Are you trying to hide a headful of grays? Looking for a seasonal change? Well, join the 70% of women and almost 20% of men who are as well. I, myself, really do like the feeling of newness and confidence after revitalizing my hair with some age-defying color. But as I educated myself more and more about the foods and products I use and consume, I decided that hair dye really wasn’t worth all of the trouble and risk. It was actually a no-brainer.
Hair colorant has been directly associated with the development of several types of cancers. Breast Cancer, Leukemia, Prostate Cancer, Skin Cancer,Bladder cancer, Multiple Myeloma, Lymphomoa (Hodgkins and Non), Brain Tumors, Ovarian Cancer, did I say Breast Cancer…
That’s not all, folks. It causes hair loss, exacerbates asthma, creates rashes and wounds, and even causes Hepatitis! It’s almost unspeakable what happens to babies at the cost of a mother’s vanity. If used during pregnancy, the risk of the child developing a brain tumor in the first five years is significantly increased, as well as other cancers if the child is breastfed by a mother who uses hair dyes.
So, even while more than half of people who use hair dye experience adverse reactions, and run these inordinate risks of cancer and other unsavory conditions, folks are so obsessed with their appearance that they refuse to stop using it. Furthermore, it’s reported that in a study regarding the side effects of hair dyes that 74% experienced unfavorable texture changes, 77% reported split ends, 69% reported excessive dryness, 69% said their hair was lusterless, and 77% reported hair loss. Hair loss! But I thought we were doing this to look better…
Ladies, why are we doing this? Cosmopolitan says guys don’t give a shit about your hair color. Women’s Day came up with the same results. Oh, and check out this entire thread from Reddit- again, it doesn’t matter what color your hair is or how grey it is.
Hey Guys, I didn’t forget about you. Ladies don’t give a …. Well, you know where I’m going… This also goes for the guys sweet on the guys, and the girls sweet on the girls. Nobody’s special, nobody cares.
‘Okay, Zebra, I’m not convinced’ or ‘I color my hair to feel good about myself’.
That’s quite alright to say so, and to do so. There is a way to get beautiful, healthy color in your hair and dodge the cancer bullets L’oreal, Clairol, Garnier and the rest of the firing squad would unchamber on you. Oh- click the links and you’ll see that all of these a-holes test on animals to boot.
What’s the answer?? Henna.
Let’s talk about this Henna. Not only does it color hair vibrantly, and cover grays superbly, it has the following really great qualities as well:
* Chemical Free
* PPD Free
* Ammonia Free
* Pesticide Free
* Peroxide Free
* Preservative Free
* Allergen Free
* thus Gluten Free
* Cruelty Free, AND Vegan
Henna also continues to condition the hair after application, prevents hair loss, treats dandruff, and even improves hair growth!
Seriously? There’s a hair dye that does all of that?? Yes, yes there is, but there is a small downside. I am here to help though!
The greatest disadvantages to using Henna to color your hair are that it can be messy (but there are ways to minimize and prevent that), and that it has a longer ‘set time’ than the chemical-laden garbage. Truly small prices to pay for actually making hair healthier, and prettier, me thinks. Here’s the lowdown on this marvelous concept:
Where to get it-
Simple. Click here, or on the pic below, for the color I personally use. You can also get that color, and EVERY other color (with a discount through my link) HERE. You can certainly pick and choose whatever brand you like but I can only feel good suggesting what I know to be a great product. It’s inexpensive, comes in several colors, customer services is great, and it ships quickly. Can’t go wrong.
How to Prepare:
If you feel like you don’t need all these snazzy tips, feel free to scoot over to this post where I’ve condensed them down to a simple list. The first thing you should know is that coloring with Henna takes a while. Rather than give you a specific timeframe, I’ll just say it’s an all day affair and you should be prepared for that. You need to decide if you are okay with leaving the house with a hair full of ‘mud’ and a scarf around your head, or be prepared to stay home all day. Oh, and while I realize that people with all types and lengths of hair will use Henna, these instructions are worded in a manner that assumes the user has a little bit of length to their hair. Can’t please everyone.
