One of my greatest pleasures, in the past, was dyeing my hair. I liked the expectation, the new colors, the compliments, the whole change. I have been coloring my hair for around 15 years. I don’t think I used the same color in a raw more than twice. I was hooked to the feeling of change. I had red, blonde, brown, blue-black hair. But that was then.

Hair dies scared me. They are terrifyingly toxic, filled of strong chemicals. It feels like that more than all the other personal care products which are also far from natural. A shampoo packed with parabens, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, cones and the sort, but we might go through life without thinking of it as dangerous chemical. Well, with hair dies, it is a different story. We all feel the toxicity to an extent. We all know it and yet, we are ready to forgive and forget, because they make a big difference. I have quite a bit of white hair from an earlier age. I had to cover that. The multitude of colors and looks were just a bonus. Now, I have overcome that stage in my life. One step, at least. Hey, how much can you ask from me? I don’t care about the colors so much but I am not ready to live as the grey-haired old lady. Maybe that will come. So, now enter henna.

I used henna once in my 20’s. I had dark brown hair so I couldn’t see any difference. I wanted a change. So henna was forgotten. I never thought it would work on my hair. Later, I was going to visit India with my soon-to-be husband. Over there everybody colors with henna. Men and women. They also do unbelievable body art with it (as you can see in the photo, on my hands, done by this amazing artist for my brother-in-law’s marriage). The strange thing was that many people ended up with orange hair. I was awestruck by the view of venerable men and women walking around in blazing orange heads. Henna started to be feared.

Until a week ago when I decided I didn’t have a choice anymore. My head was getting snowed under freakishly but I didn’t have the courage to put any chemical dye on it. So, what to do? Went to the Indian store. Bought the henna. Mixed it with vinegar, lemon juice and some black tea (as per husband + Internet instructions), waited two hours, put it on, waited two hours, washed it off and voila, beautiful hair on my head again. The white is covered and the rest took a nice reddish tinge, which suddenly seems nothing less than adorable. It is beautiful. My hair smells of tea not of ammonia. What a wonder! My scalp is not abused by long-named chemicals with unknown effects on the human body. I immediately felt that this is how things are supposed to be. I also remembered that in my own culture people use the walnut tree leaves or nut husks to obtain a similar dye effect. To help cover the gray hair, you can add vinegar or brewed black coffee. To boost red shades, mix in rhubarb or hibiscus based tea. Black tea, chamomile tea and lemon add blonde highlights to the hennaed hair.

There are options for each type of hair. There are ways to embrace nature and ancient knowledge. Why do we choose the chemicals? Why do we believe they are better, more convenient, safe? Why do we pay so much money for them, when all they do is harm our bodies? Because they tell us, I guess. I believed. But not anymore.

Ever since I started to green our living, I realized that many of the so-called modern conveniences, are not all that much more convenient than the traditional ways. Washing dishes by hand doesn’t take much more time and effort than rinsing every dish, loading and unloading the dishwasher. Not to mention the water and energy savings. Not to mention the calming effect it can have, the slowing down of our daily paces, daily stresses. Drying laundry on the line is not difficult at all (until you learn to take them inside with the first signs of rain). Cooking everything for scratch, a study showed, doesn’t really take much more time than using unhealthy shortcuts. Even when it is more inconvenient and time consuming, the traditional has spiritual benefits that defeat any comparison. So what should we choose? I am all for henna.