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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!

So many compliments!

So yesterday I got like fifteen compliments on my hair in less than two hours as I was running around town doing work stuff. I figured I should include a pic of how it’s looking, since it’s apparently so stellar!


It’s not a week and a half since application, but it’s getting pretty mellow. When I lather up in the shower, though, I still get orangey suds.

As much as I love the softer, thicker hair and groovy red tones, I think I’m happiest that I have a unique hair color now. People no longer confuse me with my coworker Loren (though I always take that as a compliment, because she’s cool and hot), more security guards remember my name and where I’m from, and more receptionists open up to me via comments like, "Wow, I love your hair color — it’s so rich!"

Also, I had to include a pic of my new piercings. 😉 It’s a long story, but I’m extremely proud of them, and highly recommend Braindrops for piercing, antique/tribal pierced jewelry, and as far as I know, tattoos as well (though I don’t have any of those… yet).

Peak color

Out and about this morning, I must have gotten a dozen compliments on my hair in less than two hours. I guess it’s at its peak color — just four or so days after reapplying it!

It’s weird, I’ve never gotten so many comments on my appearance before. Sure, one or two people usually tell me they like my jewelry, but every single receptionist and security guard I’ve spoken to today?

It actually makes me pretty happy, because nobody’s mistaking me for my coworker anymore. ("You’re… Loren, right?" Wrong! Though I usually take that as a compliment, because Loren is cool and hot.)

I’ll see if I can add a photo to this post later today.

Fire-engine red!

So last night I decided to henna my hair again, because the roots were starting to show. As reported by other henna heads, the second application layers over the red tones and turns out absolutely gorgeous. Not a hint of orange to be seen! It is pretty bright — almost fire-engine red — but that will mellow out, and for the next few days, I think it’s going to be pretty fun!

Click here for the results of my first henna application, as well as a photo of my natural hair color for comparison’s sake.

This is my hair immediately before my second application:

Aaaand here’s my hair immedately after washing it out and blowdrying it!

Damn, I love it. And while last time it was orange on washing it out, this time there’s hardly any orange to be seen — just a groovy, groovy red.

The mix this time was slightly different because my yogurt went bad and I was too lazy to get more. I used:

  • 100 g henna
    (my hair has gotten longer — and I was running out of henna in my last batch, which was only 80 g — and I didn’t add any yogurt, which adds volume to the mix, making it so that you can use less henna)
  • 2 T lemon juice
    (for highlights and what-have-you)
  • About 1.75 c double-strength chamomile
    (I made two cups, but didn’t need to use all of it)
  • 1 drop lavendar essential oil
    (I used several last time and the strength of the smell almost made me woozy)

I mixed the chamomile in while it was hot, and left the henna out to cool for about an hour and a half, instead of overnight. I still had dye release — must’ve been the heat. (Though I hear that henna dyes hair so well that you don’t even need to wait for dye release.) I left it on for just shy of four hours and washed it out by combing generous amounts of conditioner through (but no shampoo). Blowdried it, and I’m not going to wash it until tomorrow morning.

I forgot to put veggie/olive oil around my hairline, so I ended up with a little bit of an orange halo, but it was mostly gone by this morning.

And my hair is oh-so-silky once again, which is amazing, because it was pretty darn silky before.

I’ll post another photo of the mellowed-out color in around a week and a half, and I’ll probably do this experiement one more time to see how three layers of hair henna look as compared to one (or none!).

New photos in gallery

Don’t forget to check out the gallery — I’ve been a busy bee this week, but haven’t felt the need to dedicate a post to each piece!