Friday, May 25, 2012

Tutorial: How to Dye your Hair Poop Brown

Technically, Caca Brun, but I think we all know what that means. (The name's no mistake, either. I mean, perhaps misguided from a marketing standpoint, but certainly accurate in the sense that the dye looks like caca.)

I've been an irredeemable hair dye addict since high school. I remember my mom telling me that some chemical common in hairdyes was found to contribute to things like bladder cancer (pretty sure it was paraphenylenediamine, a particularly nasty nasty, but there are plenty of unpleasant things in there.) My response was "yeah, well, that's with regular dyeing over time- I'm just doing it once!"

(shut up, it was a costume! For a themed dance party.)

....yeeaaah. Didn't turn out to be once. Turned out to be a lot of times. I've gone red, RED, orange, every shade of dark brown, black, and most recently, dark teal. A few years ago when chemical sensitivities started making hair dye even less fun that it usually is (and it's never fun, it's always stanky and burning eyes) I decided to switch to only using semi-permanents like Manic Panic, which is basically highly perfumed conditioner with food coloring in it. I went pretty much natural up until my wedding, and then did a dark teal last fall. Apparently, blue dyes stick :-/ I even put a dark brown over it and it faded out in a week, revealing a weird greenish-to-reddish ombre which was not as cool as it sounded.

(Doesn't really capture the weirdness, but it's the best I could do.)

Enter henna. I used to be super into henna body art years ago, until I realized that on my pasty-ass skin, it just turned Irish-kid-freckles orange instead of a nice rich red. But apparently you can use it on hair, too, and in combination with indigo, get lots of lovely browns. Lush made it easy for me by having these block-y things that you just grind up and mix water with, but you can buy the actual herbs too. It's supposedly nourishing, fairly permanent, and very nontoxic. I like these things.


What you need to play along at home:
- Lush Caca color of your choice (I'm using Brun- I may switch to Noir later but I figured, start light, go darker.)
- A bowl
- Some sort of stirring implement
- Gloves
- A way to heat water
- A knife

These are optional but recommended
- A shower cap
- A breathable sleeping hair cap
- Mini shower caps for your ears
- Vaseline or something similar to protect your hairline
- A dress made out of a garbage bag
- Application brush, maybe.

The directions say that to maximize the red tones, you want to cover your hair up with plastic, but to encourage the indigo to develop, you want it to get air. Given that this shit is flaky and messy, I wasn't about to wander around bare-headed, hence the breathable cap. I figured I wanted it nice and balanced, so I did half the time with the plastic cap, half without. The little ear-caps are from Sally's and they're AWESOME, because you know you can never Vaseline your ears well enough to keep the dye off. And remember- henna is used for body art, that shit WILL stain your skin. Luckily it takes time to develop so if you wash it off right away, you should be ok.


1. I used two squares of the henna for my medium-thickness, shoulder-length hair, and that was just about the perfect amount (which means two more applications left, neat!) Chop the henna into bits. Some reviews say to grate it on a cheese grater, but I don't think that's necessary. Travis wouldn't let me use his good knives, so he got the honor of chopping it with a dull steak knife. Then I decided that I want topless men in all of my tutorials.



2. Heat some water, but not quite to boiling- apparently if the water's too hot you'll cook the indigo and it won't work as well. We used the thermometer that Trav uses for making coffee and heated it to 175 degrees.

(At this point, Travis took over the camera. You can tell by the "artistic" blur.)

3. Pour some water in, let it soak in. Pour some more. Mash the blocks. Pour some more. Mash. Continue until you've got a good, spreadable texture. I went for "Hulk Manure" but I think "Baby Shit" or even "Rotten Yogurt" would've been much easier to spread. When it's too thick, it's like mashing clay onto your head and it's hard to coat every strand. Plus it dries as you're mashing and flakes everywhere. I'll definitely thin it out more next time. It will smell like a pot smoker eating a cough drop (it's much better than chemical dyes, I think, but it IS kinda smelly. I wish Lush didn't add extra perfumes to it.)


