I had been interested in henna for a long time, and it seemed perfect for my hair. A strengthening coat on top of the shaft that enhances reds. The permanent nature of henna didn't scare me; I had been a redhead for a long time and believed that I intended to be one until I cut all my hair off. I chose Light Mountain brand and dove in. My hair looked and felt great.
The thing is, my hair got long. Way long. I hadn't had a haircut since my wedding, and I was very happy with how Shea Moisture (my shampoo/conditioner/everything of choice) was treating my hair. And I was a little, well, bored of my color. I hadn't henna'd my hair for several months (about four inches), but I knew that henna was widely regarded as permanent and impossible or even dangerous to dye over.
Many hairstylists will not dye over henna because of horror stories of hair falling out or turning green because of reactions between the metallic salts some manufacturers use to alter the red shade henna comes in. Even if you promise the henna you used did not have that in it, they will refuse (with good reason-- people are liars, and sometimes people are just wrong.)
I was sure that the henna I had used was good quality, pure henna, so I decided to take a risk and attempt to dye a streak of my hair pink.
This would require "removing" the henna, bleaching my natural color, and then dyeing my hair. Reading online there were lots of recommendations of color oops to shrink the dye molecules of henna, and then to bleach afterwards.
In my experience, color oops does NOTHING to henna. It makes your hair smell awful and does nothing to "shrink the dye molecules." If you read the instructions on color oops, it makes it very clear that it is not for natural permanent dyes, it is for artificial dyes only.
The only thing that had any effect on henna was bleach. Unfortunately the bleach also had effects on my hair texture and health, but more on that later.
For my streak I used color oops, manic panic's bleach kit, and manic panic in cotton candy pink.
The color came out great where there was no henna (The top of my bangs) but the streak going through my braid was more of an orangey-red than pink. Once the manic panic faded, as manic panic is wont to do, I went ahead and bleached the streak again, this time finishing with Wella's T18 (Also known as White Lady or Lightest Ash Blonde) toner to get it as white as possible.
This worked out rather nicely, and I had discovered the rather inelegant secret to making henna disappear: bleach the hell out of it.
So after my streak had grown out a bit, I made a decision. I wanted pink hair, and I was determined to get it. Somewhere around that decision I was fantasizing about undercuts, and I decided I was gonna get that too.
So I got a haircut to trim off the split ends, and asked the stylist to shave one side of my head. She had me repeat myself a couple times before she agreed.
Then I bleached my hair. Twice.
Mostly because I suck at application of bleach, the henna was still a bit orangey, so I decided to cover it up with purple to give my hair a rest and just pink the top.
The purple and pink were both manic panic, and faded rather quickly with the hot oil treatments I did to help my poor bleached hair.
A few weeks later at Target I saw L'oreal's Smoky Pink Pastel Dye. I thought it couldn't hurt my hair more than another bleach, and I had never disliked the L'oreal dye before, so I decided to give it a try.
It didn't pink my hair, but it did tone a lot of the orange out. Manic panic on top of it, and my hair currently looks like the picture below:
The henna is a lovely peach pink color, and I'm sure if I bleached my hair one more time I could go blonde, but I think I'm happy where it's at right now.
I don't recommend treating your hair like I've treated mine. Let's be realistic: once henna's in your hair, it's not coming out. You can either cut your hair or bleach it and hope for the best. And as I've told many people, I care a lot about my hair, but in the end, it's just hair. It grows back.
PS: I highly recommend an Olaplex treatment for people who have treated their hair as badly as I've treated mine. It's pretty much the only thing that can actually restore hair strength, and many salons offer it as a treatment on its own.
I also recommend hot oil treatments for anyone who wants to soften and moisturize their hair. I use a mix of coconut oil, Jamaican black castor oil, and a few drops of lavender essential oil (for scent) in mine.
Shea Moisture products are also fantastic. My hair is quickly recovering from my abuse to it because of that and regular hot oil treatments.
Thanks for getting this far, please share and leave a comment below!
Have you done anything to henna'd hair? Are you happy with your results like me, or are you regretting it?