Red Hair, Don’t Care


I’ve thought about henna-ing my hair on and off for a while.  I’ve been trying to lead a cruelty-free life, as you know, and it seemed like a great alternative to those awful chemical dyes.  However, every time I looked into it I was dissuaded.  It’s messy.  It smells.  It’s permanent.  You cannot dye over it.  It can react badly to dyed hair (that is, it can turn weird colors and cause serious breakage).  But this long weekend, as I stressed about the hurricane headed straight for us, I decided to focus my nervous energy into my hair.  It was a bit brash; especially since I am kind of obsessed with my hair, but that is just what I jumped into.  I watched some YouTube videos on Saturday, read some articles, blogs and the like.  Then on Monday I decided to just do it.  I knew the only henna readily available to me was from Lush or Whole Foods, anything else I would have to order and wait for.  And that’s just not my style.  So I went to Whole Foods and picked up Rainbow Research henna.  I have read some mixed reviews about their henna (something about twigs, I didn’t find any in mine, and how it would fade quickly, that one we will see about), but it didn’t have any extra ingredients and it was on sale, so why not?


After reading their instructions I realized they were not dissimilar to most online suggestions, so I followed them.  The only thing I altered was the wait time of the product in my hair (I went with four hours) and the time I let the mix sit (about 2 hours).  I also did something I had never cared to do before (given my adventurous and brash spirit I usually chance it, that has resulted in green hair (unintentional) and highlighted eyebrows (also unintentional)).  I only let the mix sit about thirty minutes before my strand test, and about an hour on my stand of hair, but it seemed fine so I went ahead and applied it to all of my hair.

The mix I used consisted of a little more than half of the container of red and 2-3 plastic tablespoons of light brown (I didn’t want the color to be too orange and I read that the Cassia used in the brown is also very moisturizing).  I added about a cup and a half of just brewed Rooibos tea (only one bag) and a few drops of vitamin-e oil.  I did so slowly and whisking it together with a plastic fork until the mixture was smooth, shiny and had the consistency of yogurt.  It was initially mud green, but as the dyes released it was more brownish.  The smell is awful.  At first it smells like tea, but as you’re applying it (and wearing it) it smells like a farm, even my dog was grossed out and he is of the “the stinkier the better” variety.


The application was not as messy as I had read and the color did not really stain my skin (even the parts I had not covered in oil seemed relatively normal, like my arms and neck), but gloves are a must!  I was also not really bothered by keeping it on my head for four hours while I cleaned my apartment and watched 90 Day Fiance.  I had rinsed my hair immediately before applying it and I felt that the wet (towel-dried) hair made the mix a bit cold so I did blow dry a couple of times (heat is an important part of this whole process).  I also wore two Publix shopping bags over my head.  It was a very romantic experience for my husband all around.

I washed it off with a Giovanni shampoo and conditioned with the same.  Still, my hair smelled faintly like tea (at least the barn smell was gone!).


I am THRILLED with the results.  No itching or burning on my scalp (like with chemical dye), great gray coverage, less hair loss when washing and brushing, thicker and shinier hair, and my hair is still just as wavy as it was before the henna.

I must also note I have been dying my hair for years (decades).  The last time I had dyed all of my hair (root to tip) was late May so I had a pretty noticeable root growth (with so many grays!).  I think the roots blend pretty well with the rest (especially since my grays now look like highlights), and the variations in color look relatively natural.  The tips of my hair (which were so fried they were blonde) look much healthier too!  I guess, in my case at least, three months was enough to avoid any issues with the chemicals.


My roots, before and after (wet and dry).IMG_8991

My hair in dark lighting, before and after.

Overall I think this is a great option (for going red at least, not sure about the other shades) and one that I will stick with. I only hope I can maintain this golden red.  I will share updates, come what may!



3 responses »

    • I still feel it’s been generally positive. I like the look, my hair feels great and love being free of all of those chemicals. I think Rainbow Research makes several shades, so you may be able to stay a lighter color for a while over the bleached hair. Over light to medium hair it’ll show, over very dark hair it’ll be a more subtle hue because henna doesn’t lighten. I have been dying my hair for almost 20 years and it is a welcomed break!

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