Henna Virgins

So, this past Saturday my good friend A and I finally lost our henna virginities. Well, technically, she did, but I supervised!

We attended the Desired Beauty Hair Expo* on 4/6/13 and she picked up a package of wedding grade henna for about $7 from Henna Sooq (www.henasooq.com or 410.579.4543). The young proprietor was a very sweet young woman whose name escapes me!

Fast forward to last Saturday:
Me: It's been like two weeks. So, when are we gonna do your henna? (Because I knew my natural hair know-how and moral support would be required, not requested)

A: Next weekend!

Fast forward to Wednesday:
Me: Don't forget to DC (deep condition) before Saturday!
A: Why? What?
Me: (sigh) Did you pay attention to the instructions she gave? Watch a YouTube vid?

***more reminders and questions***

Saturday/The Big Reveal:
After deep conditioning the night before and mixing the henna early Saturday morning and allowing it to sit for a few hours for dye release (maximum color/results) A then applied the henna evenly to her deep conditioned and rinsed, but not freshly washed hair and covered it with two plastic caps and a crochet tam/beanie so she could be seen in public.

After allowing the henna to marinate for about 4 hours, during which we went to the local farmer's market, ate, and piddled around, we checked a small section of hair and decided it was time to rinse. Against my advice, A hopped in the shower to rinse it out "shampoo-commercial style", but soon realized that my suggested "dunk and swish" method would work better.

The results were awesome! She has naturally reddish hair, but it has gotten darker and less red as we've gotten older (FYI: she's a medium-toned Black woman with two Black parents). The henna didn't make her hair quite as coppery as it was when we were kids, but it did make her reddish/dark brown hair much more red than brown. As an added bonus, her curls/coils looked healthier and more defined (she has fine 4B/C hair with low porosity and minimal definition).

Warning: Use gloves or enjoy having orange hands for a few days! (My friend forgot to use gloves and looks like she's part Oompa Loompa!)

Preparing to Use Henna:
*Have a pair of gloves handy
*DC at least one hour before application (but don't wash your hair, as henna can be drying)
*Be prepared to spend 4-8 hours with mix in your hair (plan to cover your hair with a scarf or hat if you need to be in public)
*Have an inexpensive conditioner for rinsing henna mix out of your hair.
*Enlist a trusted friend/spouse/child to help ensure even coverage and removal. Also good for catching any drips while out and about!
*Don't wear a favorite shirt! Wear a shirt that you don't mind turning orange. An old shirt that buttons up is also a good idea.

Henna mix and application:
One package of henna (50-75 grams)
Green tea (1/2 of a cup)
Lemon juice (1/8 of a cup)
Olive oil (2 Tablespoons)

Mix well and allow to "proof" for at least an hour. Henna is an all-natural dye and the "proofing" allows the plant dye to release for best color results. Apply throughout hair evenly. Because henna isn't a chemical, it doesn't matter what section of hair you start/end with, but to ensure even coverage, you may want to start from the nape area and move methodically through the rest of your hair. Allow henna mix to remain in hair for at least 4 hours; wipe a small section to check the color and then allow to sit longer as needed for desired results.

*Leftover henna can be saved in the freezer until next time*

Rinsing Henna/The Fun Part:
Fill your tub or a deep sink with enough lukewarm water for you to dunk your head (about halfway full). Smooth two handfuls (or more, as needed) of inexpensive conditioner over your hair, massaging gently and squeezing it through your hair. Dunk and swish at will! Do not vigorously rub or agitate your hair (as usual), but use your hands to work the conditioner through and loosen the henna. If you absolutely must, use a detachable shower head (lukewarm water) to rinse your hair. Follow up with deep conditioner (30 minutes) and/or leave-in of choice.

Enjoy your new color!

Whew! Don't let the length of this post discourage you, as we both found the henna process pretty easy. She's planing to keep the color up, so I'll be posting about henna rinses/glosses in the future. These are similar to chemical color touch-ups in that you're only doing the new growth/roots and therefore need less henna/henna mix.


I Shouldn't Have Left You, Without a Dope Blog to Braid To...

It was recently brought to my attention that I am a bad blogger, meaning that I left my reader(s) hanging for quite a long minute.  (Hi Ma and Sheena!).  While it's not quite an excuse, I kind of stopped writing and started giving more live advice rather than virtual.  I'll try my very best in 2013 to provide updates on at least a bi-weekly basis and (hopefully) work my way up.  Antyways, I have lots to report and pics to follow shortly (I'm on a PC and like many, all my hair-related pics are in my iPhone).  With my mea culpa out of the way, here's what I've been up to, hair-wise, during my unintended extended absence:

I most recently tested a new twist/braid out technique using strips of safe (not cotton or wool) fabric, similar to the way one would use braiding hair.  I think it came out pretty good, but next time I'll do more braids for a little more definition.  I did about 12-15 braids in about an hour and I liked the no-heat stretch and additional definition.  More to follow!

I tried a new deep conditioner/leave-in by Shea Moisture.  I can't remember which one it is, but it's in a yellow tube and I got it on clearance from (the Newport News, VA) Target for $4.10.  When I do my modified tightly curly method, I start with damp hair and use a conditioner, an oil (coconut oil and/or olive oil), and either a heavier oil or a cream (castor oil or mango olive oil hair butter).  Throughout November and December 2012, I used the Shea Moisture with some coconut oil on my damp hair with castor oil on top and concentrated on my edges, nape, and ends and did medium twists every 2-3 weeks. I sprayed my hair with (leftover) bottled water every 2nd or 3rd day and reapplied a little castor oil every other day in between.  I seem to be experiencing more moisture, little breakage, and fewer incidents of trimming fairy knots and clusterknots (where several strands get together and play Twister). 

I had my hair blown out in September 2012 prior to heading to the annual Black Caucus festivities.  I prefer to wear my "real" hair, but it was time for a trim, so it had to be done.  After being referred by a really good, friend with high hair standards and expectations, I went to the Regency Beauty Institute in Newport News, VA.  My stylist was professional and bubbly in the best way, she actually stated that she was afraid of straightening my hair!  I encouraged her to treat my hair gently, but firmly, especially since she told me that she was going natural herself.  Lord bless her, but my hair was only about 85% straight when I left and I had Rudy Huxtable hair for two weeks.  To be fair, it started to rain as I left the shop and it rained again while I was in DC, but I coated my strands with castor oil and wrapped my hair before leaving the salon and took it down only in public from then on.  The hunt for a new blow out artist continues...

What else?  I'm looking to test out a cheaper version of the popular TerrEssentials mudwash.  I've been considering Ghana twists as a protective style and trying to find more scarves to use as headbands (I loved headbands when I had a relaxer, but now I think they make me look like I'm back in middle school).