil water in my metal pot/kettle because the metal may affect the water and in turn damage the powder, so I measured out the amount of water needed, and microwaved the water till hot in a plastic tupperware. Keep in mind that if you pour in boiling water that may kill the henna also, so let the water cool a tad.
You can add different things to your henna to make the color more custom to you, I read that lemon juice or vinegar can make the orange-ish golden tones in your hair more vibrant, so I added 3 tbsp to the powder first, the slowly added in the rest of the water (minus 3 tbsp of water to make up for the difference). Slowly mixing the mixture I was frustrated by the clumps, and I had a hard time getting all the lumps out, ive since read that this is normal as it is a natural product, the clumps are just leaves so it isn’t necessary to make it completely smooth. Once the henna is all mixed, it should be a yogurt texture, you want to cover it with plastic wrap. Press the plastic wrap onto the henna so that no air can get in and let it sit for a few hours. I waited 3. At 3 hours I took some hair from my hair brush, and began my strand test. The day I did my hair stripping (3 days prior) I cleaned my hair brush so that I would have a few days worth of the new color hair built up in the brush for this test. I lay my hair on some plastic wrap, applied the henna, wrapped it back up and waited another 3 hours. I rinsed off the hair and checked to see if the color I got was the color I wanted. I honestly didn’t really see a huge difference, I was kinda disappointed. But at that point I had researched for days, sat for 6 hours waiting for this henna to be ready and do the test, I was going to apply it regardless of what the color turned out to be.
I have read time and time again that the main downfall of henna is the mess. So I covered every nook and cranny in my bathroom with old towels and sheets. I washed my hair, didn’t apply conditioner, towel dried it, then began to apply it. You want your hair clean and damp unlike when applying normal dye where you want dirty and dry. You then want to apply a cream, or coconut oil to your hair-line and neck, this stuff does stain so don’t skip this step. The process of applying it was pretty quick and easy, a little easier than normal dye cause you sort of just pile it on and rub it into the hair. I wrapped my head in plastic wrap, then wrapped my head with a towel. When I was finished I looked around my washroom and there wasnt any mess, one or 2 little drops, but not anything as bad as normal dye. I was thinking people must have mixed their henna a lot thinner than I did. I cleaned up and sat on the couch, set my timer for 3 ½ hours. About 20 minutes later, the henna started running down my neck, and my face, and my ears. As soon as I whipped up one leak another one started. I ended up stuffing toilet paper all around my hairline between the towel and my head, it helped a little, but not completely. Everytime I sat back on the couch it would start to drip and I would run back to the washroom to clean it. I couldn’t sit on the couch and lean back because it would squish the henna out more. So I just stood in the corner of the room watching tv till my timer went off. The brand I used said to not leave it on longer than 4 hours, I tried to wait that long, I got 3 hours and had to rinse it out because I was so frustrated.
The rinsing process I assumed would be horrible, some said it takes an hour, I even read about a girl who goes outside and uses the garden hose to get it all out.Mine came out fairly easy, maybe 10 minutes or so. Once the bulk of it was out of my hair I rubbed in some conditioner and let it sit for 2 minutes, during that time I began cleaning off the walls of the bathtub, it looked like someone was murdered, I don’t recommend cleaning it just yet because when I rinsed my conditioner out it got just as messy all over again. Do not shampoo your hair, and don’t shampoo for at least 3 full days after. I got out of the shower and wrapped my hair in a dark-colored towel, then let it air dry. The color looked much more vibrant than the hair sample test I had done earlier so I was excited. I went to sleep and woke up to neon orange hair lol. Do not be alarmed, henna takes up to 3 days to develop, so don’t panic when your result is extremely orange or vibrant. After the initial shock I realized I kinda liked it, it felt so soft, and it looked the healthiest Id seen or felt in 10 years. Day 2, the color went from a bright orange to a rusty orange, day 3 every photo I took of it in direct sunlight looked like it did before I henna’d it. Indoors it looked deep red. I couldn’t understand why the color varied so much from room to room in my house. In dark light my hair looks brown, in medium light my hair is a deep copper auburn, and in pictures indoors with the flash on my hair looks solid vibrant red. I’m sorry to not be able to give you an exact final product, but here are photos from this past weekend, and you can see what a complete difference there is.
The day I henna’d my hair I had also ordered extensions online. After all of my henna research I thought I had a good idea of the color I would end up with so I went ahead and ordered red extensions. When they arrived I noticed my hair was much more orange toned than the vibrant red color I ordered. So I had to make the choice, re henna my hair and attempt to match the extensions, or henna the extensions to make them a orangey shade. I decided to re henna my hair, this time leaving out the vinegar and adding 2 tbsp of paprika, I’m not sure if the paprika did anything but leaving out the acid definitely left me with a deeper red that before. I also left it on my hair for the full 4 hours. When I washed my hair and blow dried it, I loved the color it was a much deeper red. In brighter lights it looked how it did in that last photo. Next morning, bright orange again, I waited the 72 hours again for the final result and I loved it, my hair was now the right tone, but too dark to match my extensions lol. So I mixed another batch and dyed my extensions, everything blends perfectly now. Later this week I will post about my extensions and that whole process.
Overall I love the result. My hair feels and looks healthy, the color is unique and all my own. It has been 3 weeks since my second henna application and it hasn’t faded. My hair hardly bleeds in the shower, and the dye never transferred onto my clothing or my white sheets, not even night 1! This is definitely something I will keep up with. I am sorry about the photos, I know when I research something I want to know exactly what my outcome will be. It is frustrating but my hair really isn’t the same in every light. I would say it is a dark auburn in most lights, when I go outside my hair is very vibrant red, but when I take a photo in natural light my hair looks much browner. Here are some photos from last weekend, not the best examples because as my hair is up. I never take photos unless im going out because I look like a potato most days lol, but I will take more photos in the next few weeks and update this when I do. Overall I love the color, although it is darker than I orginally planned for. Hopefully on my upcoming vacation the sun will slightly lighten it up.
- Mix your henna a little thicker than thinner. This way it wont drip down your neck and drive you crazy
- Mix your henna early in the day. The whole process does take a while, I started mine too late and ended up having to wash it out at 5 am. Both times, because I didn’t learn my lesson the first time.
- The first day your hair will be orange, and your scalp a little also, so if this is an issue for you, plan to do your hair when you know you don’t have to be seen for 48 hours. After the 3rd day you can wash your hair, and your color wont be on your scalp and the hair should have developed into a deeper shade
- Dont expect the very first application to be the perfect color. A lot of people end up with a more copper tone than they would like. Wait 3 days, see if it develops to a color you like, if it doesn’t re apply. With every application your color will deepen. Once you get your hair to the color you like all you have to do is touch up your roots when they grow in.
- Be sure to look at the color chart on the back of your light henna naturals box. If you know you want a bright vibrant red, or a lighter red, then you may have to buy a different color, or bleach your hair before hand.
- If you are not buying Light Mountain Naturals be sure to only buy from high-end reputable companies, and make sure it is henna for HAIR. Some companies add things to their henna that can cause all sorts of weird reactions with your hair.
- Do not use metal clips in your hair while doing the henna process, the metal will react with the henna and your hair can turn green or even black.
Have you ever used henna? What was your experience? Do you have any tips or brand suggestions?