Last summer I started trying to lighten my hair to bring out the red highlights using vinegar, lemon juice, cinnamon, and lengthy exposure to the sun... while it succeeded in lightening my hair by several shades (and also completely drying it out, requiring me to do an egg rinse), it didn't actually achieve the lovely copper hues I was looking for. I would never use commercial dye, so I started looking into natural alternatives, such as henna. Henna is used in India as a temporary tattoo dye, and it is also a natural way to color hair, if you buy a pure form that doesn't have additives.
I chose a brand called Rainbow henna, the Persian Copper shade.
Since I wanted to really strengthen and nourish my hair, we did a mix of egg, yogurt, and coconut oil with the henna powder. The powder starts out green, and when mixed with hot water releases a chemical that turns it red... it also releases a very pungent smell. N. described it as, "Baby food... actually, more like the end result of baby food." It wasn't unbearable, but not the kind of smell you would love to have around. It did go away once I washed my hair though, so no worries.
I have very thick hair, so it took longer than normal - you can see the white paste I put around my hairline to keep from dyeing my skin, and I wore a trash bag to keep it off my clothes. N. patiently brushed it onto sections of my hair and Mom kept everything clean and tidy.
Once all the mix had been brushed on my hair, we wrapped it in plastic, then a towel, and heated the hair shafts using a space heater and blow dryer. Which worked great until we blew the breaker...
I wore the turban for about an hour, then rinsed my hair out in our basement utility sink (it makes quite a mess, so not a good idea for the shower unless you want to clean it out afterward). When I started drying my roots they looked almost neon orange, but as the hair dried it toned down. When I washed my hair this morning the water was orange, but I think most of that was the dye coming off my scalp, not my hair.
My end result... silky soft, shiny hair with lovely red mid-tones. Not too orange, but I have no idea how this would react with blonde hair. I would have been fine with a little more copper brightness, but I am totally pleased with the result! Maybe next time I will leave it on a little longer and see if that deepens the red.
Anybody have a brand/method/routine for when they do henna? If you try it out for yourself and post pictures, please put a link in the comments!