Surya Henna Best for Women with Greyer Hair
by Michelle Katz
(Long Island, N.Y)
After having read all the previous reviews about the experiences women had with Surya henna cream, and noticing some gaps in the feedback, I was prompted to tell about my experience with the product in the dark brown color. I am a 50 year old Caucasian woman with long brown hair (angled, slightly layered, ending on my back near top of bra closure) which, left undyed, is about 15% brownish grey plus 15% really grey in the layer under my hair.
As I've aged and neared menopause, my formerly thick straight shiny hair has become frizzy and coarse especially in those grey areas. Furthermore, left undyed, the only thing that keeps my hair shiny, frizz-free, and less grey looking, is the use of a straightening iron, so that it does not look so "way out there" thick (like Gilda Radner's hair in Saturday Night Live in the '70s...LOL!).
Surya henna cream is the only relatively "natural" henna/dye that really works, while also having relatively the lowest toxicity level I could find on EWG's Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database, even though it clearly does contain chemicals.
For about a year, I tried Logona's henna cream, which is more natural and less toxic than Surya's, but it resulted in my grey hair turning orange, especially after being in the sun, ocean or swimming pool. Furthermore, in order to get the color as good as it could possibly get it took up to three hours. Before that I used Aubrey Organics Color Me Natural, a henna type powder which was rated zero in toxicity. It was more difficult to put on my hair also taking up to 3 hours and the greys became slightly browner, shinier and less coarse, but soon faded back to grey. I tried to improve the results of both of these products by using a hairdryer as a heat treatment, but it was just a waste of time.
Both these products are wonderful if you have very little to no grey hair. And, while it may have looked better than doing nothing at all, it was just too much work for my desired outcome not to be realized. I was going to try some other henna related product, but I heard that instead of orange hair, I would very likely incur a blue hair dilemma. (I do not wish to look like a Smurf, and I am certain Gilda Radner would not have appreciated that either!) So I switched back to Surya henna, and I am staying with this as long as it works, or until something else more natural or less toxic becomes available.
After leaving it in my hair for an hour, Surya henna covers all my greys on the first try, and although I have safely left it in for two hours or more so that it comes out to be a darker brown, it is not necessary nor is it suggested.
To enable the henna cream color to take well to my hair, I prep it by washing it 1st with Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar. Next, I use Miessence Lemon Myrtle Shampoo to deeply cleanse and remove oil/product buildup, then I use the vinegar again, and finally I use Aubrey Organics Green tea Clarifying Shampoo for Oily Hair which removes oil/product buildup and puts back in plant oils that I found help absorb the henna cream. I only use the vinegar on the day of the henna though, because I discovered that it strips the henna color and makes my hair turn redder.
After washing my hair I towel dry it leaving it a little wet so that the henna goes on well, but not wet to the point where it drips. Before applying the henna, I make sure my hair is thoroughly brushed and detangled by using my Denman brush which has firm plastic bristles.
I usually cover myself with a rain poncho (dollar store; washable/reusable) or I create one by poking my head and hands/arms through a big black hefty type lawn/garbage bag. It is best to wear one of these for protection, but I know how to do the process quickly, so sometimes I don't.
I either use the clear plastic gloves provided by Surya, or I use surgical glove on my hands. I squeeze out enough henna cream either onto the top of my head or into the palm of my free hand and then onto my head, then I use both hands to apply the cream from the front to the back of my hair as well as the sideburn area, next using my finger tips to sort of brush/comb it in and separate my hair as if I were making parts to get it as close to the roots as possible. I squeeze more out of the tube, and keep repeating this process until I have used at least one or one and a half tubes for my hair type and length. To be on the safer side, I use more henna cream than is needed so that I cover all areas of my hair as quickly as possible.
Rather than covering my head with the clear plastic cap provided by Surya, I prefer to use transparent (clear or pastel) disposable ones with elastic (dollar store multi-packs; washable/reusable). I use Alba UnPetroleum Jelly to wipe off any excess henna noticeable especially on my forehead, neck, and ears, before and
also after the henna is washed out, including after my hair is dried.
