Snow-pocalypse Jonas: Hair Henna Edition

This weekend, with the predictions that we’d get hit with a mega snowstorm, I decided to use the housebound time as an opportunity to henna my hair. I’ve been using Lush’s Henna Hair Dye for a couple of years now because I was curious about the “all natural” method of coloring my hair after years of conventional home dyes. Unlike chemical dyes, which, from my understanding, rip open your hair follicle and replace your natural color with a dye, henna actually slowly permeates your follicles while sealing them. While chemical dyes can leave your hair brittle and weak from this damaging process, henna is restorative and healthy.

A few years ago, I started with Lush’s “caca marron” (yeah, weird name, I know), which boasted that it dyed hair a “deep chestnut.” I always ended up a redhead, along the lines of Emma Stone. Recently though, I’ve wanted something darker, so I tried “caca brun,” which gives me the right deep and dark brown that I want in the fall/winter months.

So, here’s what you need:

  1. A brick of henna hair dye
  2. Extra spices (optional)
  3. Cutting board
  4. Sturdy knife
  5. Dish cloth
  6. Heat-resistant bowl
  7. Wooden spoon
  8. Lots of newpaper
  9. Vaseline, Waxelene, or Ultrabalm
  10. Gloves
  11. Grubby t-shirt
  12. Plastic wrap
  13. Good book to pass the time (or Netflix… or moderate amounts of wine)
  14. Shampoo
  15. Conditioner

Not pictured, but also needed: boiling water and hair clips.

Step 1: Lay out newpaper (or grocery ads, whatever) all across your bathroom floor and in your sink. Henna gets MESSY!

Step 2: Unwrap your brick and cut it up. I put the dish towel over the knife back because the bricks are hard to cut.

The bricks are actually lined so you can easily cut your brick into six squares. I cut the block down to squares, portion out what I need, bag the remainder in a Ziploc, and chop what I’ll use into smaller bits.

Because I have shoulder length hair, I use about two squares. The Lush employees initially suggested I use more (like three or four squares), but I find that I have too much product left over. Plus I’m cheap and like to squeeze as many dyes as I can out of one $27 brick!

(Lush also recommends using one square and doing a test on a strand of hair before doing your whole head. I skipped the test because I’ve used this dye before and I’ve dyed my hair every color, so I really don’t care about what color it turns out. If you do the test, take one square and follow the same directions for cooking and treating a strand at the nape of your neck before doing your whole head.)

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You’ll notice some weird powder in this photo: it’s cinnamon and cloves! I read that cinnamon, cloves and coffee will increase the brown color, while paprika or red wine will increase the red. Feel free to experiment (just do so in moderation the first few times you henna so you get a sense of color). I used about a teaspoon of cinnamon and a half-teaspoon of cloves.

Step 3: Add just-under-boiling water. You want the water hot enough to mix and melt the henna chunks, but not enough to burn your head. You also want enough water that you’ll get a fair smooth paste: not thick and dry, nor watery and runny.

Step 4: Mix and break up the henna chunks. My mix ended looking like this, kind of like batter, with some chunks of henna in it, but fairly smooth overall.

Step 5: Head the bathroom with that bad boy mix! Make sure any cats are out of there before application because you don’t need a henna-ed feline. I nestle my bowl in my bathroom sink.

Step 6: Pin your hair up in segments. I leave the lower half of my hair — below my ears and by my nape — down because I’ll start with that section first. I pin the upper part of my hair — at the crown of my head — because I’ll work up that area last. It’s easier to do the hardest parts of your hair and head first because you’re essentially applying impenetrable mud to yourself.

Step 7: Apply your Vaseline, Waxelene, or Ultrabalm all along your hair line. That includes your forehead, in and behind your ears and at the nape of your neck. It’s ok if a little gets in the random strands of your hair. This is to protect your skin from getting tinged any weird shades of red or brown.

Step 8: Put on your gloves.

