The very first time I bleached my hair was in a science class, when we were doing some sort of experiment with hydrogen peroxide. I was 14, very bored, and it seemed like a fantastic way to experiment with hydrogen peroxide. (In the back of the class, whenever the teacher turned her back.) It worked out amazingly—I gave myself Next Level highlights.
I haven't always had such success—a few years later when I was a student I tried to go blonde after a year with goth-like black hair. I bleached so hard it fell right out. No jokes. Thank goodness for pixie crops!
I've lived most of my life with a pretty sacrificial view of my hair—anything in the name of the aesthetic style I was craving. I couldn't be farther away from that haircare philosophy now. These days I tend to only put on my hair things that I would put into my body, via my mouth, as I believe everything ends up inside eventually.
So, what to do about wanting to change color? Henna is a good option, and there are lots of varieties of that. But I wanted to lighten my hair, as a result of the gradual darkening that henna has given me.
Lemon, bicarbonate of soda, and apple cider vinegar all have lightening qualities but they tend to work very gradually, over months. Or they require sun—which I haven't seen in weeks, it being August in England and everything. Chamomile tea and cinnamon on the other hand, can work within hours.
I cut open 10 chamomile tea bags—this makes about half a cup of leafy mixture—and add two big heaped tablespoons of cinnamon. I add a glug of honey and boiling water until it all becomes a bit more paste like. I leave it to steep for an hour.
I have to get quite involved with the mixture as it doesn't stick to my dry hair very easily—wet hair would have really been a winner! I pack it on and wrap it in a plastic bag and leave it for the whole rest of the day.
(I recorded the whole thing for you—check it out below.)
Once my scalp starts to heat up beneath the bag, it does start to feel like it is doing something. It gets all tingly and I suddenly get hit by the idea that this might actually work. I hadn't quite realized that I was totally doubting the tea's ability to change my hair color. This is strange really, as I am a massive, huge, enormous fan of tea. I accept its power to do other things—such as get me out of bed in the morning, or sooth my woes.
Four hours later I take the bag off my head and my hair feels weird, soft to the point of being slimey. I wash it off using rye flour shampoo (but any shampoo will do) it takes forever to wash all the bits out and then I step out of the shower and look in the mirror and still see a load of tea in my hair! I have to wait 'til it's dry to fluff and brush those tea leaves right out.
Hopefully you can see in the photos—I'm sure you can see in the video—that my hair is at least one shade, possibly two, lighter. It is back to the light copper my hair used to be when I first began using henna. It has also added a huge boost of shine. I am delighted!
If it is subtle changes you are after in your hair this really could be your cup of tea! (Sorry not sorry.) However, you might have easier results by simply making a strong brew and then decanting it into a spray bottle so you can spray a little on every day.
In fact, while I was doing this experiment I was livestreaming it on Periscope and in the evening someone popped up in my Instagram (see below) feed saying they had watched that Scope and tried it with redbush tea and it had quite successfully blended in her grey hairs. How cool is that?
Tea, eh? It really is miraculous.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.co.uk. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.