Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Veg-friendly Hair Color

The Topic: Go Henna or Go Home

The Dish: To answer the question no one is asking themselves: No, I'm not a natural redhead. Dishwater blonde was my genetic disposition, but after years of experimenting in chemical dye territory (gross), I have discovered that redheads have more fun—and by fun, I mean trouble with clothes colors clashing.

Before going veg, I didn't give much thought to the chemicals I slathered on my head or the animals on whom they were cruelly tested. Once I wised up and read about the nasty ingredients in over-the-counter formulas, I stumbled upon something even worse—photos of allergic reactions to the dyes. I claim zero responsibility for your personal reaction or retinal scarring if you choose to Google that.

But with my chronic case of beauty boredom, I still wanted a change of hair-color scenery. Enter: henna. Yes, it sounds a bit hippy, and yes, it can involve essentially covering your head in mud, but there are so many pros that make it worth the effort. It's completely plant-based and vegan-friendly, and because it lacks unpronounceable chemicals, I have fewer panic attacks thinking my face is going to swell to the size of a basketball. Also, it covers and colors beautifully.

Light Mountain was my first foray into at-home dyeing, and while the color was fantastic, it required a three- to five-hour adventure (a few of those spent waiting for the mixture to "cure," aka sit on the counter). Surya in red is my current brand and shade of choice and has changed my henna life. Premixed in a bottle applicator similar to mainstream brands, this color cream works in only 30 minutes, rinses out easily, and doesn't dry out strands as much as the mud mixture. Oh, and it's only $10 at my local co-op, which is a helluvah lot cheaper than going to a salon.

The Final Word: Henna only deposits color, so take your starting shade into consideration, and always do a test strand before attempting a whole-head makeover. I can't speak to the success of the other shades sold, but as for being an honorary ginger, henna is the way to go.


  1. I am going to try that stuff! I need to have amazing hair and soon, mine is TERRIBLE.

  2. yay! I henna my hair too. I use Lush's henna bars because they're non-toxic and mixed with cocobutter for extra softness.

    I'd also like to point out that some henna's contain toxic ingredients, and the one you are using contains a lot of suspect ingedients, including Dipropylene Glycol Methyl Ether, which is a suspected neurotoxicant. Check out this link:

    The natural henna's may take much longer to process on the hair, but they're worth it!

  3. Is it true that once you henna your hair, if you want to go to another color (or get it done in the salon), it can kinda totally ruin your hair? I'm a faux-ginger and love love love my current Christina Hendricks look, but I'm wary of henna-ing in case I decide to go back to my natural brown.

  4. From one redhead to another - you go Girl!

  5. I've heard that bush tea works reallly well too, but I haven't tried it yet.

  6. I have red hair again, and no more chemicals...who knew. Funny thing. I bought my henna before I read this blog. Talk about Karma!

  7. Hmm, are you getting it at Rainbow on Folsom?

  8. Regarding the toxicity comments... I found the following link :
    Most of what I read online about toxicity was for inhalation and not as a topical application such as in hair dyes. I use Surya myself and will continue to do so, until and unless it is proven as toxic in the amounts used in Surya for topical application.

  9. Ditto on the Lush henna bars - they run under $30 and I always get about 2 to 2 1/2 applications out of each.

    I like to go red and found (online) that adding some paprika to get a truer red works great -- ground clove will help with a darker, more sultry red.

    Great stuff!

  10. Aveda's hair color (and everything else) is cruelty free and 99% natural. The hair color is also non-damaging; thus, I have tried this with their temporary (i.e. fade-out) color.