Sunday, March 31, 2013

Rosemary Infused Olive Oil

Olive oil is used in MANY things. From deep conditioning treatments, to body scrubs, to soaps. Rosemary is not only aromatic but it also helps your skin and hair. Rosemary can help to stimulate hair growth and increase blood circulation in your skin. So why not infuse your olive oil with rosemary and use THAT in your products?

Rosemary infused olive oil is actually very easy to make. All you need is:
- Olive oil
- Rosemary
- Pot
- Glass bottle/jar for storage
- Spoon
- (You may also want a funnel if you're using a bottle for storage)

Step 1 -- heat your oil. Do NOT make it very hot. You aren't trying to make deep fat fried rosemary here! Just warm enough so that you can touch it but if you left your finger in too long then it would start to burn. Probably about 105 - 110 F is good.

Step 2 -- chop your rosemary. Don't chop it TOO fine because then you'll get little rosemary chunks in your oil that are hard to remove.

Step 3 - add your rosemary to the oil and stir it well. Let it sit on the heat for a minute or two and then move it from the heat.

Step 4 - after about 5 minutes of steeping, add the oil AND the rosemary to your container. You could use it right away but it's better if you let it infuse for a day or two.

Use it in your soaps, on your hair, and on your skin!
Enjoy! :-)

The Importance of Natural Beauty

When breaking into natural beauty you are often confronted with questions and statements of doubt. Some of these are from peers but a lot of them are also in your own head. Stuff like:

 "Why not save money and just buy the generic XYZ?"

 "Commercial products haven't really been shown to cause major issues, right? Why not be easier on yourself and use those?"

 "That takes so much time... why not just buy it?" 

"I just feel like the commercial stuff works better for me..."

 And so on and so forth.
Here are my answers to some of those.

 As for the money issue. Yes, in SOME cases it will be a higher initial investment that just buying the cheap shit at Wal-Mart. HOWEVER!!

- If you use extremely high-end salong quality products then going DIY will save you a ton of money. I calculated that making my own conditioner cost about 18 cents an ounce whereas salon quality conditioner could be as much as $2 an ounce. What the hell, right!?

- Sometimes DIY is actually cheaper even than the generic brands. Using the 97cent baby oil and baby shampoo travel bottles and using a little old conditioner to make a DIY shaving gel? You can get months of gel for just a $2!

- It's a lifelong investment. Yeah it may be a little more money now, but think of the money you'll save when you have kids or get older and have avoided all those expensive health issues that come from chemicals? 

That brings me to the next issue. Health. A lot of people try and say that commercial, chemical filled products are usually safe and don't cause issues. Here's the thing though. They don't cause any super OBVIOUS issues like rashes or hair falling out. But they have been linked to various health issues.

 Don't believe me? Here are just a few sources for proof. And I only use reliable sources, mind you. No opinion blogs or anything.

Hair dye could cause cancer.

More facts about things like hair straighteners and UV nail lights.

A list of toxic and harmful ingredients and why you should avoid them.

Things that may be in your shampoo that could mess you up bad.

These are only a few of the more definite things. Also, think about this: There is currently an allergy epidemic in the world. More and more people are getting allergies as well as chronic issues like asthma. Some doctors have attributed this to more exposure to chemicals both in the environment and in the products we use and consume. I myself have severe allergies as so my brothers and many of my friends. I would like to limit my own exposure to iffy chemicals so that I decrease the risk of my children having such issues. If you're expecting a baby in your future (EVEN IF YOU'RE THE DAD!) then remember that what you use on your skin matters! A lot of stuff is absorbed through your skin and as a result absorbed by your growing little one (or your sperm even.)

So we know why it's economically better and why it's crucial for your health. But what about time? DIY takes time right? This is the one question that shouldn't be too hard though. If you're like me then you love crafty things like this and it will become a fun hobby. If that's the case then who cares about the time!? :-)

If you enjoy it then it shouldn't be a huge concern. But if you AREN'T the DIY crafty person, or if you simply don't have the time to devote, then fear not! You don't have to do it all DIY in order for it to be natural. You can also buy organic and all natural products from your health food store or online. Just check the ingredients first!! Also, check places like Etsy for smaller companies that sell homemade products.

