The One Where I Nearly Ruin my Landlords Bathroom

i.e. the one where I attempt to dye my hair for the first time ever. With henna.

Left: the day after dying (Monday), Right: two days after dying (Tuesday)

Sunday 3rd May 2020, Around 6.30pm

For my whole life, my hair has been the same color. And the same style. As I have eczema on my scalp I have to be super careful about what products I use on my hair, and I avoid going to the hairdresser’s. But I have always been fascinated about dying my hair. Through the no poo process I learned about henna and the idea of a using a natural, nourishing product to turn my hair lovely and red really appealed to me. The mess did not. From what I read henna was difficult and extremely messy. I was also worried I would not like how it looked in the end.

But now we are in quarantine! I found myself impulsively buying some henna one night, after watching a YouTube video where someone dyed their hair and thinking about how much I would like a change too. It seemed the perfect time to experiment when no one is going to see the result immediately. I had time, both to apply it and deal with the mess, and to deal with any bad results without anyone seeing it. (So I convinced myself.) I bought one of those henna bricks from Lush, which wouldn’t be my first choice as I don’t like Lush, but it felt the easiest path to go down. They were out of stock of their fiery red henna so I chose the chestnut one instead, and had to admit to myself that was probably the best choice as something more subtle and thus, hopefully, less likely to go wrong. It took about a week for it to come, by which time the impulse had died away and I was no longer quite so interested. I admit what drove me to use it today was that my flat was slowly, after just a day and a half of the parcel entering my abode, starting to stink of Lush and I couldn’t take it any longer. 

So today I:

Washed my hair and trimmed it, yes myself, and yes badly. (As an aside, last time I discussed my no poo routine I talked about starting to use shampoo again. Since then I have found that I do not like using shampoo regularly,  as it dried out my scalp too much,  but that using a sulfate free shampoo every couple of months works wonders to clarify my hair and does not have any affect on my hair or scalp or my usual nopoo routine. So today I used that shampoo to get my hair nice and clean in preparation for dying. I had hoped that I could just rinse my hair with water for this but from what I read, the cleaner the better for dying the hair. One site even suggested using a little bit of dish soap to really strip the hair, but having done that before (don’t ask, though it may be on the blog somewhere who knows) I really didn’t want to do that again. This was to be a nourishing thing as much as a hair dying thing. The whole point of choosing henna was that I could change up my hair without affecting my eczema and getting out the dish soap or even a sulfate shampoo seemed to defeat that, so I just used the sulfate free shampoo and hoped that would work…)

The henna was suggested to be applied to dry or damp hair. So I thought I could wash my hair and then prepare the henna whilst it dried off. As my hair is quite fine I thought it would be too difficult to work with when fully dry.

To prepare the henna, I lined a glass bowl with tinfoil and set that in a bigger bowl of hot water. I tried to hack up the henna block but it wasn’t working and I was concerned about the mess that was making so I just stuck the whole thing in the small bowl, added a little bit of boiling water and slowly, slowly, melted it down into a paste. It took absolutely forever to do and I had to change the big bowl once to get the water hot again but eventually I got a nice, thick paste to work with. (Why can’t Lush provide their henna as a powder? It would be so much more convenient and easy to work with.) I had been super careful to not add too much water to the bowl as I had read that if I made it too runny then it would be messy and not stick to the hair, so I was pleased I had seemingly got this right. At this point I was excited and optimistic. I laid some cardboard down on the bathroom floor to protect it, then took my henna in  and got to work, sectioning my hair and applying the henna with a face mask applicator and my bare hands. Yes, you read that right.

Tools you need to apply henna:

Hair Color Brush
A small mirror 
Paper Towels
Cling Film or a Shower Cap
A fabric headband , hat or something similar to keep the hair wrapped up and warm

Tools I actually had:
A silicon face mask applicator
A handheld mirror 
Paper Towels
A shower cap 
One of those cloth hair turbans used for drying the hair 

It was close, but not close enough. My poor hands were clearly turning orange even as I applied it. (And the color is deepening as I sit with my hair wrapped up and waiting for the color to develop.) And it was so messy to apply. I had watched exactly one tutorial, as well as reading the instructions lush had included and a couple of online tutorials. None of those dealt with applying to long hair and I really should have investigated that. I found it so hard to get all my hair coated and to get it all to curl around itself into a giant bun on my head, as per instructions. The paste was quick to dry and crumble, falling onto my shoulders, into the sink, and onto the floor , seeming to go everywhere but on my head. At this point I hated it and was no longer excited, just frustrated. I also could not see what was going on at the back of my head with my tiny handheld mirror and struggled even more with doing that part.

