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first off, let me apologize for not posting pix of my hair: I still haven’t been able to find my little el cheapo digital camera since we moved house.

as regular readers of my blog know, I started colouring my hair back in Sep, going from my natural dark blonde to a vibrant red, which I’m totally in love with. what I’m NOT in love with is the cost of salon colour — there are simply too many other things I’m used to spending that money on instead, esp when there are at-home hair colour alternatives that 1) are less expensive, 2) are just as safe and effective (perhaps more so), and 3) allow me to get things done around my house while I wait instead of just sitting in a salon chair w/the latest food mag.

several of the women who frequent the Aromaleigh Aficionadas forum have commented very positively on their experiences w/Surya Henna, so I decided to give that a try myself. I’m not going to spend much (if any) time discussing the properties, ingredients, benefits etc. touted by Surya for their henna hair colour products, but the link I provided above provides a lot of detail re: both; just click on the product category you want to learn more about (henna cream, henna powder, or colour fixation line).

I’d originally ordered 2 packets of Surya Henna from Lucky Vitamin (they had great prices on Surya products, plus reasonable shipping rates) — one cream, one powder, both red. but then I let DH talk me into just having my hair coloured at the salon, so that’s all I’ve done until today, when my cheap streak finally eclipsed my love for my new red hair.

I’d already done a test strip on my hair to make sure I wasn’t going to react to the henna and also to make sure it wasn’t going to react poorly w/the dye already in my hair (but fading and starting to show roots — I would’ve been due for a touch-up this weekend). so this morning after I got Viv off to school, I rounded up a large plastic bag that I cut arm holes into to use as a makeshift cape (I think I’ll just get a plastic cape from Sally’s next time I’m there), a tube of Aquaphor (to create a barrier at my hairline intended to help prevent staining of skin — worked quite nicely), the cream henna, a couple of butterfly clips, andย vinyl gloves. I was already wearing sloppy clothes, in case I made a mess, since I basically had no idea what I was doing other than following the instructions on the insert.

properly kitted out w/cape and gloves and w/a thin layer of Aquaphor smeared around my hairline, I opened the henna (technically already open from the test strip I did, but the bottle can be closed and reused if kept in a cool, dry, dark place — more on that later) and went to work. the cream is about the consistency of a typical hair conditioner and was very easy to massage into my hair, altho’ next time I’ll work in sections, pinning the top part up for a bit so it’s easier to work the henna into the bottom layers of my hair. I don’t think I need one of those little brush applicator thingies, as massaging the colour into my roots, then kind of packing the cream onto my hair, rubbing, smooshing, twisting, and just generally working the colour into my hair seemed to work just fine. I didn’t notice much of a smell (my entire fam will attest to my having a very acute sense of smell), but what I did smell was vegetal, not chemical, and I was perfectly happy w/that. Iย was VERY surprised that I didn’t use (or even NEED to use) the whole bottle, despite applying the henna pretty generously to my long, thick hair — talk about economical! ๐Ÿ™‚ once I was done working the henna cream into my hair quite thoroughly,ย I flipped my head upside-down (again), dropped my hair into the plastic cap (I’ve got disposable plastic shower caps I can use in future if needed), cinched the cap around my head and secured it w/a butterfly clip. a cotton ball w/a bit of rubbing alcohol on it quickly cleaned up the henna smears on the back of my neck.ย then I set the timer for 30 mins (reco’d time for my current hair colour); wiped off the bottle of remaining henna, capped it, and put it away (tucked in a shoebox back in a dark corner of my closet); and came back downstairs to do some research online and chat for a bit on Twitter before heading back upstairs once the timer went off.

I went upstairs to the laundry room, gloved up again, and followed the instructions for rinsing the henna out of my hair. can I just say how convenient it is to have one of those extending faucets w/the selectable stream/spray output in my laundry room? it was SO easy for me to rinse the henna out of my hair w/that faucet!ย did take several minutes of rinsing and massaging to get all of the henna out, but there wasn’t anything complicated about the process. wrapped my hair in a towel and traipsed back to my bathroom, then blow-dried my hair (since it’s a whopping 27F out today and I didn’t want my hair to freeze when I went out to pick Viv up from the bus stop). I’m really pleased w/how vibrant the colour is, and there are variations in the colour that make it look more natural and give it depth that totally-monochromatic hair colour just doesn’t have. I’m also happy that my hair feels very soft, like I’ve just had a conditioning masque treatment, it smells nice, and it has a bit of a shine to it (something I hadn’t noticed w/salon colour); it also feels a bit thicker, which isn’t especially something I want (I usually have my hair THINNED every time I get it cut, it’s naturally so thick and heavy), but it’s not a huge problem, at least not in the middle of winter. my hair is definitely a brighter, more vibrant (but still natural-looking) red than the salon colour I’ve gotten up to now, even w/an expensive highlight process last time, and the henna red is more what I’ve been looking for. YAY! ๐Ÿ™‚

bottom line: I’ll be switching to Surya Henna for the foreseeable future; the only thing that remains to be settled is which type I’ll use, the cream or the powder.ย the cream henna is semi-perm colour, intended to last 7-10 washes, and since I only wash my hair about every 3 days now, I should be able to get ~3-4 wks out of this colour. however, since I already have a packet of the henna powder on hand as well (it’s half the price of the pre-mixed cream but could potentially be quite a bit messier, esp while mixing and trying to produce an evenly coloured cream) and the powder is also a semi-perm but is intended to last 20-30 washes, I’m bound to try that in a few weeks.

would love to hear other people’s experience w/henna, esp Surya Henna! also, is there anything I didn’t mention here that you’d find helpful in deciding if you want to try henna yourself? I’m not an affiliate of anyone, I’m not paid or otherwise compensated for this review; I just want to provide ppl w/the info I couldn’t really find when I went looking for it.