Welcome to Relaxed Redefined ~ a better, healthier way to care for chemically relaxed hair. This is a personal hair journal created to share easy, do-at-home tips and techniques that have made my hair stronger and longer. I hope you'll learn something here that will enhance your healthy hair journey or better yet insprire you to start one. Happy Hair Growting!


Henna on Relaxed Hair (the first time)

I finally did it! And I loved it! Two weeks ago I used henna on my hair for the first time, it was a labor intensive and time consuming process, but it was all worth it in the end. The coverage of my gray hair, which was objective numero uno, is excellent-- all of the glaringly white hairs that had been gathering and around my hair line are now a pretty copper color. The color change of the rest of my hair is only noticeable in natural sunlight and bright indoor lights, but I've spied the auburn-ish hue a few times and I like it too (pics to come!). As for the strengthening properties of henna, I definitely noticed an increase in strand thickness which is great, but I still have lingering problems with elasticity (and breakage) that I don't think henna could have addressed anyway. I did not experience the increased dryness that I read about from other first time henna users in the blogosphere, but then again I have been very vigilant about keeping my hair moisturized since I was aware of that potential problem. Over all my first henna experience was a very good one, and even though it kept me home bound for an entire Saturday, I will do it again.

Notes from my (first) Henna Process:

Prep: I mixed 200 grams of pure henna powder with 2 1/2 cups of strong black tea (brewed with about 10 bags of tea) and around a 1/2 cup of orange juice diluted with distilled water. I stirred the mix into a runny paste and let it sit over night at room temperature. I realized after the application process that I mixed waaay too much henna, but luckily unused portions can be frozen and un-thawed for future use.

Pre-Henna: The next day I pre-pooed my hair with VO5 Moisture Milks Passion Fruit Smoothie conditioner for about 30 minutes, then shampooed my hair with Suave Professionals Almond and Shea Butter (a new clarifying shampoo for me). Before I started the application I added about 2 table spoons of honey to the henna paste to add moisture and aid with the rinsing process.

Application: I then proceeded to separate my hair into four sections and apply the henna paste to each quadrant in smaller sections, first to my roots with a color applicator brush, then to the length until all four sections were covered. It was a very messy, but pretty easy process, much like the application of any regular hair color. I then smooshed all of my hair together in sort of a high ponytail and "wrapped" my ends around the top of my head. Next I applied several layers of Saran-Wrap, topped that off with a plastic cap and left it alone for four plus hours (the minimum time needed for color to deposit).

Rinsing: First I stopped up half of my (double) kitchen sink and filled it with warm water. After I removed all of the wrapping, I dunked as much of my head as I could into the filled sink and gently swished it around to remove about half of the henna (this can also be done in a stopped up bathtub, but since our bathtub is bright white I did not want to take the chance of henna staining the tub). I then switched my head over to the other side of the sink and turn on my trusty sprayer, from there I used my gloved hands to try to work the remaining henna out, this was at least 15 to 20 minutes of just rinsing. By the end the water was 98% clear, with just a trace of brown tint as it ran down the drain. The most amazing thing about the rinsing process was how incredible my hair felt during and after, this feeling of softness and strength alone was enough to hook me on henna.

Conditioning: My final step was to apply Aubrey Organics Honeysuckle Rose conditioner which I let sit under a plastic cup for about 30 minutes. I did my final rinse in the shower and still had quite a bit of color coming out during that rinse, but by the end of my shower the water was completely clear. And my hair felt softer and more conditioned than ever at 8 weeks post relaxer. Detangling my hair after the wash was literally a breeze, it took less than 10 minutes to comb through my hair and apply my leave-ins, a process that can take upwards of 30 minutes if my new growth is acting out. That was the second reason for me to get hooked on henna, the color change of my grays which I noticed easily during the detangling was all the confirmation I needed to know henna is definitely for me.

Lessons Learned: I experience a little tingle on the left side of my scalp when I first started applying the henna to that section and also again when I started rinsing, it was almost like a very mild relaxer burn. It wasn't enough to make me run to the sink screaming, it was just a little curious. I originally thought I'd done something wrong or was using poor quality henna, but after some reading the next day I realized what probably caused that sensation was the orange juice, even diluted it is very acidic and can easily cause skin irritation. So before my second go-round I will do more research  to determine if there might better liquid mixers that won't irritate. I also think I may have put too much liquid into my henna mix because it never hardened the way I expected it to and I had drips of henna paste running behind my ear during the coloring phase. Next time I will use less liquid and make the paste thicker.

Despite these minor issues, the end result was exactly as I expected it to be which was very encouraging. Since the process requires so much time, I don't think I can commit to doing it more than once per month, but this first time easily convinced me that henna will be a new staple in my hair regimen!

First Length Check of 2011

*Blogger's note: I wrote this length update post a few weeks ago (late January), but never got a chance to post it, so its a little late, but here it is:
October 3, 2010 - January 30, 2011 (Please excuse the ponytail dent in the pic on the right!)
I'm still not at armpit length yet, but I only have about half an inch to go, after my next relaxer touch up I should be there, YAY! Unfortunately, my flat ironing debacle from last week may have set me back a little, the picture on the right is after I had about 1/4 inch of scraggly ends trimmed off. My hair also looks thinner in that picture too, but I think that's mostly due to all of the product I was piling into my hair to keep it moisturized in an attempt to curtail breakage (with varying amounts of success). I think I've gained about 1 1/2 inches of total since the last length check and I am glad the V-shape my hair was growing into grew out. Unless there is some sort of emergency (and I can't imagine one that would require it) I will not be wearing my hair straight again until after my next relaxer touch-up which is a minimum of 6 weeks away.


No Henna Yet

I really really wanted to henna my hair for the first time this weekend, but I don't think its going to happen, I have a birthday party on Saturday and a Super Bowl party on Sunday, there's no time left. The henna needs to sit over night after its mixed before its ready to use and then it needs to sit on my hair for at least 4 hours in order to deposit any color. Unless I plan to style my hair straight into a bun after I henna (and wouldn't that be tragic--new color and I can't show it off) I just would not have time to get it all done. And I since this is my first time I'm sure there will be a bit of a learning curve, so I don't want to rush and end up with a mess on my hands. I'm going to plan for next weekend and get all of my supplies together in the mean time. I'm so impatient, the suspense is killing me! :)
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