Last but not least -- the argument that "natural products just don't do it for me."
Okay so... I'm sorry but this is the lamest excuse I've ever heard. It makes me mad when people say this. Your hair and your body is natural. How can your hair or skin just magically NEED commercial products with chemicals? How did people ever manage without chemicals back before the 20th century? Huh?

The thing about most of the people who say this is that they have never even given natural alternatives a shot. They just assume that the chemical versions are better. Or, if they have tried natural alternatives then they likely didn't give it much of a shot. As my last all-text post stated -- you have to have patience in natural beauty. If your body is used to the commercial chemical products then it will likely take AT LEAST a week before your body can adjust and regulate. It's like when you've had a bunch of fatty, sugary foods and you get a breakout. Even if you start eating well again, the breakout will take a while to go away. You can't switch to natural products overnight.

Another thing to keep in mind -- just as with commercial products, you have to play around until you find what suits you. Say your friend LOVES using coconut oil facial scrubs but it just made your skin worse. That doesn't mean "natural products don't work for me." That means "coconut oil isn't good for my face." You just try something else. There IS something out that for everyone. Don't let one or two failed attempts make you write off everything natural. Keep trying!

Hopefully I've helped convinced you to try all natural alternatives. Or, if you're already an all-natural junkie then hopefully these facts and tid-bits have helped you think of responses to some of the questions your peers and family may ask you.

Thanks for reading! :-)

Lessons I've Learned About Natural Beauty

One of the most important things I've learned about natural beauty is that usually less it more. Your body naturally cares for its skin and hair and nails. You only need to help nudge it in the right direction or help it along the way. You don't need 500 face products to have perfect skin. If anything, that may make your skin WORSE because it's being bombarded with crap. Usually you just need to find those few products (sometime one is enough!!) to help your skin find the perfect balance between hydration and cleanliness.

This is especially true if you start to find your skin issues getting worse. I used to think that more products meant better results, so when my skin got iffy I just used more and more things on my face. This is NOT how you do it. I've backed down to just a few products (facial wash, a rice-bran and papaya enzyme scrub, and the occasional med) and my face is doing great! I do the occasional milk and honey mask but those are rare. So just keep that in mind. Less really is more, at least in the world of natural beauty!

One of the things that you have to accept when you're doing DIY and natural beauty is that it WILL take longer (at least initially) than just buying something from the store. Henna, for example, takes 5 - 6 hours!! Getting your hair colored at a salon or doing an at-home hair dye kit takes less than half that time. For making deep conditioning treatments you have to let the mix sit on your hair longer. That that isn't counting the actual process of making it! Soaps take a MONTH to be set properly. Talk about having to plan ahead. 

At first this was really really hard for me because I am NOT a patient person. But I've come to learn that the wait is more than worth it and doing it yourself can also feel a lot more fun! Just telling people about how you use homemade conditioner on your hair or have your own homemade soaps can motivate you to keep on with the long process. It can also help you learn to appreciate the lesson that waiting often has its rewards, and I feel like in this day and age that is a lesson that all of us can benefit from.

There is a dangerous misconception out there that natural products are automatically good for you. This is not only the case for beauty products but food. (Cause those deep fried organic potato chips are so healthy...amirite?) This may be an extreme example but think of poison ivy. It's all natural! But I would NEVER want that on my skin. There are other things like that which are not as extreme and obviously dangerous as poison ivy, so be on your guard. If you see a recipe for a product that uses an ingredient (oil, extract, whatever) that you have never heard of before then research it first. Also, if you have sensitive skin or have allergies, then do a test of the ingredient before you have at it.

Okay if you're anything like me then once you find something new that you LOVE you tend to stampede full force into it. That's great for some things. NOT for something like DIY beauty. Especially if you have a limited work space (I'm in a 1 bedroom apt. with my hubby-to-be.) You don't want this stuff consuming your entire living space. Take is slowly. Try something new every week or two. Don't try and make soap, body scrubs, lotion, deodorant, conditioner, and the lot all in the same week!! That will be a HUGE project to undergo and it will end up being less fun because you'll be surrounded by a crazy mess. Besides, if you stretch it out then it's more fun cause you can look forward to something new every new week!

 I also would like to talk about WHY you should start up the natural beauty method but that will make this post ungodly long so I'll save it for another day. :-)

 Hope these lessons help you! Enjoy your natural beauty adventures!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Coffee and Brown Sugar Pre-Shave scrub

Exfoliation before shaving is very crucial. When you clean an exfoliate your skin before shaving, you remove the dead skin cells and oils that are covering your hairs. This dead skin and oil keeps you from getting as close of a shave, which means more shaving per week.

