Describe yourself in 100 words or less.
Hi, my name is Claudine. I live on the “bermudaful” island of Bermuda out in the Atlantic Ocean.
How long have you been natural?
I have been natural (no relaxer or texturizer applied) for 3 years coming up January 2012. I transitioned for about 1 1/2 years before cutting off the relaxer in January 2009.
How long have you been using henna? When did you start?
I am a newbie with henna. I started using henna on 22nd Oct 2011 and again on 29th Oct 2011.
What made you begin using henna?
I used to have my hair professionally colored with permanent dyes and found that my hair was dry; and also felt as if I was still getting a relaxer because the color process used to have that same burning sensation. Therefore, I was defeating the purpose of not having chemicals applied to my scalp and hair. So, I stopped getting my hair colored for over 1 year. I have a lot of gray at the front sides of my head, practically white and I am just 45 years old! A good friend of mine made a comment about me being too young to be walking around with all those grays on my head! So, I got my hair colored once again professionally with a semi-permanent dye in a cherry color on 23rd Aug 2011, thinking it should be less damaging and less chemicals. I couldn’t have been more wrong! I had a slight burning sensation and that smell of ammonia in my hair that took a long time to go away. The color faded to a bronze colour after 1 1/2 months. I made up in my mind that there has to be a natural coloring process for gray hair out there somewhere. So I started searching. After a few weeks of searching, I had come across Curly Nikki’s henna stories and also read about your henna experience on Curly Nikki’s website too! I was inspired … and then researched the henna process on www.hennaforhair.com and http://www.mehandi.com before taking a leap of faith to try the henna process.
How would you describe your first experience with henna?
I almost did not have enough henna applied by the time I reached my hairline. It was a messy job and I thought I was well prepared due to a thorough research utilising Curly Nikki’s website, your henna experience on Curly Nikki’s website, YouTube henna videos and the hennaforhair website. I left it in overnight and the henna felt so heavy on my head the next day that I couldn’t wait to rinse it out. “Oh what a relief it was” when I rinsed out the henna! LOL! I was impressed with how my hair felt texture wise. My gray was a bright pumpkin orange color. Thank God my whole head was not gray as I could have easily been called a carrot head :D! I didn’t know any better about keeping the gloves on during the styling process after rinsing out the henna … therefore my hands and fingernails got dyed a pumpkin orange! Just in time for Halloween …
What type of henna do you use? What is your mix? What is your process?
I use the Rajasthani Twilight henna (080111) purchased from http://www.mehandi.com. In my mix: I use 300g Rajasthani henna, 2 4 oz bottles of Sicilia Lemon Juice, 2 cups distilled water to make a thick mash potato consistency henna paste. I let this sit at room temperature for 12 to 16 hours for the dye release. When I am about ready to apply the henna, I wash my hair with a clarifiying shampoo (by Curls or Qhemet Biologics). While the shampoo is in my hair, I section my hair into twelve sections (6 at the front and 6 in the back), detangle each section with my fingers and then two-strand twist each detangled section. I rinse out the shampoo with the twists left in. Then I towel wrap my hair for about 15 minutes to take out excess water. In the meantime, while my head is wrapped in the towel, I add apple juice to the henna paste, stirring in just enough juice to make it of a yoghurt consistency. I apply the henna in sections starting at the back to the front, untwisting each hair section as I go. I leave the henna paste in my hair overnight (first wrap my hair with Saran Wrap, second put on two conditioning caps and then third wrap my head with the Diva Turban towel).
How often do you henna?
I did my third full head henna on 10th Dec 2011. I plan on doing a monthly henna gloss and doing full strength henna touch-ups on my new growth as needed (depending on how fast my hair grows).
How has your hair changed with henna?
The henna has enhanced my hair tremendously in such a short time! My curls are now somewhat looser and my hair texture is smoother and has volume that I’ve never had before. When I wear my hair in twists, they swing when I move my head, and this is as the result of the henna making my hair heavier. One of my co-workers commented that it looks like I have pretty hair now. “Pretty hair” is our Bermudian terminology in comparison to the American “Good hair” terminology. But I personally believe that all natural hair types are “Good hair,” no matter the texture.
How do you feel about henna and the process now?
I love it, love it and love it some more! I feel so proud of myself to accomplish a hair color that is unique to my hair naturally and that it cannot be duplicated by anyone else because there are no two heads of hair identical to one another. The process is very long, but it surely is worth the hours of waiting to see the results. As long as I am able to purchase BAQ henna, I will not be going back to use synthetic dyes ever again! I am a henna girl for life.
What advice would you give someone who is thinking about trying henna?
Do as much research into henna and the process as you possibly can. Visit the henna forums … they have some very helpful advice. If you know anyone personally who uses BAQ henna in their hair … seek out their experiences. Follow your first instincts … they are usually on point!
Anything else that you’d like to add?
Make haste … make waste. The henna process requires plenty of patience in seeing the results … it gets better as it ages (oxidises) on your hair.
Want to learn more about Claudine’s experience as a natural in Bermuda? Then stay tuned for Part II of her HairStory, which is the first “official” post as part of our newest guest feature, Naturals Around the World!