Hello Henna, Part I.

I guess I totally skipped blogging in April. Helloooo May!

Not much has been happening since my last blog post. I did try out a couple of new make up and skin care products but it wasn’t anything too exciting.

Anyways, I bought a block of Lush Henna Hair Dye in Caca Rouge yesterday and just went through the tedious steps of getting it in my hair, and now I have 6 hours to kill before washing it all out.

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My semi-chopped block.

I saw this product on their US website a few months ago, and had actually tweeted them to ask if they had it here, but didn’t get a reply. It was only when I stepped in yesterday to check out the shampoo range that I saw the henna blocks sitting on the shelf too. After asking the salesgirl a bunch of questions on how the different colours would turn out and stuff, I left with the red one. Might as well be adventurous to the max, right?

Now, without further ado, here are my initial thoughts (and a mini tutorial) on the Lush Henna Hair Dye…

1. The price.
One block of Lush Henna Hair Dye retails here for $25.50, which is surprisingly on par with the US price which is $24.95. Some of the other Lush products cost quite a bit more over here. On top of that, one block comes marked out into 6 squares, and although the girl said I would need 4 squares just for my hair length (I was skeptical about that), I checked out a couple of tutorials and reviews on YouTube, and figured I would only need 2 — I was right. Gonna keep the rest for touch ups, and apparently this can keep for 10 months, so I essentially paid $8.50 to dye my hair once. Cheaper than buying damaging chemical hair dye from the drugstore!

2. The scent.
Maybe it’s because I’m Asian, but I actually find that the scent is mildly pleasant. Most of the reviews I watched said that the smell is horrible, it’s like grass, it’s like herbs, etc, but I can actually live with this! It doesn’t make me feel sick, there’s no ammonia to creep up my nose and hit me in the head…it actually reminds me of curry. =/

3. The preparation.
Being prepared is VERY important. You really need to gather everything you need beforehand to prepare the henna mixture efficiently.

What you’ll need:
1. A bowl (either one that you don’t mind staining/can’t get stained, or just cover it in aluminium foil to be doubly safe, like I did)
2. A knife
3. A stove and pot of boiling water (large enough to hold your bowl up)
4. Hot water
5. A spoon or spatula (I’d say spoon so you can also use it for application later)
6. A coaster (optional, but recommended)

What to do:

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1. Chop up the amount of henna that you need. As mentioned, I used 2 squares for my slightly-past-chin-length hair with some mixture to spare. If you have shoulder length hair, I would suggest using 3 or 4 squares. A rule of thumb that I stick to for hair dyeing is: more is better than less.
Tip: Chopping up the squares into smaller chunks make the melting process faster.

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2. Wrap your bowl in foil if you have to, then place the henna chunks in it and pour some hot water in. I can’t tell you exactly how much water to use, but I started out with half a mug, and gradually added more later. Use your spoon/spatula to break the chunks down even more and and mash it around. Once the chunks have been broken down somewhat, transfer the bowl to your pot of boiling water (double boiler time, yo).

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You can’t really see it here, but my bowl is sitting on a pot.

Stir, stir, stir.

Your aim is to get the mixture to the consistency of yoghurt, and TRY to get it as smooth as possible. Gritty is fine, lumpy is not. Gradually add more hot water if the mixture is too thick. Once you’re happy with the consistency, take the bowl off (carefully! there’s plenty of steam right below it to scald you) and let it cool down a bit before the application process.

4. The application.
Like I said in point 3, being prepared is VERY important, especially so for the henna application. There’s no way this could be easier to apply than chemical dyes in a nozzle-tip bottle, so read the following carefully.

What you’ll need:
1. The henna mixture
2. A spoon
3. Disposable latex gloves (I used plastic gloves, but I’m pretty sure latex would be slightly cleaner)
4. NEWSPAPER
5. Scissors
6. A T-shirt you’re ok with staining
7. Cling wrap
8. Lots of toilet paper
9. Vaseline or facial cleanser

What to do:

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1. Spread newspaper on your bathroom floor and counter top. This stuff drips and crumbles, and newspaper will make clean up a lot easier than wiping everything down. Also prevents stains.

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2. It would also be wise to wear a shirt that you don’t mind staining, and again, to be doubly clean, cut a hole in your newspaper and wear it over your shoulders (as pictured) to catch runaway henna mixture. The T-shirt will also come in handy in the last step.

3. Apply the Vaseline or cleanser around your hairline to reduce staining, then put on your gloves, and start applying the mixture. The instructions on the website said to work from back to front, but I did it the other way round because I find it to be cleaner since I can pile whatever I’ve covered on the top of my head while I work on the rest of my hair. To each his own, I say, especially if you’re used to DIY colouring at home.

4. After you’ve covered all your hair, use whatever excess mixture that’s left to really pile your hair on top of your head and keep it compact. Take the tissue and clean up your hairline and ears because this stuff really stains, then wrap your head with cling wrap (according to Lush, it’ll give you a more vibrant red).

If you have no skill like me, the cling wrap isn’t secure, and you don’t have a towel that you don’t mind ruining, you could use your T-shirt to add an extra layer of cover. As though you’re taking your shirt off, get your arms free of the sleeves, and bring the back of the T-shirt up and over to cover your head. After that, pull the front of the shirt up so the neckline rests at your hairline, and cover your head with the shirt from front to back. Gather the loose cloth around the nape of your neck and twist it to tighten before securing the ends with a claw clip. You can now put on another T-shirt carefully and wait it out for 6 hours.

Did that make sense? I hope it did.

5. The wait.
Yup. Wait for 1 to 6 hours. The instructions say “For darker, richer colours, leave on longer (up to six hours)”. I’m not going to take any chances with this first application, so I guess I’ll be wearing this ridiculous head wrap during dinner time. I started the whole process (starting with the prep) at 2:30pm, so I’ll only get to wash this out around 9pm. This is probably the biggest downside to dyeing your hair with henna. The mess, if you’re careful, is minimal, but oh my gosh. Waiting for hours before you can wash the thing out? It’s worse than sitting at a hair salon and doing hair treatment. Then again, since I’m doing this at home, I have the freedom to do other stuff while waiting (like blogging about the experience). Biggest word of advice: Only do this when you have a whole day to spare.

——————–

I guess I’ll only be able to give my final verdict on whether this product really improves the condition of my hair and whether the colour is noticeable, etc, but from what I’ve experienced so far, I would say that the dyeing process is manageable, and not as scary as I initially thought it would be.

Stay tuned for the results!

[Updates:

5:26pm – It’s been around 2 1/2 hours since I wrapped my head up, and please note that this stuff still drips because of the water and oils! I wiped up some greenish liquid from around my hairline and ears, and I would advise you to be alert in case it runs down your face or neck. I’ve heard people say that they sleep with their head wrapped up and with a towel over their pillow, but I personally wouldn’t risk it.

7:38pm – I have 1 1/2 hours to go! Just discovered a stray hair that’s hanging out of my pseudo-turban. It probably won’t be noticeable if it didn’t get coloured, but the feeling that I missed a couple of strands still kinda sucks. Haha.

10:01pm – Finally washed everything out, lightly blow-dried my hair, and applied some leave-in conditioner. I’m loving the results but my phone camera is poop when it comes to taking photos in artificial light, so I’ll put up another post tomorrow when I’ve better pics! :D ]

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