I have been coloring my hair pretty regularly since I was about 21, maybe a bit younger. I am 27 now. So that’s at least 6 years of chemically treating my hair. I really don’t need to color my hair, I don’t have any grays, and based off of other family members, I don’t think I will start to get any until I’m close to age 50. My dad really isn’t very gray at age 51, and I still don’t think my mom is at age 50. Crazy, right?
As a makeup artist, I have always had a love for the art that comes with hair color and makeup. For myself, I really have never done much to my hair besides darken it for a richer color. Highlights never seem to flatter me, and I would get bored with my natural medium-brown color, so darkening it was always my preference. The problem with color is that it is really hard to stop coloring your hair once you start. After a few weeks the color fades, and you are left with hair lighter than when you started. It’s really a trap, and best to be avoided for as long as possible.
I always thought I would be that cool mom that let’s their daughter get their ears pierced as soon as they ask, color their hair if they want, wear makeup for fun, and polish their nails. But now that I’m a freak about health, I know I will NEVER let our child put chemicals on their head. Bill and I both have dark hair, and If we end up with a blonde child one day there will probably be a “what the…” moment from Bill (and probably me as well). I’m pretty sure when that day comes, we will be popping out a brown eyed “paleo mcnugget” (as Bill likes to say) with a giant “fro” of curly dark hair. In which case I will be hoping to have a good enough relationship with our child that they will respect my wishes to keep their natural hair color for as long as possible, and understand the health risks of using chemicals, without going behind my back and doing it anyway. Yes-these are the crazy things that keep me up at night…
Anyway. I have been dying to get off of chemical color for my hair. I’m too young to be putting chemicals on my head for no reason other than to make my hair a little darker. It’s really just silly, and with all the good things I do for my body, hair color was the last of the chemicals for me to say goodbye to. We only use OraWellness, or Tom’s Flouride-Free toothpaste. I do the oil cleansing method for my skin as well as Green Pastures Beauty Balm, but lately I have really been enjoying the Primal Life Organics skin care! I don’t wear makeup often, and when I do it’s always Jane Iredale -my favorite mineral line that photographs beautifully! I currently use Dr. Ron’s moisturizing shampoo (Bill just uses Dr. Bronners). For styling my hair I typically use plain argan oil by Holistix. It smells amazing, and is just enough product for me to smooth out my curls with the blow dryer. When I wear my hair curly I will often use Kinky Curly from Whole Foods, but I will also still use Curl Cream by Aquage (conventional, but it doesn’t touch my roots, so I don’t worry too much).
As you can see our skin and hair products have really changed with our lifestyle. I cannot wear any perfumes anymore, they literally make me ill from the smell, so I usually just use straight coconut oil on my body when I feel dry. Your skin is your largest organ (and a permeable one, at that!), so think twice before going in for a spray tan, wearing perfume, or perfumed lotion on your skin. That stuff all absorbs into your body and bloodstream just as if you would have eaten it.
I have been battling with the thought of henna for months now. I really wanted to get off of chemical color as I said, but I was terrified at the thought of henna to which I had heard so many horror stories of things gone wrong, not to mention the bathroom disasters that come with it from making such a mess! I also hate to say it, but with our wedding being in 8 months, the idea of possibly “ruining” my hair color before the big day really freaked me out as well. We may be pretty natural as far as products go, but don’t get me wrong, I still very much care about my appearance, and I’m still a makeup artist at heart. I have two friends who have had great henna success, Stacy of Paleo Parents, and Liz of Cave Girl Eats. Liz’s hair color is much more similar to mine than Stacy (Stacy is a red head-Liz is a brunette), which gave me hope for henna. Henna if you don’t know is ONLY red. You have to add other things into your henna mixture to create a different color like brown. So, for a brunette you typically want to melt the henna down with coffee, and make sure that you have indigo added to the mixture. I love red hair. I think it is beautiful and fabulous (my best friend from high school is a red head, and so is my brother), but it’s just not for me. I like having dark brown hair. It’s what works for me, and what I prefer, so naturally I want to stay that way. It’s also worth adding that you have to be VERY careful where the henna comes from. Henna has gotten a bad name from misinformed hair stylists. “Fake” henna is sometimes blended with metals which react with chemical hair color. This can result in green hair, dry and brittle hair, or even worse-hair melting off of your head! This does NOT happen with real, pure henna (Lawsonia Inermis).
The last time I had my hair chemically darkened was the week before Halloween, and I was told that you need to wait a few months after having chemicals put on your hair before you can try henna, and you also have to wait 3 months after henna to go back to chemicals if you don’t like it. I was planning to go to the henna salon in the D.C. area with Stacy, but that is a long drive for me just to get my hair done, especially when we are down to the wire with finishing Gather, so thanks to some kind folks on our Facebook page, I was informed that I could go to Lush and have them put the henna on for me! I figured winter would be the perfect time to try the henna. Our wedding isn’t until the end of August, and who ever really goes out in winter time anyway? If I needed to hide for 3 months, I’d be fine! I kid…haha.
Right before Christmas I called and talked to the kind people at our local Lush store and booked an appointment for December 30th to have them apply henna to my hair. Once I told Bill I made the appointment he freaked out a little. He really likes dark hair, and I couldn’t really tell if he was more worried I would have a melt down if my hair was “ruined” or if he would (The first one, darling – Bill). After that I spent several hours on hennaforhair.com and YouTube looking for hope that my color would come out as I wished. After looking around online I decided that I felt confident in my decision to try this out, and I really didn’t have much of a choice in the matter. I don’t want to use chemical color anymore, so henna is my only option left.
