Going Au Naturel

This problem with getting older is that white hair starts to show. And white hair is unsightly.
The way I tackle it is with tweezers. Pull white hair out by the roots. My aunts make a good game of this when I was younger. On a lazy weekend, they’d pay us kids to pull their white hair out. Each one was worth 10 sen. Gave us lots of impetus to start finding the tiny white hair on their head. This practice, no matter how profitable it was for us, has stopped because my aunts find that dyeing their hair gets the job done faster! (I also think they don’t want us to get rich on their unwanted follicles!)
Dyeing my hair did cross my mind but the last 2-3 times I did that were quite futile. For one, the hairdresser said I had virgin hair. Commercial dye does not “stick” well on virgin hair. And two, my hair is (OK, was) jet black. Need lots of dye and lots of time sitting around with smelly hair dye before any effect could be seen.
And the ammonia smell puts people off. Somehow it didn’t appeal to me coz I didn’t think it was right to poison my head (I guess the dye does seep thru the scalp!) with the chemical dyes.
Just last week, I was poking around in Mydin when I decided to buy a packet of henna mehandi. I’ve used natural henna (Malays call it ‘inai’) before as a child, helping my Makcik neighbour pulverise the henna leaves with a mortar and pestle so she could put inai on her fingers. When I did the same, my mum raised cain. She said my orange-stained fingers looked ugly.
Anyway, my friend’s mom-in-law also uses henna for dyeing hair. I decided to try the cheat method – buy henna powder instead of pounding henna. So I bought a packet of Supreme Henna for RM1.90.

Supreme Henna for hair which I got from Mydin
This one contains Amla (Indian gooseberry) and Shikakai (soapnut) which is supposed to be good for hair. Amla is basically buah cermai – my friends and I used to eat these highly tart light green berries plucked from our neighbour’s garden. We also used to eat buah cermai jeruk (cermai soaked in vinegar?) which made the berries less tart and more palatable from the makcik selling asam near our school.
Henna is great for the hair even if one doesn’t use it as a natural dye. It conditions hair and helps promote growth. No wonder my Indian friends always had glossy hair. And henna has a tonne of benefits.
The first time I mixed 2 heaped tablespoons of the dark green henna powder with plain water to form a gluey paste. As for the smell, it’s something like chlorophyll. I applied it immediately to my hair too but beware, use gloves if you don’t want to stain your palms orange. Next, I covered my hair with a showercap as heat helps the henna bind to hair follicles. Kept it covered for an hour before I washed my hair out with shampoo.
The result wasn’t that great. I couldn’t see much difference and it didn’t really cover the white hair well.
I decided to try again. This time, I mixed henna with thickly-brewed hot Chinese tea (using acid – tea, lemon juice, etc. – helps to bring out henna strongly) and left the gooey paste overnight. I then applied the paste section by section to my hair and left the hair uncovered, allowing the paste to air-dry. Then I washed my hair without using shampoo. The henna comes out easily so there’s no need to resort to shampoo actually.
Well, my virgin hair has some brownish-golden highlights now and I don’t seem to notice the white anymore.
The other consolation is I know I am not letting harmful chemicals seep into my brain cells! Plus even if henna doesn’t really colour as well as chemical dyes, at least I know my hair is getting glossier and healthier!

8 thoughts on “Going Au Naturel”

  1. Hi Lydia
    I think the older generation know something we don’t – that natural dye is still the best! πŸ˜‰
    And Cooknengr, I will get some henna for you the next time we meet in Kuching. You’ll be back home for CNY 2006? And this year, got Mardi Gras or not? I still haven’t learnt how to make the King Cake!;-(

  2. I’m kinda looking forward to my first white hairs … is that crazy?! Hey! Is Marsha Maung a friend of yours? She’s so cool πŸ™‚ I am just so impressed and inspired by all of you who work from home. That is my dream so I should really meet up with you and Marsha so you guys can psyche me up! πŸ™‚

  3. EH?? Talking about me behind my back???!! Hey Daphne. Thanks for the compliment. Actually, I am an auntie person who writes well enough to make people think that I am really cool. πŸ™‚
    Maya and me go WWWAAAYYYY back when….I dunno….must have been 6 or 7 years now. Imagine, three more and we’re friends for a decade. But believe or not, I’ve never spoken to Maya. And I have her mobile no. but won’t call or sms. Spoils everything. We’ve been communicating online all this while that it will ruin the whole idea of a cyberfriend. πŸ™‚
    Oh…yeah….Henna. I didn’t know about Henna until I read this. Looks like so much trouble wan?? What’s a couple of fried brain cells for convenience, I say? I’m fried as it is, so, never mind lah. It’s not going to make a difference.
    But they say the commercial ones are very canggih these days already? They’re lying, aren’t they?

  4. I line in Sydney Australia. I start having grey hair. I would like to follow your instructions bit I don’t know where to buy supreme henna powder.

    • Hi Runaa: You can get it from Ramani’s, a shop in Penang Street or what I call Little India. Actually any other good Indian shop selling Indian items would have this. Recently I decided to try Bigen, a hair dye from Japan. It dyes really fast – just apply, wait for 12 minutes, wash and that’s it. Of course, this is my quick fix-it for times when I have no time to do the henna dye. Plus you can keep the leftover Bigen cream….. it comes in 2 separate tubes so you can keep for later use. Very convenient for the quick touch-ups. But this is a commercial hair dye so it’s probably full of chemicals!


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