Monday, 22 July 2013

Dyeing Hair with Henna

So I have now coloured my hair twice using henna instead of normal hair dye, and I am absolutely loving the results!!  I figured I would wait until after I had done it at least twice to post up my method, so I could learn from anything that went wrong the first time :)  Luckily for me not much went wrong, so here's the method I used!

You need:
  • Henna powder suitable for hair dye
  • White vinegar
  • Plastic cling wrap
  • Plastic/latex gloves - VERY IMPORTANT!!
  • Vaseline
  • Beanie or other hat you don't mind getting dirty
  • Dark coloured towel
  • Roll of toilet paper or paper towel

The henna that I used was one I bought off eBay (no chance of buying anything like that out here in the tiny town I live in!), and is supposed to be 100% pure henna plant powder.  That's the packet in the image above.

One 100g packet is pretty much exactly the right amount for my hair, which is shoulder length and very layered (so quite thin for shoulder length). 

How I do it:
The night before I intend to henna my hair, I empty this packet into a bowl I don't ever want to use for anything else ever again, and add vinegar to it until it forms the consistency of gooey mashed potatoes. This takes a bit less than a cup of vinegar for the amount I use, but please do it bit by bit as yours could take a different amount!  The consistency is more important than the volume! 

Here's the henna powder in the bowl.
... and here it is with the vinegar mixed in. 

Then I cover the henna in plastic wrap while trying to exclude as much air as possible - in other words, press the plastic wrap down over the surface of the henna like so:

Cling-wrapped henna paste

... and leave it on my kitchen bench overnight.  Well actually I leave it in the microwave because my cats would destroy it if I left it on the bench, but you get the idea!  This step is necessary for getting the dye to release from the henna so it can dye your hair. 

What it looks like the next morning.

The next morning the dye will have been released (you can apparently test this by putting a small blob of paste on your palm and after a few minutes wiping it off - should leave a bright orange stain.  I have never tested this because I trusted in my 12 hour overnight sit, but testing would probably be safer).   I take off the plastic wrap, give the mix a good stir, and then migrate to the bathroom.

Before attempting to put henna on my head, I put vaseline all around my hairline and covering my ears and forehead, as this makes the cleanup a little easier.  It may not necessarily stop the staining, but it certainly helps the excess bits of paste come off easier!  Then I put on my gloves.  I cannot stress enough how IMPORTANT using gloves is!!  Your hands will stain very badly and for weeks if you don't use gloves!!!

With my gloves on, I start to section off bits of my hair (I start at the nape of my neck, others start at the crown - it's up to you what you find easiest), and very thickly apply the green goop to my hair all the way from scalp to tips.  If you are just doing a root touchup, then clearly just do the roots!  One description I read of how thick to do it said apply the paste like you apply cake frosting - basically the more the better!  Gradually I work my way up my head, working the paste right in down to the scalp in each section, then if there is any left at the end, I chuck more on top and give the whole thing a good rub around.  It is very important to put it on in sections though, because unlike normal hair dye, if you miss some bits it is VERY difficult to rub it down to the scalp from the outside afterwards!

Once my whole head is covered to my satisfaction, I use the toilet roll I have handy to clean off any excess bits of goop that have landed on my forehead/ears/neck etc.  It comes off pretty easily with a bit of water on the paper.  Once this is all clean, I cling wrap my  entire head to make sure the whole thing stays moist while the henna does its thing.  I find it works best to cling wrap behind your ears on the first pass, then over your ears on the second.

Once my head is cling wrapped and I look like an idiot, I wrap a dark towel around my shoulders to protect my clothing (because no matter what you do, it WILL drip!!), and put on my beanie to keep the heat in.  Then I go about my day!!

Five to six hours later (or basically however long I can stand to have the stuff on my head for), I wash the henna out.  Now - there is a trick to this.  I read on another site, and it is absolutely true, that the best way to wash henna out of your hair is NOT to shower it out!!  The best way is to half-fill a bathtub with warm water, jump in, and swish your hair around for several minutes until you have got all the clumps out.  Yes the water will turn to mud.  No the rest of your body won't stain.  Trust me - done it twice now, and no fire engine skin yet!  DO however wear gloves to do this, because your palms and fingernails are much better at picking up the stain!! 

Once you have got out the clumps etc, empty the bath, and refill it at least two or three times more, and repeat the process.  The last couple of repeats I like to submerge my whole scalp (including unfortunately the ears), and soak there for up to ten minutes to really allow the dye to come out.  This time after four genuine soakings, there was still dye coming out.  At that time I gave up and just dried off. 

Some people like to then shampoo and condition their hair as per their usual routine.  I don't - mostly because I don't use shampoo and conditioner anyway, but also because the henna already leaves your hair feeling quite clean.

Collect your hair in a dark coloured towel and dry off, and there you go!  But remember that henna does take around three to four days for the colour to settle down and darken - it may start off being a bit coppery, but this will definitely settle over the next few days, down to the permanent darker red colour.  Trust me - seen it in action.

Having said that, I loved my hair in both fresh copper and in the darker auburn colours I get from my henna!!  Just so you can see, here are some before and after shots of my hair from the very first time I ever did henna - the before shot is on virgin , never-dyed hair, and the second is straight after the first application of henna.  Henna does build over time with repeated applications, so remember this picture is just from the first time.

Before the henna
After the henna.
Trust me - the picture does not do it justice, the real result, particularly in sunshine, is quite a spectacular auburn red.

So there you have it - my adventures with dyeing my hair with henna!