That being said, here is my recipe for a pre-shave exfoliating scrub. It's specifically a pre-shave scrub because there are NO oils and there is a small amount of soap to help with stripping the oils from your skin.

What you need:
- Instant coffee crystals (you can also use coffee grounds for a rougher exfoliation but they are messier in the shower so I just use the instant coffee.)*
- Baby shampoo (or another shampoo if you'd like)
- Brown sugar
- Honey (honey helps mosturize, heal scars, and it's naturally lightly antibacterial)
- A small amount of water

* So why have coffee at all if I'm not using one that exfoliates? -- The caffeine in coffee can help your skin cells dramatically! It has been shown to help prevent skin cancer, remove cellulite, and make skin firmer and healthier looking.

Step 1 - Add your honey to the coffee. Mix it well.

Step 2 - Dissolve your coffee crystals and honey in some water. If you are using fresh ground coffee then heat this water so that it can help the caffeine release more effectively.

Step 3 - Add the baby shampoo and stir. Be sure to stir gently so you don't cause foam.

Step 4 - Lastly add your brown sugar RIGHT before you use it. If you want a good exfoliation then add it as late as possible so that it doesn't start to break down in the coffee-water. Mine was a little juicy but you can add as much sugar as you want. Mine works fine but if you want extra exfoliation then add more sugar.

Step 5 - Apply and then rinse or wash off. I always use this in conjunction with my DIY shaving lather!

Enjoy! :-)

DIY Shaving Lather

So I found an interesting recipe for a DIY shaving gel/lather on Pinterest and I decided to give it a shot. I altered the recipe slightly for my own devices though so I'm putting it up on here.

Here's the recipe and the tools you'll need
- Small shampoo squirt bottle
- Baby oil
- Baby shampoo
- Conditioner (I used the old stuff I still had from when I switched from commercial to DIY and organic)
- Other shampoo if you'd like -- I used some of the old shampoo from when I made the transition to organic shampoo. I decided I should find SOME way to use it up.

Step 1 - Put your shampoos into the bottle FIRST. I filled the shampoo bottle up about half way with the shampoos.

Step 2 - Add your conditioner and then shake well. I did about two squirts of the conditioner but it was a thin mix so I may do three next time.

Step 3 - Add some oil. I only added a small amount of the oil. I estimate it was about a tablespoon's worth. You don't want to add TOO much oil because excessive oil on your skin will prevent the razor from getting the closest shave possible.

Step 4 - Shake very well and then test it on your skin to make sure it's a nice consistency. I like this recipe a lot because it's thin and light but still coats my legs well and leaves a delicate lather.

Enjoy! :-)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Rosemary and Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse

I LOVE doing vinegar rinses on my hair. They make my hair feel clean but not stripped as well as soft and smooth. Of course you shouldn't overdo them, but if you skip shampoo every few days and need to get rid of excess oil and whatnot then this can be a great thing to use. I also use it after using my coconut oil deep conditioner.

This particular rinse has rosemary and apple cider vinegar. Rosemary has been known to help promote healthy hair growth and even prevent hair loss. Apple cider vinegar is overall amazing for your health. Drink it, put it on your hair, make it one of your top 5 MUST have natural beauty ingredients. If it's RAW and UNFILTERED then it's best. That's when it has all the wonderful nutrients. Otherwise it really isn't THAT much better than other vinegars. Sometimes you will also see "with the mother" as well as/instead of 'raw.'

Look for this sediment in the bottom. That's how you know it's legit raw ACV.

Here's my recipe!

2 - 3 sprigs of rosemary (preferably fresh, but dried is alright)
1 cup of filtered/distilled water
1 cup of RAW and unfiltered apple cider vinegar (from here out called ACV)
1 tbsp Borax (sounds weird but it's just a mineral and really nice to your hair!)

*NOTE: Usually Borax comes in large boxes, far larger than you'll need for this recipe. But don't let that shy you away!! You can use Borax for a TON of other awesome things, and it's usually under $5 a box anyway. It's worth buying!

