Having shaved off my remaining red hair last November, I've been sporting a natural grey quiff since. I started bleaching my hair aged 12, and apart from the (many) dreadlocked years, I've nearly always had some colour on my hair. I was blessed with fine, thin and bland brown hair, and it's always been my playground. Just like Hats, I see that space as somewhere to be bold and experiment. And natural grey wasn't easy to get used to.
And then yesterday, after treating myself to a dress that most definitely needed statement hair, I caved and re-hennaed. And it's fabulous.
I get asked about how I do my henna a *lot*, so figured I'd post here how I go about things.
Firstly, I only use pure henna. Anything that says it's a certain shade of red isn't pure henna. Black henna is indigo, blonde henna is anything but henna, and if it's natural red henna (which will be the Lawsonia Inermis leaf) you won't be able to guarantee a particular shade without additives which can have unexpected results.
If in doubt, go for one of the mehndi packs. They will be pure and their fine grade makes for an easy mix. I picked up this pack from a general beauty supply shop for £1.50, which is incredibly cheap! Having not used this brand before I wasn't sure of the quality, but it was clear on the box that it was free from additives and pure.
For my length hair I don't need a lot - I'll get 5 or more applications out of 100g, whereas someone with long hair will need one or more packs.
To mix, I start with a little hot water, just a dribble, and mix until it's all absorbed - it should be dry and lumpy. From there I only mix with vinegar - and it's the vinegar that really brings out the colour. Normally I'd use a cider vinegar, as that's given me great results in the past, but this time all I had to hand was white vinegar, so white vinegar it was.
It's mixed to a smooth paste that's the consistency of yoghurt, maybe a tad thicker. If it's runnier than yoghurt it's too loose and will get messy. Similarly, it shouldn't be lumpy! That old rumour that henna was lumpy and crumbly and messy to do? It's not - you're doing it wrong if it is.
Once mixed, I then leave it over night. This really helps the vinegar bring out the pigment. In the morning if it's a little dryer then a drop or two of vinegar is added, stir, then apply.
Applying henna is no different to applying any other hair dye - use an applicator brush, start at the roots and the edges. You *may* get the odd dollop fall, especially if it's a warm day or you've a lot of hair, and the henna starts to dry out a little - keep yourself covered, and add fresh henna onto dry areas.
Once it's all on, wrap your head in clingfilm and leave it on for a couple of hours.
Using vinegar means you don't have to leave it on for daft lengths of time - when I was younger and before I knew better I'd mix it with warm water, leave it on for 8+ hours, and be disappointed with the results. yesterday i left this on for 4 hours as it was a new to me brand, but I honestly don't think it needed that long. 2 hours is my normal waiting period.
Rinse off etc as normal.
Now, I got a wonderful vibrant orange as I was hennaing straight onto an almost solid silver grey. Grey hair *loves* henna, but if you don't have as much as I do, expect a more subtle colour. And it won't stay this bright - after a few days it deepens to a darker, richer shade of orange, more an auburn, but still very clearly a henna shade. Your base colour will determine how deep the shade is, and regular application of henna (every few weeks to start with) builds the depth of colour. Don't forget that henna is a natural conditioner and strengthener of hair - you can do yourself no harm using the pure stuff - and your hair will love you for it.
The top photo was taken yesterday, within an hour of rinsing the henna off. Below is how you might be more used to seeing me, out of the sunshine and vampire like, and with a build up of deep red henna. It might not be glow-in-the-dark orange yet it's still a beautiful shade of red.
I am so very, very happy to have my red back. Oh yes.
hennaforhair.com is a fantastic resource for henna, and worth checking out - you'll find some great recipes for naturally mixing up some stunning shades, and it'll also tell you how you can get natural almost black with indigo (hint: don't mix the henna and indigo. Henna your hair, rinse, then immediately indigo your hair. Close up it'll look a little green but no-one will know except you - it'll look stunning). Remember, henna is permanent.
Yes, I've still in that very dark place that I've been inhabiting for months, hence the blog silence - I've fallen out with words. I've a daft amount of identity/body issues and I'm feeling very brave posting these photos here! I'm wanting to come back and blog more, words circle around in my head day and night, yet when I try to sit down and type they just won't come out the way I want them to. And it's not just here - I've withdrawn socially IRL for the same reasons. I'm working on it :)