Step 9: Take a big ole glop of henna from your bow; I used my hands, but you could probably try a brush of some sort. Apply said glop to the lowest part of your hair, that bit that’s hanging down at your nape. Pretty much, you want to take the henna and apply/rub/mush into your hair from your roots to ends. Apply until that section is saturated.

I take each glopy section, twist it, and press it to my scalp. The henna paste works like a strong enough adhesive to make that twist stick to my head.

Step 10: When the lower half is done, take down another section that you’ve pinned up and apply the henna as you did to the lower section by applying, rubbing, and mushing. Twist and stick to your head if you can. Finish with the final section in the same manner.

Step 11: When you’ve finished all the sections, apply any extra henna to your head as a general covering. I pretty mush make a henna helmet.

Step 12: Remove your gloves carefully.

Step 13: Very carefully, take your roll of plastic wrap and wrap your entire henna-ed scalp in plastic. It make take several passes, but cover everything. I always end up going a couple of inches below my hair line at my nape and over my ears. You won’t be pretty, but it’ll help from getting henna EVERYWHERE while you let it cure.

I made a time lapse video of steps 6 through 13. It’s about 40 seconds, but I think it took me approximately 25 minutes from applying the Waxelene to plastic wrapping. Remember: I’ve done this a few times, so your first attempt may not be as quick or as easy.

Step 14: I always get henna down my shirt so I stand in the shower to remove my henna-ing shirt, wipe any excess off, and maybe put on another crummy shirt for the wait.

Step 15: Wait for two to four hours. (I know — forever!). I like to use this time to read a book, watch some Netflix, and drink a glass of wine.

Step 16: Shower time. I try to rinse as much crud (because it will feel like this) out of my hair first, usually by turning my head upside down in the shower. Then I shampoo, which releases a lot of the henna. Then I condition — sometime twice — until I feel all of the product is out.

Step 17: Dry your hair with a dark towel or old t-shirt. While I’ve bleached henna out of white towels, I’ve learned to just avoid dying them accidentally entirely. Also, remember to q-tip your ears! (I find henna everywhere on me: ears, armpits, between toes…)

Step 18: Enjoy your new hue!

Is this a super intense way to dye hair? You betcha! Why would on earth would I spend 3-4 hours on this process when I could easily go to salon and/or home dye in a third of that time?!

First, the color lasts a lot longer I find; any time I’ve chemically dyed my hair this shade of brown, it turns red in two weeks. This color will last me about four to six. Second, my hair feels so much healthier with henna than chemical dye — softer, smoother. Three, I love the more natural color because my highlights come through my predominantly this way and it fades naturally too, instead of that weird root landing strip effect. Four, I like to have this time to pamper myself (henna nights are also my pluck-and-wax-random-hair/shave-and-lotion-leg/use-my-most-expensive-face-mask all while drinking wine nights). This ain’t for everyone, but I like it!

 

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Stitch Fix #10 Review

Number 5 with Alessandra — while not exactly right, I’m still pleased for two new additions!

For this fix, as I’m about to head into the cold months of November and December, I asked for some lightweight sweaters with fun details (lace overlay, button-backs, etc.), as well as a “bum-covering jacket” and a pencil skirt with thicker material. Alessandra was awesome on delivering what I asked for, which I so entirely appreciate; I’m not disappointed that everything didn’t work because I know I’m being heard at least. (My first handful of fixes were messes pretty much — including the one where I sent a scathing email to the company!)

Item #1: Brixon Ivy’s Fierro Elbow Patch Crew Neck Sweater ($58)

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I won’t lie: I peek at the listing of what’s coming in my fix before it arrives! This was the one item that I was excited about: it looked cute with a touch of whimsy.

When it arrived, it was the first item I tried on. While I wish it were cream instead of grey, I couldn’t resist the sweet lace embellishments. It’s a little longer that I like, but I like it with a pair of jeans, vest and flats. With the weather turning even cooler quickly, I know I’ll soon switch out those jeans and flats for cords and boots! Kept.