Eventually I got all my hair just about coated and twisted around onto the top of my head , and somehow I even got my fringe coated and pasted on top of the whole lot of it. I went over with more henna, as much as I could, but the whole thing was threatening to fall apart so I had to give up and accept it as it was. I hadn’t used all the hair dye so I wasn’t convinced I had used enough to get a good result. I rinsed and dried my hands, definitely orange then, and applied my shower cap- one of those plastic ones you get in hotels that I steal for the express purpose of containing my hair when I do hair masks. (Can I admit that online?) Then I put on one of those hair turbans which I usually use for drying my wet hair, to keep the shower cap in place and to try to keep everything warm, as apparently this helps the red color to develop. Now I am sitting here waiting impatiently to rinse it out and see the results. It smells a bit but feels stable enough and I am pleased that my scalp doesn’t feel too itchy or uncomfortable , which gives me hope that it will be nourishing , or at least not give me a bad reaction. 

Oh, and I cleaned everything up immediately afterwards and it wasn’t too bad. Most was in the sink and on the cardboard. So I cleaned  the sink immediately and put the cardboard in a bag. There was some bits outside the cardboard but as it was so dry and crumbly I could vacuum those up and there were only a couple of areas that needed a wipe down. The bathroom looks fine. I am not sure how washing this stuff out will go though, and am nervous for that. 

Also my hands are bright orange, even my nails are stained , and they smell of the product. I really should have invested in some gloves. I thought I could maybe use some plastic bags on my hands instead but that quickly proved impractical so I boldly removed them and now I am stuck with the results. I hope it fades soon.


Sunday 3rd May 2020, Around 10pm

I left the henna in for between 3 and 4 hours (I didn’t time it exactly but it was definitely on for at least 3 hours.) During that time I kept the henna warm by applying a hot pack to my hair, in order to intensify the red as much as possible. When it finally came to rinse it out, it was pretty intense with a rush of henna mud racing towards the drain and the stuff speckled over the shower walls but once I had got most of it out, just rinsing with water, I just took the shower head and rinsed my surroundings and that was fine. Then I rinsed my hair some more, still with just water, rinsed off the shower again and that was that. Once out I quickly wrapped my hair in a towel incase it was dripping any colored liquid and inspected the shower but it seemed ok. There is perhaps a film left on the tub but it is not clear if it’s just the oils Lush used leaving a film (it did feel a little slippery underfoot) or some of the mud leaving a residue and hence a possible stain. I am a little concerned for it but I will only be able to tell tomorrow. It really wasnt the giant mess I was expecting though, which is a relief. As of now the bathroom seems to have survived , though I will need to check tomorrow in sunlight.

As for my hair, I kept it wrapped up until it was partially dry/no longer dripping, then I undid the towel, nervous but anticipatory, only to find…nothing. My hair looked its usual dark brown self. Shining a torch I on it I could definitely see lighter highlights, slightly reddish in tone but not really. My hair felt so soft though and my scalp also felt…fine. It started to itch as my hair dried, which it usually does, but it doesn’t feel any more irritated than normal. 

It was as my hair dried that I could finally see the color appear. I admit I started to laugh when I saw myself in the bathroom mirror, in the harsh bathroom light. It didn’t look bad, it was just so different. I am not used to seeing myself look different. It was not red exactly, just in the light, it seemed lighter and glossier , with a touch of red, actually it seemed a bit darker, more maroon . And my hair feels so thick and soft. I am excited to see how the color develops overnight. I read that when you henna your hair it can go a bit gingery at first and it takes a day or two for the true color to develop. I am anticipating that the color might be a bit here and there, what I see tonight won’t be it tomorrow and what I see tomorrow probably won’t be it either. But it seems like the result may be more intense than I was expecting. I was fully expecting something very subtle , only a bit of a red sheen when the light hits. It’s quite exciting to think I may actually end up with red hair. 

My bath on the other hand? I hope that doesn’t develop any color overnight. 

(And, come to think of it, I hope my already orange hands don’t get any more orange. )

Monday 4th May, Around 12pm

I woke up today and my hair definitely didn’t feel clean. Indeed, the towel I had covered my pillowcase with was green all over. Some had gotten on my bedsheets too. It was clear the henna had not fully washed out. As for my bath? There was a definite residue there too. So I showered and washed my hair with shampoo, twice. By this point my hair was feeling stripped and my scalp a little irritated, and who knows what all this washing will do to my nopoo regime. My bedsheets and towels are in the wash. The tub will need scrubbing, though I’ll bleach it and leave that for a bit first.

