Friday, October 10, 2014

A Guide to Using Jamila Henna On Asian Hair

I'm addicted to henna-ing my hair. To the point where I actually enjoy it's hay smell. It's an all natural product that's been used safely for thousands of years and can be applied easily at home with a little patience. If you're not looking to chemically process your hair in the near future, then I can't recommend henna enough. 

Henna coats your hair with a translucent red orange stain. With repeated applications, your hair will be stronger and feel slightly thicker. The shine from henna is amazing and you can customise the colour with additions such as alma, coffee, tea and indigo for brown or black tones. Even if you have almost black hair like me, you will still reap conditioning benefits and your hair will glow red in the sunshine. 

I'm still experimenting for the perfect henna mix recipe. In the past I've added too much oil and my hair was greasy after rinsing the henna out. I've eliminated acids to prevent my hair from drying out and decided to take the processing time from 3 hours to a new level-overnight. I want my hair to be saturated with henna and Jamila is the best brand to use for this.

Jamila henna is the holy grail of henna. How beautiful is the box with the holographic coating? It comes from Pakistan and one of the best henna brands you can buy. It's fresh and leaves an intense stain. I ordered two boxes from Ebay and they weren't cheap-it worked out to be £7.50 for 100 grams and this is the body art quality. Looks like you can buy it much cheaper if you live in the US. I found it available only from specialised henna/mehandi websites. If you can buy it cheaply from an Indian/Pakistani grocer, I'm very envious!

Jamila also sells hair grade henna but its not as fresh or finely sifted. It won't deliver the same colour results as the body art version. You can tell the difference in the packaging because the body art henna box shows the season and year of the harvest and expiry date. The hair version doesn't have this. Also there is a foil bag for the body art powder whereas it's a clear plastic bag for the hair version.

I was so excited to finally get my hands on this stuff. I want intense merlot highlights and the best quality henna is what I need to give my hair an extra oomph!

This is what I do to prepare henna. I brewed 1.5 cups of boiling water with 2 teabags of Red Zinger and 1 normal black tea for 15 minutes. I use a 1 litre icecream container and a plastic spoon to make my henna mix.

The Jamila henna powder is the greenest I've ever seen. This is what it looks like after mixing 100 grams with hot Red Zinger/black tea, three tablespoons of Heenara oil and 2 tablespoons of honey. It was lumpy at first but I eventually mixed it to a smooth paste. It should be the consistency of Greek yogurt. Gradually add more henna powder if it's too runny or tea/water if too thick. I let it sit for 6-9 hours in a warm place before freezing it to maximise dye release.

When you are ready to henna, thaw the container in a pot of hot water. This is what the mix looks like. It's darker and there is a red tint which means it's ready to use. Its fine if it's a little thicker than before as long as you can still spread it on your hair. Otherwise very gradually mix in some water.

The easiest and laziest way to apply henna is to stand in your shower or bathtub with your head tipped forward. Your hair must be tangle free and clean without using conditioner. If you have thick hair, section your hair. Start applying (wearing gloves) from the roots at your nape down to the ends. Massage it in generously to make sure every strand is covered. Don't be afraid to slather it on like cake frosting! 

Gather your heavily slathered hair and twist into a bun at the top of your head if it's long like mine and press it down. If you've used the right amount of henna, it should stay on it's own although you can secure it down with clips if needed. You might need to apply extra henna on the area just above your ears as its easy to miss those spots. Then I put on a shower cap and wipe off any stray henna with a wet flannel. Try to do this all within 5 minutes so your skin doesn't stain. 

I wear a dark spaghetti strap top rather than an old shirt to save having ugly henna stains. Applying Vaseline first around your ears and hairline makes removal easier but I don't bother anymore. 

Leftover henna can be frozen for the next application. When everything's tidied up, gloves thrown out and shower/bathtub rinsed down, I go about my evening as normal and sleep with the henna in my hair. I put a dark towel on my pillow in case of leaks. Then I rinse it out the next morning until the water runs clear (don't shampoo). I give my hair a treatment and after rinsing it out, I gently squeeze out the excess water before towel drying. 

There will be colour run off for the next few washes so make sure you use a dark towel to hide any staining. If you're concerned about drip stains, blow dry your hair. I like to finish off the henna process by smoothing a few drops of jojoba oil on the ends of my hair.

I'm so happy with the results. My hair is warm black and the highlights are intensely red. They were orange when the henna was rinsed off but oxidation causes it to deepen to red. 

Thanks to the henna mix and treatment, I had a FABULOUS HAIR DAY. My hair felt strong. smooth and shiny. It was full of body and volume. I couldn't stop running my fingers through it. There was hair swishing and secret admiring glances in mirrors all day long.

My hair colour before henna.

Hold off on shampooing your hair as long as you can after a henna treatment. The colour will continue to develop over the next day or two. 

This is the first day after using Jamila. My hair now looks blazing red in sunlight. I feel that after one more application with Jamila, it will give the intensity I'm after.

To deepen the colour, do further overnight (or atleast 6 hour) applications every two weeks. Don't henna more often then that because your hair goes through a fair bit of mechanical stress during the whole process.

If anyone has more useful tips on henna, please comment! 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

"Henna" Eyebrow Tinting

I went to Upton Park with a couple of colleagues to a super cheap eyebrow threading salon. I hardly  have eyebrows to thread so I had them tinted. 

It was only £5 and I was told it lasts for two weeks. The lady applied a black paste on my eyebrows and asked me to check the shape before leaving it on for five minutes. At first I was alarmed to see harsh black thick brows but the shape is right.

Up close it was scary looking. Here's what it looks like during and after. I'm a bit stunned because the eyebrows looks filled in but from a normal distance, it actually looks natural!
I asked the lady if she was using indigo but she said it was a "special henna".  For £5, it's something I can afford to do regularly but I think the "bad black henna" is used, the stuff you hear about in temporary tattoo horror stories. 5 minutes is very fast for dye release and the paste is jet black with no smell (henna smells like hay).

  If I do it again, I'll ask the lady to wait a few minutes after cleaning the first eyebrow before doing the next. The one that received the less processing time is less dark.

Update: after three days the tint completely disappeared! I think it's because I don't much eyebrow hair for the tint to cling on to but meh, it was good while it lasted. I won't be doing this again unless they leave it on longer than 5 minutes!


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