4. Work over a sink or easily cleanable surface, and smash that stuff all over your head.

"If you ever wanted to see your wife wiping shit all over her head, this is probably about as close as you're going to get," said Alex to her cameraman. His response was unrepeatable.

Those earcaps are so foxy.

5. Cap it up!


6. Clean off your skin with a wet paper towel or rag. This stuff is super messy, but it's easy enough to clean up, unlike other dyes which stain everything as soon as they touch it.

(Your sink will look like a tree ent dropped a deuce in it. And yeah, our bathroom IS that ugly. Sigh.)

7. Rip off your garbage bag dress and wait around for a few hours. Longer = deeper color. I did about two hours- one with the plastic cap, one with just the breathable head thing. It stinks way more without the plastic, FYI. I should've probably waited longer but I really wanted to take my morning shower, dangit.

8. Shower time! Oh, did I tell you to wear an easily removable shirt under your garbage bag? Well you should have. This is the hard part- get ready to look like Swamp Thing (temporarily- it'll rinse off) and stain your bathtub green (hopefully also temporarily...) So, this is what I did- I'll let you figure out what you should do, because as you'll see it didn't work super well for me. I stood under the hot water for a while and just let the crust dissolve. At some point I cranked it up as hot as I could stand to melt the cocoa butter component of the Caca (most people say it takes a few washes to get it all out.) Once the worst of it was gone, I slathered my head in ridiculous amounts of conditioner and rinsed, repeating as necessary until I didn't feel grit coming off my skull anymore. At this point I was standing in ankle-deep, dark green water, with a layer of "dirt" beneath my feet. So that was fun.


Two hours later, I realized that my hair was not going to get any drier, because it was totally coated in oils. Yeah, it's "dry" in that picture. So, it's fair to say that this shit is probably pretty conditioning, especially when you add more conditioner to it. Part of me said "it's ok, just let the dye soak in some more! Don't shampoo yet!" but a bigger part of me was like "Girl your hair feels like lard and you still smell like Lush threw up on you" so I got back in the shower and used some shampoo spiked with Dr Bronners to cut through the grease. (While I was there I scrubbed the tub with some Bronners too and got most of the green out, so yay.)


Final result: A dark rich brown with golden undertones, which goes pretty well with my complexion, so yay. In the right light, you can still see a shadow of the green tone on the ends, but it's much dampened and you wouldn't notice if you weren't looking for it. I'm surprised it's not redder. My hair still smells bad, and there are a few greasy spots that I didn't get with the shampoo (and a few flakes of henna stuck inside my ear (??)) The parts that got well-shampooed are now soft and nice. I've heard the color keeps "developing" for a few days so I'll post an update if it changes noticeably.

- Not super poisonous!
- Cleans up with water
- Supposedly pretty permanent, or at least as permanent as "permanent" hair dyes (which always fade anyway.) I don't feel like it's going to rub off on my clothes or sheets, which is good.
- Final result is a nice color, which of course is the most important bit.

- Messy. You'll probably find squishy chunks of green shit-like substance all over your bathroom for awhile. YOU'LL know it's not poop, but maybe consider not doing this right before having guests over.
- Smells like a hippie koala getting high in an Indian grocery store (still better than smelling like death though).
- The smell lingers. Commercial dyes sometimes do that too. But dammit, it's giving me a headache. Ugh.
- Rinsing is a little tough, to say the least.

I've got four more blocks, so I suspect I'll be back, but we'll see how this wears. Hooray for not looking quite so awkwardly multicolored!

UPDATE 6/26/12:

So, the henna faded out in like, two weeks. I'm back where I started. Very frustrating, because it was such a nice color. Once I summon up the gumption, I'll probably do it again and try leaving it longer...maybe try another brand at some point. I think I'll have to keep my hair short until all the greenish is cut out of it, though, since nothing wants to cover it completely. BEWARE THE BLUES, Y'ALL.

Though I did have some people at TNNA tell me that greenish-black was lovely on my complexion, haha.

