Embracing my natural hair color

30 Jan

Well that was the plan anyway.  After having colored my hair for close to 25 years, I got really tired of the hassle and decided to go back to my natural color to see what it is after all these years and how much white hair I really have.

That plan lasted about 6 weeks and here I sit with a blob of LUSH Caca Rouge henna on my head.

I’ve been coloring my hair since I was about 17 so it’s been between 20 and 25 years.  Although my dad had brilliant red hair like an Irish Setter and my mom has beautiful dark Native American hair, I somehow ended up with a mousey shade of light brown/dark blonde.  Very boring, bland, and ordinary.

So as soon as my mom would let me I started screwing around with various shades of blonde from platinum to black and everywhere in between.  In high school I would often color it a few times a week just to have a change.  Many a time I totally fried my hair with bleaching and perming and achieving 80s styles.  To this day I’m still amazed that I have a single hair on my head after all the abuse.  And I could never seem to grow my hair out past my shoulders.  Partly because I was always damaging it and any new growth was a moot point as the damage always had to be cut off.

I’m not a professional cosmetologist, just someone who likes to experiment with hair colors so I’ve picked up a lot of knowledge about how to use products, what works, what doesn’t, and what not to do.  In junior high and high school I had several professional beauty heads that I used to play with all the time.  Braiding the hair, cutting, curling, you name it.  A few of my friends were really freaked out by the collection of heads in my closet but most liked to play along with me.  I probably should have gone to beauty school but the thought of a client being unhappy with me about a haircut or color they don’t like was too scary so I never did it. Looking back on my life, that’s something I regret, especially since I could have gone to beauty school for free (a fringe benefit of my dad being a city employee).

Anyway, a few years back I hit on a really great shade of red that works with my skin tone and is anything but ordinary.  But as anyone who is not a natural redhead knows, reds are a bitch to keep fresh looking.  Reds are the fastest fading color of them all so one has to color more often and that’s a bitch too.  So I began exploring methods for coloring my hair a natural looking shade of red, but one that would not fade.

And that’s when I found henna.  I always knew about henna but was terrified of it as I’ve heard lots of horror stories about peoples’ hair turning green and having to cut all the hennaed hair off if one wants to make a color change.  Still, I was intrigued, and turned to LUSH – one of my favorite bath and body companies.

LUSH makes bricks of henna in a few different colors so I picked up a block of Marron and Rouge.  Rouge is a more red shade and Marron is a deeper, more chestnut red color.  I mixed a bit of the two shades together, melted them in a crockpot, then smeared it all over my head and let it sit for a few hours.

But man, that process of hennaing once a month really gets old. It takes about 15 minutes to prepare, then an hour or two in the crock pot, it’s messy to apply, it has to sit on my head for a minimum of an hour, and it’s hard to wash out. It also has to oxidize, which means once I wash it out, the color brightens and mellows out of the course of a few days so the color right after I wash it out is not the same color I’ll see a few days later.  So it’s not like Nice N Easy where I can say oh I’m gonna color my hair right now and it takes less than an hour from start to colored, dried, and styled.  No, I have to schedule it so that I’m home to mix, tend, stir, and sit for a few hours.

But I gotta say that the results are stunning.  About 2 months after I first started hennaing, I attended a formal party with my parents and everyone was like “oh, look at that beautiful red hair, you must be Lenny’s daughter.” They were picking me out of crowds of people because my hair was so not ordinary and I was “obviously blessed with my dad’s hair”.  Ha!  If they only knew.

So even though I’m not one who always likes to be the center of attention, it was nice to be picked out of a crowd for not looking ordinary.  It was nice to have people stop me in public places to tell me how beautiful my hair was.  And the benefits of henna are amazing.  A friend and I were hiking one day when the sun suddenly came out from behind the clouds and she literally grabbed my arm to stop me and said “dude, your hair is ridiculously shiny”.  It’s also incredibly healthy, it’s thicker, and the color does not fade. It’s like a wonder plant.

But like I said, it’s a bitch to keep up with so for about 8 weeks I stopped. I applied Color Oops to get as much henna out as I could and then dyed it back to my mousey brown/dark blond.  I figured I’d see if my hair was still that same color.  I wanted to know how much white hair I’ve really got growing out of my head.  My dad and his mom were both totally white by the time they were 40 and since I take after them in certain respects, I always assumed I would be too.  I left my hair alone long enough to find out that I’ve only got a little white in the front and at the temples so I guess I got lucky there.

But every day for the last 6-8 weeks I’ve looked in the mirror and hate what I see looking back at me.  I’m not ordinary or boring or bland.  So the experiment is over and here I still sit with this blob of goo on my head for as long as I can stand it.  Even though it’s a total pain in the ass, I have to go back to what looks best and what makes me happy when I look in the mirror.  Just finished hour 2.  Hoping to keep it on for another 2 hours.  Beauty really does hurt.

1 Comment

Posted by on January 30, 2010 in beauty, henna


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One response to “Embracing my natural hair color

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