Disappointing first henna attempt

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minuvweyna
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Disappointing first henna attempt
Hello. I'm new to the forum and to henna. I've used chemical dyes for years (stupid, I know). For the last 18 months or so I've been using Feria #37 Plum Power which gave me a lovely dark red/purple/berry colour. I loved it. But at my last application about 10 weeks ago I got several small blisters around my hairline at the forehead and nape of my neck and ears. So it seems I'm allergic, and all that has to be behind me now.

What that left me with was previously dyed hair that cannot be stripped or bleached, because it turns out Feria is about the most nasty (though pretty) thing you can put on your hair.

So I did my research and henna seems to be my only option (other than Manic Panic, which I find a pain due to the constant colour bleed). I've spent the last couple months pouring over everything I could find about dying with henna and how to get a deep RED colour, as I want very much to blend my roots in with the remaining Feria on my lengths (which really doesn't fade as much as other chemical dyes I've used but does fade some). I thought after reading Henna for Hair that I had a chance.

This is the colour of my hair with the Feria, and the colour I am trying to match to some small approximation (I realise henna will almost definitely never be this purple or dark.

https://picasaweb.google.com/107218945980744549374/HennaTrial?authkey=Gv...

And this is my natural colour (though it's not been seen for some time!)

https://picasaweb.google.com/107218945980744549374/HennaTrial?authkey=Gv...

I live in the UK so did not purchase my henna from you (the $40 just for shipping really was a bit rich for my blood) and instead chose henna from Henna-Boy, as they seem to be respected among the UK crowd.

I purchased organic henna powder (http://www.henna-boy.co.uk/henna-powders/organic-henna-powder-oct-2011-crop) which I chose for the supposedly high lawsone content (I'm starting to grey). I have waist length hair, so I mixed 500g of the powder with lemon juice and some ground ginger (in an attempt to combat the smell). I took this to a mashed potato like paste an let it sit, sealed with cling film, overnight for about 12 hours.

In the morning I washed my hair with Wella purifying shampoo and didn't condition. I left my hair damp and mixed more lemon juice and some cinnamon (the smell was still very strong) into the paste until it was a thick yogurt consistency. I worked this into my hair as best I could, and I think from the results that I got pretty good coverage though I think I only used half or a little more of the mixture for this - but my hair isn't especially thick and each strand is fine, so maybe that's why I needed less than estimated. Then I cling-filmed my head and wrapped it in a turban to keep warm. I left the henna on for 8 hours (just to be sure) before rinsing. I used 2 or 3 applications of Pantene conditioner, as that was the cheapest thing I had in the house, to help get the henna out of my hair.

Immediately post-henna this is the colour that I got, but I wasn't worried as I was assured that it would oxidise over the next 3 days as I had used an acidic mix and pure henna powder.

https://picasaweb.google.com/107218945980744549374/HennaTrial?authkey=Gv...

Oddly, the hennaed hair did seem slightly lighter coloured than my natural hair, which I thought was probably down to the quantity of lemon juice, which can certainly lighten hair when used on its own.

72 hours later though, this is what I'm left with. The hennaed hair has darkened slightly, but it's just browner, not  less orange. It's oranger than this photo really shows, but it's a dull brown orange, not even very interesting on it's own, though the greys are pretty bright orange. The hair hasn't really oxidised much and it's certainly not red.

https://picasaweb.google.com/107218945980744549374/HennaTrial?authkey=Gv...

Please note that the lengths do still look quite red, but that's the Feria, and it's actually duller and oranger (and in low light pretty much brownish orange) now too, so the henna has actually made that worse. It really doesn't blend, though my husband assures me it looks like I did it on purpose for a flame effect. I'm not so convinced, however...

Am I just doomed to growing out roots, or can this be salvaged? I don't want orange hair, it's not remotely what I'm going for. Can anyone suggest anything, other than "buy your henna from Henna for Hair", because I can't do that. I live on a different continent...

Apologies that this is so long, but I didn't want to leave out potentially vital details. Any advice from the gurus would be most appreciated. I'm feeling very discouraged - I've never worked so hard on a dye job for such disappointing (and smelly!) results.

Best regards,

Elle
Carrie
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Re: Disappointing first henna attempt
Using henna repeatedly, to the point that your hair is saturated with the dye, will give you a deep ruby/garnet/burgundy type of color that's rather close to your desired color.

I'm surprised that a supposedly high dye content henna gave you those results but even so, using it 3 or 4 more times should build up to a less-orange color.  If you are going to reorder, get the one that says it has the highest dye content. Be aware that some sellers do not get independent lab testing, they simply take the word of the supplier. Catherine has found through independent lab testing of every batch she buys that some suppliers' lab test numbers are not verified by another lab ;)

I suggest omitting lemon juice and using just chamomile tea for a less-orange color as well. The standing time will be shorter, more like 2-6 hours depending on your room temperature. Doing a long application time is good - 5-6 hours at least, overnight is fine.

ETA:  Ask around on the Long Hair Community forum about which batches of henna from that company are giving the darkest red color.  We can't discuss other suppliers in detail here on this forum as it is owned by Mehandi.
Carrie
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Re: Disappointing first henna attempt
To get a little extra dye from your henna paste, let it start to release dye (make sure it is staining your palm in a minute or two) and then freeze it.
Carrie
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Re: Disappointing first henna attempt
This lady has used henna monthly for a long time. Her brown hair gets dark reddish brown and her gray turns burgundy/ruby color.   http://ilovehenna.tripod.com/

It's normal for a lower dye content henna to stay on the orangey-brownish side with your starting hair after first use, but henna will build up to a deeper, prettier color with repeated use.  If the dye content is high, it might only take 2-3 uses to achieve this kind of color saturation in the hair. With a lower dye content, it could take 6 or more applications.
minuvweyna
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Re: Disappointing first henna attempt
Also, can anyone please advise with regard to if paprika or any other spices added to the mix help make the dye redder? I've heard it works, that it works but only until you shampoo, an that it doesn't work and irritates your scalp.

Thanks!
minuvweyna
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Re: Disappointing first henna attempt
Thanks for your replies Carrie. This is very helpful.

The henna I purchased was supposed to be 3.2% lawsone, but it sounds like it's probably nothing near that. I'll definitely ask around online to see if anyone can recommend a different supplier or a different variety that might have a higher content. And I will try using chamomile tea instead of lemon juice next time I buy henna and I'll stick with the long application time - maybe 7 hours next time. I started getting really antsy at that point!

I've frozen the remainder I had, so maybe when I use that again it will be a little better, but I'm happy to build freeze and thaw time into the henna prep if that will make it work better.

How frequently can I henna? I know it won't hurt my hair so could do it pretty frequently, but do I need to wait for it to oxidise (what little it did) before hennaing again, or could I say henna on both a Saturday and Sunday in order to speed up the process of getting to that 6 or more times to build up the colour?

It does occur to me that if it will take 6 or more applications to get to a colour with which I am happy that I could potentially have an issue with permanently orange roots. Every time I need to do a root touch up, presumably that would take 6 applications to get the right colour as well. That doesn't sound very doable...

Thanks again for all your advice so far.

Elle
Carrie
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Re: Disappointing first henna attempt
You do hennas back-to-back. You don't have to wait for it to oxidize but you might want to, simply so you can see what it will look like.

Regarding it taking potentially 3-6 hennas to get to henna saturation, don't worry about the roots looking different. It will be a gradual transition and will blend pretty well. But probably most people who want to have color that dark will be using a higher dye content henna so the difference between roots and ends won't be as great.
Carrie
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Re: Disappointing first henna attempt
Paprika is not worth bothering with, in my opinion. It will wash out.
minuvweyna
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Re: Disappointing first henna attempt
Thanks again, Carrie - you're a font of knowledge!

Do you know if using the chamomile tea will make for a better smelling mix than with the lemon? I'm currently still pretty much stinking of lemon and "latex gloves", which is how my husband describes the henna scent. I added some ginger and cinnamon to the mix as I'd read this might help. In the shower I smell of lemon, latex gloves and cinnamon, but the cinnamon scent disappears entirely when dry. Can't smell the ginger, so not sure if that's helped reduce the henna smell or not - if it has I can't imagine what I'd smell like without it!

I'm thinking of trying lavender essential oil next time - do you know if that helps at all? I'm afraid the henna scent isn't really to mine or my husband's liking, and I feel a bit bad for the people who have to share an office with me just now.

Elle
minuvweyna
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Re: Disappointing first henna attempt
Oh, also - I forgot to ask. How strong a chamomile tea should I make to use in the mix? Thanks!
Carrie
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Re: Disappointing first henna attempt
I brew the chamomile with 2 bags per cup and let it steep until cool.

I think chamomile mixes smell better than lemon juice mixes.  I like to add vanilla extract and cloves to it for smell. I tried lavender essential oil and didn't feel it helped matters. Having essential oil on your head for hours can get pretty intense smellwise and possibly cause a headache if you're sensitive to smells.  The best smelling batch ever was half red wine, half water, plus cloves, nutmeg, allspice - smelled like a pumpkin pie.
minuvweyna
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Re: Disappointing first henna attempt
I've really not found anyone that was able to advise about a better source or powder in the UK. Maybe henna is really an American trend these days - I don't know more than a couple people that do it in the UK.

Would it maybe be a better idea to just do my roots over and over to try to get them to a dark enough colour to vaguely match my Feria coloured lengths? I know henna might be healthy for my chemical fried lengths, but it is likely to never match as the lengths would just get darker and always outstrip the roots. At this point I care more about the colour than any hope to repair those lengths - they will just need to grow out and be cut off over the next 4 or 5 years. Maybe the Feria will someday fade enough that doing full henna applications occassionally might be okay. Does that plan make sense from what you know about henna?

I'm considering using the Jamilla henna that Henna-Boy sells, as there are at least a couple advocates for that even on this board, and I figure I've nothing to lose other than that it's really rather expensive at £8 per 100g (about the equivalent of $12 per 100g). Hence my roots only plan, as otherwise I'd need to take out a mortgage to afford hennaing as often as I'm likely to need to!

The people at the Long Hair Community seem to think that just using warm water is the best for dye release (but presumably it won't oxidise). Is that a good idea, just give up on it oxidising and try to get as much dye out of it in the first place by using warm water, then freezing and thawing it?

Thanks for any more advice you can give. I'm getting pretty disheartened by the whole thing, but not quite to the shaving my head stage just yet...

Elle
Carrie
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Re: Disappointing first henna attempt
I agree that doing henna over and over may not match your Feria-dyed length but it will at least get them closer in their level of darkness/richness of color.

I don't know what current  batches of Jamila are like since Catherine stopped carrying it a while ago. Get the Jamila for body art, if you want more color, rather than the Jamila for hair which isn't as strong.

Using warm water will give you instant or near-instant dye release. Letting a warm water mix sit for hours before use would be a mistake; equally, it would be a mistake to apply a lemon juice mix after letting it stand at 70 degrees F. for just a couple hours -- the standing time required is dependent in part upon the pH of the mix. Different batches of henna can also have shorter or longer dye release times. Room temperature trumps all the other factors, though - a very warm or hot room will give you relatively rapid dye release no matter what liquid or what batch of henna you use.

Hennaed hair will always oxidize over time but it will do so to a greater degree when you use something mildly acidic in your mix. The acidity slows down the cycle of dye release/demise so you have a longer lifespan for your paste, and more chance of getting full uptake since you won't have part of the dye becoming useless before it has a chance to bind with hair's keratin.

For maximum dye uptake I'd prepare henna with apple juice (or something with equivalent acidity), let it start to release dye to the point it will stain your palm orange in a minute or two, then freeze it, and apply for 5-6 hours after thawing.
minuvweyna
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Re: Disappointing first henna attempt
I'm preparing for another attempt (the leftovers I had frozen didn't seem to do much if any better on a second go round - must just be really bad henna powder). I've purchased some other henna (fingers crossed it's better) and am planning to use apple juice (hopefully the smell will be better) and just do my roots, over and over every weekend until I either go mad and shave my hair off, or the colour is nice.

How long will dye release take with apple juice? Last time using lemon juice I left it overnight, probably 10 hours or so, and it definitely left stains on my skin and gloves, though I didn't know to test it by purposefully staining my palm - will do that this time. Will apple take as long as the lemon did? I really don't want to mess this up, it's costing a fortune and I desperately want to make this work!

Thanks!

Elle
ACWN
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Re: Disappointing first henna attempt
Apple juice is roughly 6 - 8 hours. Test on your palm, then freeze it straight off as soon as you get an obvious orange stain - put in ziplocks, mush flat. Freezes and thaws faster and more evenly vs a large chunk. Thaw at room temp, in the fridge or in baby bath warm (just warmer than your own skin) water... do not microwave.
minuvweyna
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Re: Disappointing first henna attempt
Hi all,

Well the apple juice worked a bit better - I smell much nicer. I used 100g or henna powder, mixed with about 300ml total of apple juice, a tsp of ginger and a couple drops of cinnamon and nutmeg essential oils. My husband says I do smell like apple pie, and grass. I think we can both live with that.

I put henna on Friday and Saturday night and slept on it (not a good weekend for sleep really, but better than trying to leave in on 8 hours during the day). The colour has darkened, but it still is distinctly orange, not red.

I'll try again next weekend, as I still have 2 boxes of henna left. I was wondering if anyone uses hibiscus tea. I've read it may help to make hair redder. Does anyone know if that is true?

Thanks!

Elle
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