This is the ACV I got just because it was cheaper. I usually prefer Bragg's but it was about $6 whereas this one was $2.50. I'm a little cheap sometimes... :-(

Aaaand here's Borax:


Step 1 -- Making your rosemary infusion
Put your cup of distilled water in a pan on the stove and set to high heat. Add your rosemary sprigs and bring to a simmer. Cook on low heat for about 3 - 4 minutes and then take off the heat. Let it 'steep' for another 5 - 10 minutes.

Step 2 -- Add your ACV and Borax
After the infusion has set, you can move it to another container. I usually leave at least one sprig os rosemary so any left over essence can infuse with the final mixutre, but that's up to you. Add your ACV and Borax and stir well. I usually put mine in a spray bottle for easier application but go with whatever works for you!

Step 3 -- Applying the vinegar rinse
Some people prefer to do their rinse and then immediately rinse with water. However I recommend letting the rinse sit in your hair for 3 - 5 minutes. Massage it into your scalp and make sure it has reached your roots. That's the place that needs it most! Afterwards just rinse out. You can shampoo and condition over it if you want or you can just rinse super well and let that be your hair wash.

Note: it WILL make your hair smell kind of like a pickle, so if you don't follow it with something else then maybe do one of two things: add some kind of strong but nice smelling essential oil or extract to the rinse to quell the acidic vinegar smell, or have a perfume/cologne/body spray to put on after you shower.

Enjoy! :-)

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

"DIY" Jewelry Cleaner

Okay so this isn't directly beauty related but it DOES deal with jewelry so I figured it'd be alright. I LOVE jewelry, especially silver. Silver, as well as other metals, tarnish rather fast. Now, if you're like me and you HATE those super smelly jewelry cleaner solutions (so many gross, harsh chemicals!!!) and you feel like the polishing clothes are tedious and don't get those little detailed nooks and crevices, then you'll love this trick!

It's surprisingly simple -- toothpaste!

That's right. Just put a tiny amount (pencil-eraser sized blob) of your toothpaste on your fingertips and rub it all over the jewelry. You only need to rub it in for about 20 seconds. You may also want to use a cotton pad or something if it's particularly tarnished. Then just rinse off and you'll see an insane difference!!

Before and after side-by-side shot of a pair of my earrings:

Homemade, All-Natural Coconut Oil Deep Conditioner

Decided to try making my own conditioner after looking at the all-natural conditioners at the store and seeing how expensive they were. I also figured DIY conditioner would be fun!

THE MIX – What I got for my conditioner
- Coconut oil: 1/4 cup
- Vegetable glycerin: 1/8 cup
- Essential oil: 5 - 10 drops depending on the oil you get and how strong you want it
(Eucalyptus in my case because it’s good for your hair and was on sale for $3/bottle! But really tea tree would be better I think.)
- Olive oil: 3 tbsp

I also purchased some Vitamin E oil but then I noticed that it contained Sweet Almond oil and I have allergies… :-( However, I encourage you to add about 2 – 3 tsp of Vit. E oil to my recipe and it will likely make your hair even silkier! I plan on getting non-almond Vit. E oil for my next batch!

NOTE: Since this mixture contains no preservatives I recommend using it all within about three weeks. If you let it sit out too long without preservatives then it will spoil and that will NOT be good for your hair!

- Small mixing bowl
- Whisk (or if you don’t have a whisk and can use chopsticks in the manner then that is fine)
- Bottle to put your conditioner in

STEP 1 – Mix together your olive oil and coconut oil. You could heat up the coconut oil but I felt that the consistency of the conditioner is better when you put it in thick and then whisk it smooth.

STEP 2 – Add yhour essential oil(s) and blend well. If you have any other oils (jojoba, argan, almond, vit. E oil, etc.) then add those now.

STEP 3 – Blend in the glycerin. It should go in smoothly.

STEP 4 – Add to your bottle and let sit.

TO USE: Put about a dime to quarter sized amount in your hands and run them through your hair. Let it sit for about 5 – 10 mins. at least. I usually put mine in my hair and  let it sit for about 30 mins before showering. Then I use my rosemary and apple cider vinegar rinse with it! I will often then shampoo and conditioner the tips as normal.

I used to apply this to dry hair but then I learned that glycerin is a humectant. Humectants help to retain moisture in whatever they are applied to. If you apply glycerin to dry hair then it has no moisture and can conversely end up drying out your hair, which defeats the purpose of the oils. So for that reason, make sure you wet your hair before using this conditioner mix.

