Help me pretty my post-pneumonia hair
February 19, 2015 9:03 AM   Subscribe

I had a really bad bout of pneumonia in December, spent ten days in the hospital. Meanwhile my hair does its thing.

It's grey roots, and then the cinnamon color. I notice the hair color box (as well as the root treatments) all say, "If you have trouble breathing...." Just to be safe I ask my doc if I can use the product -- and she emphatically says NO. I need ideas to color and beautify my hair that don't involve possible death.
posted by intrepid_simpleton to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Cinnamon color, is that reddish? If so, would henna be of use?
posted by xingcat at 9:09 AM on February 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

Try to find a shade of hair mascara that is slightly darker than your dyed color or close to your pre-grey natural color.
posted by erst at 9:33 AM on February 19, 2015 [3 favorites]

Yikes. How grey are you? The only boxed colour I can think of that might be remotely safe would be Clairol's Beautiful Collection, which is a temporary dye. It only lasts for a few shampoos, though, and I'm not sure it would cover a significant amount of grey. (They also do an Advanced Grey version which lasts longer, but only because it has stuff in it you should probably avoid.)

A henna, maybe? (Not all hennas are 100% free of things that could harm you, though; I don't use them so can't say which might be good.)

I think hair mascara is probably safest.
posted by cotton dress sock at 9:38 AM on February 19, 2015

Seconding hair mascara, and emphatically cautioning against henna, which is very unpredictable, and does not play well with previously-dyed hair or grey hair. I love it, but it's a hassle and a half.
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 9:40 AM on February 19, 2015

Hair chalk might be another option. I tried it recently and was a fan. If you get a large set of multiple colors, you can blend a decently matching color, which I recently did to create pale flamingo-pink roots. Not a long-term solution, but a livable short or medium-term solution if you don't wash your hair too often.
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 9:52 AM on February 19, 2015

Seconding henna. It's plant muck, or should be -- check the label for additives, and avoid all black henna to be on the safe side, even though AFAIK there are no lung issues. Henna smells like a mix of honey, eggs, and mud. Plus it leaves your hair lustrous, or at the least, no less lustrous than pre-henna.

If you don't want to deal with the muck, you can use henna shampoos. They're less immediately effective, but that might be an advantage, given thegreatfleecircus's valid points about unpredictability.

Shampoo brands: Jäsøn is a pretty color but does nothing; the best is Klorane -- hypoallergenic, made in Switzerland -- but it's expensive and hard to find. (Plus it probably involves horrible things done to Swiss rabbits, but anyone recovering from pneumonia gets a free pass IMHO.)
posted by feral_goldfish at 9:58 AM on February 19, 2015

Absolutely not henna! As thegreatfleacirus pointed out, it can react badly with chemically dyed hair. And even if it doesn't, there's a good chance when you are able to go back to box dyes, the hair that was treated with henna will turn green.
posted by Specklet at 10:10 AM on February 19, 2015 [3 favorites]

The main caution when dealing with henna for hair, is making absolutely sure that it is PURE henna, with no added chemicals, such as PPD (which is the reason your doctor is telling you NO to hair dyes).

Even so-called "henna shampoos" are not necessarily safe from toxic chemicals, or barely contain any actual henna. Stay away from so-called henna products from Lush -- they require you to "melt" their henna bars, which is counterproductive to henna, as high heat destroys it's staining ability.

I'd strongly recommend having a look over at the Long Haired Forums for discussions relating to your first use of henna, particularly if over previously-dyed hair.

Everyone's hair is different and finding your ideal henna recipe, dye release time, application time, method or technique will require some experimentation. It is not an out-of-the-box colour and will require some tweaking to find your ideal results. You'll need to do your homework, but it is an entirely possible solution.

You *can* dye over previously-chemical-dyed hair, you just have to be cautious, using pure unadulterated henna from a reliable supplier. Hairdressers are almost universally mis-informed about henna, as all of their "training info" is supplied by the chemical hair dye companies, who are, of course, anti-henna, for obvious competitive reasons.

Henna for Hair - How To:

Long Hair Community Forums - Henna Recipes:

* Disclaimer: I am a professional henna body artist. I alternated between hair dye and henna for several years, before making the switch over to only pure henna this past year. Haven't looked back, as my very fine long hair now feels much healthier, fuller and I keep getting compliments on it.
posted by Jade Dragon at 10:43 AM on February 19, 2015 [4 favorites]

Another potential approach would be to add inert materials to your hair, such as weaves or fabric, using techniques which hide your roots by cornrowing or by tying things around them. I found a website that describes some techniques, although unfortunately it does not address issues of cultural appropriation.

(I'm assuming you're white, based on your hair issues. So am I. Don't choose dreadlocks -- just don't. My sense is that fabric is safer, and that medical issues cut you some slack. But obviously, when considering any of these interrelated techniques, you'll want to respect the cultural history and contemporary context.)
posted by feral_goldfish at 11:02 AM on February 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

How about a short cut up to where your re-growth is and then go natural?

Will you be able to color your hair in the future? Is this a temporary thing for now?
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:52 AM on February 19, 2015 [3 favorites]

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