As the days got closer to my appointment I started to have dreams about going to get the henna put on. By now I was really just excited. I felt really good about it, and was looking forward to trying something new and interesting. Also the idea of my scalp not getting super itchy and irritated from chemicals, and my cats not attacking my head anymore after chemical color made me really happy. Yes my cats would attack my head after I would have color put on…every time.
The day of my appointment I unfortunately was sick. I came down with some sort of ear/nose/throat thing going around. I haven’t been this sick in years, literally, so this was a huge bummer. I didn’t think I would be a concern for getting the people at Lush sick, so Bill warmed me a mug of chicken feet broth and we headed on our way to Lush. When we got their we were greeted by 3 very sweet ladies. I showed them a photo of the color I prefer my hair to be, and they told me the Lush Caca Noir (yes it’s really called Caca) would be the color for me. It is mostly indigo, with a little henna mixed in, and the brown shade (Caca Brun) would be too red for me. I said “go for it”, and off they went to mix up my henna. After it was ready I sat in a chair while they slopped on 4 bricks of “mud” to my hair, tied it up, threw a shower cap on me, cleaned me up, and sent me on my way. The smell was very earthy, and a little stinky. It wasn’t awful, but after a whole day of smelling it on myself I got pretty sick of it. When we left Lush, we ran to Whole Foods to grab a few groceries. We tried to make it to Whole Foods before my appointment, but we ran out of time, so I was left to brave WFM with mud on my head and a shower cap. I got some crazy looks, but I really just had to laugh at the situation. It didn’t bother me in the least. After we got out of WFM I took the shower cap off of my head. The color needs air or else it will turn more red, so I didn’t want to keep it on any longer than needed.
When we got home, I was really feeling sick. I pushed myself way too far going out to have the henna put on, and I needed to rest. I was told I could leave the henna on, and possibly sleep in it for up to 8 hours. The Lush brand has cocoa butter mixed in (which is why it comes in a block form), so it is a really great treatment for your hair. I needed to lay down, so as soon as it had been 2 hours (the time the color develops), I hopped in the shower to rinse off. This was part was VERY messy. They told me at lush to stand under hot water for a while to melt the cocoa butter (my hair was hard like a helmet), so that’s what I did. Green water came spewing down all over me, and before I knew it, I was standing in a puddle of green, mucky water. It was crazy. After the henna melted down again I was able to shampoo my hair. I scrubbed and scrubbed, and scrubbed some more. I rinsed out the shampoo and then repeated the process. After that I conditioned, rinsed, and I was done. I towel dried my hair, brushed, put in my argan oil, and then straightened my hair. My color was fantastic! Just what I wanted. Slightly darker, warm brown color, and very natural looking. My hair also was so silky smooth it was almost hard to style!
My first henna experience was fantastic. I will definitely be sticking with henna from now on, and maybe next time I will try to do it on my own.
Here is my list of skin/hair products that I use daily and really enjoy:
OraWellness brushing blend- We love this for brushing, or gargling. Your mouth feels really clean after, and you know you are doing something really healthy for your entire mouth.
Coconut oil for The Oil Cleansing Method – I prefer coconut oil for this. I use it to take off my makeup and wash my face. It has worked better than any other professional skin care line/Dr. prescribed skin care I have tried in the past. I really like using Tropical Traditions Green Label Coconut Oil for skin and eating.
Beauty Balm – the smell is a little funny, but this stuff is literally like magic!
Primal Life Organics - If you really want a skin care regimen, but don’t want harsh chemicals, this is the stuff for you. It is fantastic!
Primal Life Organics Pit Stick – I love this deodorant! It smells and feels great. Definitely the best all natural deodorant I’ve tried yet.
Tallow Fluff/Cheeky Cow tallow body soap by Real Food Renegade (online store coming soon!) – our friend Erin makes wonderful body products out of tallow, olive oil, and essential oils. Her Tallow Fluff whipped body butter is to-die-for, and is great for dry winter skin (or even year round). When her web store is up and running, I recommend the lavender. We love the stuff!
Jane Iredale Mineral Makeup – I have been using Jane Iredale for years. I was first introduced to it when I was working in a medical spa on Long Island training with an esthetician and doing camouflage makeup on post-op patients. As a makeup artist this line is by far my favorite to use for print work. I use it on all brides, and for any photo shoot that I am in. As a health nut, it is also a brand I recommend. It acts as a barrier on your skin to protect it from air born pollutants, has natural sunscreen titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, and is great for sensitive skin like people with rosacea. Plus, it is all gluten free except for 8 products (Absence, Eye Highlighter Pencil/Double Dazzle Pencil, Purelash Extender & Conditioner, PureBrow Fix & Mascara, PureBrow Gel, PureLash Mascara, PureLash Lengthening Mascara, Lip Crayons, Tantasia)!
Dr. Ron’s MSM Shampoo and Conditioner – I really trust the Dr. Ron’s products, and I love the shampoo. The smell is fresh, and my hair feels great after I use this. My scalp tends to be pretty sensitive, and I have had great success with Dr. Ron’s.
Argan Oil by Holistix for hair styling – This is my favorite product. It’s great for all styling, and the ingredients are 100% pure argan oil!
Ladies only: Even those products you use once a month are important. I have had great success with the Lunette cup. I used to use a Diva Cup, and really didn’t like it. Stacy turned me onto the Lunette and I really like it! I highly recommend this one.