Henna and Indigo

06 Sep

Several years ago, I was minding my own business, dying my hair its signature blue-black, when things went horribly wrong. I developed an allergy to PPD. Not only did I wind up with 2nd to 3rd degree burning all over my scalp, but the color was rejected by my hair.  At first, I thought it was a fluke, only to discover how very wrong I was later on when the fumes from another dye later on gave me a reaction.  I was very, very sad. I pretty much gave up on being able to dye my hair again until I started to research Henna.

While I want to be informative, there really is no sense in reinventing the wheel. There is an amazing website all about it- But I will tell you a few things since they are relevant to this post. The first being that if you have an allergy or sensitivity to hair dyes, this is a good avenue to look into. But the biggest, most important thing I will tell you here and now, is that you need to get your henna from a reputable person. Henna only has -one- color. Reddish brown. It is not black, blue, or purple. Anything stating it is a colored henna is not pure henna. Even if you are not looking into Henna for your hair, but as a temporary design on the skin, you should do your research first, take a look at that website. Be informed. You don’t want to go and get henna done only to find out later that it has been terped with ppd or even gasoline. (No, not kidding. I wish I was.)

I buy my henna and indigo from here.  (I even have a really old post on her mixes page here)
It is always lovely, silky, and sifted. I trust her. For me, that is very important, because getting something that isnt what its reported to be could be exceedingly dangerous and even life threatening.

What I have learned over the past few years is that mixing hair henna is best kept simple. Henna and lemon juice. No extra stuff. The more STUFF I put in it, the more it smelled and my color stayed the same either way. I should note here! My hair is very dark, The nuances you can get by mixing other things in is lost on my hair in some instances. In the link above, you will see my hair – its very streaked and light there because I was spending ridiculous hours in the sun.

No wine, coffee, oils or vinegar, it only makes the smell pungent and icky. (And I’ve certainly added STUFF to it over the years, you can tell just by the previous mix link I’ve got there.)

I mix an entire 500ml Body art quality henna with a few tablespoons of indigo and enough lemon juice to turn it into the consistency of well stirred Greek yogurt or sour cream.  Throw it into a freezer bag, squeeze out all the air and let it sit in the fridge until I am ready to use it. Sometimes things don’t turn out as I plan them, and I wind up chucking it into the freezer after dye release.  If you are looking to do this much faster than I usually am, you can keep it out on the counter or somewhere warm and the dye will release much faster.  I have heard of dye release happening within hours if you leave the container out in the sun on a warm day or in the car. I don’t recommend nuking this in the microwave or trying to literally -cook- the henna.

If you want to mix Henna for body art, mix with lemon juice and honey.  You want your consistency to be thick, stringy and sticky. But… I’m doing hair here, so…

So, Are you ready to be a pretty precious snowflake princess with me? No? Not really?  Just hanging out to watch me make a mud coated fool of myself? Well okay then, hang out and watch me be ogrelike. See if I care. *sniff*

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My hair looks pretty dark there. I’ve just gotten it cut. It looks really short, but I am laying on most of it,  its down to my elbows.  I have put off doing this for a while because I have these neato streaks of silvery white showing up. Now, I’d say my hair is around 20% silver? But I dont know, these pictures I just took are saying it might be more than that now. So here we go!

Stuff to gather first (trust me!):
Mixed and Released Henna
Dish washing gloves
Towels you don’t care too much about staining
Cling wrap (Good thick stuff, dont skimp on the thin wimpy stuff)
Baby wipes or eye make-up removal wipes
Petroleum jelly (yes, I will show you why)
Paper towels

Stuff to think about:
Before you even mix the Henna, check out that link I gave you. Test for allergies. Read the forum there. Do it. All clear? Well okay then! Read on!
Be prepared to have a heavy head and be giggled at occasionally.
Be prepared to .. well, not go anywhere for the day. If you get called away for an emergency, I’m sure a charming scarf will look lovely! Go find your Jackie O glasses!
Wear clothing you don’t mind staining. All that black stuff I am usually wearing comes in mighty handy for this!
Don’t go crazy exfoliating your skin the day of or before doing henna on your hair. You -will- have orange spots here and there and on your scalp. Its okay, try not to panic. It will go away. The reason I say this is because the henna will stain the dead skin, and when you -do- go to exfoliate, it is likely to fade much faster or to just come off.
Also Do not go crazy cleaning your bathroom before this entire process. DO go crazy rinsing henna paste off surfaces it might plop onto, it -will- stain your sink and tub. Make sure you rinse it off after you have your head coated!

I have my henna in a ziploc, and I snip off a corner like a pastry bag. Onto the hair it goes, Spread this through with your gloved hands making sure to get it everywhere (on the HAIR, not … anywhere else!~)  If its a bit thick, go ahead and wet your gloved hands, massage it through until you are sure you have everything covered.  Wind your hair up into a bun and squash it down. You will not have to pin this to get it to stay.

Take your cling wrap out of the box and start wrapping your hair down, begin behind one ear, underneath your head and over the other side – be sure your ears are sticking OUT of the film and not under it against your henna’d hair or you will get orange ears! You don’t want to be an Oompa Loompa do you?

This stuff is excellent Henna. See the faint bruise like stain around my hairline? Guess who forgot to smear a thin line of petroleum jelly around her hairline? Oh yes. That was me.  Wrap your head well, really you are more worried about keeping your ears off your hair, and the Henna where it should be. You get the added benefit of keeping the henna warm and moist which will help it work. Dry henna wont do much good. (Don’t look at my nails. They were red and glittery and pretty before I attacked them yesterday.)

Once you are all wrapped up, be sure to clean any smeared henna from your skin – that is what your paper towels/make up remover/baby wipes are for. Clean up your sink.  Watch as loved ones look at you skeptically and are amused at your expense. Go hang out on the interweb, make horrible soup, and post to your blog. Keep this mixture on your head for a minimum of four hours.

When you are ready to rinse everything out, plan to be in there a while. I often think a garden hose would be way more helpful in rinsing this stuff out.  This is one -big- boon to the Mehandi Henna I use, it is super smooth. No sticks and twigs. It rinses out like a dream compared to other henna’s I have used in the past (whether I sifted them or not)  If its being naughty and stubborn, have some inexpensive and runny conditioner on hand to help lubricate it out of your hair.

And! Thats it for now, next up- Rinsing and Indigo madness!… Maybe.  We will see how tired I am after the rinsing and the heyhey.


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Posted by on September 6, 2011 in Henna, Not Food


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