As an aside, I finally found a picture that accurately captures the greenness...ignore the fact that it's of my tattoo:

photo (15)
It's only really noticable when the light is on it like that...but still. Ack.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Clean-ish Routine Giveaway Winner

Oops, I let it run a day long. Heh. Anyway- the winner of the little goodie box of bath thingies is Christen Roberts! Christen, just let me know where to send your stuff ;-) And everyone else, I hope you get a chance to try some of it- keep an eye out at organic groceries, I've picked up a lot of excellent samples over the years ;-)

In other news, I bought a dress form! Maybe we'll see some sewing up in this bitch one of these days.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

SDF: My Clean(ish) Routine

Um, for some reason this is showing up in Google Reader early, even though it was scheduled to go live on Friday. So I guess we're having a something-different Wednesday! Damn you, Blogger.
When I was in high school, one of my teachers introduced the concept of "Something Different Fridays." On Friday, instead of teaching math, he'd teach us something else he thought was worthwhile, like how to play the stock market, or Piaget's theories of development. I am stealing this concept here to indulge my occasional urges to blog about something unrelated to crafting- not every Friday, but once in awhile. Sometimes they'll be silly, sometimes serious. I hope you'll find them an enjoyable diversion!

Ok! So last time on SDF we talked about how everything is poisoning you- not least of all your beauty routine. I feel funning calling it a "beauty routine," since I'm really pretty low maintenance (working at home will do that to you) but I guess that's essentially what it is.

(Incidentally my "Morning Routine" just went up on the No More Dirty Looks blog! It's a few weeks outdated but pretty similar to what you'll read below.)

I figured I'd cobble together a list of some of the bath & body products I've found that fit the non-toxic-er criteria, since I know it can be tricky to find ones that work as well as their more conventional cousins and don't cost a friggin' fortune. Obviously, this is just the stuff that's worked well for me- I promise nothing! (And btw, I'm not affiliated with any of these companies, I just buy 'em.)

We'll start in the shower:

Giovanni Shampoo and Conditioner. I vary which one I use- I've used Smooth as Silk and Root 66 (the volumizing one) and liked both, for the simple reason that it works just as well as conventional shampoo. A lot of "natural" shampoos don't leave my hair feeling clean- I know you can get used to that feeling and let your hair balance itself out, but I don't really want to. I want my hair to feel all squeaky clean and soft, dagnabbit. This stuff also smells really fruity and yummy but it doesn't have any artificial fragrances- it's just the natural smell of whatever botanical oils are in there.

For the majority of my body I use good ole Dr. Bronners on a loofa. The maniacal rantings on the bottle freak me out, but the stuff is gentle and works well, and what more can you ask for? It comes in like ten scents (all essential oils, nothing artificial)- Peppermint is popular, and there's also Citrus, Rose, Almond, Unscented..... I usually use the Eucalyptus because steamy eucalyptus oil is a great allergy/asthma treatment, and I've always got a touch of that going on.

Most shaving creams are super nasty, and some of the natural ones either don't work very well or are greasy and sticky and make a mess- but I've found that I really like Alba Botanica's Unscented Very Emollient Cream Shave. It's sort of like a thick conditioner or thin lotion. Since I bought this thing a few years ago, I pretty much only have to shave my armpits (it hurts to much to rip out that hair) so one tube of the Alba lasts a good long time.

Most days I just wash my face with hot water, otherwise it tends to get dried out. But every few days I use Evan Healy Rose Cleansing Milk, which does a good job of making your skin feel clean without being too drying. This is one of the pricier products I use, but it goes a long way when you're not using it every day.

After the shower:

After I've dried off a bit, if I didn't use the Evan Healy, I'll use some Kiss My Face Toner. I'll also spray it on any other part of my skin that's acting up. I have no idea if it does anything, to be super honest.

