Henna: a natural remedy for grey hair

In January last year, I realised I was getting wiser. Big time. There were more greys on my head than I could count. Whoohoo. Honestly, I don’t mind. If I did, I would have rushed outside, bought a DIY dye kit and hid my new signs of wisdom from everybody. But I’m wise enough to know that those dye kits are filled with chemicals that damage the quality of your hair. 

So I asked someone even wiser than me for some advice. My mum. She taught me all about henna. For a long time – say 6000 years – henna’s been used to dye skin, hair and fingernails. It comes from a plant that looks something like this. 

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A henna plant in Hyderabad, India. Image courtesy of J.M Garg
My mum herself doesn’t use henna cause it doesn’t suit her, so please consult your healthcare profession before trying this out. It isn’t for everybody. Fortunately, it works for me. By the way, there are a whole plethora of products out there that are NOT natural. So please read, read and read the ingredients before purchasing. Natural henna is a green powder – not a block, paste, cream etc. 

As I live in Japan, I’m not able to get it at a local store so I buy mine from iHerb. I’ve been using Rainbow Research’s Persian Dark Brown for four months now and am very pleased with the result. I also like Vatika, but getting it here has been a bit of a challenge. 

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Read the instructions very very carefully before proceeding. There are a variety of recipes that you can use. Here’s what I do. 

What you’ll need:

  1. Gloves. Henna will stain your hands and fingernails otherwise.
  2. A plastic, wooden or glass bowl and spoon. DO NOT USE METAL.
  3. Brewed (not instant!) black tea or coffee. I use black tea.

Wear an old shirt that you don’t mind getting stains on. The last thing you want to do is ruin your nice clothes. Mix all the ingredients together till it becomes a nice paste with a yoghurt-like consistency. Henna is activated by heat so be prepared to use it quickly after you mix the ingredients. 

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From here, it’s like what you’d do with any DIY dye kit. Section your hair and paint it on. Begin at your roots and finish at your ends. When you’re done, cover your head with a cap. My hair is super thick, coarse and stubborn so I leave it on for around an hour and thirty minutes. 

When I’m ready, I rinse my hair till the water runs clear. Then I condition my hair. To see the full results, you’ll have to wait till your hair is dry. I ordinarily don’t use shampoo till two days later. Henna is NOT permanent so expect the results to last around a month. 

I’m SO glad my mother suggested it to me. I’ve managed to discreetly hide those signs of wisdom without destroying the natural quality of my hair with harsh chemicals. Henna’s also super affordable and doesn’t require overpriced salons. 

You know that saying – I’m not getting any younger. It’s true, alright. Those signs of wisdom are here to stay. But with henna, I can camouflage it a little. No regrets, though. You couldn’t pay me to go back to my early twenties. I’ll take the wisdom of experience over the naivety of youth any day. 

Author: Dipa

Tarot Tales from Japan

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