Fight the white with wild streaks

Every month, Living features a column by our aromatherapy expert, Dr Blossom Kochhar. Readers can send in their queries to dhliving@gmail.com.

TRY IT :The best way to conceal grey is to streak your hair in thread-like  sections.

Nobody wants to look older than their age and the first few greys can create some new worry lines. So here’s what you didn’t know — there is no such thing as grey strands! It is colourless hair that has mixed with brown, giving it an illusion of grey.

Grey hair on one’s head does not necessarily mean ageing. White hair can appear during your twenties. The body stops producing the colour pigment after your thirties.

Those who prefer not to colour their hair should choose softer colours in clothes and make up, since skin colouring is also toned down by the same natural ageing process.

White hair can be dry and wiry, so use a conditioner after shampooing. Even the cleanest white hair can go yellow at the edges from smoke, dust and dirt in the hair.

Temporary rinses

If you are going to fight the white with hair colouring, then you must know that a temporary coating will last only until the next shampoo. Colours come with conditioning-setting lotions, water rinses and shampoos. Temporary rinses coat the hair shaft with clear colour to darken or highlight.

A rinse can also add burnished gold or copper highlights to light or medium-coloured hair. It can bring out the red in the hair and brighten your dark hair with a shine. With your next shampoo, the rinse washes away completely.

Semi-permanent treatment

Semi-permanent hair colourants come in bottles and need mixing. They penetrate the strand and don’t require the aid of a peroxide developer. The hair colour produced by such products fades gradually and naturally, lasting through four to six shampoos. As the colour fades, there is no root retouching to do.

But most semi-treatments will only hide up to 25 per cent of grey. They blend white hair into your natural shade, but usually don’t cover them completely. The secret of success is to choose a colour as near to your own as possible.

Semi-permanent colouring is easy to do on your own. The result is rather natural-looking and the colour never rubs off on linen or clothing. Touches aren’t necessary because a new application is repeated every four weeks.

Chemical dye treatment

If you have a lot of white strands, only a permanent colourant will cover them. Look for packs with two bottles to mix. One contains colour and the other peroxide — which helps the colour penetrate deeply into the core of each hair to give longer-lasting colour (six to eight weeks).

You can even lighten your hair. Most dyes come as shampoos. The colour doesn’t wash away but after about every four weeks, the roots will need re-touching. Modern applicators make it easy to apply the colour just where you want it.

The disadvantage of oxidation colouring is that it makes the hair dry and porous. So use plenty of conditioners to retain shine. Hair colourants that are now available in the market are ammonia free. Ammonia is a strong alkali used to make the colour compound penetrate deeply. But colourants formulated without it are less likely to irritate the skin, do not smell bad, and leave the hair in better condition.

There are two kinds of permanent hair colouring products available —  penetrating tints and coating tints, like herbal hair dyes.

The subtlest way to camouflage grey hair is to have streaks done professionally. Tiny, thread-like sections of hair are tinted all over the head. Less retouching is necessary for streaking.

How to choose a colour

At 25, your dark hair goes well with your complexion. A quarter of a century later, however that same near-black hair will be much too harsh for your skin and face and will, in fact make you look older.

The rule to follow is this: the darker your hair colour, the younger you should be. The older you are, the lighter your hair colouring should be .

Different shades can be created by mixing henna powder with the following:

Henna powder — 2 cups, warm water — 1 cup, lime juice — 1 teaspoon. Stir the henna powder and water into a thick paste. Add lime juice to help release the dye.

Let it stand for an hour.

*A tablespoon of ground cloves mixed with henna will give you a darker shade.

*A dark brown shade may be obtained by mixing one part henna with three parts of indigo dye.

*A tablespoon of coffee and two tablespoons of amla powder mixed with henna can also darken the resulting shade.

*To counteract the drying, add curd and a tablespoon of raw mustard oil.

Always do a patch test before applying it on your hair. This is extremely important especially when you are using a market product for the first time. Use a cotton ball to remove any natural oil from behind your ear in the crook of your elbow and then apply a dab of the colouring product.

If within 24 hours, you experience any break out or itching, take an anti-histamine,  drink plenty of water, wash the affected area and never use it again.

Always use hair colour or bleach on hair in its soiled state. Never shampoo your hair before a bleach. The oil actually protects the skin against the unwanted invasion of chemicals into the system. In fact, the morning before colouring your hair, do not even brush your hair.

Don’t fight the red in your hair: Amateur colourists make the mistake of trying to eliminate any red pigmentation. The red pigment is an important factor in the actual structure of the hair.

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