Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Holistic Hair

I’ve been wanting to go back to hennaing my hair and return to my natural ways that I’d abandoned when I moved to L.A. A year and a half ago, I stopped dying my hair with permanent color. These past months, I’ve been living with the gray. Odd to use that expression “living” as if the gray isn’t a natural part of my being as I age. Actually, gray first appeared in my twenties and the dying to hide it began in my late twenties. Over a decade later, as more gray takes over, I’ve been living in fear of it. Age obsessed L.A. hasn’t helped. Even worse, I used to work in Entertainment where the greatest sin is aging. Not working in the entertainment industry any more, I don’t feel that pressure of looking/acting young. I had fun with my tri-colored hair. Then it became a must to do. So I decided to become one with my grays, this is, until I found chestnut color henna at Whole Foods. I can deal with my vanity better when beauty products are more environmentally friendly.

The best part of getting a salon hair color is that someone else does it and cleans up the mess. It’s worth the extra cash as old dye stains on my shower curtain can attest. My hair dresser was open to doing the henna application for me. However, after reading the henna instructions – having to do a strand test to figure out how long to put it on for, using only distilled water that’s boiled, having to use a Pyrex bowl and a non-metal spoon - I decided to do my granola practice in the sanctity of my own home. I couldn’t imagine schelping the henna, bowl, wooden spoon and nutmeg to my salon located near the media district of Burbank. This is a world of fluff and poof, not a holistic hair practice.

So off I went to mix my henna recipe. I followed directions, so I thought. The mixture came out to the color and consistency of wet cat liter. Putting it on didn’t dispel that description. It also doesn’t smell that pretty. (You can add spices to enhance the color (and smell). I chose nutmeg to make the color more chestnut.) The instructions said to part the hair and put it on. Oh, I wish I really paid attention to that instead of starting on top. Unlike the liquid products that soak into your hair, you’re plastering this stuff on so I already created this stiff slop on top without knowing how to get it through the rest of my hair. I learned from a past non-henna dying experience that combing it through your hair is not ideal. I didn't count on the projectile of the dye landing on my white linen shower curtain. So combing was out. The paste seemed too stiff so I decided to add more water. This meant going to the kitchen to get some more distilled, boiled water so I bundled up my hair and went to the kitchen (note to future self, have extra distilled, boiled water in bathroom)… After watering it down, it became a little easier to use. Then I ran out. So I wrapped up my head again and headed out to the kitchen. Originally, I used what the instructions said for shorter hair – 1 – 2 ounces. I didn’t account for my hair’s thickness. So I mixed two more. That was too much. Three ounces is just right. (With this mishap, you’d think I was going for Goldilocks).

Having encased my head with henna, I fully intended to sit under my heat lamp and read a magazine like I would at the hairdressers. But then I got involved in writing this blog and 40 minutes passed. I don’t know the total amount I had the henna on – could be thirty, could be forty minutes. Being a natural product I wasn’t that worried until I saw the red blotches on my neck. Although natural, it is made from a plant. Oops. Well I was ready to was it out anyway. Henna is gritty – possibly compounded by the nutmeg and it takes awhile to wash out – and wash out. Combing it out helped, as did washing it twice. Although it wasn’t perfect gray coverage, it did work. At least my hair matches my eyebrows now. It isn’t such a salt and pepper mish mash but mostly chestnut. And the henna smell will probably fade in a few days…. At least the red patches faded.

No comments: