50 Shades of red

by Marlies Dekkers
The secret of my hair? My henna habbit.

It’s been used as a hair- and skin dye for 6,000 years, and in India, where it’s called mehndi, they believe that the darker the henna on the bride’s hand, the more intensely her husband will love her.

I started using henna when I was 15, and it was a messy affair. I would recruit some girlfriends to help apply the paste, but refused to sit still for the three hours that the henna was supposed to left in. And so I would be shopping and riding my bicycle around town with bright red streaks running down my face, looking very much like an extra in a cheap horror movie. (Any prospective Indian husband would have run away screaming)

The result however, was fabulous. I loved playing around with different shades of red; going from Angélique strawberry blond to Bette Davis auburn, and everything inbetween. There’s nothing wrong with my own, light brown hair colour, but red simply reflects my fiery character much better.

My hairdresser Adri van Lieshout, owner of Christiaan Kappers in Rotterdam, loves henna as much as I do. He reckons he’s been working with it for at least 45 years now, and he came up with a personalized system for me.
He starts out by wrapping some of my locks in foil with two different shades of blond dyes. Then, it’s henna time! Three different henna colours are applied to the rest of my hair: bright red, strawberry blond and honey brown. Since Adri is very strict with me and won’t let me run around town with henna running down my face, I spend the following hours under a heating lamp, catching up on emails and writing blogs such as this one!

It’s still incredibly hard for me to sit still, but I know it’s worth it. Henna not only dyes your hair, but restores the acid-alkaline balance of the scalp without affecting the natural balance of your hair. It also covers each hair shaft and builds a protective layer that safeguards the strands from damage.

While Adri rinses my hair out afterwards, the henna will lightly tint the hair that was bleached in foil, giving my hair 50, okay, at least 5 different shades of red. Each time, I am amazed at the result. I get compliments all over the world for the shine of my hair and the depth of the colour, from Moscow to New York. And yes, even in India.

Want to try it at home? Lush has excellent an henna selection

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