Tips & Tricks Number Thirteen
I’ve been used to having the freedom to change up my hair style whenever I feel like it. I cut it short, I get bangs, I get a weave to change up my style. But now that I’m trying to transition and want to focus on retaining length, my usual methods of keeping my hair/look interesting are out the window! So now I’m thinking about adding color, BUT I don’t want any chemicals. Is there a way to add color without the use of harsh chemicals or the slight tint you get from Henna?
Why yes. Yes there is! *lol* I’ve often read comments from women who indicate that the would like to try henna, but don’t want the red/orange tint that accompanies it. Well, there is a relatively easy way to obtain a variety of auburns, browns and blacks with henna and it simply involves adding cassia, amla and/or indigo to your henna mix. Now, one thing that you must understand about henna is that it will never lighten your hair as it does not lift color from your strands. Rather, henna colors by depositing a dye molecule which bonds to the keratin in hair. So, the tone/color you achieve is dependent upon your starting hair color, which may be your natural color(s) or color achieved through other chemical processes (commercial dyes, bleaching and/or highlights) and your henna mix ratios. You can go deeper/darker than your starting color(s), but never lighter.
So, what are your options? There are so many, I can’t go through them all here. But, here is a list of some color possibilities and the henna mix ratios if your starting color is medium brown:
- Red highlights: Equal parts henna and cassia
- Dark Auburn: Henna only
- Warm Brown: Equal parts henna and indigo
- Dark Brown: 2/3 henna, 1/3 indigo
- Darker Brown: 1/3 henna, 2/3 indigo
- Blue Black: 2 step henna-indigo (henna applied alone, rinsed and then followed with indigo applied alone)
- Cooler Browns: Mix 1 part amla with 3 parts henna prior to adding indigo
If you’re interested in learning more about the colors you can achieve on your hair color, check out Catherine Cartwright-Jones’s very informative and free e-book, Henna for Hair. The “Quick Mix Chart” on page 55 provides ratios for obtaining various color results on everything from grey to blonde to black hair. For example, if you have light brown hair with grey that you’d like to turn into blonde highlights, you can use cassia, which has a yellow dye molecule. Or, perhaps you’d like to make your blonde highlights or grey strands a strawberry blonde? Try mixing equal parts henna and cassia. The Henna for Hair e-book provides a vast amount of information regarding the benefits of this wonderful little ayuverdic herb, how to use it and many pictures that demonstrate the color possibilities.
More Henna Mixes:
In addition, some add common household ingredients to their henna mixes to enhance color. For example:
- Add cognac, grape juice, beetroot powder or ground cloves for more intense reds.
- Add strong black coffee,strong black tea or walnuts for deeper browns.
- Add red wine for chestnut brown color.
See this post here for more options, recipes and mix ratios. However, I offer this information with the caveat that I’ve never tried any of these! So, I would recommend that you research your choice of “additives” before experimenting and do a strand test as I’ve read that some additions make for a very stinky henna experience and may not impact the color results!
Precautionary Advice on “Natural” Hair Dyes:
One final note, when searching for natural hair color options, be cautious and do your research when contemplating using “boxed” dyes that are purportedly “natural.” I went to a salon last February and, after I explained that I use henna, the stylist began singing the praises of a “new,” ammonia free, natural dye system: L’Oreal Inoa (standing for “Innovative – No Ammonia” … allegedly). Well, a quick internet search when I got home revealed that, although the dye might not contain ammonia, the post-color shampoo does and the ingredient label clearly lists ammonia hydroxide (see article and image of bottle here)! A little more searching also revealed multiple sources that indicate it also contains a high level of PPD, a potential carcinogen.
Ironically enough, Organic Hair Systems, Inoa’s competitor that provided the prior article “exposing” the misnomer, does not appear to be a perfectly natural alternative either. An article on Green Talk explains that Organic Color Systems is simply a trade name and although this hair color line does not contain any ammonia, it does contain small amounts of PPD as well as other chemicals. Therefore, it is neither an “all-natural” nor an organic color option.
So, if you are looking for truly all-natural hair color and are willing to spend a little more time with the process, BAQ henna mixes may be one of your best options. And hey, maybe you’ll end up liking a little red in your life. I know that I LOVE it;)!
Do you mix henna with indigo, amla and/or cassia to dye your hair a shade of red, brown or black? What’s your starting hair color(s) and your mix?