My hair looks like some parts took the dye better than others- some bits are lighter and others remain very dark. There is a slightly orange sheen to the lighter parts but that should hopefully go away after a couple of days. I am still not convinced all the henna is out and I am hoping I won’t put fresh bedding out, only to turn that green too, but I think there is that possibility.

My hands are still orange.

I feel rather over it all, to be honest. This has been very messy and time consuming. It’s a whole lot of effort. The henna I had left over I wrapped up and stuck in the freezer. If it makes my freezer stink like Lush, it’s out, but if it doesn’t..I am not sure if I should keep it and use it. I am not sure I want to do this again. It seems even with my dark hair that achieving firey red would surely be possible, if I took the time to source some good quality pure henna, but I am not sure it’s worth all this.

Monday 4th May, Around 7pm

The stuff came out the washing machine with light stains remaining :( My bath however came very clean with hardly any elbow grease required. My hair dried much softer and less stripped than I expected , but the reside definitely feels gone. My hair feels thick and healthy and the color is developing beautifully – it’s subtle but when my hair hits the light you can definitely tell I’ve done something. I am pleased with the result. Oh, and I realised that lush provided gloves with the henna so that was extremely stupid of me. I am keen to see how the color develops over the next few days. And pleased to put all the mess behind me (staining notwithstanding) I can’t stop looking at my hair, I am quite fascinated by it. It’s different and it’s never been different before…

Tuesday 5th May, Around 10pm

The color has deepened, the gingery-ness gone and its a subtle change that is only noticeable when the light hits my hair. It is not that intense, fiery red of my dreams but it is nice and, I think, appropriate for now. Suddenly dying my hair bright red would definitely be a little drastic and also much riskier. There was still some light staining on my pillow, which I had thankfully covered with an old t shirt I don’t particulary care for, so I guess it must still not be out? I don’t see how. My hair feels lovely (so soft!) and my scalp definitely not irritated. My orange hands are fading, slowly. (Maybe I am just getting used to them.) I remain pleased with the results, but not a big fan of the process. I posted some pictures of the result at the top of the post! Ignore the silly poses and focus on my shiny, squint a little and you can see the red hair. :) For reference of my usual color, its basically just the same chocolate brown, but there are some photos under the posts of this category too.

A ‘no-poo’ update

Hair that has not been washed with shampoo in seven years. Sorry for poor lighting; forgot to take last no-poo pictures in daylight :( I modelled this photo after the four year update picture, as I am amused at the fact that I am wearing yet another stripey cotton knit. Some things don’t change.

I bought a bottle of shampoo today.

This is kind of a big deal actually, as I have been ‘no-poo’ for SEVEN years now. Honestly, I was a bit shocked when I saw the dates myself. SEVEN. YEARS. For seven years I have been washing my hair using just water, and have trialled all kinds of teas and other slightly odd ‘natural’ hair masks as treatments/other forms of cleaning (I still don’t like using the term ‘natural beauty’ as I’ve mentioned before.) However for the past year, I’ve become increasingly unhappy with it. A year ago I said I would not start using shampoo again and my stubborn self really wants to keep clinging to that, to try and force this thing to work.

But. My hair doesn’t feel as clean as I want it to. It doesn’t look as clean as I want it to. It looks dull. I don’t like going to work with it looking like this. When no-poo works it’s great, but I feel you need a lot better water quality (read: soft water) than I have, and although I have a water filter, I just don’t think it does enough and for money and living-in-a-rental reasons I feel reluctant to buy a new one of those (I have been changing the filter medium every few months as required, so that’s not the problem I don’t think.) I also think its water pressure? I have found a higher water pressure helps with no poo, but my shower isn’t so strong and obviously I can’t change that. I could try the usual teas and hair masks but I want something more convenient. And this is weird, but I miss the smell of shampoo. Whenever my sister comes over the bathroom smells so nice after she has showered. I miss those delicious chemical scents. D: I feel like over the past few years that sulfate free shampoos have become much more mainstream and easier to get hold of than they were back when I first went no-poo – and that there’s a lot more of them. I bought one of those and am planning to use it. I’m super nervous about it! (I can’t believe I’m so nervous about something like washing my hair. but – seven years!) I hope it doesn’t irritate my eczema. No-poo has been amazing for my eczema – it sadly never cured it, but it did make it a lot more manageable. It also made my hair curlier, and at one point it was thicker and more voluminous too, although sadly that did pass (the volume, but I still have some waves that I like and I am worried will disappear when I start up shampoo again. T_T) (I would not mind the texture, look or feel of my hair right now, if not for the extra grease and dullness.)

