Friday, February 27, 2015

Seeing Red

Every time I look in the mirror, in fact!

I've always loved red hair.  I was never one of those kids who made fun of the gingers, I thought it was great.  And by the time I got to college, I really wished I myself was a redhead.  Didn't try it 'til much later, though.

Anyone who's been reading this blog for any length of time knows I favor the natural, safe, and healthy when it comes to things I put on my skin.

Well, the hair dye I've been using since my 20s didn't really jive with that.  Obviously.

I generally don't mess with my hair.  I see it as one of my best features, and so the color needs to be right and I get really upset if it's trimmed too short.

My sister was always more daring with hers, trying different styles over the years, cutting it short, trying Sun In (whoa, that was a disaster!), spiking it and bleaching out the tips, all sorts of things.  Not me.  Finally, I must have been in my early 30s when I first tried it.  My sister was getting bleach for me to do the tips of her spikes again, and I decided to try a nice auburn, so I went to the store with her and picked a box.  Well... the sample swatch and color shown in the photo on the box were not what I looked like.  My hair ended up nearly purple.  It was bad... unless, of course, you're looking for purple hair, in which case it'd be just fine.  I was an attorney, appearing in court, and decidedly not going for purple.  Whoops.

Once that color was headed out of my hair, though, I started to realize how much white I'd started to get.  Heck, that had started when I was 26, and my law school loan payments began.  For real.  But in my 30s, I realized how much it started to show on the surface.  So I started getting my hair dyed by my hairdresser.  Usually dark brown, which is my natural color, and sometimes a little more red when I was feeling like it.  At times, when I didn't have time to get to my hairdresser, I'd dye my hair from a box, but only dark brown.  I didn't trust the reds they carry at CVS.  Still don't.

Well, this past weekend was one of those times when I really needed color, didn't have time for the hairdresser, and didn't even have time for a box from CVS.  I was at Wicked Faire, face painting from basically 3 p.m. on Friday until 5 p.m. on Sunday.  In fact, on Sunday, I looked like this.

Please don't be scared by my terrible roots.

Well, as usual, as I have been for many years now at this event, I was situated right next to the henna artist, Robin of Henna Rising.  She's awesome.  She also hennas her hair.  And as it turns out, she sells hair henna.  So I decided to take a bit of a leap and buy a packet.  She told me how to do it (it's easy, albeit time consuming), and on Tuesday night, I finally had time.  It took five hours.  Yes, really.

My instructions were to put the henna powder in a bowl with enough water for the consistency of mud, and let it sit for two hours. Then, I had to take sections of my hair and plaster the paste on.  I made sure to wear an old cruddy t-shirt and put down an old raggedy towel first. Good thing, too, because this is not a neat process.  Also, I bought a box of vinyl gloves at the pharmacy, and ended up using two pairs - one when mixing the henna and another when applying it to my head, which I did by hand.

The nifty thing about henna, though, it turns out, is that while henna that stains the skin needs to be activated with lemon juice and various oils, hair henna is activated with water alone... which means a stain on the skin won't stay!  Handy, too, since I got it on my wrists above the gloves, my ears, neck, forehead, and even down my back.  No stains.  Also, unlike hair dye, which always admonishes the user to Stay Away From the Scalp!!!, with henna you actually massage it into your scalp.  Why not?  Unlike dye, it won't burn or do any damage.  and it won't stain your skin.

Once I was all plastered with henna "mud," I had Eric help me saran wrap my hair all in.  I looked like a doofus, I'll admit, but henna soaks in better (to both hair and skin) when it stays warm and wet, so sealing it in with plastic was the best bet.

And then I had to wait three hours.  Three hours.  A couple glasses of wine and several TV shows later, I was ready to hop in the shower and rinse it out.  By then it was 12:30 a.m. and took 20 minutes.  Good thing I'm a night owl.

Eric was already asleep & my hair was wet anyway, so I had to wait for tonight for him to get photos of my new look.  Personally, I love it!  This is the bright-light look.  In less light, it's actually a darker auburn, but in bright sun and light, the red highlights are crazy.

I actually feel taller with red hair.  My step is springier.  I think I look great, and I think it's so much fun!  And Eric says my hair already looks shinier and healthier.  No more dye for me.  I'm a henna girl now!
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