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Coloring Your Hair, Naturally

Posted Mar 07 2013 6:57am

My hair has been through a lot over the years. It’s been bleached, dyed, relaxed, blown out, ironed, and scrunched.  I stopped all chemical treatments about a year before my wedding (lest anything went wrong).  My hair is quite fine, dry, and naturally curly so all of those processes had taken their toll.  So when all the chemically treated ends grew out and my hair was looking healthier than it had in a long time – I promised myself I wasn’t going to touch it until I started to go gray.  And what do you know, the women in my family go gray quite early.  I turned 30 this year and received the gift of quite a few very prominent gray hairs.

Those hairs were a reason to take action.  I have always secretly wanted to try going red but I had stopped myself for a couple of reasons.  First I was chicken.  Second, my husband has orange hair and my new red hair probably would clash.  Silly?  Of course, but it still made me hesitate.


While it has it’s color limitations Henna is pretty much the only/best way to naturally color your hair.  It’s a plant that’s been safely used to thousands of years as a natural dye – so things like this  are less likely to happen.  So I hennaed my hair.  Not a crazy red color but more of an auburn color.  Baby steps.  I had always associated henna with bright red hair, but mixed with indigo (another plant dye), you can make beautiful shades ranging from red (from the henna) to pitch black (from the indigo).  The resulting shade depends on your starting shade and the proportions of henna and indigo.   I wasn’t about to DIY my henna mixture – this stuff is permanent and I preferred a proven mixture.  I found a great shade of henna from Lush cosmetics called caca marron  - more of an auburn shade, a “gorgeous chestnut shine with sultry hints of red.”  There were other sites from which to order the Henna, but Lush is a brand that I trust (plus I figured if something went horribly wrong there would be a customer service number to call).

The results:  My hair doesn’t look too different in natural light – which is great for roots purposes and my grays are fully covered.  Here is the before and after – not too noticeable right?

Henna1 But here’s what I LOVE – in direct sunlight, my hair is red and rich and luxurious.

Lush Henna

It’s not difficult to henna your own hair, but it is sort of a process.  You will need:

  • Henna hair dye
  • Vinyl or latex gloves (make sure to get powder free)
  • a disposable shower cap
  • a mixing bowl & spoon ( I bought a wooden spoon at the dollar store)
  • hot water
  • coconut oil or any kind of moisturizer to line your hairline (prevents skin staining)
  • spices/oils for scent (optional)

Before I did anything, I took a bunch of hair from my hairbrush and did a test batch to see what the color would look like.  I would show you a picture but it really was disgusting how much hair was hanging out in my brush.

While henna hair dye is most often a powder – the lush version is in block form because it’s mixed with cocoa butter, coffee, and other essential oils and natural fragrances.

natural hair dye All you have to do is melt these guys in water and presto!  You have hair dye.  It looks like poop or brownie batter depending on what kind of day you’re having.

caca marron

Henna has an incredibly strong smell – it can be overwhelming if you aren’t used to it.  I added a ton of cinnamon and ground coffee to mine to add more pleasant and familiar smelling things to the mix.  I lined my hairline with some coconut oil (to prevent staining), added the goop to my hair, covered it with a shower cap, and then I waited while looking like a crazy person.


IMG_1403 IMG_1406

I got bored. I even juiced.


I left the product on for 90 minutes (although I could have left it on longer for a more intense color) and then rinsed it out.  Tip:  It takes a while to completely rinse your hair of henna.  I rinsed the dye out with several rounds of deep conditioner which helped loosen it from my hair completely.  The removal process took about 10 minutes total.  To ensure that all of the dye was removed, I squeezed my hair with a clean paper towel and looked to see if any color was on the towel.

I would pay a premium to have someone do this for me at a salon – has anyone heard of one that does it?  I have read that some lush stores will actually apply the henna for you; you just have to be willing to go home with plastic and hair dye on your head.  That being said, I am very much loving the results and I will certainly do it again when those pesky grays inevitably reappear.

Disclosure:  For the purposes of this post on natural ways to dye your hair, I was provided a sample of Lush Henna.  All opinions are my own.

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