Hopefully this will leave your hair soft and shiny!! Enjoy! :-)

Monday, March 11, 2013

Single Ingredient DIY Hair-Care Products

While blends of oils, crazy concoctions, and all that fun stuff can be beneficial for your hair, you can also get beautiful results with single ingredient rinses and conditioners.

- Olive Oil Conditioner: comb olive oil through your hair. It will look like you haven't washed your hair in weeks so obviously make sure you do this before showering. :-P Massage it into your scalp and run a wide-tooth comb through your hair so it gets evenly distributed. Let it sit on your hair for about 15 - 30 mins and then shower as usual. This will heal your hair and leave it silky smooth.

- Honey-dipped tips: honey does wonders for hair and skin. I never do my entire hair with honey because I just have too much hair and it would not only be expensive but also messy and sticky and gross. So I just do the tips and, when I'm feeling messy, the roots as well. Get your tips (and roots, if you're doing those too) wet with warm water and massage honey into the hair. Let the honey sit for 15 - 45 mins and then shower as normal. It will make your tips feel less frizzy and, if done to the roots as well, promote a healthy scalp.

- Vinegar rinse: if you've already read my henna post then you're familiar with vinegar rinses. Vinegar rinses help to strip your hair of unwanted build-up of chemicals and minerals. Any hair products, including conditioners, can leave minuscule layers of build-up on your hair. Also, if you live in a city with hard water like I do, then you will also have mineral build-up on your hair from the water. Mixing vinegar with equal amounts of warm water and running it over your hair will help clean your hair of this unwanted gunk. Run the rinse over your hair (preferably after you've shampooed it) and let it sit for about 5 mins.

- Beer rinse: yes, that's right, beer. It can make your hair super soft and silky. I can't tell you the science behind this, but I assume it's a combination of the alcohol and the hops/barley make-up of beer. Just grab a can of beer, pour it over your head, let it sit for a few mins, and then rinse it.
Downside to beer rinses: if you don't use perfume or a strong smelling something afterwards, then you smell like an alcoholic. So either be sure to have something to cover the smell or do this on a day you don't have work or anything special planned. If I do this again I'll likely try putting essential oils in the beer to maybe cut the alcohol odor.

- Rosemary infusion rinse: rosemary is known for it's benefits, especially for hair. Rosemary essential oils and infusions can help promote healthy hair growth and can even help delay the onset of hair loss. You can add rosemary essential oils for your conditioners and other rinses, but if you have room outside in your garden, maybe grow a rosemary bush! Fresh rosemary is easy to grow and a much cheaper alternative to buying fresh rosemary from the grocer. But however you get rosemary, you'll need several sprigs for this infusion. Bring some distilled water (tap-water may have minerals that build up on your hair) to a boil on the stove and add your rosemary. Steep the rosemary in the lightly boiling water and then remove from heat. While the rosemary continues to steep, pound it with the back of a spoon, a potato masher, whatever. This helps squish the extra rosemary juices out into the water. Let the infusion cool and then strain so that the sprigs and any loose leaves are removed. Then use this rinse just like the vinegar rinse. There won't be any immediate effects, but over time this could really promote healthy hair.

That's all I have for now. I'm going to be experimenting with other oils and rinses soon though so look out for Part II! :-)

Olive Oil and Coffee Body Scrub

I love all natural things, especially ones that you can make with the random things you (might) have around your house. This olive oil and coffee body scrub is one of those wonderful things! Here's why:

Olive oil is a natural moisturizer and it leaves your skin feeling soft and smooth.

The coffee helps exfoliate your skin and the caffeine helps to rejuvenate it. Exfoliation removes the thin layer of dead skin cells that are clinging to your skin and gives the fresh and new skin underneath better exposure to oxygen, which helps skin health.

Essential oils (if you choose to use them) also have a wide array of health benefits for our skin.

Honey helps moisturize and heal the skin.



- Mesh strainer or coffee maker (French press grounds could work but they would be very rough)

- Ground coffee

- Olive oil (if you want to use coconut oil or some other natural oil then that would work too! I use olive because I like it and it's usually stocked up in my pantry)

- (OPTIONAL) Essential oil: I would recommend tea tree, lemon, peppermint, or rosemary because of their benefits for the skin. More details about essential oils here:

- (OPTIONAL) A small amount of honey


STEP 1 - Prepare the coffee
In order for the coffee to work properly you need to get the caffeine to release. If you add fresh, dry coffee grounds to the oils then you will get the exfoliation aspect but not the benefits of the caffeine  Therefore, you should either use old grounds from the morning's coffee or steep the coffee in boiling water for about 2 mins. This allows the caffeine to release but it isn't so long that the caffeine is lost.