Item #2: Market & Spruce Riga Ponte Jacket ($78)

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I couldn’t find a single image of this jacket pre-delivery — so it was a total surprise!

Pretty simply: t’s a lightweight peacoat-type jacket. (Sorry the color is off — it’s navy and not black.) Alessandra sent me a size medium, which unfortunately was a half-size too small for real life. While I can certainly wear a tee or a thin sweater with this, I won’t be able to layer as much as needed in New England. Alas, alack! I do own a similar jacket from H&M in tan, but I know that they do have it in navy as well. Maybe, if I’m feeling a navy jacket, I’ll opt for that? We’ll see. Returned.

Item #3: 41Hawthorn McQue Solid Lace Sleeve Blouse ($48)

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I really, really wanted to like this blouse. I’ve been looking for a flirty navy blouse for a couple of months and hadn’t found the right one just yet.

When I pulled this out of the box, I thought it was the one. Lace sleeves! Button in the back! Swoon! But. Alas. I put it on — and saw right through it (there’s no no give in the bust area for me, so it really highlighted what it should have hidden). The material is a touch scratchy too. Such a bummer. It’s definitely a pretty shirt, but I don’t think it’s right for fully-chested ladies. Seeing this on other reviewers’ sites, I know it’s a hit for them, but they’re generally not as curvy as I am. Returned.

Item #4: Renee C Alondra Ruched Pencil Skirt ($58)

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I’ll admit that I like this skirt a lot better in the photo than I did in real life. Maybe it’s because I asked for a bottom with thicker material and this one is awfully thin. Or maybe because it’s grey and I specified wanting to avoid grey in my fixes. Or maybe it’s the ruched style AND stripes wrapping around the fullest part of my body. I tried it on, and quickly took it off. I felt like an ice cream cone. Returned.

Item #5: 41Hawthorn Presley Colorblock Button-Back Sweater ($68)

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The anomaly of this fix. When I saw that I was getting this sweater, I was slightly disappointed. I don’t like colorblocking generally and most of the reviews showed a yellow/grey or pink/cream mix — alright, but not great.

When I opened my fix, I was surprised and intrigued: I really liked the plum/pinky mix of this top. They’re not colors I would have chosen for myself, but that’s refreshing about Stitch Fix! I was always endeared to the sweater because it’s so soft! I was expecting something a little scratchy for some reason, but was happily delighted by the lovely feel of this piece.

I hemmed and hawed for a bit, but I decided to keep it in the end. It’s just beyond my comfort zone without being outrageous. Kept.

Overall: Two out of three — not too bad! I kept two sweaters, what I wanted and needed more than anything else. I wasn’t head over heels in love, but, then again, I hate winter dressing anyway, so it has to be summer manifested in a box to make me happy once the weather goes cold.

Stitch Fix #9 Review — Near Perfection!

I love my stylist Alessandra! This my my fourth Fix with her: while not everything was perfect, she keeps nailing my style and my wants!

This time around, I asked for some seasonal transitional items — both for weather and for my return to my part-time job at the theatre. I wanted more separates, maybe one dress, no black and white or polka dots. Oh, and maybe a teal skirt, and anything in dark blue/teal, plum, or mustard yellow. I received my Fix three days early (a second time in a row!) and loved what I found!

Item #1: Brixon Ivy’s Dona Lace Sleeve Knit Top ($48)

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This has to be a new Brixon Ivy top for the fall because I couldn’t find an image of it anywhere online.

I loved the color (a rich navy) and the lace yoke/sleeves — I thought it was fun, playful, flirty. Because of how idiosyncratic it is, I tried pairing it with a new skirt I just bought from Old Navy and booties. Not a great look, but sometimes it’s fun to push a limit and see what could/couldn’t work. Some of my favorite outfits are those that come out of “well, what if I paired…”

Anyway, back to the shirt. it’s about a half size too small and pretty thin (I notice it so much more when seeing these photos). It also has a weird hi-lo, shirt tail hem that, when it comes up at the seams is well above my hip. Weird. If it fit properly, I think it could have that casual sexy feel, but I feel kind of frumpy in it with the size being off. Returned. 