I don’t regret going no-poo, and I’m glad for how it introduced me to ‘natural’ beauty products and then to more sustainable life style choices in general. I like how convenient it was and how cheap and easy. I like that it made me think about what I use and whether it’s all actually necessary, or if it’s actually just marketing/society/pressure to conform. But I want to try something new now. I just hope that using shampoo doesn’t go completely wrong, as trying to transition back to no poo will be awful, basically, especially when working.

So that’s another thing I’m giving up. 2017 and 2018 are the year where I abandon things, it seems. I feel like I’m giving up so much lately, that lately so much is just not working or has just changed for me. I’ve changed? My sister gave me a “Let the quarter life crisis begin!” card for my 25th birthday last year. Maybe there’s a hint of truth in it? As I shed the student life and enter the professional world, my world has become a little topsy turvy. I’m trying to adjust. And maybe I’m taking it out on my hobbies and my old routines – which, I suppose, is actually kind of natural. Maybe. :/

Unexpected no-poo success: powdered seaweed

I’d never heard of using seaweed for the skin before, but my sister and I were at a food fair when we stumbled upon a small store selling powdered seaweed. I asked about using it for a dry scalp/eczema and the woman gave us an amazing sales talk, and let us try some on our hands. My sister and I were quite surprised with how nice it felt and how smooth it left our hands. Still, usually I would not be so easily led to purchase, what with no prior research and one sales talk, but as anyone who has eczema knows, desperation for a cure/for relief makes you an easy sell. I purchased the smallest tub, and then set it aside for a while, before eventually deciding to try it out. I was a bit nervous about using it, as I’m always nervous for trying new things – I don’t want to make my eczema worse, or mess up my no-poo routine after all!

I mixed it up with a little warm water to make a soft, spreadable paste and smothered my scalp in it, before shoving my hair in a disposable shower cap (collected from hotels by me and my sister for this purpose!) Then I had some left over, so I put it on my face down to my décolletage. Then I left it be for a bit. It stank. It was messy (both to apply and when rinsing.) It was ugly – if you live with anyone, prior warning would be needed before turning yourself into a green skinned monster. It didn’t feel that amazing on my skin. However, once I had rinsed it away I was amazed by the results.

So I’ll get it out the way, this is yet another product that I bought for the intention of healing my eczema which did not do that and yet did other great things which means I still like it. phew. I’ve taken to using it every couple of months now. I use it the same way- smothering my scalp in it, shoving my hair in a cap, using the leftovers on my face, neck and back. Leaving it for 10+ minutes to do its thing. It rinses out really easily, although clumps of it do somehow end up everywhere so you have to give the shower a good rinse as well after. It leaves my hair glossy and with a lot more body to it. It’s noticeably nice, for lack of better terms. My sister even complimented my hair after using it, saying that it was looking good. (My sister does not approve of my no-poo routine, so this is unusual.) It does not really have any cleaning properties, but it does not make my hair any greasier. It does not soothe the scalp really, but it does help cleanse flakes. As for my skin, it leaves my face feeling smooth and clarified. It’s really great for when skin is a little bit red and unhappy, a little sensitive, usually because of stress in my case. It calms the skin. It also makes my body skin soft. It doesn’t cause any irritations anywhere.

I think I’m even getting used to the smell now. Because it’s worth it. I’m really loving this stuff and am quite pleasantly surprised by the results. I use the Aalgo brand, and I’ve got tonnes left (this stuff lasts forever) but if I was running out I would repurchase.

*This is not sponsored. Purchased it myself with my own money, and all opinions are my own.

I wanted to post when I reached one yeas of no poo, but seems I missed it. It’s now been one year, and around one month since I last used shampoo! Here, have a picture of my hair. Just cropped, no effects. It’s kind of making me nervous posting a picture, because I have no idea how if it looks like it’s supposed to. If it looks you know, clean. I have even been trying to wear my hair down more, which also makes me nervous for the same reasons. I asked my best friend if it looked ok and she said it did, so hopefully the slight waxy-ness from bad water quality isn’t noticeable! Yes, it is a crappy photo. But I am a bad photographer and its pretty difficult taking a picture of the back of your own head. It took a lot of self timer abuse to get this :|