STEP 2 - Mixing it up
Put your strained and slightly wet coffee grounds into a container and add you honey. After these two ingredients are blended well, gradually add the olive oil. You don't want it to be too oily because then you will only be rubbing coffee infused oil on yourself. Try and find the right balance between coffee and oil. Then add your essential oils. Be sure to use these sparingly because adding too much can cause skin irritation. Also be sure to mix them in very thoroughly to ensure even distribution.

STEP 3 - Apply it!
Rub it all over, let it sit for about 5 mins, and then rinse off! Enjoy!! :-)

Henna for your Hair!

The first recipe I want to post about is my henna recipe. I have been using henna to naturally dye and strengthen my hair for years and I LOVE it. I've completely abandoned commercial dyes.

Before I give you the recipe though, I few words about henna and why it's amazing:

1) Henna is an all natural hair dye and therefore it will not damage your skin or hair and it is 100% nature-friendly.

2) Henna doesn't just dye your hair, it makes your hair super-hair! Henna makes hair softer, silkier, shinier, and stronger.

3) If you are sick of having to re-do your dye then henna is a nice change! Henna is completely permanent and only fades slightly through sun and chlorine exposure.

4) The color is VERY rich and looks all natural. A lot of auburn hair dyes are obviously fake, but henna makes your hair look naturally red/burgundy. Yay!

That being said, I also feel like I should warn you of the few (potential) cons of henna:

1) Henna is FOREVER. Not only does the color more or less never fade, but it is also near impossible to dye over or bleach out. You can dye over it a little, but the chemical dyes fade away much faster on henna colored hair. So if you pick henna, make sure you can live with auburn until your hair grows out.

2) Henna is VERY messy. I personally find that to be fun, but then again I like crazy things like that. Henna is not only messy to mix up and apply, but you also have to leave this poop-esque mixture on your head for a while.

3) Henna can dye your skin for a short period. Make sure you dye your hair with henna well before any big events. Your scalp and hairline will be an odd orange color for a day or two.

4) Henna takes time. It's worth it! But it is a 5 - 6 hour commitment. I recommend doing this on a weekend if you can.


Let's begin the actual instructions now! :-)

TOOLS - What you need to mix and apply your henna!
- Large mixing bowl
- Mixing spoon
- Steel baking pan
- Rubber gloves
- LOTS of plastic wrap
- Paper towels
- Petroleum jelly or some kind of similar product
- Vinegar hair rinse: 50/50 mix of vinegar (any type is fine) and water

THE MIX - What you're mixing together to put on your head

- 100% PURE henna powder (NEVER use premixed kits). My hair requires about 200 grams of henna powder. My hair is rather thick and hits my upper middle back. (Photo)

This is the henna that I've used for the past 8 years. I've tried other types and brands but this one is still my favorite! I call it "zeppelin-boob-girl henna" because really, who has boobs like that chick?? They look like the front ends of zeppelins...


* No Indian stores in your area? Online shopping!

- OJ, Lemon juice, Vinegar, or Grapefruit juice (or any combination thereof.) I sometimes use red wine too!
- (OPTIONAL) Essential oil: tea tree or eucalyptus is best. For overall hair and scalp wellness.
- (OPTIONAL) Spices: Cinnamon, ginger, etc. For the smell! - Be careful though because some spices can tint the color of your henna!
- (OPTIONAL) Honey. A natural hair conditioner

* NEVER EVER EVER put oils in your henna mix! (Essential oils not being 'real' oils). Oil seems like a good idea but it creates a barrier over your hair that the dyes from the henna have difficulties penetrating and thus makes the colors dull.

STEP 1 - Mix the henna
Put the henna powder into your mixing bowl and add any spices you wish to add. Begin adding your acidic liquids (juices and/or vinegar.) Mix together until the goo is about as thick as cake batter or plain yogurt. If it's TOO thick it will be impossible to get into your hair. Too thin and it will run down your scalp, onto your face and back, and be an awful mess! Add a little honey and some essential oils IF desired. For every 100 grams of henna I would add 1 - 2 tbsp of honey and 6 - 8 drops of the essential oil.

