When I was born my mother looked down at my tiny head and pointed out to the doctor “She has red hair?” with a smile he laughed “Don’t worry, it’s just the betadine.” twenty six years later I’m still the only member of my family with red hair. I love my hair, it’s my shining crown of glory, but uneasy is the head that wears the crown. Among the many secrets redheads don’t brag about, like how you should just get used to people touching your hair uninvited, is the fact that red hair over time will fade.
I was born with a head of bright red locks that would put Karen Gillan to shame, but as I’ve gotten older it’s dulled to a more bronzy hue. While still lovely, I prefer more fiery locks which means maintenance.
One hundred and fifty dollars every four weeks was what I used to spend on getting my hair touched up. Just a light tint to make the color pop. Unfortunately after several years my hair became quite damaged. Frustrated I began my search for the cure to my color conundrum. Eventually a friend turned me on to the products at Lush.
Lush prides itself in handmade products crafted from fresh ingredients. Among it’s many wonderful products is their line of henna. You may know henna as the dye used in the art of Mehndi tattoos. Henna can be used to temporarily dye skin, nails and hair as well as tinting fabrics.
There are many commercial brands of hair dye worldwide that include henna in their ingredients because of the rich color it produces. But, Lush is by far my favorite for the purity of it’s ingredients. Henna, cocoa butter, coffee, lemon, clove bud and irish moss make up my preferred shade, Caca Marron.
Lush’s henna comes in large tea blocks that you break into bits, melt down and spread into your hair. Sounds pretty simple, right? Well, having used Lush’s henna for going on three years now let me share with you my system and a couple of protips.
What you’ll need:
- Lush henna in your choice of color
- 3 ½ cups of hot water
- Lush ultrabalm
- rubber gloves
- a wide tooth comb
- cling wrap
Start with your henna. Lush has 4 shades of henna; Noir (black), Burn (brown), Marron (maroon) and Rouge (red). They come in tea blocks that are divided into six segments, which means you can mix colors to blend your own hue. I have long hair and end up using 8 segments to ensure full coverage.
Break your henna down, Lush says you can melt it in chunks but I’ve found it to be much easier when I’m working with more of a powder. I just throw my henna into a black and decker food processor I use for herbs. But, you can stick it in a plastic bag and break it up a bit with a hammer too.
I use a double broiler to help melt my henna, just add about three and a half cups of hot water and stir until you get a pudding like consistency. Now set aside your henna to cool, you don’t want to burn your scalp after all.
Lush sells a product called ultrabalm, this all-purpose salve will prevent excess henna from accidentally staining your skin. Rub ultrabalm along your hairline and ears, and don’t worry, you won’t have to use much to get a good even coat.
With gloves on, test your henna, if it’s too hot to touch through the glove it’s too hot for your scalp. Stir and allow it to cool without forming a crust.
It’s time to apply your henna! Like any hair dye, start at your scalp. Let your hair get dirty before you henna it, clean hair won’t absorb the dye as well. Make sure your hair is tangle free and brushed to one side. I start behind one ear, parting my hair with a comb, smearing a couple of fingers full of henna into my roots and scalp all the way to the back of my head. Then you repeat the process, parting the next small segment of hair and applying henna front to back until you’ve covered your whole scalp.
Use your fingers to rub the henna into your scalp, making sure all your roots are well coated. Take whats left of your henna and cover the remainder of your hair. Make sure to coat it from scalp to tip to ensure uniform color.
Gather your hair all together and twist it into a bun, the henna acts like mud and should stick to itself without issue. Remove your gloves and grab a roll of cling wrap. You want to wrap your head in a layer of plastic wrap, doing your best to cover your whole head without large exposed spots. Limiting the air getting to the henna slows the oxidation process and allows for a fuller richer color.
Now you wait. Henna takes time to fully penetrate your hair, allow for two to three hours of letting your hair soak. You may have to deal with sweating under all that mud and plastic which means black oily residue will drip down your face, neck and ears. Just use a rag you don’t mind staining or a paper towel to occasionally mop that up.
When it’s time to wash your hair, use a shower head to try to break up as much of the henna as you can before shampooing. There have been instances in which I’ve had to shampoo my hair twice to get the muck out. Your hair may still have some grit in it when you condition, but remember that the second ingredient is cocoa butter so beware over conditioning.
You’ll want to rinse out your shower after you’ve dried off, I always manage to get henna everywhere. No worries though, it shouldn’t stain anything at this point. You should also check your ears for hidden residue.
Congratulations, now your hair is hennaed! For the first couple of washes your hair will be at the brightest color, give it a couple of days to calm down before you make any rash decisions. The great thing about henna’s color is that fades slowly and naturally as you shower so you can go longer without having to touch up your roots. I redye my hair about every six weeks now.
I know that all seems like a really daunting process, but fear not, once you get a rhythm down really it’s no problem at all. Plus I love how silky soft my hair is afterwords. No more fried and damaged locks for me. You can find Lush products online, or if you’re lucky you may even have a local store.
And of course, if you decide to try it, I’d love to see pictures of your new lush locks! [Share them with us by using the hashtag #nerdsandnomsense on any of your favorite social media sites. We’re on them all!!! ]