'NEVER dye your hair'.
This was a sentence that was said to me by friends, adults and strangers that I'd just met. My natural hair colour is ginger. Growing up I had absolutely no shame in the fact that I was a class A 'ginger'. In fact it was my trademark - I loved it. Oh, and just in case you were wondering - yes, gingers do have souls.
Dying my hair was something that I'd always been adamantly against. People always complimented my hair colour, saying that they loved the caramel/ginger tone of my hair. I once got approached when I was about fourteen years old by a thirty-something woman begging me to tell her what hair dye I used. I was fourteen and she was selling me my favourite cake (I was in my local bakery). My first thought was please hand me my cake and no one gets hurt, as I'd exchanged my money for my cake. Naturally, I wanted my cake not questions. My second thought was - lady, this is 'au naturel'. My third thought - 'I'm only fourteen and I'm not supposed to talk to strangers'....
After getting my cake finally, I told her that it was my natural hair colour. Bemused and getting a closer look, the staring was getting rather awkward - not to mention that I still wanted to stuff my face with the cake I now held. 'Well, don't dye it darling because I would pay hundreds for that colour'. With a 'thanks' and an awkward shuffle out of the shop, I indulged in my cake which disappeared somewhat five seconds after my exchange with the woman who had sold me it.
I don't know if it was the fact that I was seventeen and craved a change or if I was sick of being told to never dye my hair (I've never been good at being told what I can or cannot do) - but I did it. To clarify, the 'it' that I did was dye my hair. I decided this impulsively in October 2014 when I looked at my hair in the mirror and needed a change. I grabbed the Lush Henna block that I had randomly stored in my kitchen cupboard (my Mum previously being a Henna user) and melted it down and spread the dye all over my hair.
Why I chose Lush Henna Dye
Aside from the fact that it was the only hair dye that I could get from within my house during impulse decision time, I chose Henna dye for its nourishing benefits. Whether you're dying your hair with chemicals from a box or having them professionally applied at the hairdressers, chemicals will not leave your hair in good condition. The last thing that I wanted to achieve was hair in worse condition than mine already was at that stage in my life. I had grown my hair out and styled it to the point that it was literally burning off. I applied heat to my hair every day without fail and didn't deep condition it ever. I'd since learned the error of my ways and wanted a hair dye that would nourish, condition and colour! I've also got super sensitive skin so the last thing that I needed was a chemical reaction achieved from a cheap chemical hair dye found in a box!
Henna hair dye coats your hair. Synthetic hair dye and other colour treatments open your hair cuticles and penetrate your hair with colour and (hate to state the obvious) chemicals. These chemicals also enter your skin, bloodstream and system. Henna dye simply stains the outer layer of your hair. I didn't want any chemicals entering my bloodstream, thank you :) . Lush Henna dyes have a great reputation, renowned for their natural ingredients!
What is Lush Henna?
When I told people that I had dyed my hair with Henna they thought I'd gone insane - 'What, the thing you use to make patterns on your arms?'. Henna is a plant that is natively found in the Middle East and it can be used to dye skin and hair. The Henna plant leaves are dried and then ground into a powder which is then mixed with cocoa butter and made into a solid brick ready to buy. The tricky part is choosing what colour combination that you want to use because there are four different shades and tones created by - Brun, Noir, Rouge and Marron.
Choosing my colour
I would like to say that my hair dying process had some sort of method to it but honestly it was very spontaneous and very random. I used different combinations and quantities of Rouge and Marron to begin with and then became daring adding less Rouge and venturing into Brun and Noir. The process of dying my hair with the solid Henna blocks was very tedious. It's probably my lack of patience with time consuming beauty things like this, but I found melting the Henna blocks down until they were liquid laborious work! After various methods that I tried (one of which included a cheese grater but let's not get into that..), smashing the solid blocks up into pieces and individually melting them in a saucepan proved to be the most successful. Applying it was the next nightmare. This dye stains, which is good really because that is what you've paid for it to do, but staining anything other than your hair is just annoying. Once you've covered your hair surface with the dye, you've got to be like a little ninja around your home, henna-proofing every fabric surface to avoid brown/yellow staining from the dye. I chose to let my hair dye in the open air (the process can take up to 2-3 hours), which meant I basically had to sit on my floor and wait because small flakes of the henna flew off as it dried! This was a nightmare but I dyed my hair at least seven times with the stuff so I had become somewhat a pro towards the end!
I would like to say that I kept a record of the exact colour combinations I used and how long I left the dye on and all my process stages but I didn't. Admittedly I was hesitant to create this post because I changed my hair colour with Henna for two months non-stop, trying out different combinations. Therefore, there's not a lot in terms of information and advice on how you achieve a specific shade. However, I took a few different pictures along the way to give you an idea of what colours you can achieve from using the Lush Henna blocks.
Unfortunately these are all in the forms of selfies. Please, do not judge me in these selfies. I haven't uploaded them too show off - I have uploaded them to show the colour change. If I had the technical skill, I would blur my face off to resemble a potato head with hair to avoid judgements but here's my face because I don't have that skill.
The initial change was achieved with mostly the use of Rouge and red wine to enhance red tones here. Like I said, I didn't keep a record of what colours I used and how much of what I used unfortunately! This colour was a little too orange-toned for me and while there's nothing wrong with a fiery tone, it wasn't what I was looking for so I kept experimenting!
I started adding more of Brun to the mixture, I think this was my favourite shade that I achieved but typical to the nature of Henna the colour started fading so I re-dyed!
Then a small disaster happened and I accidentally went brown. On my Henna adventure I never ever intended to be anything other than a red head. The fact that I'd coated the red out of my hair really was upsetting. This was the point that I had become too experimental with my Henna dying and chose to stop for good. I wanted my red hair back and re-dying wasn't the answer because you cannot strip Henna hair colour out of your hair or achieve a lighter shade from a darker one - you simply have to grow it out.
This is the colour of my faded Henna colour now. It is still a lot darker than my natural hair colour and not as red as I want it. After all my experimenting I decided that my natural hair colour was the one that I really loved. I am only comfortable being a 'ginger', nothing else. When I had brown hair, although I received many compliments, I also received many sad looks - 'Where has your red hair gone!'. It was a question I never thought that I would be asked. I love my red hair and I want it back. The Henna experiment was fun for a while but it was expensive, laborious and time consuming - not to mention unpredictable. I would recommend Henna for anyone who wants to dye their hair the healthy way but I would NOT recommend it for anyone who gets bored quickly because once you've dyed your hair with Henna there is no going back! You cannot use chemical hair dyes on top of Henna - you risk burning your hair off/ turning it green in some cases. The only way to get rid of your Henna stained colour is to grow it out.
Here's to my continued journey - growing back my natural hair colour. Goodbye Henna, you were fun for two months. I am now eighteen years of age and I would like to think that I will stop making such spontaneous decisions. However, it's my spontaneous decisions that have led to outcomes such as this blog so who knows what's next!
(I am not a qualified Henna expert nor do I aspire to be, ergo the information in this blog post is derived from my personal experience and the information is not gospel!)