Holding the box in my hands, I held my breath. As I listened to the sound of my heart beat roaring around my ears, I thought “this is it”. Hours later I watched the color flee my hair, bathing my feet and the walls of the shower in rich, sulfurous color. I inhaled the acrid, chemical scent and counted the minutes silently as I watched my past disappear. Stepping out of the humid mist, I waited for the mirror to defog and stepped forward to meet the new me.
So began my journey to a plethora of hair colors 🙂 Seduced by the transformative, instantaneous gratitude of conventional hair dyes, it became my ritual to dye my hair before a big decision. There was something so thrilling about not knowing how it would look. I felt like if I could make that choice, I could make any choice. I’d have a fresh start. I could put to bed whatever I wanted to forget with my last hair color. Alternatively, I could become whoever I wanted with that new box. It was exhilarating.
I’d emerge from the shower, feeling powerful and free. I’d blink cautiously at that new person wondering who she was. Black, Red, Violet, Copper Brown. I destroyed my hair.
I finally said goodbye to conventional colors this summer. The purple left a harsh, permanent line, and I was getting sick of having to dye my mane every six weeks. So I took the jump. I used a combination of Khadi’s Dark Brown and Light Brown natural hair dyes. At first I was shocked by how different natural dyes are. Mine stunk, were unpleasantly green, and didn’t have the same wow effect of conventional dyes.
BUT, that was just my first impression.
There is certainly something to stepping out of the shower with a completely new cap of hair, but natural dyes have a totally different advantage: they develop rather than fade.
Since I dyed my hair with the Khadi browns, the darker brown color has faded and the copper has come forward, which is absolutely perfect for summer. I love the way it catches the light, and the fact that the fade is much more transitional than the dull looking fade of chemical colors. I am not sure I would experience the same effect if I had used a bright red, but I am actually happy with my results.
Not only did the dye do job, and it did the job naturally. Here’s how to get the same results:
- TEST THE DYE!! I can’t say this enough. Take a few hairs from your hair brush, mix up the dye and test it. Leave the dye on for as long as it takes to get the results you like. For me, I really needed to leave it on overnight.
- Read the directions!! Do not expect a natural dye to work like a conventional one. You’d be very disappointed. The results may not be as dramatic, and you may have to try more than once, but reading the directions is the right step towards the right color!
- Henna is the strongest natural dye and generally lasts the longest.
- Use a thermometer! And yes, I did try to re-purpose my meat thermometer because I was too cheap to buy a new one. Bad idea. Henna reacts to warmth- the heat develops the color. If you don’t want to go bright red, it is a good idea to wait until the dye is cool enough to use. Plus, you don’t want to burn your scalp.
- Use vaseline to avoid color stains! Akamuti makes a petroleum-free jelly that does just the trick. Don’t forget your ears. Smooth it on over ears and hairline to avoid accidentally having a red face.
- Know you can’t go lighter. Since I had lighter conventional dye on my hair before, using the light brown color did actually bring out copper highlights in my hair, which are lighter than my medium brown natural color.
- Consider conditioning. Natural dyes generally tend to be pretty caring, but I like to mix mine with a hint of deep conditioner to keep my hair from drying out.
- Expect to re-color every 4-5 weeks.
- If you are covering up gray hair, consider pre-treating with henna and then dying your hair darker with an indigo mix. Henna coats the hair the best, so if you want to cover white or gray hair, the results will be better if you use henna first.
- Don’t be put off by the smell 😉 It washes out, and is a heck of a lot healthier than chemical dyes.
Remember, if you don’t like your results, you can always try again! Don’t forget to have fun- experiment with mixing colors, or with mixing the dye with red wine or black tea. These natural liquids can also strengthen the color of dark reds or dark dyes.
What are your tips for using natural hair dyes? Any questions or reservations?