Henna

I’m going to admit upfront that this post has nothing to do with homeschool, cooking, or essential oils. Those are three of my passions right now and mostly what this blog will be about. But it’s also about my life (it is called “Life” of a Plain Jane after all). And in life there are other things. Recently I haven’t been super concerned about my looks like I was in my teens and twenties. Yes, I have good hygiene and make sure my hair is presentable and that I have some makeup on and that my clothes generally fit and coordinate. But beyond that…well, I have other things going on around here that take up my time.

But lately I’ve been frustrated by my hair. I’ve done nothing with it and that’s just not like me. I’m the girl that will randomly decide I need a change and walk into a salon to change the color (varying shades of blonde) or go from shoulder-length to pixie-cut. Guts, right? No. Hair always grows back if it’s cut. Color always grows out and fades away. So it’s one area that hasn’t really scared me much. That’s not to say that I haven’t ever regretted some of those decisions. But the results are usually short-lived.

5 years oldQuick background. I have a sister who was born a brunette. I was born a blonde (that picture is me at about age 5). For 20+ years, it was this way.

Then about 20 years ago, my hair started coming in darker. Not really brown but definitely not the light blonde I was used to having. I colored it and highlighted it for years to keep the blonde. But once I started having kids, I couldn’t color it anymore (I still occasionally did highlights though).

About 8-10 years ago, my sister went from brown to blonde. She looks beautiful as a blonde, too. So for a few years, there were two (unnatural) blondes in my family. But then, somewhere around baby #3, I decided that it was easier on my hair – and my wallet – to leave my hair alone. And admittedly I took it a bit far. No color of any kind or cutting for about two years.

Now my hair is quite long but I would hard pressed to tell you what color it is. I still feel like I’m blonde (I don’t mean in the ditzy way – no comments from friends on this, please) but my hair isn’t quite blonde and it isn’t quite brown. I know now that I don’t want to use commercial colors on my hair (as I’m trying to live a more natural life). So what could I do?

I started researching a few months ago and finally settled on natural henna. You can get a variety of colors from henna. Almost any color except blonde. So this will be first time in my life that I truly will not be able to call myself a blonde. (It’s a bigger deal in my head than I thought it would be. I’m quite nervous, to be honest with you. But I’m also really excited about it.)

I went to Lush this past weekend and talked with the lovely girls there about what color I wanted and the process to get there. I finally settled on their Caca Marron. Should give me brown with some reddish tint to it. I was told that if I wanted to red, I needed to put the plastic wrap over my head after the henna was on and if I just wanted the brown to leave the plastic wrap off. I do want some red, so I getting out the plastic wrap!

I’m going to share my experience here before, during and after. But first, a little homeschool interlude.

Since we’re homeschoolers, my girls and I are learning exactly what henna is, how the dyes are made, and so on. Pretty good science lesson, actually! The short version is that real henna dye comes from the henna plant (Lawsonia inermis) which is a flowering plant found in regions of northern Africa and southern/western Asia. Henna has been used for thousands of years for cosmetics, including dying hair and tatooing. There has been evidence found of its use in ancient Egypt. So it’s natural and has stood the test of time. Works for me!

Then we get to the trickier part. Getting the color you want is not as simple as going to the grocery store and choosing a color on a box. This isn’t a mixture of chemicals that will produce one shade. Each batch of henna powder will be slightly different. Then it depends on what your current hair color is, how long you leave the henna on, and what you mix with it. I’ve heard that some people add coffee grounds to get a richer brown, for example.

One nice thing about henna is that, unlike commercial chemical dyes that leave your roots showing, henna will just fade away.

Keep in mind that this information applies to natural henna and you’ll want to research and make sure that that’s what you’re getting. There are quite a few companies out there that claim to be henna but read their labels! Many include henna as an ingredient along with other chemicals that you don’t want to be putting onto/into your body (those chemicals will be absorbed through your skin, remember). Lush does include some safe synthetics but nothing like I was reading on other brands. And some of the guesswork for color is taken out by using Lush as opposed to buying the powder and mixing in lemon juice, coffee grounds, etc. since they have it premixed for you in varying colors (mostly red, mostly brown with some red, mostly brown, and black).

Ok, here goes!

Before HairBefore

Lush Caca Marron barsThe salesgirls at Lush suggested I start with three of the squares.

SmashedThen smash them up.

Henna mudMix with boiling water to get to a brownie/cake batter consistency.

Henna and plastic wrapDuring (left it on with plastic wrap for 2.5 hours)

Gross tubThe tub after rinsing some of the henna out. Yikes! I had to do the rest in the shower. But I was told to use the coolest water I could stand. Not a fun shower for me!

Goodby blonde. Hello Redhead!After

I am pleased overall. I know that everything I used was pretty natural and safe. And I know that the color will continue to change/deepen over the next few days. Right now I think I could easily blend in in Ireland. Super coppery red. But I think I like it! Sunshine hates it right now. So far everyone else in the house is a fan.

Will I henna again? Most definitely! Are you ready to give it a try????

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