So far, my “cosmetics quest” (an effort to minimize the number of toxins I willingly apply onto my hair and skin each morning) has been a combination of hits and misses. The two most challenging items I’ve been trying to source to date are deodorant and hair dye.
As you can see in my blog photo, I like to keep my hair red. But not long ago, I liked to keep my hair blonde. And before that … well, you get the picture. I’ve liked changing up my hair colour since I was a teenager. I’ve had pretty much every colour under the sun. Twice. What can I say? I just find my natural hair colour boring and want to add a little oompf to it.
For most women my age, colouring hair becomes a “must do” because they don’t like the look of their grey hair. So it’s a topic worth digging into a bit. The first time I had ever heard of hair dye as a health concern was when one of my book club friends said that research was starting to tie brown hair dye to cancer, so she was going to bite the bullet and go “au naturel.” Personally, I think it’s a great choice — grey hair has a real flair to it, I think.
But for those who insist on “needing” to colour our hair, Gillian Deacon, author of There’s Lead in Your Lipstick has some bad news for us:
“Permanent dyes last the longest and contain the most serious toxins. The semi- and demi-permanent colour rinses often avoid some of the troublesome chemicals, though not all. No matter what, if you’re going to hide your age with hair dye, you’re signing on for a chemical bath.”
However, there is an alternative if you want to go red. Henna can add a red tint to light brown or brown hair and, according to Deacon, the American Cancer Society recommends it as a viable safe alternative to conventional hair dyes.
I decided to try it. I have a very, very bad record of failed home hair colouring attempts, and I had long ago vowed to always go to a salon, so I didn’t take the decision lightly. But the combination of potential health consequences with the cost savings I could get from doing an at-home job were too much to resist. (I bought a brand called “colora” from Terra20).
So here’s the real deal on henna …
- The $9 price tag saves me a ton of money (most women can attest that they generally end up forking out around $100 for a salon hair colour job).
- It is all-natural and organic so I don’t have to get nervous like I do at the salon when I can feel the dye stinging my scalp.
- It takes less time to do than a salon appointment does (I always find it hard to schedule the time for hair appointments but this is easier when you’re at home).
- The end result was very good (not mind-blowing, and not exactly like the hair salon, but very good).
Here is a photo of the end result (this is 3 washes later). Like I said, I’m happy with it but next time I will focus more on the roots before an all-over application, leave the colour in longer (I was nervous, so only did 30 minutes instead of the recommended 1 hour), and go for a darker shade (there is a range of shade to pick from). Stella said the shade looked “Brave-ish.”
- It’s not an exact science … you mix water with powder and just hope your hair takes to the henna in a way that you like.
- It’s messy to apply and messy to rinse.
- It’s all-natural, so it smells all natural. Think mud with a touch of grass.
Would I do it again?
- Yes, I’m definitely going to do it again. Would I recommend it to others? Well, I don’t think it’s for everyone — that’s where the pros and cons can help you decide.
- You’ll need plastic gloves, a container, an application brush, and a plastic cap to cover your hair. For this, I used dishwashing gloves that could be rinsed off afterwards and used again, a large yogurt container that I recycled afterwards, a BBQ brush from the dollar store that can be rinsed and used again, and a disposable plastic shower cap from a recent hotel stay.
- Take Vaseline and dab it around the edge of your hairline to avoid getting henna colour stains on your forehead or around your ears.
- Use the BBQ brush mentioned above to apply the henna mixture really well along your hair part.
- Use an old towel for your shoulders and your hair to avoid accidentally getting henna colour on a good towel.
- If you’re not sure about how deep you want the colour to be, opt for 30 minutes instead of the full hour before you rinse it off.
What are your thoughts on hair dye … does it worry you at all? Are you religious about getting your hair appointments into your schedule? Have you tried henna before and do you have any other tips to share for my next time using it?