Sunday, August 03, 2008

How to Save Money on Hair Coloring (Sorry Jamie Lee!!)

My hair did not get the anti-aging memo and I'm not like the fabulous Jamie Lee Curtis , (AARP cover girl), with her blissed-out view toward her graying hair.

Honestly: I don't like my gray strands and it's not a black-and-white issue. I like gray hair on men. So hot! I admire women with all-silver hair. So hot! It's a silver-fox look that I hope to grow into, but in the here-and-now, I don't like my own washed-out mix of Elvira streaks and salt-and-pepper strands.

But how to color my head without going into debt or exposure to potentially cancer-causing dyes? How to wash out the gray without buying into the regular routine of harsh chemical touch ups, salon visits and expensive treatments? According to one magazine, one woman calculated that she has spent $65,000 on salon color hair treatments during a 25-year period. Imagine if she had used that money to finance a business or to pay off her debt.

In search of frugal, green-living solutions, I have tried coloring my hair with brewed coffee, which works fine, but does not provide long-lasting coverage of gray strands.

Money-Saving Option: Henna Hair Color

As a natural dye, I recently colored my hair with a black henna and I am pleased with the results. For less than $4.50 a treatment, I've restored my hair color. That price tag includes half a jar of Rainbow Research Henna (Persian Black), which cost $6.99, an ounce of apple cider vinegar and a bit of olive oil. I followed the directions and also added black brewed coffee to the henna mix (which was a muddy dark green). The directions include color tips for blonds and redheads using other formulas, herbs and hennas.

Here are the pros and cons of my DIY, vegetable-based hair color:

The Positives:

1. Authentic henna dyes are not harmful or expensive. (Watch out for the fakes or hennas with potentially dangerous additives.)

2. The color washes out or fades in a month.

3. You don't have to re-touch the roots.

4. Henna is an excellent conditioner for the hair.

The Negatives:

1. The process was very, very messy.

2. I had to leave the henna on my hair for 90-minutes. For better color, one woman recommends keeping the henna paste on your hair for up to six hours.

3. It was hard to wash the mixture out of my long, kinky-curly, coarse hair. I had powdered green plant bits in my hair for a long time.

But overall, I highly recommend a henna dye for anyone seeking a natural and safe alternative to commercial hair dyes. Not all of my gray was colored, which was fine because the process left me with a natural look that saved money and looked great.

Here are a few helpful articles on using natural henna to cover gray hair:


Here's how to buy my new book:

@ Barnes & Noble
@ Borders


pam munro said...

I use a technique I modified from one used to color my hair while a hair model - My highlights are the grey + streaks put in with hydrogen peroxide on dirty hair (camoflages the grey). Then I pump up the color with color shampoo and conditioner - I use 1/2 red and 1/2 blonde for a strawberry color.

Gretchen said...

I highly recommend henna, as well. For ten years I used it to make my boring brown hair redder (well, auburnish--my hair refuses to take color). It is natural, cheaper, and healthy for your hair: the resulting effect for texture and shine was FABULOUS! But, yeah messy and weird (the ebst wa swhne the plumber showed up while I was a la plastic bag and hair dryer--he definitely thought he was witnessing some weird ritual). Worth it all, simply because it makes your hair healthier--which expensive salon coloring does not.

Anonymous said...

Word to the wise, real henna, the red stuff, is permanent. The "natural" henna and the "black" henna are some other plants and will fade away over time. I found a great site for dye "recipes" using henna at Lots of info there. The tip I liked best as to use globs of cheap hair conditioner to get the leafy bits out. :-)