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How to henna your hair - an ecofriendly, natural, vegan hair dye

Henna is one of those things that people probably know exists, but don't realise the variety of applications for it.
Since I was about 16, I've been using henna on and off to colour my hair - I'm naturally ginger, but on the brown side of it, and like my hair being that bit brighter.
My hair below is without henna (or at least with extremely faded henna somewhere towards the ends) - there's some highlight in there, some dry ends, some new baby hair and all sorts of colours.
I've always used the Lush henna, specifically in Rouge, so this will talk you through the steps to use that - there are all sorts of brands out there that do henna but in different forms, and some mix other things with the henna that means if you want to bleach before or after, you're going to get a bit of a nasty reaction...
Henna isn't really a dye either in the traditional sense - it's more of a gloss coating for your hair, so it coats your strands rather than penetrating them.
hair before henna
As with all hair colours, do a strand test first! Partly to check that the henna sits well on your hair and any past abuses such as bleach don't react to it, and partly to ensure you're happy with the colour. I say this last part as henna fades, but it won't shift completely! It works well for my hair as it's basically the same anyway, but if you're bright blonde, it'll be a different story. If you're using the Lush block, just cut off a tiny bit and mix with hot water in a mug, apply to the strands and wash off after a couple of hours - then wait for a few days...this is because the colour develops over time as the henna gets darker, so what you see initially is close to it, but not the end results.
you will need
Henna is MESSY. I'll put that out there now. It's very much a 'pamper day in' activity. If you can, rope in a friend to help you as it isn't the easiest or cleanest thing to apply.
You will need:
Something to cut your henna 
Mixing bowl and spoon/spatula (I have these specifically for henna)
Clingfilm or towel wrap (honestly towel wraps are way better for the environment and if you can find a black turbie towel, it would be perfect)
Dark towels to protect your floors/bathroom
Some form of barrier cream - I use Ultrabalm from Lush
how to chop henna
Chop your henna as finely as possible, and mix with hot water in a mixing bowl. Pour the water in slowly and stir as you go!
You want to try and smooth out all of the lumps  - the smoother your henna paste, the easier the application. Try and get it to melted chocolate consistency. This will take a while... 
henna paste
Put down towels everywhere you can in your bathroom to protect your surfaces, pop a line of cream around your hairline and ears (I even go for back of neck and shoulders now), pop on your gloves and mentally prepare yourself for the mess that is about to ensue.
Starting with your roots, section by section, smooth the henna paste into your hair - it should still be warm when you do this, so time is of the essence. Make sure every single bit of your hair is covered otherwise you'll end up with uneven application. Once you're covered, wrap your towel wrap or clingfilm around the mound of henna that is now your hair, and leave as long as you can - I usually go for two hours. Use this time to clean up your bathroom and make sure you don't have any henna on your skin! 
wrap your hair
When the time is up, wash out! This will take a while...I usually rinse with just water to try and get all the big chunks out, then smooth on some conditioner and wash out, then shampoo and condition again and that does the trick. I have a lot of hair though so it might not take you that long!  
after henna
henna comparison
before and after

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