vegetal dyes that will actually make a difference........

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Posted by Catherine Cartwright Jones on July 8, 2002 at 14:14:11:

In reply to: I was thinking about beet juice too... posted by Erika on July 8, 2002 at 13:02:21:

: I know they use beet juice in a lot of natural cosmetics.

Very few vegetable dye molecules are small enough or stable enough nor
have the correct characteristics to penetrate skin cells and bind with
keratin. Lawsone, a tannin, the dye in henna, does. There is a dye
in walnut that will stain skin, but it can be very irritating. There
are two tropical plants that can do the job, which is what you see in
some National Geographic phots that has given people that there is
such a thing as "black henna" somewhere out there. They have tannins.
Indigo and woad have indigols that will work, but their molecules are
about double the size of henna, so they don't work as well as henna.
Turmeric can be quite effective and madder will stain the skin a bit.
Blackberries are tannin rich. So are teas, wines and oak gall. All
of these have been used to improve henna somewhat, or expand the
normal range of henna, but none are as effective in changing henna's
characteristics as terps, steam, alkalines or dry heat.

Beet ........ nope. If you want to push henna further, get yourself a
book on vegetal dye techniques, and see what will stain wool easily
and still be safe on skin. Wool's keratin. Your skin, hair and
fingernails are based on keratin. What dyes wool will not
necessarilly dye skin, as most of the dyes have to be mordanted
(adding a caustic to the wool so it is chewed up a bit to recieve dye
more) or boiled (boiling your own skin while you're still in it .....
owie!). But ... those dyes will start you on the right trail!


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