I've been dyeing my hair for years now, mainly because I love trying out new hair colours and most hair dyes don't show up on my dark hair. And then stories about PPD allergy hit the headlines on this side of the world and totally freaked me out! Swollen faces, comas and even death was enough for me to swear off chemical dyes.
PPD (para-phenylenediamine) is a chemical found in most hair dyes, particularly darker colour dyes. According to www.foodsmatter.com "Once a person has become sensitised to PPD (has suffered a significant reaction) that sensitisation is likely to remain with them for life. Moreover, they may also have become sensitised to other PPD related chemicals, of which there are, unfortunately, a large number including:
Azo dyes – used in foods, medication, other hair dyes, ballpoint pen inks and diesel oil
Para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA) – used in over-the-counter sunscreens
Benzocaine, procaine, sulfonamides, sulfones, sulfa and para-aminosalicylic acid – all widely used in anaesthetics and drugs.
The sufferer could then develop a wide range of sensitivities which make everyday living very difficult"
Google PPD allergies and you'll get some graphic pictures of people who have gotten horrible reactions to hair dyes containing PPD.
Already, I was not enjoying the whole hair dyeing process because the smell of the mixture was really strong and I had to make sure I had the windows wide open in order not to feel the chemicals burning up my nostrils. So when the whole PPD allergy news came out, I was done. I checked out a local chain here which sells natural-based products and discovered Logona, which makes hair dyes that are 100% natural, made from herbs.
I really enjoyed their Color Creme in Teak and was using that for a while. But then the greys started to make their appearance and the Logona Creme just wasn't doing a good job of covering it up. Since my hair is dark, a single grey strand is really obvious. So I did some reserarch and henna kept coming up. I read up all I could on henna and decided to give it a go. And I absolutely love it.
Henna For Hair was the best source of information on Henna that I found. It not only gives you all the information on henna for hair but also mentions other herbs you can mix with henna to get other shades besides red (Henna gives only a red colour. Any dye that claims to be natural but gives colours besides red without using indigo or cassia is not natural).
So I did my reading, dicovered the Body Art Quality henna is the best one to use, found a local Indian store that sold pure henna powder, bought it, mixed it, left it overnight to develop and applied it.
The result: shiny, auburn hair that completely covered any grey and even seemed to boost the health and condition of my hair. The grey strands, as Henna For Hair said, became reddish coppery strands which looked like highlights. I absolutely love the overall look!
And because it's all natural, I can top it up as often as I like without worrying about damaging my hair or health!
On the left is the day after dyeing my hair with henna. As you can see, all my strands were coated and indoors, it gives a very natural look with slight varying shades here and there where the light hits.
I felt like my hair looked more vibrant, healthier and the colour looked so much richer. On the right is my hair outside in bright daylight. I hope you can see the different shades that are coming through.
So the henna doesn't make one overall colour so you have uniform colour all over. It's like a glaze, in my opinion, in that it will coat the hair strands and just give a reddish tone to the natural or existing colour of that strand. So my lighter hair strands had a teak shade and the darker brown strands took a deeper chocolate brown shade that was auburn in the light And I love that effect! I feel it gives the hair more vibrancy rather than having one block colour all over.
In the picture above left, you can see the colour when the sun is shining from above. It's a copper-red shade and this shade deepens in the days after. So for my hair, it became a deeper shade of this copper-red. I feel like the colour "settles" more into the hair as if it bonds better and thus, the natural pigments in your hair mixes with the henna to form their own unique shade.
In the picture above right, the coppery red strands are the greys. As you can see, the henna has turned them to that reddish shade so in my hair, they look like highlighted strands.
So, I am definitely a convert and have hennaed my hair a couple of times since this first application. But for someone considering trying it out for the first time, here are some things to consider:
* The application can be messy and time consuming. Whereas chemical dyes available in the stores can be mixed within minutes and then applied, henna needs to be left for several hours for the dye to release before it can be applied. Ideally, you leave it overnight.
Then, when you're ready to apply, you have this yoghurt-like mixture that you need to generously slather all over your hair then leave for at least about 4 hours.
Of course, when you get the hang of it, as in my case, it becomes less of a messy affair. But it's definitely something to consider.
* The smell. It smells like wet, dry grass/hay or mud! I don't love it but I don't mind it either. Smells better than alot of the chemical dyes I've used and I don't have that burning, gasping sensation I get with chemical dyes.
* Last but not least, henna dyes only red. If you want to get other colours, then you have to mix with other herbs like Indigo or Cassia which means you'll have to do a bit of research and experimenting to get other shades besides red-based ones.
Above left is my hair from 3 years ago, which is more or less my natural hair colour. And above right is after my third henna top-up, late last year. You can see the auburn coming through, particularly towards the bottom (showing more auburn there because the daylight was hitting that area on the day). I love that indoors, my hair looks its naturally dark colour with the red coming through only when the light hits it or when I'm outdoors in bright sunlight. As I've said before, I'm so in love with the aurburn tone henna has given me and with it being a natural product, it has just ticked all the right boxes for me.
These last pictures are the most recent pictures, after a fourth top-up last month. I took them yesterday (25.03.2015). Left is in daylight and the right is just a little bit later when the afternoon sun was shining.
So that's my henna experience. I hope that, for those of you who were curious about dyeing your hair with henna, that my experience along with the pictures give you a better idea of how henna can look on the hair and please don't hesitate to let me know of any questions you might have.