A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…I stated on the Cave Girl Eats Facebook Page that I was literally seconds away from dying my hair with Henna.
And then, a concerned group of citizens informed me that I was quite literally about to ruin my life forever. And possibly the lives of everyone I know. And puppies were going to be kicked and kittens would cry and Kardashians would rule the world and I would become yet another fool taken in by Henna Lore.
I listen to y’all – so, of course, I put the Henna away. I shuddered to think of the pain I’d almost caused myself. I replayed the scene from Anne of Green Gables where Anne’s hair turns green because she attempted to subvert nature as I almost did (except, in my scenario, I was simply trying to cover a crop of pesky greys).
This all sprung from my commitment to Paleo-style body & home care. I write a column about the topic for Paleo Magazine. I believe that, while nourishing the inside is crucial, it’s also important to be aware of what we’re putting on our outsides. (Did YOU know many hair and makeup products contain harsh surfactants? Random industrial substances? GLUTEN? I say on principle: Blech.)
I’ve accumulated some amazing resources and body/home care favorites since starting this journey. While all you ever REALLY need – for ANYTHING – is Baking Soda, Vinegar, and Coconut Oil (See: No ‘Poo), I still like to luxuriate in a few more exciting self-care routines: I love the Oil Cleansing Method, along with the products from Primal Life Organics for my face; Great Marsh has a phenomenal food soak and a lovely facial serum; and 100 Percent Pure carries some gorgeous eyeshadows.
You can assume, then, that I generally like to appear marginally presentable.
Which is why I could NOT continue to pluck out those thick, wiry grey hairs – only to have them grow back and stand STRAIGHT UP like one of those inflatable crazy-flailers at a car dealership.
(But wait, you say – Henna can’t cover grey anyway!
…Just wait, my friend. I’ll get there.)
I had to decide: Was I going to be a total hypocrite and preach “clean” body care while still using chemical hair dyes? (Note: I started dying my hair various shades of Hideous when I was in High School. Why, oh why didn’t I just enjoy the grey-free, natural hair color while I had it?)
After doing a bit of research, I decided to turn full-speed onto the Henna Highway. It’s only hair, after all! And it seems that you simply have to be extremely selective about the Henna you use – many brands masquerade as “Henna” when they’re actually full of hair-perverting gunk. Additionally, you have to be aware that henna alone is red. Very red. So I employed a blend of henna and herbs, along with some crafty stra-tee-gery involving coffee and vinegar, straight from the folks at Mountain Rose Herbs. I’ve loved everything I’ve ever purchased from them, so I trusted that their product would be my best bet.
It looks so innocent in the bowl, no?
It starts as a powder. You add hot water (or, in my case, strained boiled coffee and apple cider vinegar – a grey coverage trick), then you put on gloves, wrap plastic bags around your ears, muck up your head, destroy your bathroom sink, and hope for the best. (Clean any spatters right away. You’ve been warned.)
If you’ve got short hair, you’ll no doubt have an easier time than I did attempting to cover the entire length of your hair with this mud-like stuff. As I’m far too lazy to get a haircut, I’ve got quite a lot of hair to cover. Long-haired gals: be prepared for a bathroom crime scene. And also lots of Dr. Seuss-esque fun (below). And possibly a drug raid on your house – because this stuff smells like – ahem – herb.
Make absolutely sure you muck up every single strand! It may get ugly. But you can do it.
My first go-round with Mountain Rose Herbs Henna was highly successful. I used Medium Brown, and it was fairly neutral on my hair – with the exception of my greys, which turned a lovely coppery color. (I only have a few greys – henna doesn’t truly cover the pesky buggers, but for me, it DOES seem to blend it in.) To be sure it wasn’t a fluke, I wanted to use the MRH Henna a second time before I wrote about it; so, six weeks later, I dyed my hair again – this time with a blend of Medium and Dark brown. (Side note: The MRH team was EXTREMELY helpful and responsive to my badgering about Henna How-tos, and every shipment contains extensive directions. For this I’m thankful!)
Another note: The ease of prep makes this Henna FAR easier to deal with than the Lush brand, in my opinion.
I think the result was lovely. (My ability to take photos of myself in the mirror, however, is questionable.)
All-in-all, my hair feels great – natural highlights seem to have been preserved, and – judging from my first go-round with MRH Henna – the color simply fades over time. Unlike with conventional dyes, I never had a clear line delineating new hair growth – which is fantastic. While the process is challenging and a bit awkward, it takes a mere few hours and, in my opinion, it’s well worth the trouble (plus, it’s highly affordable). I still use the “No ‘Poo” strategy, and dry and style as usual.
Anyone out there use Henna? Experiences? Thoughts?
Want EXTRA-extra help with body & skin care? I wrote an all-digital, comprehensive guide from my years of research into healing my own skin through nutrition, digestive healing and the right body care routine. My other (always FREE) body care posts are here!