Believe it or not, every single blog post I write, I write for someone else. Blog posts about State are for those who may benefit; blog posts about our family are for the Grandparents or friends scattered here and there. I have benefitted so much from reading the State blogs out there that if I can help even one person, doing all of this is worth it.
I've thought long and hard for quite a long time about whether or not to do this blog post. But the truth of the matter is that I think it could be a help, and that outweighs all the public humiliation to which I am about to subject myself. So here we go.
My hair is naturally very, very grey. Normally, this wouldn't be a huge issue for a woman, because she can purchase the remedy for that (hair color) pretty much everywhere. Grocery stores, Target... in hair salons... you get it.
However, I'm one of those rare souls who is extremely allergic to an additive in ALL (yes, ALL, as in, even those at Whole Foods or whatever) hair dyes. The additive I'm allergic to is called para-phenylenediamine (it's also called PPD), and I'm not the only unfortunate soul who is allergic to this stuff. The contact allergy (which means, when it gets put on my head) reaction I get isn't just painful, it can even be life-threatening, as this young man found out the hard way.
Sure, in the scheme of things, there's worse stuff that can happen to a girl than to be young and very grey (with no way to battle the grey). Duh, right? But it's sure not a lot of fun to look way, way older than you are just because your hair makes you look like an old crone. And it's sure not a lot of fun to not be able to do anything about it.
So a few years ago, I combed the internet in desperation and found something called henna. Henna is, basically, crushed up plant leaves in powder form, and when you add liquid to it, it makes a mud. A mud that has a high enough dye content to dye hair permanently. And that smells like... uh... the best way I can describe it is probably really strong alfalfa on a hot, sunny day. I won't lie to you and tell you it smells good or anything.
I was scared to DEATH to put this stuff on my hair. It's permanent, for gosh sakes! So I saved stray hair from my hairbrush:
Ordered four different types/shades of henna in $1 each sample packets, and did a hair test:
I liked how the sample hair looked once I washed the henna (basically: mud) out, and that gave me courage to order enough to actually put that stuff on my head.
I know that some ladies who use henna apply it themselves. I can't for the life of me imagine doing that. What's nice is that I have this amazingly awesome husband who was/still is beside himself with joy to finger paint in my hair with greenish, smelly mud.
Love. It's a verb.
Anyway, the henna (and I wouldn't ever buy henna from anywhere but Mehandi's Henna for Hair. And this is because I've actually sample-tested other hennas - Ahem, Whole Foods, Ahem - that suck royal in comparison and shouldn't even be allowed to call itself henna) comes in a cute box, and when you dump it out, it's a fine, greenish (weird-smelling) powder:
You add your liquid of choice (I recommend using nothing but bottled lemon juice), and you stir it up:
After a while, you want to reach the consistency of something like cake frosting:
Notice James' hands modeling. I swear to you, I love that man.
Immediately after you finish mixing it, you want to cover it with Saran Wrap to keep air off of it:
After you mix the henna, it has to sit for at least 12 hours so that the dye can start releasing from the powder. The longer it sits, the stronger the dye is. I've actually gotten to the point where I'm letting it sit for up to 24 hours before using it. The stronger the dye, the better a stain you get on your hair and the less time you have to have mud on your head.
Then the REAL fun begins:
Doesn't matter if you start in the back or the front; we've done both. I'll tell you what matters: WEAR GLOVES. (James double gloves, because that stuff will IMMEDIATELY dye the skin on your hands.) And wear black clothing. Because the henna *will* make contact with more than your head, so wearing black clothing and using dark (like black) towels is a must if you don't want staining.
The pictures speak for themselves...
No, I can't believe I'm putting this on the internet, either.
Yes, I know how hideous I look. Greater good, I'm reminding myself...
Once the hair is totally covered (and your children are dancing around, making fun of you... or, taking pictures, as the case would be here, since all pictures were taken by Zachary), you need to immediately try to wipe as much henna as you can off of your skin/face/hairline because, seriously, that stuff STAINS. It's the same stuff people use for hennaing their skin.
Then you wrap your hair in saran wrap:
And then in a black/dark towel, and you slink off to a part of the house where you can be with your muddy, smelly, gooshy self. Preferably also with your husband and some Netflix joy to take your mind off things. And you remind yourself that the squishy and the stinky is only temporary and once you get past it, you at least won't look like an old CRONE. Or as much of one as you used to. I usually leave it on for as long as I can stand it- 4 hours or so.
What post like this would be complete without before and after pictures?
I don't take them anymore, but I did take them a couple of years ago, the very first time I ever used henna. I didn't have a very good camera, then, so you just sort of have to bear with me on the pictures.
Before I used henna, my hair was a crazy mixture of dark brownish with lots of greyish. I was probably 25% grey when these pictures were taken; today I'm probably approaching 40% grey.
Reddish brown (once it tames in a day or two). I'll take it over grey any day. And if you want other colors, you can have them, too!