Wednesday, October 24, 2012

My switch to all natural Henna - Part 2

(Continued from Part 1)

Henna Gods, I am truly impressed. Granted, my mantra has been, "the Indian women have such beautiful hair..." so the results had to be good.  But even so, my hair looks awesome. A more natural shade of red than the chem dye- slightly lighter than my natural brown tone (is that possible? is that from the chamomile?)- than I've ever had in the four years that my stylist and I have been tampering with tubes of colors like Michelangelo. Not wine red, not Redskins red, not Mahogany-Obsidian red.  I had been shooting for my mother's red. Scottish/Irish red, a dark Ginger. I think I'm finally there, or damn close.

So how'd we get there? Here's the last 48 hours:

10pm Monday
Large ceramic bowl
Mixed 300g of fresh organic Rajasthani Indian Henna powder with 3.5c of warm chamomile tea from distilled water, steeped for 20 minutes and cooled with 6 cubes of ice
Covered with plastic wrap, left on counter

9am Tuesday
No "red" leaking from mix (dye activation) so I put the bowl on the heating grate and cranked the heat
Tested dime size on my palm for 20 seconds, turned palm orange (it's activating!)

Put bowl in the sun to quicken the activation (mild heat does so)

Arrive at Mountain Hair Studio
Mix 30g Organic Indigo powder and 25g Organic Amla powder with 1c warm water and let sit 45 min
Teresa uses clarifying shampoo to remove last remnants of synthetics on the hair follicles, no conditioner
Comb out hair (ouch), trim hair (removed 4-5" of very dry, splitting ends)

Add Indigo and Amla to Henna and mix well
Add 1/4c DivaCurl Conditioner and mix well

Begin application (it took one full hour)

Plastic wrap entire head with small pieces, then one large encompassing piece
Wrap head with old long sleeve shirt, pack up my good and head home

Freeze remaining Henna mix, about 100g

Lay old shirts on pillows and go to bed

3am Wednesday
Wake up with sore neck and the "I'm over it" feeling
Don the plastic gloves, grab the bottle of conditioner, and rinse under gallons of running water
Tub looks like a pottery studio sink; mud is no longer green, it's a deep reddish brown, but cleans very easily, no staining on tub
4 rinses with conditioner, and still running slightly orange water, but too tired to continue
Wrap head in dark blue towel and return to bed

Take a full shower, one application of DivaCurl deep conditioner, leave in 15 minutes while showering
Rinse, then rinse with COLD water (ouch) to lock it in, stops bleeding orange
Dry, and apply about 1T coconut oil and essential oils to hair ends and scalp evenly

Initial Comments:
Yes, it's a long process.  But so is gardening with all the seeds and nurturing and planting and watering and harvesting and canning and putting the garden to rest, and it's well worth it. I feel the same way about this.  As Teresa said, it takes a lot of "client participation," and no, you don't have to use a stylist to apply it, but my hair is so thick and I am so inexperienced and clumsy when it comes to applying dye (trial and error many years ago), and you have to apply the mud-like henna mixture so thick and arrange the hair just right, that it was worth having her do it.

The total cost the products was $45 for the 600 total grams of Henna, Indigo, Amla, and Brahmi (the last of which is for a rinse for the psoriasis, not for the dye portion) and shipping, but next time I will only spend $14-25 on Henna, occasional repeats of the others (don't got thru them quick), as well as maybe Cassia for the summer, and shipping. Add that to what I pay Teresa for shampoo, trim, and application and it's still pretty darn cheap.

I loved the smell of it, but it took a bit to get used to; we all spent the hour trying to place the smell. It's earthy and weed-like, like steeping nettles or sweet grass clippings. And its STRONG. I still smell it, despite the 1/2 cup of conditioner and essential oils.

My scalp plaque psoriasis is usually pretty aggravated after we color my hair. I expected it to wake me up in the night even with all that mud on my head for hours. It didn't (it was the weight of it and the plastic wrap that woke me up), and in fact, when feeling around my scalp, I can't feel any plaques, and itching doesn't yield any skin!

My reasons for the formula I chose: 
Chamomile: a lot of recipes suggest lemon or apple cider vinegar to both bring up natural highlights and activate the color, but both are reported to dry out your hair. Chamomile is gentle, and will help bring out the natural highlights.
Indigo-10%: most recipes suggest 25% Indigo but I knew I could always go darker, and I wanted my roots to blend in evenly. I was surprised the Henna lightened the rest of my hair, I was prepared to and had anticipated for doing a darker mix if I had to, but I'm pleased with the color. Indigo tends to be gritty and hard to rinse out, so I wanted to use less of it.
Amla-8%: the Amla amount shouldn't matter, but I've read anywhere from 5-20% mixture of it with Indigo if you want to retain your natural curl while enhancing and darkening the effect of the Indigo. Because I was using so little Indigo and because I wanted to retain the waves (Henna can slightly straighten your hair), I went with the Amla addition.
8 hrs processing: I was shooting for 12 but didn't make it. I've read anywhere from 4 to 12 hours and the longer you leave it on, the richer and deeper the color gets.

I've read that it'll take a few days for the ginger tone to calm down (I almost hope it doesn't!), and I'm sure that once I use shampoo (not supposed to for at least 3 days) my scalp will be a normal color, although its not that noticeable, and not any more tinted than it ever was from synthetics.

Overall I'm extremely pleased, and sold on Henna!  Because it's so good for you, I will likely do Henna more often than I did synthetics (9-10 weeks), 6-8 weeks or when my roots begin to show, and then only trim my hair every other time.

A big thanks to Teresa for being such a good sport in trying something new!

More to come on the between-dyes rinses with Brahmi, oil treatments, natural shampoo and conditioners I'm trying, and other Ayurvedic hair care!  (Read Part 3)

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