Feel like giving your hair color a boost? I know I do with all the color-changing leaves and gorgeous red and orange hues of fall! Why not give a natural alternative to chemical laden hair dyes a try? This week at Y&L we wanted to talk about a natural hair dye, Henna! Most hair dyes rely on toxic chemicals like peroxide or ammonia that strip the hair follicles so that the hair will take the color. These chemicals are bad for your health, your hair’s health, and the environments health.
When I made the switch to safe cosmetics I was determined to find a safe alternative that would give my hair a nice boost of burgundy and auburn color that I so dearly crave. Henna is the only safe, natural, and chemical free hair color on the market. Even most of natural brands for sale at stores like Whole Foods still contain chemicals that strip your hair, drying it out, and have potential links to things like cancer and brain damage (yuck)!
I was a little intimidated by Henna at first, and distraught at the time it takes for the color to set. But after months of using Henna I’ve got it down to a great routine and have worked out most of the kinks—leaving me with a great burgundy glow in my brunette locks! I personally swear by Light Mountain’s Natural Hair Color & Conditioner. This product only uses henna and indigo (for some color varieties) to achieve a decent range of colors. It is under $6 a box, and I am able to dye my medium length hair at least twice with the powder in one box (talk about affordable). A couple of things to note about Henna:
- You cannot lighten your hair with henna, it will only get more red or darker/more brown. In general henna will deepen and enhance your natural color. For me, it brings out the auburn and burgundy tones in my brown hair. I get a lot of compliments from professional stylists about my color and they would die if they knew (a) I did it myself, and (b) I did it with henna!
- Henna can add highlights to darker hair and darken lighter hair.
- The color is not permanent; it lasts 4-6 weeks.
- Henna is a great conditioning treatment for your hair. Unlike other dyes it will actually improve the health of your hair with use!
- Henna has an unusual smell, but so does hair dye. It can take a few washes to get all of the henna particles out of your hair.
There are some tips and tricks I have found for effectively applying henna. First and foremost be patient. Be generous when mixing the henna and waiting for it to activate. Let it sit on your head as long as possible! Patience is probably the one thing that keeps people from realizing the awesomeness that is dying your hair with henna. My personal henna recipe for a burgundy shade is:
- 3 Tbsp Light Mountain Natural Henna in Red
- 3 Tbsp Light Mountain Natural Henna in Burgundy
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1-2 Tbsp of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
- Enough boiling water to make a paste
I mix the ingredients in a glass bowl with a wooden spoon and let it sit for about 2 hours, sometimes 2.5 hours. After 2 hours have passed if the mix is super thick I add a little more boiling water. Then I put on some gloves and a wrap a towel around my shoulders to apply the goop with my hands onto my head. Starting at the scalp and working it through my hair. Once my whole head is covered, I wrap it in a heating shower cap, then two pieces of saran wrap, then a fabric head wrap. I leave it on for at least 5 hours. Sometimes what I do to save time is apply the mix at night, wrap it up real tight, lay an old towel on my pillow and sleep with the mix on my head. I rinse it out with conditioner in the shower and use a fine tooth comb to help remove the pieces of henna.
It sounds like a lot of work, but if you do it right before bed, it is really no biggie. And it is so much more affordable, more beautiful, and better for my health and the environment than traditional dye! My favorite resource for dying your hair with henna are The Henna for Hair Page, where people share their mixes and pictures for getting great henna results.
Have you ever used henna hair dye? What was your experience like?