Pick your day and either make sure you’ve got ‘head gear’ in which to leave the house, or make sure you’ve got all the provisions you need for the day at home. Suggested supplies for the task at hand- Henna, bowl, fork, measuring cup, gloves, 2 hair clips like these, a hand mirror (to see the back of your head), old towels for the floor and work surface, balm (see Step 4), old rags for wiping Henna off skin or work surface as needed, and clothes you don’t care much about. As far as being homebound- well, we’ve all stayed indoors for a whole day before. We survive. If you care to, just make sure you have your regular daily staples and creature comforts.
Until you get the hang of it, try to schedule the coloring day on a weekend, or sometime where you have a couple of low key days in a row. Days you could wear a hat or chill at home if there were any accidental staining. Also, Henna does not show its true color until around day 3. It tends to darken a little over the first couple days. Do not color your hair on a day that you would need to wear white the next few days.
Get your hair clean and dry. The earlier you shampoo your hair, the earlier it will dry, the earlier you can apply the color, the earlier you’re released from Henna Hair Time Out. Make sure that you only shampoo your hair- NO conditioner, NO styling products, No anything except a wash and rinse with shampoo. Let your hair air dry or blow dry it if you’re being Veruca today.
Get yourself and your area ready. Put on crappy clothes you don’t care about, and make sure you don’t need to put anything else on that would go over your head for the next 3-6 hours. I usually just wear a tank top and if I get cold I’ll throw on a zip-up hoodie. Cover your neck and shoulders with a towel. I usually just use something dish towel size and secure it with a hair clip like you see in this picture.
Check out the bathroom you’ll be doing the coloring. Are there any clothes on the ground that need to make their way to a hamper? Shoes that you prefer to stay the same color they are currently? Just tidy up your work space and remove anything you would care if it got stained. On the ground, lay down a large towel you don’t care about in front of the mirror where you’ll be standing. You could use newspaper or something comparable instead, if you want. Your first couple of times you may want to lay a towel on the counter as well.
Have a few dry and damp wash cloths nearby. If the Henna gets on your skin, then likelihood of it staining is significantly decreased the quicker you wipe it off. Same goes for your surface areas (though I have gotten it on the counter and on the tiles and neither have stained after even a day going by of me not seeing it).
Protect the skin around your face from staining. A vegan balm will work. The one linked there is just a few bucks and will last forever. Just smooth it, very carefully, as close as you can to your hair line, being sure not to get any on the hair. If you do, take a dry cloth and sort of squeegee it from any part you accidentally got. Make sure you apply balm to the inside and outside of your ear lobes too!
I definitely would not skip the balming lest you want to walk around with a Henna ring showcasing your beautiful face. Your choice. I would also not substitute anything for the balm. Lotion just runs away if how much is needed to prevent staining, is actually used. And, if you use too little you’ll just be stained anyway.
We’re almost ready!
Prepare the hair coloring. Do you see these shitty gloves? They are what cafeteria people wear, and what comes in the package (that is my only gripe, if any, about this product).
Do yourself a favor and make sure you have something like these blue ones in the picture for a couple reasons. The first being that the ones they provide you are very loose around the wrists and color or stained water can drip in there. Secondly, those clear ones rip very easily because they’re so thin and flimsy. You don’t want to walk around with spray tan hands for the next week, do you? Get some decent gloves. I totally forgot to order mine when I ordered the Henna so I ran to Home Depot (the closest store) and picked up those blues ones. Click here to grab some inexpensive good ones that’ll last you forever. You’ll find tons of other uses for them too.
Which can actually be done at any point prior to this, but assess how much coloring you will need. I took some pictures of my rat’s nest mop (only shampoo and air dry gives it those irresistible locks you see here..) to try to demonstrate to you how much hair I have, and give you a better gauge of how far one bag of color goes. You will notice my hair is long, but it is also very thin (check out the picture of me pinching it into a ponytail look). I use one bag and have a little leftover. The package insert also has a handy guide which should be pretty accurate.
