A few months back I decided to never dye my hair again. Knowing that the toxic chemicals used in hair dye are linked to cancers, why on earth would I opt to have contact with this stuff? Also, with a bit of white hair coming in, I knew it would only be a matter of time until I would be trapped in the cycle of constantly colouring to keep the impending greys at bay. So I decided to just grin and bear it, look my age, and deal with what nature decided was best.
In all honesty, though, I missed being called “Red” sometimes. I missed seeing my strawberry blond or copper tones in the sun. In choosing to not go for a toxic soup while missing the colourfulness of past days, I was lucky to find an alternative.
In conversation with my Herbalist (Tammy Schmidt, CHT) I recalled that when I was a teen, I had used henna on my hair a few times. I would always go red or copper. I liked it, but eventually changed over to regular hair dye, as it was more convenient for me then.
Turns out that using henna on the hair is not only safe to do, but some find the process and tradition to be spiritual and rejuvenating, as well as beautifying. Here I will describe a bit about the process that I went through the other evening when I made time to henna my hair. (Thanks to my Herbalist to provide me with information about the process, and for finding me some very good quality, organic henna!)
The experience: After reading instructions and suggestions, I mixed up a subtle and conservative colour mixture that would add a touch of colour to my hair. (In the future I think I will be more daring.) When I had my wonderfully pungent mixture ready, I globbed the henna onto my hair, eventually slapping on piles of the aromatic organic goo. It stuck to my head with the consistency of clay.
Because one ingredient was boiling water, the henna mixture was nice and warm.
post-henna lighter bits
Not only did my hair and scalp get a wonderful herbal treatment, but the warmth was very calming. Another benefit for my skin was the organic olive oil I rubbed into my hairline, forehead, hands, and all over my ears beforehand. This action was in order to prevent the henna from dyeing those parts of me, but a side-benefit was a good moisturizing.
I have never moisturized my ears, before!
post-henna darker bits
When I used old Ms Clairol, I would always have a drip or two of unruly colour left over on my neck or ears… this time that didn’t happen. The aroma was rich, and natural feeling and smelling. With toxic dyes, the smell is a chemical odour or a fake perfumed stench. While my hair was wrapped up and I waited for the magic to happen, I felt good. It is hard to explain, but using a natural plant-based dye made me feel connected to culture and nature, in a way that buying into stinky and mysterious chemicals does not do. I will never dye my hair again… but will continue to henna!
Natasha Henderson, Montreal