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November, 2005:

Third time’s a charm

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Okay, so this is my third before-and-after of my henna-head. I think my hair has reached maximum henna saturation, because this application blended in my roots but didn’t seriously affect the overall color!

Today’s recipe:

  • 100g henna
  • 1.5c double-strength chamomile
  • 2T olive oil (…garlic flavored, yuck! I didn’t have anything else on hand)
  • 2T Herbal Essences Intensive Blends conditioner

I left it in for only about 3 or 3.5 hours this time (instead of a full 4). I also slopped it on right after mixing it (with lukewarm chamomile), without waiting for dye release. I did this because I’ve heard that hair takes henna so much more easily than skin that you could use water, mix, and apply immediately with good results.

I applied it to my roots first, using a condiment dispenser I got for 85 cents at a kitchen store down the street:


I always had problems before with getting the henna near my scalp, though obviously it didn’t harm the final outcome. If you just goop it on, it doesn’t really saturate your entire head — it just sits on the clump of hair you lathered it over. So, with this dispenser I could part my hair in segments all over my head and just squeeze a big line of henna into the part. Then I glopped the rest on over that and massaged it into my scalp. I so love the cooling effect the henna has on my scalp!

I used the olive oil and conditioner in this batch because I had problems with a larger-than-usual amount of hair falling out when I rinsed the henna out. Others have reported alleviating this symptom by adding olive oil, which is really good for your hair anyway. This batch worked just as advertised — I only washed out the normal amount of hair I shed in the shower every day.

I hadn’t added olive oil before because I heard somewhere that it kept the henna from staining as well as it should. But others reported use of a moderate amount of olive oil with no problems. I guess it’s the same with terps — a little is fine, too much ruins stain. On a side-note, I used vegetable oil around my hairline, applied with a cotton ball, to deflect the orange halo you can end up with if you don’t apply the henna very carefully. Worked like a charm!

I didn’t add any essential oils this time around, either. But come on, I already have a mixture of chamomile, garlic olive oil, and Herbel Essences on my head — adding another scent to the mix would probably have been nauseating!

And so, there you have it! Here is my hair before the most recent application (which is the shade of two mellowed-out applications of henna over the past two months):


My hair immediately after combing it out with conditioner, rinsing it really well, and blowdrying:


As you can see, there’s really not much difference in color. The red might be just a little bit redder. My roots are nicely blended in. And my hair is wonderfully soft and strong! The reason it doesn’t look so shiny in the second photo is because a) I didn’t use the flash on my camera or have direct lighting, and b) I didn’t shampoo my hair before applying henna this time around, so it’s all greasy and nasty. 🙂 Sorry.

Since I seem to have reached the conclusion of this experiment, I’ll put all my findings on one easy-to-reference page — hopefully sometime in the next few weeks. I’ll blog on any other interesting developments I might have, but otherwise, I won’t bore you with my now monthly henna-head routine!

Suffice to say, I think I’ll be hennaing my hair for a long, long time to come.

Organic produce delivered to your door

I just discovered Planet Organics, a Bay Area company that delivers fresh, in-season organic produce from local growers straight to your door. What a great way to have tasty, fresh and healthy foods while supporting local businesses! Not to mention the exciting grab-bag effect of getting new produce every shipment, depending on what’s at its peak season.

Henna is an inherently healing person-to-person activity, and I suspect that many henna artists would have an interest in solutions like this — easy ways to support your local growers while indulging a taste for finer things in life and reducing one’s ecological footprint and dependence on harmful chemicals. Thus, my off-topic post sharing my new find. 🙂

Can’t wait for my first shipment on Tuesday. I get to experiment with radishes and persimmons next week!

Left-handed compliments


Check it out!! I can henna ambidexterously! I can also take photos without using my hands. Freaky, huh?

I also think it’s freaky how weird and elephant-wrinkly my hands look at that angle.

Design from Amira‘s Indo-Arabic Bridal book (which is quite nearly brand-new).

Re: Henna and Holidays

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Thanks to Khadija for clarifying some misunderstandings I had about Eid Al Fitr! The post has since been fixed. And she also told me about another big holiday coming up around December 31st (depending on the phase of the moon, as the Islamic calendar is lunar, not solar as is the western calendar): Eid Al Adha. So mark your calendars! If you didn’t have a good reason to gussy up and do some henna before, then that would be the perfect time to! About.com has some decent articles on Eid Al Fitr and Eid Al Adha if you’d like to learn more.

“Language of Women” translated into Man-lish.

This doesn’t seem to be as much of a problem in the west, where henna is most easily associated with tattoos, which are in turn commonly associated with big, muscular, burly guys. However, where henna originates, it’s seen as a woman’s art, sometimes even referred to as "the language of women." These guys have mixed opinions on henna, of course, but most would agree that it’s an art form best suited to ladies, like manicuring, hair highlights, jewelry, and other metro-trendy ways of gussying up. And naturally, in the west, guys do not like traditionally delicate, floral patterns on themselves either. (Take it easy, fellas, I’m not saying you should. That’s why there are manly incarnations to henna. Take tribal designs, for example. Mmm, sexy!) Anyway, all of this distrust aimed at henna by the male half of the species makes me especially appreciate images like this:


See, guys? Henna is sexy on men, too!

(Thanks to Arca for sharing the link to this image, btw.)

Henna is a tough thing for a Western enthusiast to explain. You have to explain to the conservative ladies that it’s not a tattoo. Yet you have to explain to the fragile-ego’d men that it’s not quite makeup, either. And apparently you have to explain to Americans rooted in the culture of henna that it’s not as frivolous as they might think it is.

Henna is in a category of its own, and I hope it’s accepted as thoroughly by men as it’s being accepted by women as it gains popularity here in the west.

If you’re a guy who’s read through this entire post, congratulations! Your patience has earned you a glimpse of this spectacular beauty.

Henna & Holidays


Here’s one of three designs my arms are currently covered with, inspired by some ebooks I got from Amira over at Henna Spirit. This one is actually two I took out of her African designs book and adapted for my hand (one was originally for a foot). I’ll have photos of the other two tomorrow, hopefully — I have paste-on photos, but I want final-stain photos to show you (though my stain wasn’t too great this time around). I even did one left-handed, and it turned out really well. As Darcy says, being able to do henna ambidexterously doubles your canvas space!

This week was a pretty busy henna week around the world. Diwali and Eid al Fitr were this week — both are pretty big festivals where henna is much sought-after. If I’m not mistaken, Diwali brings in the new year, characterized by everybody lighting tons of little lamps, wearing new clothes, and getting each other gifts, especially silver. Eid al Fitr is a feast celebrating the end of Ramadan. (Many thanks to Khadija for clarifying that for me!)

This week was also Day of the Dead and Halloween. So, happy multiple multicultural holidays, everybody!