STEP 2 - Getting the dye to release
Your henna is now mixed up and smelling awful. It should be an olive-brown color. If you were to try and use this mixture as-is then you won't get much of a result. You have to get the dye in the henna to release before you can use it for dying hair and skin. You have two options for this:

Option 1: Let the henna mixture sit out (covered in plastic) at room temperature for about 12 hours.

Option 2: (I prefer this one!) Put the mixture in your baking pan and put it in the oven on LOW (150 - 170 F) for about an hour.

You will know that the dye has released when the mixture starts to look more brown than green. If it looks like chocolate cake batter (with a tint of green) then you're good to go!

STEP 3 - Prepping your hair for the henna
If you're using Option 1 for the dye release, then begin this process about 1hr to 30min before you apply your henna. If you are using Option 2, which is that I use, then do this while your henna is warming in the oven.

Wash your hair with shampoo as you normally would but do NOT use conditioner. Conditioner creates a layer over your hair so no conditioner means that the henna can dye your hair more easily. After you have shampooed, use your vinegar rinse. Pour the rinse all over your hair and massage it in so that all parts of your hair is covered. Let it sit for about 5 mins and then rinse it out. Why a vinegar rinse? Vinegar rinses help strip your hair of mineral and chemical build up. So the aftermath of any hair products (including conditioner) you use will be stripped away. This rinse will also help strip mineral build up. I live in an area that has hard water, so over time the minerals can build up on my hair. The vinegar strips the hair and prepares it for the dying process.

STEP 4 - Applying the henna
Doing this while your hair is still wet will make your life way easier, especially if you have long and thick hair. Before you apply henna, put your petroleum jelly on your ears and on your forehead right along your hairline. You may also want to put some at your hairline on your neck. Henna will ooze a little and if you do not use this protection then this excess henna can stain your hairline for a few days, which tends to draw confused looks. Also, unless you want orange hands and PERMANENTLY orange nails, be sure to put on your rubber gloves!!

If you have hair clips then you may want to clip up the upper layers of your hair and apply the henna is stages. This ensures thorough coverage. Apply the henna as best you can and massage it into the scalp to get all those roots. Don't be afraid to get henna on your scalp. The orange coloration will not last more than a few days.

STEP 5 - Wrapping your henna-hair all up
Here comes the waiting game. You need to let the henna sit on your hair for 3 - 4 hours. You could just let it sit for 2 - 3 but I really recommend longer. Once henna dries and cracks, the dying process ends. So you have to make sure the beautiful brown goo on your hair stays moist. Here's where the plastic wrap comes into play. Wrap your hair in plastic wrap as well as you can. I tend to blob all my hair on top of my head like a poo-covered bee-hive hairstyle just because it's easier to manage that way. Once your hair is wrapped up, wipe off any henna that is oozing around your hair line, your face, your neck, and your ears.

STEP 6 - Wait 3 - 4 hours
Enough said. :-P I just browse Pinterest, Facebook, and online shopping sites to kill time. Watching a movie or TV is a great idea too though if you're a movie/TV person.

STEP 7 - Washing it all out
Finally! You've made it to the last stage! Now it's time to rinse it all out. If you have medium to long hair then you should probably get in the tub and bend your head under the faucet so the initial rinse can be focused and all the black gunk can go down the drain easily. After you've gotten the majority out, turn on the shower and rinse away! I would wait to shampoo or condition your hair for about 24 hours to allow the dye to really set in. Rinse until the water is a light brown-orange. You won't be able to get clear water, so the 'rinse-until-clear' motto doesn't apply here.

STEP 8 - You're DONE!
Now you can enjoy your henna colored hair!! Avoid resting your wet hair on anything white or lightly colored for the first few days and be prepared to have your hair smell of henna and earth for about a week. (I love the smell personally. Others, not so much.) You can treat your hair just as you always have only now you should be able to tell that not only does it have a rich and beautiful auburn tint to it, but it's also stronger, shinier, smoother, softer, and (if you have curls) more relaxed. If the color isn't a deep and rich as you'd like, henna again after a month or so! The more you henna, the more rich the color will become! :-) Enjoy!!

For your reference - three of my favorite sites:

Get other recipes for henna mix, ask Qs on the forums, and read about other all natural haircare!