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Blonde Redhead - A Do-It-Yourself Guide to a Henna Hair Treatment at Home

May 26, 2008
I love being a redhead. Well, a Blonde Redhead (great band, by the way). Now, I don't come by it completely naturally, but I do take the natural route. I use henna powder! Henna is a great way to condition and color your hair without rinsing all those nasty chemicals down the drain, let alone applying them to your scalp! Henna powder is relatively inexpensive, especially comparatively to more traditional options.

There are many websites that sell various henna products out there; easy to find. My favorites are the Jamila Henna Powder and the Shelly Mehandi Powder. You shouldn't pay more than about $12 for 100 grams. One package of powder lasts through about three colorings for my long hair. Each coloring lasts about two or three months for me, its really until my light roots start showing.

One important thing to remember, however, is that you do not want to use henna on chemically treated hair. I waited about 4 months from my previously professionally dyed hair and had no problems. Also, you only want to use 100% natural henna. Anything labeled as black henna may be made from the indigo plant and contain additives. I have heard of burns from such products. The only thing all natural henna does is condition proteins (skin, hair, nails, leather, etc) and leaves a reddish-brown stain behind. The color can range anywhere from a brown or orange to a deep cherry red. I would definitely recommend starting with a powder base and mixing your own because you never know what may have been added to products that are marketed as pre-mixed.

Any color hair can benefit from a henna application, but the results are unique for everyone. If your hair is dark, you will get a nice conditioning treatment and possibly a nice burgundy or auburn sheen. The lighter your hair, the more color it will absorb. If you have lighter hair and do well with temporary type colors, then you will probably get a beautiful head full of red or auburn hair from a henna application. I have naturally strawberry blonde hair that gets dramatically lighter when spending time in the sun. My last henna application, using the Jamila powder turned out beautiful, if I do say so myself. This was about 3 weeks after the application.

Now, to get started: You have your henna powder. You will make a mess! Wear grungy clothes and if you can do this outside, you will probably appreciate not having to clean up the mess in the bathroom later. Dedicate at least a few hours for an application. A whole day is great! I like to treat myself to a day at the beach or the river, or do my nails, give myself a facial, etc. Make it time for you to feel beautiful. Another reason to think about applying your henna outside (apart from the mess) is because you want to let it bake on your hair for at least a couple hours. Some natural, indirect heat is great. I leave mine on all day (at least 4 hours). Lay out in the sun, read a magazine or good book, etc. Just relax and think about how beautiful and soft your new natural red hair will be!

There are a few options of what to mix your henna powder with. No, you weren't going to put the powder in your hair. You need to mix it with some sort of acidic liquid. I hear water works fine, but I think other liquids add some more depth to the color. I generally use a dark dry wine that I didn't enjoy. This will bring out the most red. For a more golden undertone, you can use lemon juice or chamomile tea. For more auburn, use coffee or black tea. I can't really say how much liquid you will need to add. If you make too much, you can always experiment with mendhi (henna tattoos) or it will keep in the fridge in a tightly sealed container for a month or two.

If you are planning on just doing one hair application on a little longer than shoulder length hair, I would use about 35 grams of your powder (about a third of the package). Mix in enough water to make a past about the consistency of cake batter. You should be able to slop it on your hair with your hands. That being said, where gloves. If the henna paste sits on anything for more than a minute or two it will stain. Just like any hair color application, I usually apply some Vaseline around my hairline and keep some cotton balls and alcohol handy to quickly clean up any splatters.

So,you're outside in the sun, grungy clothes, henna paste, gloves then you're ready to go! Separate your hair into sections so you can get underneath and not miss any spots and just glop the stuff on. Smear it all through your hair until you've got it completely covered. Then wrap your hair up on top of your head with some bobby pins or something and just relax! The henna will harden as it dries. Yea, your head is gonna get crusty, but like a face mask, when you rinse it out, it feels so good! So, read a book, give yourself a pedicure or just bask in the sun. In a few hours, rinse your hair and see how beautifully, naturally red you can be!
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