Sunday, 19 January 2014

Henna Adventures!

Chinese New Year is coming, and it was time to colour my hair.  I have a lot of grey hair.  And I do mean A. LOT.  Part of the reason is because I'm not very young (I refuse to admit I'm old), and part of it is because I started getting grey/white hair at a young age.  I believe I got my first white hair in secondary school.

Anyway, it has been some time since I coloured it.  Almost a year, I think.

I am very particular about colouring my hair - I am only interested in colouring the grey, and do not wish to change the colour of my black hair.  As a result, I tended to use only semi-pemanent colouring. This also meant that the colour fades after a while.  Although things have improved in recent years with ammonia-free colouring which does a decent job of colouring the grey without affecting the black much.

The previous time I coloured my hair, I used henna, a plant dye traditionally used for applying intricate but temporary tattoos on brides' hands and feet in middle-eastern and Indian weddings.

Picture borrowed from

My Mum had coloured her hair with henna before, and the effect was very nice.  She convinced me to try it, and I liked it too!  Not too bold or wild (I'm boring - I've only ever chosen dark brown when I coloured my hair in the past), and yet different.

I like henna because it only colours the white hair, leaving it bright orange.  Because I still have quite a bit of black, there is a nice peekaboo effect, rather than me going around with a whole head  of bright orange hair.

In addition, it conditions the hair too!  My hair feels really soft after I applied henna to it.

The only downsides to using henna are:

1) It is messy.   You basically mix the henna powder with hot water to make a paste and smear that all over your hair.  It stains skin really easily, so you have to ensure that it is not on your face or ears or neck.  Which is not as easy to keep track of as you'd think, because you're trying to ensure that you did not miss any spots on your hair.  I brilliantly forgot to use a glove this time, so now I have orange hands.

The good news is that it fades after several washes.  The picture above was taken four days after I had coloured my hair, but the palm of my hand is still pretty orange (contrast to the back of my fingers).  Imagine what it was like on the day of!

2) It is time-consuming.  It is best to prepare the paste in advance so that the colour can develop, so you'll have to remember to do that step ahead of time.  After the applying, it also needs a lot of time to set.  I let mine sit for about 3 hours.

Can you see the nice peekaboo effect?  All that muted orange was white/grey!
Looking through the pictures, I realise that I did not do a very thorough job, as I can still see quite a bit of white.  I'll try to find some time before New Year to colour it again, but I'm not very hopeful.
  We'll see how it goes.

What are you doing to prepare for Chinese New Year?

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