Herbal hair dye

I'm not a big fan of chemicals in my food,  but part of the GAPS protocol is cutting them out of your life wherever possible. 

Regular readers will know that I've dabbled in making my own toothpastes, deodorant and even shampoos, but one thing I've continued to do is bleach my hair. 

Actually I've been trying to phase it out, and fortunately ombré was a fashion in the last two years, so that has been my plan for growing it out. I can't quite bring myself to cut it all off like I did when I was younger, for fear of my age making me look less 'cute pixie' and more 'low maintenance mum'. 
When I was young and short hair was cute circa 1997
I've also been looking into herbal hair dyes to cover the bleach, there's a lot. You can use coffee grounds, indigo, henna, cassia, chamomile and a whole host of other things to colour your hair. 

The best part is, like eating real food, this stuff is actually good for you. 
how-henna-hair-dye-works
infographic credit
After using herbal hair dyes, I don't have chemical burns on my scalp, or dry brittle hair. In fact, my hair is thicker and shinier than ever. 

The first time I used a herbal hair dye I played it safe with cassia and chamomile (blonde) which evened out my hair a little, and covered some grey, but didn't have a huge effect. 

This time I wanted something more dramatic.

It's no secret that I've wanted red hair for a long time. My husband has not been keen though. I finally managed to convince him (I think he just cares less than he used to) so my lovely sister came over and helped me do it. 

I brewed up some herbal tea that had hibiscus in it (which makes the henna more red and less orange apparently) added the juice of two limes (you're supposed to use a lemon, but I didn't have any) and stirred in about 150g of Henna powder and 25g of ground cloves (they smell good and help with adding a 'warm brown' to the henna). 
hibiscus flower tea
Leave all of that to cure in a bowl for a few hours. Rub it through your hair for a few hours, then rinse and dry. 

I didn't use any shampoo or conditioner, but in fairness I never use conditioner anyway, and my hair was still super easy to brush and soft. 

What was most obvious was the difference between my virgin hair (super shiny) and the bleached hair (much less shiny). 
'virgin' shiny hair around the crown, then drier coloured hair

Overall I'm really happy with the results and I plan to keep using it. 

The colour changes quite dramatically over the first four days as the pigment fully oxidises, so here is my photo diary: 
day one: definitely ginger, but fairly low key

day two: flaming orange. I loved it, but sadly it couldn't stay...
day three: plenty darker but still with a fiery glow
day four: and we've settled down to an even auburn tone.
As a side note, this type of hair dye is permanent (you have to grow it out) and more importantly, you can't really dye over it.

You can use indigo or coffee to make it darker, or cassia and chamomile to (very) gradually lighten, but you can't use a commercial dye on top of it. If your hair doesn't fall out it will be burned worse than any bleaching disaster you have ever had.

Make sure you want to commit to healthy hair colouring for life if you go for it!

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