to henna, or not to henna, that is the question

Every few years I start to get bored. . .with my hair.*  So periodically I cut it all off, or color the back half really dark and the top half really light, or do some dramatic highlights, or something. But I hate the time and money commitment required to maintain these dramatic “do’s” (or don’t’s, depending on who you ask), so then I just recolor it a color close to natural, let the gray show and call it “highlights,” until I get bored again, and off I go.

Well, the budget’s a little tight these days, so a few weeks ago I started to consider trying henna.

Isn't it gorgeous?

I did lots of research, including reading this book, and ordered some henna (plus indigo, for a darker brownish red) online to try it.

Then I thought about it for a couple of weeks, really really worried that it wouldn’t go well, and I would, as I like to say, have only myself to blame.

I even called my hairdresser, to ask her advice, and whether she would put it in while I was there for my haircut today, and she was not really all that excited about it. Husband thought this was Important, and that I Should Listen to Her.

Two days ago I decided what the heck, and mixed it all up. But I, in my usual impetuous way, “remembered” the directions rather than looking up the directions, and mixed it wrong. Which means, when I did the sample strand the next day, nothing happened.

Oops. The whole bowl of stinky green goop went into the trash.

It is very green, and very stinky.

Then, I was at the health food store, buying Meat Tenderizer (to put on the dog food to discourage the dog from eating his own, well, never mind) and faro, and lo and behold, they had henna!

I bought 7 little packets.

Here’s the label:

I laughed it off.

Second Son is home from college for the weekend. I asked him last night, as I mixed the seven little packets of henna powder with lemon juice, whether he was planning on having a group of friends over this afternoon, as I was going to need to put this green goop on my hair, and preferred not to be seen by anybody that didn’t need to.

He peered over my shoulder.

SS: You’re putting that in your hair?

Me: Yup.

SS: I don’t think that looks like a good idea.

Me: It will be fine. People have been using henna for centuries

SS: Does G—- (Husband) know about this?

Me: Yup.

SS: Looks to me like a science experiment that’s going to go horribly wrong.

I laughed that off too.

I’m sitting here right now with a quart of green goop in my hair, hair covered with a shower cap, hoping for the best.

I’ll let you know how it all works out.

I did tip the hairdresser today after my cut, which I don’t usually do, as she runs her own business, but I told her I thought it would be important to foster as much good will as possible in case I had to place an emergency call to her tonight regarding fitting me in for a “fix.” She was fairly sure that if it did go wrong, she could fix it. Here’s hopin’.


*or some other easily-changed aspect of my appearance — like about 6 years ago when I got my nose pierced. Only Daughter, 4 at the time, held my hand. It was sweet, and a little weird.

4 Responses to “to henna, or not to henna, that is the question”

  1. January 28, 2012 at 5:31 pm

    If it’s real henna, you’ve nothing to worry about except colors you didn’t intend (or no color at all if it hasn’t cured for a few hours first, touched anything metal during the process, or didn’t sit for at least two hours in your hair).

    It’s messy, but I love playing with it in my hair twice a year. Usually I do it once before winter solstice when my hair has darkened from the winter skies (not enough sun), and right before a convention I attend in the spring. I choose a darker color for the former and a lighter, almost orange color, for the latter. You can adjust the color results by adding different ingredients to the water when bringing it to a boil. I use hibiscus when I want it a dark red, making a tisane to mix in with the henna, and chamomile with lemon for a more orange or “ginger” color.

    If you have any gray or white hair, it will be brighter at first coloring, and fade to a striking orange color all on its own. Henna, as you probably already know, is a natural conditioner, and will keep your hair feeling stronger and smoother for several weeks after use. (Or at least it does my fine hair.)

    My typical routine involves spreading an oil-based balm along my hairline, and over the tips of my ears and edges of my jaw (where most drips and splatters occur), working through layers of clipped hair from top to base, slowly folding each strip of hair over the growing beehive pile atop my head, and when all is full of the muddy substance, squishy it all together to ensure the strands are soaking up the color, and taping a plastic bag around my hair to avoid dripping on anything. A hand towel around my shoulders usually catches the rest. The real trouble (after cleaning up drips on the floor, sink, and anything else nearby) is not rinsing it out too soon, since your head turns into a small terrarium of henna mud, your scalp can become wet and itchy from the odd sensations of having said mud on your head, and then you want to rip off the bag and wash it all out. The henna I use says to wait three hours. I never make it past two, but at least the color appears by then!

    Good luck and enjoy! ^_^

  2. January 28, 2012 at 5:34 pm

    *squishing, not “squishy”.

  3. January 29, 2012 at 10:43 pm

    I do the same with my facial hair. Being bald, that’s all I have to play with. That said, the stakes are high. Who wants to go around with funky lopsided beards or with green goopy hair? I hope you have come out on the other side. For my part, I’m off to trim my goatee–the one my wife hates, by the way.

  4. 4 treacle
    February 1, 2012 at 6:07 am

    I grew up with women using henna to colour their hair. If its real then it is safe. I’ve just discovered a henna brick that Lush Cosmetics do which comes in the natural red and also black (which is my hair colour). I’ve just seen that it looks great!

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