Undiluted Type

Priestess. Writer. Geek.

Roughly a month ago, I had discovered the hair colour I used for the past few years had been discontinued. L’OREAL Feria’s Bright Red Copper gave me the intensity and radio-activeness I had desired for years. When it was taken off the shelves because it simply didn’t sell as well as their more “mundane” Power Reds, I went on a search for the perfect replacement.

I Googled, I searched, I inquired, and I sought. Like the Holy Grail of hair colours, I was bound and determined to find it again. Most folks may not understand what the big deal is, but for those of you who colour your fine tresses — you get it. Your hairstyle is a definite marker of who you are. It is the first thing people notice (in my opinion) and it’s a representation of the spirit you possess. There’s a reason why so many former blonds, who went brunette, go back to blond — it suits them. Any other colour feels like one is wearing a business suit two sizes too small.

After a few days into my mission, I found a possibility – HENNA. Henna? I tried Henna over a decade ago and it barely made a reddish dent into my stubborn cowlick hair. The site I visited was Mehandi.com. What caught my eye was not only the intensity of the red produced by their henna, which is a translucent dye, but that it was body henna. Apparently henna marketed for hair is not really 100% henna afterall. Huh.

The next two weeks I read through their forum, jotted down notes, and decided to order a few samples. I concocted mixtures of three different kinds of henna to see which had the dye I desired. Results? Punjabi Prime won by a landslide.

Last week I ordered my 500gms of Punjabi Prime and a dozen plastic gloves. I did some samples on my hair: one batch with water/lemon juice/henna, the other apple juice/henna. Henna is an amazing thing. When one first rinses it out of their hair, all they see is ZOMG BRIGHT ORANGE. Fine for me, I’m used to vibrant colour. Yet over the next one to three days, as it oxidizes, it darkens and reddens. Plus, and THIS part I love, it does not fade. The intensity stays so much so, that every six weeks rather than having to redo my whole head to recapture the brilliantness of it, I merely have to do the roots.

Back to the hair samples — turned out the one in lemon juice gave the henna a more orangey, brassy colour. However, the apple juice sample still gave the coppery colour, but it was more rich and intense.

Last night I took the plunge and mixed my 500gms of Punjabi Prime Henna with 6 -8 cups of apple juice into a bowl. I let it sit overnight, roughly 12 hours so the dye could release, and at 10am this morning, I started applying the paste. It was smooth and creamy like whipped mashed potatoes. And after all the hub bub I read about the smell? I didn’t mind it actually. The coolness of the henna against my scalp felt wonderful, like a mud mask. It took me roughly an hour to apply the paste to every inch of hair I could find and then some of the spots I missed. Next I wrapped my locks up into some suran wrap where I looked like an anime alien character and I let it sit for about 5 hours. I’m sure 2 hours would have sufficed, but as this was my first attempt at Henna, I didn’t want to take any chances of it not being long enough and having to re-do.

Next came the part I dreaded. In the Henna For Hair forums, many women warned of how dry henna makes your hair (or more specfically, the acidic compound you use to release the dye: lemon juice, oj, apple juice, etc.) and one would have to use A LOT of conditioner to get it relatively normal. That and getting the henna out took forever. Well, I followed one poster’s advice and let my head soak in the tub for 10 minutes. It was lovely actually, laying there in the warm water as the scent of henna eased my muscles. I started to swish my head back and forth like a washing machine, and I could feel my once plastered hair give way and float in the water. The henna was all out. No clumps. No major mess. No picking any remnants out of my hair. It merely started dissolving and turned the bath water a deep reddish brown.

I flipped on the shower and applied two large helpings of conditioner. Let it sit for two minutes and rinsed. Done. No trauma, no straw-like hair, no extra conditioning.

When I stepped out the tub, the first thing I saw in the mirror was the bright orange roots. “Yes!! I’m back!!” Combing it was a breeze and my hair feels the healthiest it has in years.

Yeah. This henna is damn good stuff.

BEFORE

AFTER

BEFORE

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