Experimenting With Henna Based Natural Hair Colour

   So ladies, I'm not a brunette anymore. I've made a tentative step into redhead world by dyeing my hair a deep mahogany  I'm really happy with the results as well as the conditioning effects of the henna and I want to tell you all about it.

   My first grey hair appeared when I was around 25, and they have been multiplying ever since. Now, the annoying thing about greys is not the colour, but the fact that they are coarser and the baby ones tend to stick straight out, drawing attention to themselves. It was my hairdresser who suggested henna, since he felt that chemical dyes would dry my hair out. I didn't buy pure henna because I didn't want a bright red and didn't want to potter around with adding stuff to making it darker, so chose natural hair dyes instead. These are mixes of henna and natural ingredients like walnut shells, indigo etc which change the Henna's original red. The colour palette isn't that big, but you can get a couple of nice shades of brown and red, and of course colourless Cassia for blondes. I got a box of dye from various brands from a clothes swap site, and the first one I tried was a French brand simply called Henne Color Paris.

The colour:

     The wonderful thing about henna-based dyes is that the colour doesn't come out flat like that of conventional dyes. Different hairs take on the henna colour in the different way, this gives texture as well as an illusion of fullness to your mane. My hairdresser exclaimed: "Cool! you have natural highlights!" and it really does look like highlights and lowlights a hairdresser would need hours to achieve.
      The colour I got was pretty much what was shown on the box. The white hair got coloured too, and now they are a wonderful translucent red that glints in the sun. Thumbs up all the way!
      I want to mention that a while back I had used a brown natural hair dye which was not far off from my a natural colour -- this gave a very subtle and pretty effect by adding a nice tone to hair. This is especially nice if you are a brunette and feel that your hair colour is lifeless.

Volume and conditioning:

       Henna coats the hair from outside, so it adds volume -- I have lots of volume and it is really easy to get lasting volume at the roots if I just clip up my hair when drying it. Henna also decreases hair porousity. This made my hair less frizzy, glossier and it is able to hold on to moisture longer. This is not a subjective opinion -- my hairdresser also noted that henna improved my hair. I also imagine that the added layer of henna gives protection to the hair strands. My waves have loosened up a bit, but I don't mind because the days when I was desperately trying to achieve curls are gone. I used to help my mother by dyeing her hair, she used chemical dyes and I have seen how they damage the hair. With henna you are actually doing something nice for your hair!

The application:

   This is the "dark" side of natural hair dyes -- the application is rather messy. I used Logona Color Plus Colorations Vorbehandlung to really cleanse my hair and strip it of any build-up. If you have access to Bentonite clay, you could also try washing your hair with that. I seriously recommend being serious about this step -- if you are going all the bother with natural dye, this step will make the colour more true and longer-lasting. Wear old clothes and apply a heavy cream around your hairline and on the ears. Wear gloves! (I didn't and had people asking me why I smoke so much).
    I prepared the colour according to the instructions (mixed with hot water). If your hair is longer than your shoulders, you will most probably need two boxes of dye. The best way to apply henna is to do the hairline, then divide the hair into 4-6 sections. Start applying at the roots, and then work the henna into the hair. If your hair is thick or curly, really work it into the hair. This is not so easy since the texture is like mud, only less slippery. Cover your head with cling film and then a towel. I blasted my hair with a hair dryer every now and then, because henna works best at higher temperatures. I kept it on for 3-4 hours because I wanted to get an intense colour.
   Then wash your hair out. This is a long and messy process. I used the Logona Color Conditioner at the end, which is really nice. Hennaed hair can feel a bit dry and coarse if you don't condition it properly. Dry your hair with an old towel. Now, you will probably need to scrub your bathtub.
    Let your hair dry, and admire the gloss, volume and colour in the mirror!

Sorry for the tangles, the wind was wild!

The bottom line:

     I really recommend Henna based colour if you don't mind the messy application, especially if you have very porous hair, or if you'd like more volume. Hair usually thins and gets dry, thin and brittle as we age, so avoiding chemical dyes is a great way to keep it healthy.

    I will be continuing with natural hair dyes, and I want to try out other brands. The advantage of Henne Color Paris is the really bright colour, the disadvantage is that it comes off a little bit every time I wash my hair. I have colours from Logona and Sante lined up, I wonder how they will work for me. Also, I'm still getting the hang of what my Hennaed hair likes!

Update: Henne Color Paris contains Sodium Picramate, which is a suspected carcinogenic. Apparently you can't buy hair color with Sodium Picramate in regular store in Germany (only in little Asian stores). I will now try to find a henna without this ingredient that gives me a colour as good as this one.

    Have any of you tried natural hair colours? Any brand that you'd recommend?

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