Anyway. Everything is ok with this no poo thing. Its very much so become a habit and I couldn’t imagine moving away from it. I do sometimes, when I’m reading other peoples stories, wonder why no poo couldn’t be my “miracle” re: my eczema. I read so many stories where problems like dandruff and itchy scalps were cured by taking away shampoo. But my scalp is still itchy and dry and I admit I started this thing with the hope that it would heal by stopping using shampoo, and I do feel disappointed that it hasn’t. But its not like my scalp has gotten worse. So I am OK. I know I was foolish to expect any kind of miracle cure. I’ve been dealing with eczema and other skin problems my whole life and I know that it doesn’t work that way. It’s not that easy. And really, I think my hair looks OK. And it’s in good condition. And it’s growing nicely, as I want it to. Currently I wash it with water, and use filtered water as a cold rinse after. Sometimes I use tea, or herbs, or lemon juice to get rid of waxy build-up- but not too often as my hair does not really like those things.

What I am going to be doing soon is to cut back how often I wash my hair. I’ve noticed my hair getting quite dry at the roots and I can’t help but wonder if I’m over washing it. Water can be quite drying. And I also want to cut it down to save time. So over the Easter break when I don’t have to go out too much I’m gonna see if I can transition to just once a week. I’m also thinking about using henna to dye my hair, well just to give it a bit of a gloss, perhaps lighten it a tiny bit or give it a nice red sheen I don’t know exactly how it works, but from the little I’ve read it seems quite messy and expensive and I’m not sure how my scalp will react. I’ve always wanted to dye my hair so yeah, I’ll see.

I’m not sure I’ll be posting about this thing again anytime soon. It’s been one year after all, and there’s really not much to say about it anymore.


Remember that social thing I really didn’t want to go to? Well, I got out of it. How? I lied. The guy asked me if I was still going and the words came easily. “Sorry, something came up.” Of course he had to ask why. Again, the lie slipped off my tongue just like I’d rehearsed in my head many times “I’m seeing my sister.” I had hoped I wouldn’t have to provide an excuse, that “I’m busy” would do. Alas, I had to provide some reason. Immediately I felt relieved, knowing I didn’t have to go, but also guilty and panicked. I don’t like lying. Sometimes, you have to lie. Sometimes- like this time- I wonder if it would have been best if I’d been honest. But then I may have hurt his feelings or pissed him off. I don’t want to do that. Thankfully come Monday, and even now no one has further questioned anything. Good.  Though I felt quite guilty and still do. I wonder too what would have happened if I went, although I know it made no difference that I was not there. I don’t have any friends in my class. I am still struggling with this whole being surrounded by strangers thing, even well into Semester 2 of university where I generally get on with the people in my class (though, still don’t really know the names of some of the people I talk to daily. Also awkward situation today- a guy sat down next to me in the library and said hello and I managed to mutter a hello back, but I have no idea who he was even if I think he is in my class? Thankfully he didn’t make further conversation. I’m not sure I could handle talking to someone when I don’t know who they are. D:) I feel nervous every day, trying to keep up when they talk to me and trying to think of the right thing to say, the best thing to say. Its not like they are horrible, I am just awkward. I don’t mind, although it makes me miss my sister and my best friend aka the people I can relax around. Also- the guys in my class talk about football. A lot. All the time. Constantly. Is this a guy thing or just because I go to university in Liverpool?

In other news I am still doing that no-poo thing. I can’t believe its only been two weeks since I stopped this shampoo thing. Sometimes I think about how great it would be to use shampoo, and other times I am all excited about this all over again. My hair is a mess, to put it bluntly. When I brush it there is this weird whitish scum that coats the brush. I think that it grease, though I don’t want to think about it too hard. It is that gross. Tomorrow I wash it, and it should be fine for a couple of days before it begins to to get greasier…and greasier…until it becomes as gross as it is now.  Though it never really becomes clean even when I wash it, not like shampoo made it. My hair feels thick and heavy all the time. My fringe especially is a problem, though I thankfully have the time on Monday to give my fringe a quick rinse even if I don’t have the time to properly wash my hair in the mornings (note: I wash my hair Wednesday and Saturday mornings usually). The boar bristle brush helps, but nothing too amazing. I find as long as I keep my fringe clean and tie my hair back I can just about get away with it. In just a week I use shampoo, then I go another month with WO. I am still using my Nuance Airy Hair mask on the ends of my hair every time I wash it (I love that stuff too much). I am still experimenting with essential oils. I tried chamomile tea+lavender oil+ylang ylang on Saturday and liked it. I think this week I am just sticking to WO followed by conditioning my ends.

Lastly- Super Junior M’s new song? Completely awesome. And the fact they have a song composed by Jay Chou on their mini album also helps to make me quite excited for its release.