Hello readers, robots and cyborgs.
Let me start by saying that no, this is not turning into a beauty blog or something, I have far too much cynicism and definitely too much sarcasm for that. I do, however, want to write about my experience with Henna.
Yes, this stuff. It’s like the devil, and poison ivy got together, and this was what has left in the bed afterwards. A sort of blackish, greenish slab that you cut up into bits if you only have a small amount of hair. If you are like me, though…
You have a lot of the stuff. So half a bar (I use Lush Cacao Rouge but you do you). I put it in the double boiler and add some boiling hot water (about 1/4 of a cup will do) and then stir at the thing till it looks like satan herself has thrown up in your double boiler and you have to clean it.
I don’t have a photo of that, because I want my readers to remain sane. Or at least sane enough to read the rest of this blog post.
You then take it to a wet area (bathroom for you fancy types) and paint it into your hair like its the ambrosia of the gods and only this will make you pretty again. You will need gloves, and a hair paint brush or similar and some glad wrap, a shower cap that is a bit too big and if you have fair skin some Vaseline to keep it away from your ears and forehead. Really do not put on your best clothes. And have lots of towels ready wherever you are going to sit down for the next few hours.
Take it from me, this is my fourth time at doing this. This rodeo does not get easier. You want to put as much of this what I will politely call liquid on your hair using the paint brush. You want the liquid hot but not scalding, you want to die your hair, not lose it. If you have a lot of hair expect this to take a while. Slowly brushing this stuff into every nook and cranny takes time. Keep the pot in the double boiler near you, but not on the flame because burning the house down in your PJ’s is not very fun.
Once it is all on you will go into what I call the distractingly sexy” stage
I wrap my liquid doused head in the cling wrap and then put the shower cap ontop. The reason I do this is that you need to keep this liquid on your head for many hours. Some people will wrap it very tight and try and sleep with it on, but I am not one of them. I like my bed to not smell like henna for the next year. It smells. It isn’t a bad smell, but its not really a great smell either. It smells like grass that has been chopped up, fried in a curry sauce and then slowly boiled for many hours. Like I said it’s not a brilliant smell and you can easily get heartily sick of it. Don’t worry once you wash it off the hair itself smells fantastic.
Anyway at this point time to binge watch or read, whatever you can do for the next few hours. You want to leave it at least two hours, more if you can stand it. It can get cold, wet and it can drip if you do not wrap it tight enough. I have learned that it’s a good time to get stuck into a Netflix series you are looking forward too or that book you have been saving for a rainy day.
This is what it tends to look like once you have washed it off. Your henna will take into your hair a bit slower than most commercial dyes so it can take a few days for the full effect to be evident.
The next stage is knots. I’ve done everything I’ve ever known about knots to stop them happening but no matter what I do, if I do the Henna myself I get knots. I have curly combination hair, so need a good shampoo and conditioner for that sort of hair. I also use a long toothed (Afro comb) and wide toothed comb to brush through the knots. A little hair may come out but if huge chucks come out, see your local hair care professional.
Two main things you need to avoid are chlorine and salty water. Especially at the early stages of the dye. You can’t really go swimming with your henna. Sorry. Fresh or desalinated water should in general be fine.
Bleach is also a big “Nono” as is methylated spirit (so avoid nits, don’t go into area where nits are based) most nit care products are also a big Nono. Most of these things just end up causing the henna to come out, but bleach may also end up causing your hair to go a strange color or just fall out.
If you have already dyed or bleached your hair, do a tester with a small patch or get a hairdresser to help you. Some hairdressers are quite happy to use products you bring, but do ask them when you make the appointment. If they don’t know the product they probably don’t want to use it.