Well, I did the henna/amla treatment.
This post is long in case the details help others who are interested in doing the henna thing. Click on “My Album” to see my “Post-henna” pics. You can also check out my “Pre-henna” pics too for comparison.)
Background facts: my hair started out as a combo of dark & light brown, plus about 15-20% gray (mostly in the crown). My goal w/henna was to make my brown a dark red (like wine or burgundy), and the grays light warm auburn, to compliment my yellow-olive complexion. My hope w/adding amla was that the amla might keep the henna from loosening my curls. Decided not to use indigo with it. I figured I can always do another henna for darker color, but once it's too dark, there's no way to lighten it w/out developer or some inevitably damaging process.
Strand tests/ recipe: Did 2 batches of strand tests that oxidized over a a period of about 1.5 weeks. The recipe I chose was 4:1 henna/amla. I used Raj Twilight brand BAQ henna (2.6% lawsone content). I left it on for 4 hr.s. It was a bit of a mistake in the end, because my favored strand test showed my desired hair color (even 1 week later), but in reality the gray hairs came out darker than the strand test strands. Too dark for my taste.
Applying henna: Gotta say, about the smell … lots of folks say it's like hay, freshly mowed grass, Mother Earth itself or some sexy, back to basics scent. Nah. Go to your freezer and crack open a box of frozen spinach. Let it thaw and take a whiff. That's the smell. That plus the encrusted ass of a cow. So I added ground coriander powder to the mix (as advised) and it was like spritzing a pile of puppy doodles with a couple droplets of weak cologne. I mean, henna smells like henna, plus whatever you add to it. There is no escape unless you use nose plugs. … Stirring my henna w/distilled water: did it the wrong way. Emptied the packets of powder first then poured the water in all at once. Bad idea. I never got all the lumps out, even 1.7 hr.s of stirring, later. Should have gradually mixed the water into the powder.
… Whatever room you choose for application could resemble a 2-week old crime scene when you're done, though the one thing I did right was to apply the henna evenly and w/smooth movements so that most of the mess stayed around the bathroom sink. Some of the mess comes from touching things in the room you had no idea you were going to need to touch along the way. … Wore gloves and a finger on one of them broke leaving an ungodly black and orange stain I still have, weeks later, though it has faded a lot. … Wearing the henna turned out to be the easiest, albeit runniest step.
Rinse out: Maybe it's the brand of henna, but it was super easy to rinse out the henna. The amla was a bit gritty but came out easily too. I understand this is not always a pleasant experience for ppl. But this was one step that seemed okay for me. After the rinse out, I just went ahead and added LI conditioner and some JOICO gel to lock in the moisture. (May have used a touch of KCCC.)
Result: Can't say my hair dried any faster than usual (as it has for others post-henna). The color was perfectly bright on my grays at first, though I knew it would darken over time – it just darkened too much. Can barely see the henna on my brown hair, unless in the sun (as expected). Got perfect gray coverage, probably from the high lawsone content. Was disappointed to find my curls loosened slightly, even w/amla on board. Some of that is because I have wavy hair mixed in to my 3b/c curls. It made them “hang” more when I've always wanted root lift. Ugh. I'm hoping they'll recover in a couple weeks. … Consolation?: VOLUME GALORE!! My hair already has that, but wow, my hair was a mighty mane that day I washed the henna out! I had HIH for several days. But a couple washes later my volume returned to normal. (It's okay hair, I love you just the way you are lol.) … I will only henna my roots in the future to avoid further loosening of curls on the rest of my head. And I will mix the Raj henna + amla with conditioner to dilute the strength of the henna so my grays are more orangy-brassy. When I run out of Raj, I will switch to something like Punjabi Prime, a weaker henna (1.7% lawsone), for brassier, lighter look on grays. Not sure why, but that brassy look on me just seems better than a darker, ambivalent deep orange-red. … My hair does look healthier and is definitely less porous. If you have questions, I will try and answer them to the best of my ability, as a relative newbie to henna