Previous applications don’t really matter like they do with traditional dyes. We’re not just doing the roots or touch ups, and therefore using only a little bit. Each application of Henna should go on ALL of your hair EACH time. I tried not doing this, and only doing the roots ONCE. Lesson learned and had to fix it two days later because of how ridiculous it looked, going through this entire process all over again…
So, one bag for me but try to do a good guess for yourself. Again, not like traditional dyes- it’s no big deal to have to waste some down the sink (non-toxic), and it’s no big deal to have to mix some more in the middle of coloring. Your second batch doesn’t run the risk of being a different shade than the first (like other hair dyes), and there is no time limit that you must hurry up and get this done in order to not damage your hair (seriously, this is an awesome quality of using Henna versus poison).
Mix your chosen amount of Henna with cool water. The insert has a ratio I believe, but I’m like a pro at this point and can’t remember what it is (I recycled the instructions before I made this post 😄). For one pouch I use 1 3/4 (1.75) cups of water.
I usually pour half of the water in, mix it a bunch and squish down the lumps, and add the other half, continuing to mix. Then I let it sit there for about 5 minutes to turn into more of a pudding and let it work some of its own clumps out. This is optional, you can just dive right in if you want but I find it easier to manage if I give it time to dissolve its clumps.
We’re getting there! Now it’s time to color your hair.
You’ll see some tips on the insert on how to apply the color, or maybe you’ve Google’d a few things. Use whichever techniques or methods you think might be the easiest and most effective. I personally do not attempt to apply Henna within any parameters or instructions, nor do I use any tools other than my hands, and here’s why- It’s mud. MUD. Is there a pretty way to do this? Is there an easy way to do it an organized manner? No. It’s messy, it sticks to your gloves making it difficult to maneuver part lines, reclamp hair clips, keep uncolored separate from colored, etc. It also begins to dry kind of quickly making it even more difficult. Do you remember getting mud on your arm hairs or head hair as a child? Maybe you run obstacle course races as an adult? Then you know that mud drying on hair, then trying to reposition that hair, is not exactly easy or fun. So, just abandon any attachment to it being a ‘process’ as you might be used to at a salon, or even tidy little chemical kits from the store. This is messy, fun, healthy, and oh so worth it.
So, how do we do it? We begin doing only hairline going around the face. We do this because the gloves are still clean and there’s less risk of smudging any Henna on our face. Starting at the hair by one ear, use one hand to pull a little chunk of hair gently to straighten it away from the face. Next, dip the tip of the pointer finger on the free hand into the Henna to get a small glob of it. Start at the very root and carefully dab that little glob up and down the first inch or two of the hair shaft (we will do the rest of the hair shaft in a moment so for now, just do the first two inches). Then pinch the finger and thumb together around the base of the root and loosely rub/streak more Henna in (not squeegee, but loosely smooth the Henna over the hair). Just make sure you leave no hair untouched. Repeat this process around the face, chunk by chunk, until you get to the other ear.
Remember the dry and damp rags/hand towels? Those are for if you get any on your face, even on top of the skin with balm on it. If you see that some got on your face, try to wipe it immediately. Try the dry towel first and if that doesn’t work, you can scrub with the damp one for a few seconds. This part around the face is the most tedious and can be a little daunting or frustrating because we want to get it as perfects as we can. Maybe play some cool tunes, or even take a small break if it becomes irritating. Remember, this is a safe hair colorant that doesn’t burn your hair follicles to bits if you want to take a 5 minute breather 😉
The most difficult part is over. Yessss! Now we get the rest of the hair. At this point your gloves are pretty soiled with Henna mud. You can always run them under the sink if you’re bothered but I just keep working. There’s no clean way to do this.
Onto the rest of the hair. Start with the hair just behind the ear. Using a finger to create a part line going from the face side to the back side of the head. Let the hair below the part just lay as it would, and make another part about an inch above it. Try to hold onto that chunk of hair and flip the other hair to the other side of your head, or use a clip. To clarify, we are not working with the back of the head yet, just the front side from behind one ear to behind the other. Imagine wearing a 4″ wide headband- that’s the area right now.
