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My life as a redhead

Almost exactly twenty years ago, I was visiting vaznetti in San Francisco, and we bought a sack of Avigal henna on a semi-whim. vaznetti, being a dark brunette, emerged from the experiment somewhat disappointed until she saw her awesome auburn highlights in the sunshine. She is easily in the top two or three on the list of Friends I Would Consider Murdering For Their Hair If It Worked That Way And I Were Sufficiently Sociopathic, but that's beside the point.

I emerged with a color that I instantly fell in love with, and promptly failed to ever quite recreate again. I continued to use henna throughout college and for a couple years after, but had no source for the Avigal (this being pre-internet-as-we-know-it), and wouldn't have ponied up the price tag for it if I had, once I discovered I could get the apparently-now-defunct brand Egyptian Henna at the drugstore for $2.69. It was never quite the same, but it was good enough, and I never gave the difference a whole lot of thought.

I don't remember exactly when or why I switched to conventional haircoloring products, alternating between semi-permanent (i.e. Natural Instincts) and permanent ones. I think it was just that the Egyptian Henna stopped being readily available in the drugstore, and I didn't feel like trying to locate a specialty store. (It may also have been around the time of the Amazing "Semi-Permanent" Jet Black What I Cut Off The Last Of Six Months Later.)

Somewhere in that few years, I found Light Mountain henna at Whole Foods, and decided to give it a whirl. I mixed it up with warm water and a bit of olive oil, the way I always had before, glopped it on my head for an hour or so, washed it out and... Nada. Or close to it. I came to the conclusion that, because I had sworn off perms, my healthier hair wasn't taking the pigment the way it used to, and I just wasn't ever going to get those results again.

Fast-forward to the last year and a half or so (jumping over several years of reverting to my natural dishwater blonditude on account of laziness), when I've been getting decent but not-quite-what-I-want red, and the same problem of quick fading I've always had with permanent color. (As a marker, the clip-in extensions I bought at Sally, and wore in Dracula and that goth-ballerina photoshoot I did last fall, are EXACTLY what I want, but I've never quite gotten my own hair to match them exactly.) For the last month or so, I've been thinking about giving henna another shot, this time doing some research on the much-expanded-since-last-time-I-tried internetz to see if I could pick up some tips to improve the results.

Boy. Howdy.

The first thing I found is is that Egyptian Henna seems to be the brand most often used (on that site and in various other places) to illustrate paragraphs about how there's not a lot of regulation and some purportedly all-henna products actually aren't. Which is probably a better explanation than the perm thing for why the Light Mountain (which is a U.S. company with plenty of transparency that is 100% what it says it is) didn't work the way I tried it before.

Went with Light Mountain again this time (Whole Foods is a bit out of my way, but the most convenient of the available alternatives without paying ludicrous shipping from Amazon sellers), using two key tips picked up from the HennaForHair site: Mix it up with vinegar or lemon juice instead of just water, and leave it sit for a while for the pigment to release before applying it. They actually say to leave it overnight, or in a warm place if you don't have time to do that. I left it sit for two hours this morning under a desk lamp, which probably didn't do much of anything as it has a compact fluorescent bulb, but two hours plus mixing it up with lemon juice seems to have done the job.

I'm off to Chicago for dinner with buds (We has a butterflykiki, yay!), and there will probably be photographic evidence of that. I'll try to get pictures over the next couple days, as it continues reacting for two or three. But it DEFINITELY worked this time, and I'm already more pleased with it than I have been with any conventional hair dye ever. \o/

On a completely unrelated note, in deference to the holiday, please note that John Philip Sousa + Muppets = LOLARIOUS PATRIOTIC CRACK. Full splorfle warnings apply.


( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 4th, 2009 04:37 pm (UTC)
Ahahahaha! Didn't we end up dying the bathtub purple? I think my parents were quite relieved when I eventually stopped experimenting with henna.

But I am glad that you have found a color that you like, so I won't have to fear for my life next time I'm in the Chicago area.
Jul. 5th, 2009 08:22 am (UTC)
It wasn't purple that time, but it was definitely not exactly the color it started out as. I'm fairly certain some panic and scrubbing were involved.

Alas, it does nothing for growability and texture. Your life remains forfeit. ;-D
Jul. 4th, 2009 05:06 pm (UTC)
Congratulations on the henna discoveries and apparent success! Knock-on-wood for long-lasting success.

I hope everyone has a wonderful time at dinner tonight, and look forward to the photographic evidence. Tell butterflykiki she should post more often, or she may well be nudged. :-)
Jul. 5th, 2009 08:23 am (UTC)
I posted this almost literally on the way out the door, so I was unable to carry your message. But I approve of nudging. *eg*
Jul. 4th, 2009 05:45 pm (UTC)
But...where are the photos?
Jul. 5th, 2009 08:17 am (UTC)
Patience, Grasshopper. I was literally on my way out the door...
Jul. 4th, 2009 06:04 pm (UTC)
*awaits photos* =D
Jul. 4th, 2009 08:37 pm (UTC)
Piiiictures? ;)

I have been contemplating - for a long time I have had the problem off and on of having dye come out brassy and not red enough on me. I love what I have now, though I'm not sure it's perfect (and it's professional and therefore $$), and last year I had it PERFECT but that took a week of it being almost purple-red before it chilled out. I have been trying to decide whether to keep searching or do as my cousin keeps urging and revert to my natural, just for kicks, but I am on the eternal quest to have darker hair and not be blonde, so who knows.

Point is (if I had one): I appreciate your saga and CONGRATULATIONS!
Jul. 5th, 2009 08:20 am (UTC)
I could have written that middle paragraph myself, for reals. (Except for the part where I haven't had a professional do it since I was 17, on account of I am a big cheapskate. I'm going to have to start spending more money on my hair eventually if I stay in the entertainment industry, but not until it starts paying me better!)
Jul. 5th, 2009 10:43 am (UTC)
Yeah, I had a pro do it for the first time the week of my birthday, because it was actually at a school and therefore cheaper, and I justified it by it being my birthday. I might need to just go buy the pro dye and do it that way myself in future. Or something.

Oh, the trials and tribulations of being too blonde!
Jul. 5th, 2009 01:12 pm (UTC)
Well, you know I am in favor of redheadedness! :) And yayyyy!!! Welcome back to the club! :)
Jul. 5th, 2009 04:48 pm (UTC)
Hee! I've actually been back in the club for about a year and a half. It just looks more natural now!
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )


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