When Life Gives You Lemons

I’m not a natural redhead, but I enjoy having red hair.

Jane Levy

I have coloured my hair on and off for years.  I’ve been everything from blonde, to jet black, accidentally pink and deep chestnut brown.  One of my favourite ways to colour my hair is using henna.  My hair is normally mid to dark brown, depending on the time of year and as I have inherited pale skin which has a habit of freckling, the red in henna really does suit my skin tone.  I also love the smell!

I decided that I was a little bit bored of the sparkly white hairs that were appearing on my noggin so, given that I am officially no-poo, henna was the natural answer.

Henna paste

Henna paste after 24 hours of developing.

Now, all henna is not created equally.  Some brands will sell different “shades” and preparation techniques vary.  Also, like most products these days you have the choice of whether to use organic, fair trade etc.  I have kept it simple and got a bag of organic henna powder from that jungle sounding online shop place.

The powder I use, which starts out green, requires 8 to 24 hours to develop.  Yesterday morning I combined some of it with the juice of 2 1/2 lemons to make a paste that had the consistency of runny yoghurt (the rest of the lemon juice went into a pint of water as a yummy drink for me). This morning I applied the henna paste to my hair.

Now the thing you need to remember with henna that it’s not just used to dye hair, there is a reason it is used for temporary tattoos!  If it gets on your skin it will colour it, so any misdirected henna paste needs to be removed from your skin quickly.  It will also dye clothes, towels, sofas… anything porous that it comes into contact with whilst it has moisture in it.  To try and protect my forehead and ears from going orange I applied liberal amounts of lanolin.  I was loathe to use any petrolatum based products as a barrier cream and, after keeping sheep for a few years, I know I love the smell/feel of lanolin and that I am not allergic to it.  Lanolin allergy is a thing so it’s worth doing a test with a small amount if you have never been in contact with it before.

Henna in my hair

With a parting we begin.

So I started out by carefully applying the henna paste to my parting line, scalp to hair tip, with a tinting brush. Then I realised that there was no way I was going to be able to do all of my hair with this method…. and I don’t have any gloves to use.  So, I bit the bullet, turned my head upside down over the bath and applied the rest of the paste as quickly as I could using my hands.

Then it was time for Fun. With. Cling film. No, this isn’t some weird kink – wrapping your hair in cling film whilst henna is doing it’s thing is the best way of maintaining the right conditions for the dye whilst simultaneously stopping it from dying everything within flicking distance of your hair.

Cling wrapped head.

Cling filming my own head is more challenging than I thought.

Now, I’m not overly good at handling cling wrap at the best of times, trying to wrap it around something I can’t see (ie my own head) results in a rather interesting look (check out the pic).  On top of that went a towel, which, so it wouldn’t depart from my forehead, ended up styles like something out of Dr Seuss.  The final act was to use a sugar scrub on my hands and the bits of my face and ears it had splashed on to to try and get the worst of the henna staining off.

Then it’s just a case of pottering around for an hour or so whilst the henna does it’s magic (actually, I watched the telly but it’s Sunday and I’m allowed to be a bit of a slob). It then took me about ten minutes to get the water to run clear from my hair.  Like apple sauce this is something to be careful of being in the shower with, although apple sauce doesn’t stain if it gets on your skin!

Clean, Shiny & Henna'd

Silky shiny hair post-henna.


The final part of today’s hair treat was smoothing some coconut oil through my hair.  It’s pretty much dry now (I made bread while I waited) and looks wonderfully shiny and smells yummy.  Whilst my scalp is ever so slightly orange I am hoping the next bicarb wash (which I hope to leave until Friday this week) and natural skin recycling should shift that.  In the mean time, it’s going to take another couple of days for the henna to fully oxidise and reach its actual colour….


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