Living a macrobiotic lifestyle isn’t just about eating natural and ethical foods. It’s about embracing as many natural and ethical ways of doing things as you can. It can be difficult and I’m only just starting out but one of the things I’ve found really successful is switching from chemical hair dyes to henna. I thought it might be nice to do a blog post about how I go about it and what has and hasn’t worked for me. I’d love to hear from anybody else who uses henna. What type do you use? where do you get it? What method do you find works best for you and how long do you prefer to leave it in?
My natural hair colour is a sort of reddy brown that goes really quite blonde in the summer and really quite dark in the winter. Here are some photos of my natural hair colour:
However I have been dying my hair off and on since I was about 19 years old. That’s why I’m so young in the two photos I could find with my natural hair. The top one I was at primary school I think and the bottom I was about 16.
I have mostly dyed my hair black over the years though I have experimented with reds and one time I went blonde. See examples below:
To be honest I’ve had pretty much every colour under the sun – including some real disasters!
Chemical hair dyes have links to bladder cancer, many serious skin conditions and can have devastating symptoms when a person is allergic to any of the myriad ingredients that can be found in them. I say all this and I have been dying my hair for a VERY long time and would happily change my colour more than once in a month. I have used an awful lot of hair dye over the years. I did it without really thinking about the consequences to myself or the environment.
There are many natural ways to tint your hair but henna’s effect lasts longer than a vegetable rinse and adds shine, highlights and bounce to your hair. Henna products, which are gluten-free and animal-cruelty-free, are not always a red colour, but all henna contains and imparts a little red. You can get henna in a wide array of shades, not just red, but it will not lighten hair. The other colours usually contain indigo. Henna enhances your natural colour rather than totally covering it, which allows some of your natural highlights to come through. Coating and sealing advantages are inherent with henna.
You still need to be careful when selecting henna products. The FDA states that certain “black henna” may contain the “coal tar” color p-phenylenediamine. This is very toxic – DO NOT BUY HENNA THAT HAS PPD in it. You must make sure that any henna you buy is 100% natural. It shouldn’t have anything other than cassia, henna, indigo in it. Lush henna has herbal ingredients and so on and that’s fine but the colouring agents must be one of, or a combination of, the ones listed above.
My favourite products are Lush Caca Rouge and Renaissance henna. I always use 100% henna only. That makes your hair very red though! Not for the faint-hearted.
There are various ways you can mix up henna but my preferred method after trying a few things out is just to add hot water and a little cider vinegar. I leave it for a few hours and then put it into dry hair. It can be tricky to do as the mixture is thick and doesn’t spread the way other dyes do. You get the hang of it with practice though. Then you wrap it in cling film or a carrier bag and wrap your head in a warm towel. I leave it on for 4 hours usually but occasionally wear it to bed then rinse it out in the morning.
Henna has quite a strong smell but I don’t find it unpleasant (though many people do). It is VERY messy! It takes a lot longer than chemical dye. Despite these minor drawbacks I can’t recommend switching to henna highly enough!
My hair has improved in health no end and feels stronger, thicker and is much shinier than when I was constantly dying it. I know that only natural ingredients are touching me and that I haven’t added to environmental damage in the process.
There’s a really fantastic guide to dying your hair with henna here:
that’s very detailed. The link she lists for the free book doesn’t work but here is the one that does: