Saturday 14 January 2012


It all started out so well.  I woke at 6am after a full six hours’ sleep, having enjoyed some weird dreams and a certain amount of astral decadence. 
Zumba had worked its usual magic, the sun was shining, the frost was crisp and the day was bright.  I did my morning meditation, Tibetans and then spent a pleasant hour at the gym. 
Something was nagging at the back of my mind but I couldn’t for the life of me think what it was.
‘Where is it you’re going this evening?’ asked Adrian, as I got back, shouting over the sound of the vacuum cleaner.
Shit. That was it! Last night at Zumba, Kate had said, ‘You are going tomorrow night, aren’t you?’ I stared at her, head on one side, sweat dripping attractively from my nose. ‘Carolyn’s birthday?' she prompted. 'At Gill’s?’ 
‘Huh?  What? Oh. Yes. Yes. YES!  Of course I am. I hadn’t forgotten.  Of course I hadn’t.  You thought I’d forgotten, didn’t you?’
She rolled her eyes.  ‘Right. Well, if you’re not there by 7.30pm I’ll ring you.’

What can I say? I have a bad memory. I blame it on having too much in my head - I need to run defrag on it, get it all filed a bit more neatly.  Anyhow, going out was okay. I could do that.  Except…shit.  I looked in the mirror and the mirror sort of took a little gasp and half-looked away before realising that it was being impolite.  What the bejesus had happened to my hair over winter?  It had taken on a life of its own; become a small satellite state. Frankly it was a bit scary and I don’t scare that easily.  And if it scared me, was it really fair to take it with me to the home of a really nice person; to inflict it on other really nice people; including poor Carolyn who was having a big birthday and needed soothing not stressing?  No.

I did wonder about cutting the bastard stuff off altogether, to put it in its place. My mother trained as a hairdresser in the war – her mother had refused to have her evacuated and so apprenticed her to the nearest shop.  She got off  lightly really; a bit further down the road sat the undertaker and the butcher.  But anyhow, I must have the hairdressing gene, right?  Plus I used to watch the hairdresser when I had one. And it’s all in the way you run the hair through your fingers.  But when I mentioned on Twitter that I had my scalpel ready, poor Erica nearly fell off her pouffe. 

Colour then.  A while back I’d been sent a couple of packets of Naturtint to try out.  I’ve seen this stuff in the health shops – it promises to dye your hair without the really nasty chemical shit that goes in most home-dye products.  But then, I also had a packet of henna I’d picked up in the hippy head shop in Taunton.  The last time I used henna I was at university, sharing a flat with a girl from Iran and a girl from Iraq (yes, in the early eighties – fortunately they were pretty mature about it).  At first I thought they were shitting in the bath and felt very suburban in my outlook (while sticking to the shower).  When I found out it was henna, I felt even more parochial. But they just smiled and taught me how to apply it to make red hair even redder.  But that was, um, decades ago. 
Once again I asked Twitter and it wasn’t terribly forthcoming.  Just one firm reply: Henna. Given it was from a guy I decided that I should probably do the opposite so I went for the Naturtint.

Last time I did this I had a lot LOT less hair.  This time I seemed to get more of the stuff on my face, neck, cleavage than on my head; not to mention liberally splattered around the bathroom. Given the shade was called Fireland, it looked like I’d been butchering a pig; or taking slices out of myself.  Anyhow, I finally got it all on and went about my business, quietly lamenting the fact that, were I in a salon, I’d be sipping tea and reading crap magazines by now.  Then, of course, I got caught up reading something interesting and clean forgot all about it.
‘How long have I had this stuff on my head?’ I asked Twitter.
A flurry of alarm came back from the women in the crew – summarised as ‘too freaking long; take it off NOW!’ and a laconic, ‘Keep it on, see what happens’ from the guy.  The latter was tempting because, honestly, the idea of taking it off was just too exhausting.  Eventually I did – mainly because it smelt a bit odd.  Not unpleasant, just…alien.  ‘Rinse until the water runs clean,’ said the instructions. Half an hour later I was getting dizzy.
But, at last, tis done.  And it’s rather nice really.  Now if I could just do something about the sheer VOLUME of the stuff...

Nitty gritty.  Why should you worry about using ‘normal’ hair dye?  Well.  The usual stuff contains some pretty unpleasant chemicals.  Ammonia wrecks your hair eventually (I can attest to this having bleached my hair to death in the 80s – seriously, it was slime).   Resorcinol is an irritant to eyes and skin and can affect the central nervous system (symptoms can include dizziness, restlessness, unusual heartbeat). Parabens (which are in all kinds of things – check your labels) have been linked to the development of cancer.

Naturtint doesn’t include any of these which has to be a good thing.  It uses chemically light alternatives.  But does it deliver?  Yes,  actually, it’s not half bad. The colour is good – bright but not brash.   I'll be honest, it doesn't last quite as well as the full-on chemical brigade but that’s a small price to pay. There’s also a range called Reflex (a non-permanent colour rinse) that doesn’t even contain peroxide or PPD and hence is suitable for pregnant women.

Of course, the totally natural solution would have been the henna.  Next time maybe. J

Naturtint costs £9.99 . See for details of stockists and videos of how to apply (hmm, probably should have checked that first). 


Lucy Corrander Now in Halifax! said...

How brave to try something given you randomly like this - especially when you are going out. I'm not sure I'd do it. No, I know I wouldn't.

Anonymous said...

Have you ever tried Les cacas henna range from Lush? I know the shops make you sneeze but you can mail order. They get very good reviews everywhere.
I have never dyed or even thought about dyeing my hair; literally, has never appealed to me. I think I may have the soul of a redhead but it really woulnd't suit me.
ps the wv is PESTI

Rob-bear said...

Great advert for Naturtint, from a "harried" woman.

Hope it stays looking good.

Alison Cross said...

h Jane - I cannot tell you how much I hate my hair. I've blogged about it at least twice - it's just dreadful. It is coarse, curly, never shiny and now, to add insult to injury it's GREY.

I have it dyed religiously. I also have it straightened with the old GHDs every time I go. Basically, I don't think they'd let me out the door without my locks being poker straight: I wouldn't be a good advert for them otherwise!

Sometimes I think I'll get it cut off, but it grows soooo slowly, I know that I'd never grow it to this length again.

And what worries me about getting it cut short is that I'd just have Old Lady Hair. It's a FACT - if your hair looks young and healthy, so does the rest of you. It then follows that if my hair is Old Lady then the rest of me might as well be put in a sack and thrown in the nearest river.....

I think your new hair colour looks VIBRANT and FUN!!! Wear your lovely hair with PRIDE!

Ali x

Frances said...

Jane, you've reminded me of my own 1970's henna adventures. I used a vaguely purply auburn shade that left my already shiny hair extra shiny. I remember the messy bit of application and clean up!