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A person’s hair begins to gray for several reasons, such as prolonged illness, sudden severe shock and intense worry. The most common cause is the onset of age. Gray hair look dull and lifeless. If you find gray hair difficult to care for, have it dyed in a darker shade.

It is commonly seen that when a woman first sees a couple of white hairs on her head, she usually pulls them off. This should never be done. Remember, every time you pull out a white hair, you sow the seeds for another few, because the root at the base of the hair follicle secretes an infectious serum which oozes out of the glands through the oil sac. The serum covers the area around it on the scalp and healthy hair surrounding the white hair turn white within a couple of months. If you want to get rid of these few white hair, cut them close to the root with a pair of small scissors. If the white hair come out in brushing or combining, there is no fear of infection. In this case the white hair is so weak that it is unable to hold in the scalp. Another important aspect of hair glamour is hair coloring. There are two types of hair dyes–vegetable dyes and chemical dyes. Vegetable dyes have many disadvantages, such as: The vegetable products used for hair dye and henna, indigo, kohl, walnut bark, chamomile, sage and red oak bark.

Dyeing with Henna
The use of henna as a hair dye has been very common all over the world. It can either give the hair lovely highlights or turn it bright flaming red. It does change the chemical structure of the hair as chemical dyes do. It is not possible to predict exactly what color your hair will turn out with henna, as it depends on the texture and color of your hair. It is suggested to dye a cutting of the hair first. There are many ways of using henna. Mix one portion of henna with one cup boiling water to a paste or mix one cup of henna with one cup of coffee or tea to a paste. To any of these henna pastes you can add egg and tablespoon of castor oil. This helps the paste to stick to the hair better.

Heat the henna paste over a double boiler, let it sleep there from ten minutes to half an hour. Cool, then re-heat to the boiling point. Remove from the heat. Now add the egg and castor oil, and apply as hot as possible. Massage into the scalp. Wear rubber gloves while massaging. If the ends of your hair are dry, they will be more porous and turn brighter fast. Leave it on from half an hour to three hours, then wash it off.

Dyeing with Other Vegetable Products
The leaves of the indigo tree are crushed into a fine powder and used as a dye which gives the hair a blue–black color. A mixture of henna and indigo powder is widely used. The color obtained varies according to the proportion of the two elements in the mixture. Kohl powder is dissolved in water and applied to the hair with a brush. Years ago kohl was used to blacken the eye lashes, but it has now been abandoned as it is not water–proof or tear–proof. Mix walnut bark with a dilute ammonia solution (one part ammonia to two parts water) to make an extract. It gives the hair an attractive brown color. Chamomile tea gives a golden tint to the hair but is not capable of covering up gray hair. Make an infusion of red oak bark and rinse your hair in it. It gives a lovely dark sheen to the hair.

If your hair is getting gray try darkening it with sage leaves. Make a strong infusion with the leaves by mixing about 4 tablespoons to one cup of water. Apply this water to the hair roots every day, and you will find a magic change after some days. When the desired color is obtained use it once a week. The other way to use leaves is to mix the infusion with kaolin to make a paste. Apply this to the hair and leave it on for about half an hour, then wash it off. To increase the darkening effect mix in it tea instead of water.

Chemical Dyes
These are mixtures of para (paraphenyle–ondiamine or paratoluendiamine) and some other chemicals (such as pyrogallol and resarcin). Hydrogen peroxide is also used in dyes to accelerate the oxidization of the hair. Chemical dye forms a kind of lacquer which settles on the cuticle or outer part of the hair and penetrates it. This lacquer does not reach the hair root. Chemical hair dyes overcome all the disadvantages of the vegetable dyes, such as they require short exposure time on the hair, provide natural color, are obtainable in many shades, and are water-proof or shampoo–proof. However, the biggest disadvantage of the chemical dyes is that they may have an adverse effect on some skins. The symptoms of such ill–effects are violent itching all over the scalp which starts soon after the dyeing or any time within 48 hours after dyeing. This is quickly followed by swelling of the scalp, the ears, the eyelids and also the face. Should such a misfortune happen to you, you do not need to be too upset. The swelling will go down rapidly and the eczema is cured quite quickly if the correct treatment is given. You should immediately consult a dermatologist.

If the services of a specialist are not immediately available, here are two simple home remedies to avoid further mishaps: Rinse the hair with a solution of sodium chloride (kitchen salt) diluted in water. Mix 100gms salt to one liter of water, to which add a tablespoonful of hydrogen peroxide (20 vol). Rinse twice daily. Another remedy is to apply to the swollen part, for fifteen minutes after every three hours, a clean handkerchief soaked in the solution of chamomile flowers. The preparation is made by putting chamomile flowers in a cup of boiling water. Allow it to cool, then filter. Dip a compress in the solution and apply on the swollen area, including the scalp.

To avoid possible ill–effects, always test the hair dye on your skin before dyeing your hair. The skin test is made on the skin on the inside of the arm at the elbow, or at the back of the neck. Apply test dye on a clean skin and allow it to dry for a few minutes, then make a second application. Wait for the result for 48 hours. It does happen quite frequently that a hair–dresser or beautician will dye your hair without a skin test, afraid of losing a customer. So it is up to you to insist on this test. Remember, you should not go on a chemical hair dye, if: