Back in April of 2011, I started using henna to dye my hair. I constantly use henna as a verb nowadays. “I’ve got to henna my hair” “Time to henna my hair.”

I decided to share some things that I do nowadays that I didn’t do back when I first started. I seem to have the process pretty streamlined.First of all, I only dye my roots. I did 2 or 3 full-head applications back in 2011 and then after that I started only doing my roots. That helps because I don’t have to use as much henna. I find one 100g packet is good for 2 root applications when I do it every 4 weeks or so. I try to do it every four weeks or so. Henna is supposed to get darker the more applications you do. (it’s a build-up kind of thing. The henna forums compare it to pouring coffee into a white mug. When you pour a little bit, it’s a lighter color than when you fill the entire mug.) After a few whole-head applications, I started getting worried that my roots will always be lighter orangey-yellow compared to the rest of the hair, so I stopped dying the rest of my hair so it wouldn’t be so obvious. Since I’m only doing the roots, it only takes about a half an hour to get the paste in my hair and clean up myself and the bathroom. I do have trouble with missing a lot of spots in weird parts of my head. I’m still trying to find what works best to make sure I get all the roots and not leave big blotches of white. Luckily, they are mostly only noticeable if I lift my hair up, and so it’s usually hidden pretty well. Another issue I have is getting underneath my hair at the back of my neck. But my natural color is still brunette back there so I don’t have to worry about it that much. Anyway, enough about roots-only.

Secondly, I no longer clarify my hair beforehand with dishsoap. In fact, I don’t even get my hair wet. I just apply the goop directly onto my dry head. I found out I didn’t need to clarify one time when I completely forgot. It had turned out fine. I was going to continue to clarify anyway, but laziness won out in the end. It’s also a time-saver.

Another thing is I only use chamomile tea. The dye release happens in an hour and a half or so. I usually brew the tea overnight and then mix it in the morning, but today I happened to have forgotten to brew the tea. I brewed it this morning, and two hours later, I thought it was cool enough to mix right then. The dye released in an hour, so maybe I should stick with that. I mix 1 1/2 a cup of tea into one of the 100g packets in a huge ziplock bag. I mentioned before that I can get two root dyes out of the 100g packet so I just freeze the rest of the paste in that same ziplock bag. I also found mixing more liquid in makes the paste more runny and it didn’t work as well, and so 1 1/2 cups is the optimal amount for me. I also try to remember to mix in some allspice to curb the henna smell. The smell doesn’t bother me anymore and I don’t really notice it being revitalized everytime I get my hair wet. I’m not sure if I got used to it, or if it is because I only dye the roots so I’m using less henna, or if it’s actually the allspice. I know Clint has to stick his nose right into my roots before he’ll gag, whereas before he’d gag just by me being near him. He hates the smell.

Finally, the last thing that I do different is the shower caps. I have one really disgusting showercap that I got from a hotel that I put over the paste, and then another less-disgusting hotel showercap that I use to trap the rest of the hair (the length that is undyed). And then I have a reusable shower cap that I got from a yardsale that I put over both of those. Then instead of laying around under the blankets trying to stay warm, I put on a button-up shirt (or pajamas) and go about my day. I usually try to stay in the house and not interact with the public in that state, but I did go Christmas shopping with henna all over my head once. I wore a hat and just felt ridiculous, but it just looked like I was out Christmas shopping with a hat on… I think the showercap looks ridiculous (it’s red with white polka dots), but nobody sees it but me, and sometimes Clint. Jess is my only friend who has witnessed it because he was living with us for a brief period. He said it looks cute and kept threatening to take a picture of me.

So, anyway, that’s my henna story. It’s been 3 years so far. I had said I’d do it for 5 years and my plan was to slowly start mixing in more and more cassia until it becomes all cassia, which is supposed to turn my gray hair blonde. Who knows if that would work, especially if the bottom of my hair is still brown… That might be weird… so I might stick to henna for awhile.

Edited to add: I forgot the most important part: a dropper-full of a rubbing alcohol and vinegar mixture to stave off ear infections!

Mood: pretty neutral today
Music: Atari Teenage Riot – Collapse Of History (Felix Luker Remix)