Dip the free hand into the Henna bowl and grab a nice glob of it. We don’t have to be so careful now because we already took great care to prevent face staining on the parts closest to the face. Take that glob and work it into the roots of that part of your hair. When you’ve covered the roots, smear the rest down the length of your hair. You might need more globs depending how much you initially scooped out and how long your hair is. Repeat this process from one ear to the other, adding each newly covered section of hair to a clip to keep it out of the way. Once you’ve got the whole top of your head done, twist all of those completed sections into on big twist and make a bun out of it. Clip that to the top of your head.
And finally the back of your hair. You can do this several different ways, but here’s two- the method you used for the top of the head (parting, coloring, securing in the clip, parting, coloring, securing, etc.), OR you can set the bowl on the towel on the floor and just bend over exposing the whole back of the head (this is what I do). Grab globs and smooth them in, working from one ear to the other, starting at the roots of each new section. When you feel you’re done, grab all of your hair and pull it gently away from your head, and stand up slowly (if you don’t hold the hair tightly and away, it could just smack you right in the face and everyone will know your hair pimp-smacked you for the next 3 days). Still holding your hair, grab your hand mirror with your free hand, turn your back to the big mirror, and maneuver the hand mirror to see the back of your head. Did you get everything? No? Flip back over and repeat. Yes? Moving right along…
That is what a hair full of mud looks like. It’s time to cover it up. Henna Guys provides a shower cap type thing (I use it) or you can use a shower cap of your choice. If you have long hair, twist it into a bun on top of your head, secure it with a clip, and cover it with the cap. For added protection I use a cheap head wrap to go over that. Leave the Henna in for a minimum of 3 hours. I leave it on for 5 or 6.
Time to wash it out! You made it! You don’t need gloves for this part.
I have this big garden tub that I just turn upside down under the faucet and rinse (don’t be alarmed by the picture- that was still in the first minute of rinsing and is normal to look like mud water). In fact, I have done it in 4 different tubs. I just want to mention that because I also want to mention that it has not stained a single one (I don’t think the glaze in tubs will allow it?) I have also done it in my shower. Both ways work just fine. Rinse the mud out of the hair by staying under the water and working your fingers through the hair- lifting it up, moving it around, massaging the scalp and hair, etc. This will take 5-10 minutes. You WILL still see color going down the drain. It will not stop so don’t stand in there forever thinking you’re going to rinse it out until the water runs clear. Won’t happen for several days, and if it’s red, it may not happen for more than a month (again, you’d probably rather have gray hair or hair that bleeds a little color in the shower, than you would prefer to have bladder cancer or a brain tumor. Just sayin’.). When you’re satisfied, go ahead and apply your favorite conditioner as you would any other shower/bath. Rinse that out and voila’! We are Henna-fied. Your next shower may happen whenever- there are no precautions with Henna. No matter what, it will maintain.
A couple more little tips before you go. Don’t forget to grab yourself ANY color plus a discount with my affiliate link with The Henna Guys! I get a very small commission and it does NOT raise your price at all (discount, remember?).
- I’ll repeat once again- doing this even a couple days before a big date is not recommended.
- Henna will darken over the next couple days after application so your final look probably won’t make its debut until day 3
- Put a dry towel over your pillowcase until you see that your hair isn’t bleeding onto it.
- Clean up any droplets, smears, mishaps, etc. right away to avoid staining you and/or your stuff.
- There will be a cliff notes version of the instructions in this post, over at this post.
- I am NOT a licensed cosmetologist. I am not declaring that I am knowledgeable of hair coloring skills, or anything of that nature. I am disclosing how I use Henna as a hair colorant, and offering advice that, should you use it, you understand that I do not claim to be skilled in this profession and am not responsible for any adverse outcomes that may take place. See the Privacy & Disclosures page for further reading.
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