To allow the henna to set into my hair, it is easier to just stay in the bathtub for the hour (or more)--I often meditate or talk on the phone. This way I do not have to do as much cleaning up, nor worrying about getting dye on the floor or walls, because it can be difficult to remove from tile grout and paint. Even though it initially freaked me out seeing the henna splash all over the shower wall tiles and tub, I have learned to trust that turning the shower water on always washes it all off and down the drain.
To ensure cleanliness, when I want to dispose of the shower cap, gloves, or hefty bag, I take each item off inside out, and throw it into a garbage bag that I keep just outside my bath/shower near my supplies. Also, I keep anything I don't want splashed with dye, several feet away from the shower and garbage bag.
After about 10 minutes of rinsing and brushing out the excess henna cream as much as possible, when my hair feels less creamy and more rough-like, and the shower/bath water looks as clear as possible, I apply smoothing and detangling conditioners. While henna tends to make hair quite shiny, it can also make hair very thick & sort of dry at the same time.
Whenever I wash my hair, including the day I wash out the henna, I use Aubrey Organics White Camellia Ultra Smoothing Conditioner, and to make that conditioner smell better, I mix in Aubrey Organics Honeysuckle Rose Moisturizing Conditioner and also Nature's Baby Organics Vanilla and Tangerine Conditioner Detangler. I wash about 3/4 of it out, simultaneously brushing my hair. Next, I towel dry my hair again, adding some of the same detangler, brushing it through and leaving it in. Then I dry my hair, using my brush and my amazing powerful anti-frizz, shine-producing, color-protecting, argan oil-infused, One 'N Only Argan Heat Ceramic Dryer (BaBylissPRO), and then I allow the treatment to rest and settle in for either a few hours or overnight.
I like soft, flat, shiny, pin-straight hair, so next I use my silicone polymer-releasing Remington Frizz Therapy Straightening Iron. I also use natural plant-based conditioning and detangling serums and gels throughout the week to keep the look going, only using the iron if necessary. These products also make my hair look darker and/or more fully dyed, even when my henna wears off and my hair grows in, especially after the fourth week. The best ones I have found are as follows: Aubrey Organics White Camellia and Jasmine Shine Conditioning Spray, Aubrey Organics Ginko Leaf and Ginseng Root Hair Moisturizing Jelly, John Masters Organics Shine On, Head Organics Hair Serum, and Real Purity Natural Styling Gel.
Gradually over the next 4-6 weeks, my henna gets lighter with nice attractive reddish-brown highlights that appear to be either natural or like professionally painted highlights. I have experimented by adding henna in just the areas that become grey, but the henna does not seem to take well due to my scalp oils and residual oils from products I use. Since I do not want to go through the whole process again just to do those small areas, I wait until week 5 or 6, when my hair tends to look too grey/drab/dry/lifeless to salvage, to do the whole process again.
It seems that my henna lasts a longer time than it might on other people, probably because I do not wash my hair more than twice weekly...or, maybe it is because I use a lot of extra henna cream, or because I sometimes leave it in a lot longer than suggested.
One caveat is that the Surya Henna cream needs time to set and stay on well, and in fact it really takes one or two washings before the excess comes out, which, by the way, is why it is important to put a towel or something disposable on your pillow when you go to sleep the first night of the dye. (For some reason or other, I find that the henna cream washes off of my towels but not off of my pillowcases.) I am particularly mindful of this because I get hot flashes/sweats which can increase the amount of henna cream that comes out of my hair.
Sweating from exercise is another consideration; so, I now take a break from the treadmill over the first two days after dyeing it, and then on day two or three I do only slow yoga, and then go back to more vigorous exercise such as using the treadmill every other day when I am ready and willing to sweat more heavily and wash my hair again. I learned my lesson when I once had to re-do my hair after two weeks.
So ladies, I hope this information encourages you to try the henna cream or powder that is appropriate for your hair, and if Surya Henna Cream is suitable for you, you may use my method as a guide, or think of different ways to maximize your results in the healthiest way possible. I welcome feedback and questions, as well as suggestions that include the use of products with ingredients that are as whole, vegan, and of course, as natural, organic, and green as possible.