I was using this stuff as a daily facial lotion (I got the one for "Aging skin" because it was the only one without fragrance) but it was very sticky and hard to rub in, so now I reserve it for days when I'm actually going to be in the sun, and otherwise use Acure Day Cream. It's super light and soaks in well even when you're still kind of damp from the shower.

For the rest of my skin, I use a combination of grapeseed oil, jojoba oil, and a little bit of argan oil (usually at night, since it's greasy.) For awhile I was using pure argan oil on my face at night because it's supposed to be great for balancing out combination skin, but I didn't notice much of a difference :-/ Now I just use the oil mix once in awhile. Amazingly, it doesn't make me break out or anything- it just soaks in and any excess rinses off in the morning shower. If you put it on a little while before you wash your face, it softens up the dirt and oils in your pores and helps you rinse it all out. The brand of oil doesn't really matter, as long as you get pure, high quality organic stuff. Fair warning: while your skin will probably look fine in the morning, any hair that came in contact with the oil will look quite greasy, so don't use it the night before if you have to go somewhere before you can wash your hair (or at least, wear a headband or something.) I'm sure it's good for dry hair, though.

The oil isn't strong enough for my super dry hands and feet, so I use shea butter before bed (either pure or this stuff) and Weleda Skin Food on my hands throughout the day. That shit is AMAZING. Pricey, but amazing. Between knitting, being a germaphobe, and having two grungy dogs who I'm slightly allergic to (ie, I have to wash my hands after I touch them) my hands get really dry, and this stuff is a lifesaver.

For my lips, I love YesToCarrots Berry Lip Butter. It's the only YesTo product that I'm still using regularly, at this point, because most of them have fragrances (saaaaaaaad.) This stuff is mostly coconut oil and it's pretty great, though I'm sure any other coconut-oil-based lip balm would be good too. Or just straight-up coconut oil.

Something else I tried recently, since I had some samples: Dr Hauschka's Signature Cleansing. Though I'll admit I don't do the stupid "roll your fingers outwards to drain your lymph nodes" thing or whatever. Maybe it works, I don't know, I'm not that patient- I just rub the shit in and rinse it off. But the products involved are nice- Lavender Bath, Cleansing Cream, Clarifying Toner. I'm realizing now that they are crazy expensive and I'll probably never buy them, but they're nice! The Lavender Bath also works really well as a bath oil- just dump a capful or two in the tub when it's filling up and it smells pretty (but mild- I usually don't like lavender but I like this) and feels nice and silky. I usually add some of my oil mixture too and swish it around. It ends up leaving a nice thin layer of oil all over you, which is nice when you don't feel like you need to slather it. (I know it sounds gross but it soaks in quickly, I promise.)

Whew, that's a lot of text. I was going to talk make-up too, but I think I'll wait til next time. I wasn't much of a make-up person until recently so I'm still sorting out what products I like, anyway ;-)

And now the fun part!


I'm going to give one reader a little sampler pack of some of the goodies I like! It's not all of them (I couldn't find mini sizes for everything) but it's a few good basics- shampoo and conditioner, body wash, lip butter, hand lotion (I love these mini tubes, I keep one in my purse) and a bottle of my trusty oil blend ;-) No artificial colors or scents, no sulfates, no bad crap.

To enter, just comment! If you've got a "clean"ish product (bath, body, makeup, etc) to recommend, please do, but you don't have to ;-) I'll pick a winner at random a week from today.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Get Your Paint On, Week 3

It's a squid! I know, squids are totes passe. Too bad. They're fun to draw.

GYPO Week 3

I'm relatively happy with it... I feel like I'm starting to get my bearings back a little. You will notice that I skipped posting week two, though. There's a reason for that ;-P

(Wooo shitty camera phone that can't handle reds!) I am fairly certain that squids don't have ears, or if they do, that's not where they are. But whatever, he just wants to look cool, okay?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Magical Ombre Cake!

I don't know if I really get to post about this, seeing as my husband did all the work (except the sprinkling, I helped there. And did some color consulting, ie "Oooh I like that color green don't make it darker".)



Recipe/tutorial here. It was quite delicious.


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