Saturday, December 22, 2012

My switch to all natural Henna - Part 3

I am not exaggerating when I say I have been loving the switch to all natural Henna, and I have eagerly awaiting the next round with Teresa - the trooper that she is for going through this with me!

Since October's posts [in case you missed Part 2 or Part 1], purchase, and treatment, I have had tons of comments on the color and health of my hair... Henna has - no question - improved the overall body and hydration of the hair strands and health of my scalp as well as giving it a more natural color tone than I've had since I started coloring it red 4 years ago.

After the first dye, I went back to the girls at Mountain Hair Studio here in Steamboat and had them give me a once-over. While it didn't totally blend the full length of my hair (Teresa cut off about 3-4" of the dead ends, but the bottom 5-6" of my sternum-length hair still had darker, merlot colored ends), there were no "hot roots," and the tone looked more natural, continuing to settle for about 10 days after the dye. It also covered the gray evenly and completely, which everyone was impressed and surprised with.

I have really thick hair, so it's always "bled" for about 2 weeks after dying, and the Henna did the same, but the dye didn't stain anything (towels, clothes, hands) permanently as the synthetic dye did, and the rinsing out color was more orange than merlot - faded, and barely noticeable on the shower floor after the 2nd or 3rd rinse. 

But this is what I'm most eager to share: in addition to Henna coloring, I tried HennaSooq's shampoo bars and oils and have been delighted with both, and I have two bars yet to try!

First, I am amazed that these tiny bars last as long as they do - I bought the small $2 samples that are about the size of a bite-size candy bar - but I'm even more amazed that they not only shampoo my scalp well, they actually condition my hair.  So much so that I am not using conditioner except maybe once a week. (Switching between what HennaSooq post recommend: Oyin's Honey Hemp Conditioner - which I find to be a little oily - and what I've used for 3 years: Diva Curl, which I still adore.)

To test them all, I ordered Argan, Berhempsu, Cocoveda, and Soapnut (above) shampoo bars, and HennaSooq threw in a tiny sample of the Honey bar. I wanted to find out which was my favorite before committing to a larger $7 bar because I knew that with the variety of ingredients of all of them, one or two would likely work best for my scalp (very dry) and hair (very thick and wavy).  And I was right.

I haven't tried Argan or Berhempsu yet, but so far love Soapnut the most out of the first three I've tried.

Because it was the tiniest, I started with Honey, which left my scalp a squeaky clean (literally). I liked the smell okay -lemongrass and apricot- but it foamed too slowly for my thick hair (although all of them foam very minimally without the sulfates, which I've been avoiding for about 7 years now anyway) so it did just an average job of conditioning my locks. 

After Honey I tried Cocoveda, and it actually left my hair too oily - it's PACKED with nourishing oils (shea, sunflower, coconut, and 6 Indian herbs) - so I thought this might be my favorite and best for my scalp but I just didn't like the dirty-hair look.

Then came Soapnut.  It's very conditioning and I LOVE the smell (rosemary and peppermint); it's quite refreshing and brightening. Plus it seems to foam the most so I can apply it evenly to my thick hair, and I can easily run a comb through my hair (still amazes me each time) immediately.

Again, the bars last so long even at sample sizes, and I shampoo so infrequently (2x/wk) now that I haven't had a chance to get to the Argan or Berhempsu, so I will update on those when I do, but at just first smell, I still like Soapnut the best.

I also experimented with the oils, purchasing both the tiny samples of Cocoveda Hair Oil and the Mimosa Butter, as well as the Brahmi and Amla powders for a hot oil treatment.

I LOVED the smell of this Cocoveda oil, and it's PACKED with nourishing ingredients, so I don't need much, even with my quantity of hair. I put it on the ends after a shower when my hair is wet, and it works like a light gel, but better - without any residue - calming the frizz, keeping my wave, and keeping the ends from drying out in the winter cold.  And it lasts - in 8 weeks I've used half of the 1gram sample I got!

For a month I switched between the oil and the Mimosa Butter, which is more like a salve than an oil, also packed with healthy ingredients, also with a lovely smell. But I found the butter left my hair a little greasy, and so I now only use on the very ends a few times a month, and occasionally on the dry patches of my scalp behind the ears. What it is also recommended for - and I found it splendid for during today's second treatment - is protecting my skin at the hairline during a Henna dying - way better than the nasty petroleum-based stuff most stylists typically use.

So for daily use, what I find works great is simple coconut oil, which I use exclusively on my skin now for lotion, mixed with whatever essential oils I feel like for the day. Even in this super-dry and frigid winter climate we're in now, I only need it once a day (if that!), and when I get out of the shower, I just put some of the excess from my hands on the ends of my hair.

Last, the Amla and Brahmi hot oil treatment was great for my scalp plaque psoriasis. I have only done it twice, and leave it o overnight, sleeping on an old tshirt.  I used primarily coconut oil, with a little castor oil and sunflower oil, (about 1/3 cup total) - you heat it up slowly and on low, with about 1-2 Tbs of Amla and Brahmi, then apply it to the scalp, working to the ends, and wrap your hair in a towel so it stays warm.  It nourishes my scalp for at least a week, and washes out very easily with the shampoo bars the next morning. In general, I found my psoriasis to be fading with all of this, that is until the holiday sugars overpowerd me (which seems to aggrivate the condition).  When I return to a good diet in January, I will do a few treatments to really cleanse my scalp, so look for more on that in Part 4!

As for the dying, I think I'm getting it down to my own catered technique as everyone else seems to as well.  For me, I activate the Henna for 12 hours because it's cold here.  This time I had about 120 g of the last batch left (frozen, which works great) - 100 or so of Henna, 10 of Indigo (for tone), 10 of Amla (for maintaining the wave and brown tone) - so I only mixed 100g of new Henna this time, with warm Chamomile tea to add some highlights, adding 20-25g of Indigo and Amla right before the application, which takes Teresa about an hour total to do my whole head of hair.  I didn't have her trim my hair this time since the ends are very healthy still (I'm hoping this also enables my hair to grow longer, which it's never been able to grown much past my shoulder blades).  When she's done, she wraps my head in plastic wrap and I leave it on for 6-7 hours.  I will out before bed this time, since last time's sleeping on it hurt my neck, and washing it out at 3am was a tiresome experience. 

Eventually I will try coloring only the roots as opposed to the whole hair, as some women suggest to do, since the Henna doesn't seem to fade once it's set in with 3-4 applications and since it blends superbly.

For those of you looking to switch to the healthy dying alternative, I hope these posts help you! If you want to see some recipes for tones, I found this Henna recipe charts page:

Happy Holidays!

Read Part 4