Good old henna has indeed come a long way and how! From being the neglected hedge in the backyard to going international in a big way with LUSH!
There is probably hardly any Indian woman who has not dabbled with or thought of dabbling with henna, be it for colour or for conditioning. However, with the advent of chemical hair colours and the media blitzkrieg surrounding it, poor henna fell upon bad days so much so that most salons will today refuse to even do the application for you, forget offering henna hair colouring as a service. The lack of standardised henna in the market does not help matters either. What to talk of others I myself used henna off and on for conditioning purposes but found it too drying. Last summer I went ahead and got global INOA in red colour with red highlights. As I mentioned in my earlier post on TVAM Henna and Indigo, while my hair looked great initially (specially when blow-dried) eventually the results were rather disastrous. As the colour started fading, I had horrid red left over, not to mention the fried condition of my hair.
It was in such dire conditions that I discovered LUSH hennas. I had used LUSH products but thanks to lack of LUSH stores up North (just one at Select City Walk, New Delhi) I had been out of touch. LUSH henna however came in just at the right time to redeem my hair from its fallen state!
Okay…first things first.. LUSH calls its hennas “Caca” which is French for poop. And their logic? That their hennas are 100% natural with no chemicals- as safe as poo..whatever!! If nothing else, you have to give it to LUSH for sheer irreverence. LUSH likes to shock you out of your happy lethargy into noticing things. The henna is not in powdered form as we are used to seeing it. Instead what you get by way of this “no s**t hair colour” is a solid brick that has 6 small squares – “a completely new way of using an age-old ingredient”. The ingredients of Caca Noir are – indigo henna,red henna, fair trade cocoa butter, irish moss powder and clove bud oil . According to LUSH, by making henna into solid blocks, they don’t need to add preservatives in it and it makes it easier and more effective to use. I can’t say about the preservative part but solid blocks make henna more difficult to use even if marginally so.
In the name of packaging there is nothing much. LUSH will just wrap it up in paper and hand you the block which is not a bad deal..you can feel a bit saintly that you have done something by way of helping the environment. Some instructions along with the new age henna on how to use it however would be helpful. Or else you need to go on the LUSH UK site which will answer all your queries. Doing a strand test is always a good idea. If you find it difficult to try out the henna on a part of the hair on your head, use the left over hair in your hairbrush for the strand test. Really no point raving and ranting later on.
LUSH tells you to break the henna into pieces and then cover it with boiling water. I tried this out but eventually figured out a way that worked better for me- chopping, almost shredding it into a powder form, like in the picture on the side, and then mixing it up with water. For my mid-waist length hair I used 3 squares from a single block and the shredding process took about 10-15minutes. Whatever extra time this shredding takes is compensated by the time saved in mixing it up. As compared with conventional henna, LUSH Caca Noir takes more water and cakes up on drying probably because of the indigo in it. I used just about, but not boiling, water to mix up the henna and once you have the desired consistency, its application time.
LUSH tells you to put the henna bowl on a saucepan of simmering water and heat gradually – the hotter the henna, the brighter the colour you get. I did the best I could – didn’t put it on a saucepan and heat it but just on a vessel that had hot water. The application is as messy as with any other conventional henna and I prefer to get it done from a salon. If you can find a salon or someone who will do the application for you, it’s much better than struggling with it on your own. LUSH tells you to apply Ultrabalm or Ultrabland around the hairline. To my mind, any cream or Vaseline would work just as well or like me, you could go without it also- no harm done. For a darker colour, LUSH recommends you to go without any cling film- let it air dry. And that’s what I did. The henna dries up and cakes up real quick so you need to watch out for the bits and pieces that will keep falling off.
After about 5 hours (LUSH tells you to keep it for minimum of 4hours), comes the washing off time which is as messy as with any other henna. That it has solidified on your head means more water and time but that is about it. The cocoa butter makes it quite greasy to shampoo out. Once or twice I tried the old henna way- just rinse off the henna and oil the dried hair leaving the shampooing for the next day. However, with the huge amount of cocoa butter in it, I found shampooing it that very day a better alternate especially because it doesn’t affect the colour in any way. I have been using LUSH Cynthia Sylvia Stout Shampoo and Retread Conditioner but any shampoo-conditioner would work well. Just that the lesser the chemicals in it, better it is for the hair and henna. I let my hair air dry and as the indigo darkens over the next 48 hours, the actual colour will be apparent only then.
LUSH recommends application on 3consecutive days to get the desired colour. Despite my frustration and desperation to get rid of the horrid red leftovers from my hair, I could manage application only twice in ten days. Nevertheless it did a great job of covering up the residue of chemical colour and even after two applications I could see some sanity being restored to my fly away dried up hair. I don’t have many greys, just a few around the hairline but the grey coverage was not as good as I would like it to be. But at least I did not end up with the orange-red that traditional henna gave. For jet black hair and perfect grey coverage I would recommend using indigo alone. I have been using TVAM Indigo (reviewed earlier) to cover the greys and LUSH Caca Noir alternating with TVAM Indigo are doing a great job for me. The picture below is after three applications of LUSH Caca Noir over a period of 20days (taken indoors in natural sun light around noon time)
I am no authority on hair- either on hair care or the henna vs chemical hair colour debate. What I can offer are my own experiences for anyone else who wants to make an informed choice. LUSH recommends henna for precisely the same reason that stylists are against it- that it coats the hair unlike chemical colour that forces the cuticle open. To my mind, a protective coating makes more sense than opening up the cuticle. At least my hair does not respond well to any chemical treatment or chemical colours no matter which one – this time I used INOA; earlier it was Majirel and Wella but consequences were as disastrous for my hair. I have pretty much “been there, done that”. After all the wanderings I think my hair have finally found their peace with henna and shampoos like those from LUSH, Body Shop and the like.
Styled hair always looks good- professional cameras, lights, photographers and stylists will make any hair look good. This picture on the right is my hair blow-dried hair with no styling products except Kerastase Elixir Ultime for heat protection. And obviously it’s not professional photography or lighting. The picture was taken outside in the late afternoon, almost near sun set time ( hence the reddish tinge unlike the picture above).Nevertheless, to my mind the hennaed hair looks good enough to be compared with coloured hair. So colour or henna we all need to take our own call on that depending on how your hair reacts to them and the health of your hair.
Just to end with a quick overview.
- 100% natural, safe ingredients
- Good conditioning property due to cocoa butter in it
- Does not give a red-orange tinge to the hair like conventional henna
- Leaves hair looking and feeling healthy and shiny
- Available in four colours- red, black, brown and maroon
- At Rs. 1020/- for a block it is expensive and LUSH is constantly revising its prices upwards
- Not very good grey coverage
- Time consuming and messy process specially when compared with the ease of chemical hair colouring
Price– Rs 1020/- for a block. Also available in red, maroon and brown
Available at all LUSH stores and many online sites