Item #2: 41Hawthorn’s Lisbon Stud Detail Blouse ($58)

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Love it! As you’ve probably noticed, I wear a lot of bright colors, but never much black. It’s from years of working at the theatre and always wearing black so I could slip through the audience unnoticed. I revolted when I got a promotion a couple of years ago: “no black unless I need to!”

I pulled this blouse out and loved it. The weight is great, so, despite being loose, it fits beautifully. I love the stud detail, as well as the cuff on the sleeves. I love it with jeans, and I could easily dress it up with slacks or a skirt. Kept.

Item #3: Papermoon Soldano Scallop Trim Blouse ($44)

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The color is rich and lovely, and the scallops at the neckline and armholes are sweet. While I loved it with a more masculine, edgier (faux) leather jacket, this was really light and airy, making it feel boxier than I would like (unlike the heavier 41Hawthorn blouse) with other pieces. Returned.

Item #4: Margaret M Christiana Pencil Skirt ($78)

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When I saw the price, I was ready to throw the skirt in the return bag without trying it on. “Almost $80 for a skirt!? No way!” I tried it on despite that reaction and loved it. It’s quite fitted, but the fabric is soft and the pattern is fun. I paired it with the purple Papermoon blouse above, a white one here (which I wore to work!), and I have so many fun ideas for this one into the fall! I had some credit, cutting down the price a bit. Kept.

Item #5: Kut from the Kloth’s Caleb Dress ($68)

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Sound familiar? That’s because I received this dress back in June! (Actually, that’s when this photo was taken! I didn’t have a great one from today; sorry, folks!) The original I received was a size 12, but fit like a 14 or so. I was so dismayed that I emailed Stitch Fix to see if I could exchange it somehow. They were out of 10s, so they offered me a size 8. I accepted, then declined.

Well, Alessandra was great and tracked down a 10 for me. And it’s $30 cheaper than it was in June! It fits beautifully, the fabric is fantastic and the watercolor pattern is stunning! Obviously I had to keep it!

Hit or miss: overall, success! I kept three of the five pieces, though I now kind of wish I had kept the Papermoon blouse. It did look really nice with that jacket! Alas! I received pretty much everything on target of my desires: mainly separates, and ones appropriate for the fall; plus a dress I knew I would love in my size and $30 cheaper!

Stitch Fix #8 Review

For the uninitiated, here’s the low-down on Stitch Fix:

  • Register with Stitch Fix and complete a style survey based on your sizes/measurements/likes/dislikes/current lifestyle/etc.
  • Choose a date for your first “Fix.”
  • Pay a $20 styling fee for a stylist to review your survey, blogs, Pinterest boards, etc.
  • The stylist chooses five items and sends them to you directly.
  • Try on all of the pieces: keep what you want, send back what you don’t in a prepaid shipping envelope.

If you buy any one to four items from your Fix, then SF will take off from the total the $20 styling fee they charged you originally. And if you decide to keep all fives pieces, then they take off the $20 fee AND an additional 25% off the total price, which is simply awesome.

Now, to the Fix review!

I was at first dubious about the SF’s claim that you get a personal shopper with their business. Why? Because I had to go through five (FIVE!!) other shoppers before Alessandra stepped in and finally seemed to get what I wanted. She understands my quirky mixing of romantic and professional, my love of “organic patterning” (which means, really, no trendy chevrons?), and how I seem to bounce between floaty and fitted on a whim. If you read this, Alessandra, THANK YOU!

