Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Henna Heaven Henna Hell

My roots are looking really bad and have decided I cannot put it off any longer.  I have totally given up on chemical dyes and have used henna for years.  I have a love/hate relationship with it because it takes a whole morning to apply, plus the cleaning up afterwards, but I love the colour it gives me, it's just what I want without the damage of box dyes.

I have tried both dried henna and henna Caca Rouge bars from Lush.  Both do a good job but I do tend to keep going back to these Lush bars because it's easy to purchase, I trust that they use quality henna, the conditioning ingredients within it suit my hair leaving it soft, and it does give a colour I really like.  Henna experts pooh-pooh (no pun intended) Caca bars as it really is just a henna gloss, but I have found it gives me a strong colour that hardly fades.  If it works, it works.

The bar costs £8.50 (recently gone up in price :o( ),  but it will do 2 applications and because of its permanency I only use it 4 x a year.  That works out at £17 a year for hair dye.  Not too bad. I know that you can get hair dye from £land or Homebargains cheap, but I like the benefits henna gives me and I know its cruelty free and won't damage my hair.

I chop up the henna bar roughly with a serrated knife, put it in a jug and add hot water from the kettle.  I eyeball this until it is quite runny and mash out any lumps.  As I stir it it gets thicker, I usually leave it it for 5 minutes for it to thicken.  It should be the consistency of thick yogurt, or creme freche.  If it is as thick as mash potato it is too thick and will not bind to the hair but fall off in clumps. If it is too thin it will start to run down my face and get everywhere which is really annoying.

I wear old clothes to apply henna and cover the floor with old towels.  Lush always provide rubber gloves, if you ask they will give you a second pair if you intend to do more than one application.  I  divide the hair, clipping it back, then scooping some up in my fingers I start slapping it on.  I will not lie to is a messy job! Yuk!

I wash any henna off my face and neck (using an old flannel or cloth), then wrap it all in cling film.  I blast the whole head with a hairdryer on high heat, just for a minute or two (this gets the cuticle open and makes the henna bond quicker). 

 I then wrap it in a turban to keep warm and wait....and wait....for a couple of hours (fingers crossed no one comes to the door).

Whilst I'm waiting I will write a bit about henna....

You should only ever buy body art quality henna from reputable sellers.  I have use which is very good, but a bit pricey.  I am suspicious of very cheap henna, or henna that comes in different colours.  Henna should be red, though indigo can be used to darken it.

Healthy hair, no splits or damage
Environmentally friendly/no animal testing
Very permanent, I don't worry about fading or buying special products for coloured hair, and doesn't need re-doing very often, just when roots are showing
It's fairly cheap - I think £4.25 per application is not bad
Gives a very vibrant, fiery colour that looks amazing in the sun (this is personal preference of course)
It covers grey hair well
You can play around with indigo and henna if you want a dark brown or black colour

Its very, very messy to apply
It takes 2-4 hours from start to finish (which is why I leave it so long between applications!)
It smells weird, not unpleasant but just weird (I like the smell of the Lush bar, they do a good job of making it nice, just a hint of henna smell.  Henna smell does fade quickly)
It takes some rinsing out, but gets easier with practise
It can be unpredictable on the first application.  Strand test definitely needed.
It is so permanent that it really needs to be cut out or dyed darker if you do not like it.  It cannot be stripped and peroxide can be very iffy (definitely no-no with indigo).

To rinse it out I jump in the shower with a bottle of the cheapest hair conditioner I can get.  I literally use half the bottle, which is why it has to be cheap. Shampoo is poor at removing henna, conditioner gives it the slip.  My shower needs a good clean afterwards.

Its not for everyone and its a bit lot of a pain to apply, but I am always chuffed after its is done.  It feels so soft and shiny,  I like the vibrancy of the colour.  It is very bright the for first couple of days (I wish it would stay that way) but after oxidisation it deepens a little to a more natural auburn/coppery colour.

 There job done!  It will be almost Christmas before I have to do it again.


  1. Now I want red hair instead of my grey/blonde mix, as a child I had very long flaxen hair and wanted short brown curls. Now I just want it clean and tidy really, but your hair is lustworthy.

  2. I want your beautiful hair! It's a lovely colour and in great condition. Henna is obviously the right product for your hair.