For those who color their hair – does your scalp ever burn when you have color, or more correctly developer on your hair? Mine always has. Sometimes it’s not awful; other times I can feel the chemical burn etching into my scalp. Usually it will remain sore for 2-5 days, then begins to itch and flake, like a bad case of dandruff.
When I was younger I used dandruff shampoo, which didn’t work and didn’t not work. It was the same as any other shampoo. Finally I learned that my skin is dry, and I don’t have dandruff, so I stopped using those shampoos. They aren’t compatible with hair color anyway.
Usually I’d tell the hair colorist how much it burned, and they’d either nod in agreement or say, “you should have told me,” if it was after the fact. But they never changed anything.
Fast forward many years. I guess with my transition to a more bohemian lifestyle, hair color came to mind. First, I consulted my hair stylist about letting it go grey. She agreed but said I should take my very dark brown (or red, depending on the year) hair to blonde first. Then I could let it grow out as I please, and she could add highlights and lowlights until the growing-out process was done.
I did go blonde, in fact blonde with pink streaks for a while. I liked it. But as the grey came in, I felt washed out. So I went back to dark hair and suffering through the pain from dyeing it. And once again the all-natural lifestyle came up. By this time we were eating a plant-based diet and had removed some chemical cleaners from our home. How did this fit with hair color?
Finally I ran across henna. Back when I was younger, henna was something you put on your hair with shaky results – some bright or bright version of red. Or if you weren’t as lucky, maybe orange. Nowadays, henna, possibly mixed with other natural products, can be controlled while still being all-natural and even all organic.
To achieve my original hair color, dark brown, henna is mixed with indigo. In looking online I found that it was messy, took a long time to process, and continues to develop over the first few days. Nowhere did I see scalp burn. I was in.
I ordered a sample from Mehandi, using their dark brown. You can see that here. About the same time, there was the Wax Incident with my dreadlocks, my hair turned to light brown from all the shampooing. The dark brown sample didn’t have any other color – it was a flat brown. I decided to bump up to a medium brown (You can always go darker, right). While looking, I found this brand which costs about half. I thought it also didn’t have to sit out to “cure”, but it did – but only for a couple hours (according to the outside packaging) or 45 minutes (according to the inner part).
Well I got my locks completely redone in between there. Do you notice how much time I’m spending on hair, here? Do we all do that? Probably! So I timed it to get the locks done, then a couple weeks later I’d do the color. This time I didn’t bother to make up a sample; I just went for it. That’s me.
Hubby, bless his heart, had actually gotten used to the locks by this point. He said well you aren’t going to color the long part, are you? Cause they’re different, they have red in them, and it looks good to have that variation. So now I’m going to color the top of my head but not the rest.
I mixed up the color early one morning thinking I’d slap it on, and have it done by lunch – henna, being a natural plant-based product, has to sit on your hair for THREE HOURS. That’s when I read what I’d missed, that the mixture needed to sit for two hours before you put it on your hair. No worries, I’m trying to migrate websites from one web host to another (that will make you grit your teeth). So hubs made me a pitcher of coffee to mix with the henna and indigo. I mixed my “pudding”, left it on the counter, and went to the computer. When I came back, I pulled out the rest of the package contents, that’s when I saw on the insert that it really only had to rest for 45 minutes. Never mind, I’m not re-doing this.
When people tell you henna application is messy, believe them. What a muddy, sloppy mess. I covered my sink with newspapers and my hands with the plastic gloves they supplied. I got out a bunch of different sized hair clips, but the henna mix was so thick I could sort of goop my hair against my head, so I only ended up using one clip.
When it was done there was no doubt in my mind that people should fill the bathtub and sit in it while applying henna. Perhaps with a glass of wine, or a whole bottle. That stuff was all over the place.
Next, I had to let t stay on my head for three hours. Hubs helpfully said,” This is just going to be a henna day, isn’t it?”
Now picture this. I’ve got hair just past my shoulders that’s the loose hair I’m trying to color. I’ve got long dreadlocks beneath that which go to my waist. I’m painting the top part with mud while trying to avoid the bottom part. The shower cap provided covers just my head. I put that on, wrapped another piece of saran wrap across it and below to cover the tops of the locks. Still I felt that I would not be able to move around the house without fear of dripping, so I took my plastic superwoman cape that I wear to protect my clothes from hair color and twisted that sucker around the locks and all my hair, and used claw-type hair clips to hold it all up there. I was stylin’.
Three hours passed; the website still wasn’t working but my head was tired of sitting in mud. Went to rinse my hair. You can’t shampoo at this point, you can only rinse. And rinse. And rinse.
Much of the concoction had dried like green mud. I’m scrubbing green mud out of my head. Finally I thought I was done and dried my hair. But clumps of green were still in there – for example, if I scratched my head, my nails had green under them.
The color was good; I’d call it a definite medium brown with a touch of gold showing. They claim that it keeps developing for the next few days. I didn’t see that. It did not color my grey/white roots very well. They look a bit orange. This isn’t a deal breaker; I think they’ll get covered with the next application.
Over the few days, I did not see a change. Maybe the roots weren’t as bad as I’d thought. I like the color and will definitely use it again. No burn! I may try the Mehandi next since I liked it so much in the beginning.