I think I must have changed my note to my stylist at least a dozen times! I’m too verbose, and too picky, so I edited it repeatedly until I made myself stop. I finally settled on this, figuring direct requests were best:

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That was Monday night. By Tuesday early afternoon, when I logged in again (yes, crazy lady), my Fix was in progress. Then, within hours, I had an email saying my Fix shipped and was scheduled to arrive TWO DAYS EARLY! (Again, Alessandra is amazing!)

My Fix arrived Thursday morning, bright and early. I couldn’t wait and tore into it — and I loved the color selection!

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Here’s the note and style cards for anyone interested. I love how Alessandra directly addressed my requests!

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Piece #1: Kut from the Kloth’s Caleb Dress ($98)

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IMG_2047I love the watercolory floral pattern of this dress. It reminds me a Donna Morgan dress that SF featured in the spring: both are bright, whimsical and perfect for warm weather. While the print was lovely and the fabric was silky and luxe, the sizing was all off. This is a size 12 — my normal — and it’s easily a size, maybe two, too big for me.

While I did track this dress down elsewhere online (and for $20 more), I decided to email SF about exchanging it for a smaller size. They told me that they were out of 10s, but could supply an 8. I originally said I would take an 8 and hope for the best, but then changed my mind and decided to get the dress elsewhere ($20 more, but free shipping and exchanges). I’m planning on wearing it to a wedding in August and don’t want to risk it not fitting — and, simply, being out $98. Returned.

Piece #2: Brixon Ivy’s James Laser Cut Dress ($78)

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Perfect! It fits snugly on the top, but then bells out just right to a flared skirt. I was a little concerned when I saw that this was in my Fix because SF sent me a dress in the same cobalt blue last summer, but I’ve put on some weight and it doesn’t fit quite right currently. (Oops!) This has enough interesting detailing between the laser cut outs and the gap in the back to make it worthwhile. It’s also a nicely made dress for this price point. I’ve styled it here two different ways — one for going out and another for work. Kept!

Piece #3: Mystree’s Serratoga Lace Trim Damask Print Tank ($48)

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I like this shirt much better in photos than I do in person. My first thought when, online, I saw I was getting it: “Nope, nope, nope.” This is technically called “navy” on the packing slip, but it falls awfully close to black and white, which I specifically asked to not receive. Plus I didn’t like the pattern much or the lace at the neckline when I pulled it out. Then I put it on and it was rather shapeless on me. Don’t get me wrong, the fabric is deliciously soft against the skin — but I can’t spend $48 on a “fancy blouse” only to want to nap in it. Returned.

Piece #4: 41Hawthorn’s Breyson Split Neck Pleated Sleeveless Blouse ($54)

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I had asked for golden yellow, but Alessandra said that they didn’t have anything in stock that shade, so she sent this. I surprisingly liked the color quite a bit — it’s bright and buttery, not garish or harsh. (And I think it looked really good with my hair.) With a specific bra on (ha!), this fit me perfectly, but the fabric was scratchy (kind of like $15.95 blouses from H&M that fall apart after a wash or two). Returned.

Piece #5: Mavi’s Hattie Skinny Jean ($98)

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Yeah, you’re not getting a picture of these on me. These are a size 31, the pant size I wear at the usually-runs-a-little-large LOFT. Simply: I can’t get these on past my knees. (C’mon, ladies, you’ve all been there too!) I liked the color a lot out of the box, until I realized that, when I tried pulling them on, they were deceptively similar to my skin tone. Hm… Skin-tight, skin-toned pants I can’t pull up? Returned.

Hit or miss? More hit than miss, but not perfect. I got, mostly, what I asked for: two flirty dresses, two sleeveless blouses, and colorful jeans. Only one item — the damask blouse — was a flop. In the end, I’m leaving with one SF purchase and a purchase elsewhere but of the same article. I’ll also just come out and say it: I don’t mind when some items are flops — my bank account is happier when I only buy one or two pieces!

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(Full disclosure: Stitch Fix did not ask or endorse me in any way to write a review of their service. If you click through the links above though, I will receive a $25 credit when you order your first Fix.)