I recently decided it was time to switch from buying beauty products in the shop, most of which contain harmful ingredients and harsh chemicals to homemade natural treatments. What with it being almost spring, I decided to go for a new look and change the colour of my hair. I have natural chestnut hair with red and gold tints but wanted to go for a stronger auburn look so I bought a packet of dried powdered henna [which cost just under 2 euro!] and following the directions of a new natural beauty book by Neal’s Yard, which are as follows:
Red Henna Dye
Mix the powder [about 100g] with a cup of brewed black tea and two tablespoons of grapeseed oil.
Apply some vaseline to the hairline [very important so they dye doesn’t go onto your skin and stain it]
Wrap a towel around your shoulders and wear old clothing as henna is almost impossible to get out of clothes
Spoon the mixture into a smooth paste and using plastic gloves, carefully apply to to your scalp and hair. Rub in well
Wrap some cling film or a plastic bag around your head. Cover with a layer of tin foil [and yes I did feel silly doing this but the heat collected helps bring out the colour!] Wrap a warm towel over this
Leave on for three hours and then throughly wash out with a mild shampoo. Follow up with an intensive conditioning treatment
I had hoped for a more dramatic result but the effect is quite pleasing and it is a change. Don’t be concerned if you don’t notice a difference for a few hours after washing out the henna, unlike shop bought hair dyes, henna [which is a plant usually from India] takes time to develop. One of the best things I like about henna, besides the fact that it harmless and incredibly cheap, is the fact that every time I wash my hair, it changes colour slightly. It will fade with time, I usually get 2-3months out of a henna rinse but you can do it more often. There is also two other types of henna to dye your hair either brown or black. The only word of caution I would give is that it doesn’t work very well on grey hair apparently. It is quite a surreal and fun experience using henna, the green powder has a tendency to bubble delightfully when mixed with water or tea like some sort of witches cauldron and the strong distinctive scent makes me think of rainforest floors, a deep rich earthy damp smell. If you are not keen on the scent, you could always add a drop or two of some essential oil like lavender or rose to make it more floral. I had read that tea added to henna turns your hair bright red while coffee turns it dark, I used the tea this time and to be honest didn’t notice much difference from when I usually colour it with plain henna and water, so next time, I will try coffee and let you know how it works out!
I was feeling adventurous and decided that even though I had two inches taken off my hair a few days ago, that it was time to tackle those split ends and give my hair a treat! So, I once again looked up the Neal’s yard book and found a recipe for a moisturizing Hair mask.
It was wonderfully simple, mash a banana and add two or three tablespoons of grapeseed or olive oil, mix into a paste and apply to your hair. The book then recommends you once again cover your hair with cling film and a warm towel, leave on for thirty minutes and then wash out with a light shampoo. I loved the scent of the banana and felt like my head was some sort of exotic island! However, when it came to time to wash it out, the banana refused to come out and was sticking to my hair like barnacles on a rock! I washed it out twice with shampoo and then conditioner in desperation but still I had so much banana in my hair! I brushed it out and then combed it out which was a horrible painful tangled experience, I must have pulled out copious amounts of hair with the tangles caused by the banana. When my hair finally dried, I was able to comb out the rest and then rewashed my hair the next day to fully cleanse it! What an unfortunate experience! So I do NOT recommend this hair mask! I will be brave at the weekend and maybe try a coconut oil mask recipe and will let you know how that goes!
Besides treating my poor neglected tresses, I decided to see what other natural beauty treatments I could make. I regard my bubble baths as one of my favourite luxuries and have used the Body Shop products for years which are not tested on animals and are sourced fair trade usually. I wanted to see what could I find that was natural, beneficial, affordable and easy to use for baths. These are a few of the things I have tried so far:
Epsom salts or Rock salt is a great way to detoxify the body when placed in a hot bath.
Rose petals add a lovely scent and improve skin tone
Calendula flowers or Marigold as it is otherwise known, help with sensitive skin
Cider Vineger is wonderful for so many things, itchy skin, sunburn, heat rashes, thrush, chicken pox and shingles, allergic reactions…it also helps restore the PH of your skin.
Oats are fantastic for eczema or delicate skin, simple place a handful of oats in some old tights, tie underneath the tap and let the water run over it as you fill up the bath
Baking Soda is also great for calming the skin and as a bonus, it cuts through grease and stains and will leave your bathtub shining!
Essential oils such as lavender or tea tree are great for insect bites and minor cuts and scratches. However, if you are pregnant it is best not to use essential oils to be on the safe side
If you are not lactose intolerant, adding a cup of full fat milk to your bath can help the complexion. Goats milk can also be used this way.
Seaweed washed and placed in a muslin bag and put under a running faucet will help detoxify the body and supply your skin with essential nutrients. If you are collecting it yourself, make sure to take it from a unpolluted beach
Well, I hope that has given you some ideas! Unwind and relax the natural way! 🙂