22 October 2007

Indigo Girl



I've been doing this off and on for years. Sometime between October and January, I color my hair black. My hair is naturally black, but the sun turns it reddish, and then I henna it mahogany in the summer, so it doesn't stay black for long. In the past I've used Miss Clairol blue black, and other "safer" herbal coloring kits from the health food store, but since I henna my hair, traditional color doesn't stay in very long, and it makes my dreads very unhappy. Tonight I'm trying something new: indigo! The recipe will follow.

Indigo reminds me of the film Daughters of the Dust, and Nana Peazant's indigo stained hands. (Daughters of the Dust is a Steal Away Jordan inspiration, too).

I need 2-3 boxes, bottles, or jars of any hair coloring preparation to do my hair. Three will cover it all.

Here's the recipe I used:

  • Approx. 8 oz. or so of indigo (aka "black henna"). That was one jar of Rainbow henna (black) and 4.2 oz. of indigo from Acadia Herbals. I could have used another 4 oz, and Rainbow brand is very gritty. Too gritty for dreads. Normally I henna my hair with henna gel, but it's expensive given how much I need.
  • 2 c. water
  • 2 c. apple cider vinegar (I almost used kombucha)
  • 1/2 cup black tea (an afterthought)
  • 1 package of pectin (1.75 oz)
  • Essential oils of ylang ylang, petitgrain, and vetiver (because indigo and vinegar smell nasty when mixed together)--about 1/4 teaspoon total.
  • latex-free gloves (found in my lab coat after work last night)
  • Plastic bag
  • Towel
Bring the water and vinegar to a boil. Whisk in the pectin. Boil for 1 minute. Let stand for 10 minutes.
Add essential oils to indigo powder (I may have used too much, but it smells better than it would have if hadn't used them at all).
Mix the indigo and liquid together and let stand for 20-30 minutes.
It should make a gel. If half of my indigo wasn't so gritty I think it would have. It was more like a muddy, sandy gel.

I smooshed it all into my hair. It got everywhere. Halfway through the process I took off my shirt, put the bowl into the tub, held my dreads over the bowl, andsmooshed the indigo into my hair. Towards the end I just stuck the dreads in the bowl and mushed them into what was left. I needed more, but I coated most of my hair. Then I covered my hair with a plastic grocery bag, and played on the computer for a couple of hours.

I hate the rinsing part. It took 20 minutes to get all the henna out of my hair, where it usually takes an hour to rinse out all the henna cream. I still have a little plant matter in my hair, but not enough to be annoying or look gross. Next time I'll keep it on overnight. I didn't want to sleep with mud/henna in my hair, covered by a plastic grocery bag and a towel.

The next morning...
I looks much more natural than the hair dye, and my gray hairs are still visibly gray. The ends are still a little reddish brown, so I think I'll order more indigo, or some Surya henna cream, and do it once more in a few weeks. The powdered indigo wasn't as messy as I thought it would be. My dreads love henna. They feel silky smooth (for dreads) every time I henna them, even with the henna cream.

So here are my hair observations. Since I don't spend mych time on my hair on a daily basis, when I do something big like color it, I think about it lots.
  • My hair is inconveniently long. I have to move it out of the way when I pee, I sit and lay on it (and get stuck), it entangles people, and I close it in car doors and windows, among other things. Even still, the benefits and conveniences outweigh the inconveniences.
  • I spend more money per year on monthly eyebrow maintenance than I do on my hair. All I buy for my hair is henna, soap (the same I use for the rest of me), conditioner (which Chris uses up before I ever would), and hair oil, which I make myself. I splurge from time to time and buy a scarf or a hair toy, but I find people give me these more than I buy them.
  • I spend very little time on daily upkeep and styling of my hair. A little water on the scalp, a little oil all over, and I'm good to go. If I want to get fancy, I can put my hair in a bun in 37 seconds, and do a half bun in 16.
  • Strangers ask if it's all mine at least twice a month. (yes, it is, random man at the Y)
  • I always go first whenever I play Aquarius.
  • I find hair styling rituals fascinating. And shaving one's head is just subversive. (In a great for you, but no thanks for me way)
  • I love to see people's reaction when I tell them I grew my hair out from less than an inch. (There's a picture elsewhere on my blog of me in my pixie cut)
  • In my contraband drawer, I keep a Ziploc bag of my kitchen trimmings (I trim the nape of my neck every few months--the parts that won't dread, even after 9 years), and dead dread ends (the ends get thin, and I pull them apart). Next to my bag of White Rabbit candy, my fine fancy chocolate, and other items I won't mention publicly. It's the hair-cutting as an act of subversion thing.
  • I think about cutting it short all the time. The thought makes me laugh.
  • I have nightmares twice a year or so, where I get a haircut and regret it.
More about Daughters of the Dust.

1 comment:

Laura said...

I also henna my hair, although I like to make it red. I remember reading that adding tea to the mix will enhance red tones. If I were you, I would try just using the indigo straight.