My mother’s fiery red hair has taunted me since I was a kid. I have normal, uninspiring, chocolate brown hair, but I've also been apprehensive about damaging it with harsh hair dyes. And there's also the annoyance of having to touch up the roots afterward. And the ever-present dilemma of deciding when to stop dying. Once you start there is, of course, no stopping.
For a time, my concerns dissuaded me from taking the plunge. I forced myself to feel content with my plain-jane brown hair, shielding my eyes from my mother's radiant red mane.
Occasionally, I turned to the temporary salvation of hair chalk to add a little excitement to my bored brown waves. One day, though, I came face to face with my solution. While browsing through Lush in Boston with my college buddies, I noticed a display with blocks of Henna Hair Dye.
“What’s this?” I asked, picking up a grainy brown block.
The sales associate explained that the hair henna is made from Persian henna leaves. It’s an all-natural treatment for your hair that coats rather than penetrates your hair follicles. She promised it would actually be good for my hair and would fade naturally after about three months.
Lush Memorial City
But she stole my heart with her next sentence “Our most popular color is the rouge for vivid red hair.”
I was sold. Upon returning to Houston for the summer, I marched into the Memorial City Lush and purchased a block of Rouge Henna Hair Dye. Concerned that the project may be too messy for the kitchen sink, I asked if they could dye my hair in the store. The reply was an enthusiastic "yes," as pink-haired Amanda sat me down in the chair and whipped a towel around my shoulders (she comforted me with assurances that my hair would look nothing like hers).
Amanda applied Lush Ultra Bland around my hairline and on the edges of my ears to avoid dyed skin, while her associate crumbled the block of henna into a bowl of warm water and began mixing. Once the mixture had reached the desired brownie-batter consistency, she began applying the soft warm dye to twists of my hair. She coated each piece thoroughly, piling it on top of my head once she finished. When all the hair was coated, she wrapped my head tightly in saran wrap and told me to go home and sit in front of the TV for three hours before washing away the caked dye.
“Beware," she said, before sending me on my way. "It might look like a massacre took place in your shower.” Thus began my walk of shame to the mall exit as mothers scolded their children for staring at my strange shiny head.
I felt a thrill as my fingers de-clumped the dried mud from my hair a few hours later. The shower was covered in blood-colored trails of water, per Amanda’s warning. Hair free of henna, I ran to the mirror expecting to see my mother in the reflection. Unfortunately, my hair was still too wet to see much of a difference.
The next day I stepped out into the sun to examine my hair in its full glory. I was not the redhead I'd daydreamed about, but my hair had a nice red tint to it, adding warmth to my once-boring brown. My hair also felt shinier, healthier, and thicker. The next few days brought a deepening of color to my hair and in the next couple of months the color slowly faded, leaving no need for root touch ups or a return trip to the salon.
Hair henna offered me the salvation my hair was waiting for, and for a fraction of the cost of regular salon trips. The blocks of henna cost a little over 25 dollars, and the Lush associates will dye your hair in the store for free if you don't mind the quizzical looks of fellow customers. As I have continued to re-henna my hair over the last year, my hair has felt healthier and more interesting than in it did in its pre-Lush life.