Friday, January 6, 2012

Henna for Hair: The Simple Way

Alright, let's just jump right in, because when you're researching henna (or anything for that matter), the last thing you want is a lecture.
I'm just going to show you, step-by-step, how I apply henna to my hair.
Pay attention to the following colors:
This is important.
This is how I do it.

BUT FIRST!! The henna basics:

  • Henna is messy.
  • Henna has a grassy, hay-like smell that will linger for about a week.
  • Henna is good for your hair.
  • Using henna on your hair takes a LONG time!
  • The more time, the longer the stain lasts.
  • The ingredients have nothing to do with the stain. If you bought good quality henna, you will get a good stain.
  • And henna turns things RED. Not black, or yellow, or blue.
  • Henna stains.
  • Henna will not dye black hair.

Step 1: Get Henna!
I use Seasons Dulhan brand. Click for Amazon

Step 2: Mix the henna.
This is THE most confusing part of mehndi. There are so many "Magic" recipes out there. What do I add? Which ingredients make the best combination? What color exactly do I want? How much do I mix?
The simple solution is: water.
And heck, just mix the entire box. If you have extra, you can give yourself a tattoo or something!
Acidic ingredients (lemon, vinegar) will make it more orangey.
But no matter what you add, the color won't vary much from the "henna red."

Plain and simple, just mix the powder with water. you will still get a good stain.

I use the whole box because I have a lot of hair. I add lemon juice for about half of the liquid needed (You can, of course just mix it all with lemon, but whatever.). Then I mix the rest with water.

Okay, now THIS is another part that trips people up. The texture of the henna mixture.
It should be like a thick pudding.

TIP: It's always safer to add less water than you need, mix, and then add however much more that you need.

Step 3: Wrap it.
I'm very picky about this step. Use plastic wrap if you can, and press it down so that you seal all air out of the container/bowl.

Step 4: Keep it warm.

Put it on a high shelf (because heat rises, right?) and leave it there for 3-4 hours. Just make sure it stays warm so that the dye can release.
I usually mix mine in the morning and leave it until night.

Step 5: Wait.

Step 6: Check on it.
If the dye has released properly, you may proceed to Step 7. Your henna should look like this. Two distinct colors.
If not, refer back to Step 5.

Step 7: Prepare to apply.
I need to break this down into a few sub-steps for you.
7a: Give the henna mixture a swirl. Make sure the dye has been mixed again before application.
7b: Collect the following items: wet washcloth, rubber gloves, sink (hopefully with a mirror), towel, crap-shirt (in case you drip), clips, comb, shower cap, and anything else you think you need to be careful.
7c: Get dressed for henna-ing! I have ONE designated shirt I wear whenever I dye my hair, just so I don't ruin lots of good pajama shirts! (Make sure you also wear some pants that you don't care about.)
7d: Set up the towel beneath where you will be standing to apply the henna.
7e: Put them rubba' gloves on and set the henna container close to the sink (maybe even IN it?).
7f: Keep the wet washcloth closeby, just in case you're a slob like me and tend to smear henna on your face, neck, and ears.

Step 8: APPLY!
Finally we begin the process.
Start with a straight part. apply a nice glob of henna at the roots of the part and rub it in on one side.
use the comb, or your finger and run it past your part about an inch away from the last part. Flip it over, slap a glob of that goo on the part and spread it.
Keep going until both sides of your head are sufficiently covered. And don't forget the backside of your hair. You know, that part of your head you never see, but know it exists?
TIP: Rub any extra into the rest of your hair and for extra measure, massage your scalp to make sure you've gotten all the way to the roots! In this case, more will definitely not hurt.
Put the shower cap over your gooey green hair. This prevents any unwanted staining of objects that are NOT hair. AND it seals in all of that precious heat. Henna likes heat.

Step 9: Clean!
Barney would have us sing a song while we clean up but I won't make you do that (unless you want to.... /=| ).
Use the washcloth to wipe any henna that is on your skin, because IT WILL STAIN. It's not called henna for nothing! Rinse, and clean up any, and I mean ANY blobs that missed your skin and you hair. Henna will stain toilets, counters, plastics, and floors! The sooner you clean it up, the sooner it will go away. And henna is a MEAN stainer. 
Clean ALL residue, do not leave slightly orangey water in the sink, because even that will stain.

Step 10: Wait. 
This is why I wait until night to do this. I can sleep with the henna in my hair and not have to worry about staining anything except my pillow perhaps.
If you choose to sleep with the henna and cap on all night, I suggest putting a towel between your head and the pillow. And make sure it's not a towel you love.

Step 11: Wash hair.
You want to wait a few hours. 6 hours or more is best. Rinse all of it out. Basically, until the water runs clear (or clearish). Then use shampoo and conditioner to make sure everything gets out.

Your hair will not be it's peak color for a day or two, but the color change should be noticeable.