Henna is not just for hippies! I recently let some hairdressing students trash my lovely long dark hair with bleach (see my previous post), and I am pulling out all the stops to bring it back to life. I decided the way to go would be to first do a protein treatment to reconstruct the hair shaft, and then colour it with Lush Caca Noir, because every time I use it, my hair is phenomenal afterwards. I haven't used it for about 4 years, but I'm happy to say it hasn't changed!
Lush Caca hennas are fantastic treatments for your hair because they contain HEAPS of cocoa butter to moisturise and condition. I use Caca Noir, which is closest to black, with indigo added to the mix to deepen the hair colour, but you can also get Caca Rouge (bright red), Caca Marron (reddish brown) and Caca Brun (chocolate brown). They have a peculiar smell, a combination of cow manure and hash - it's herbal, earthy, and it does hang around in your hair until your next wash. I don't mind it, but it pays to be prepared for it.
They come in a block of 6 squares, I use all of it because I have waist length hair, but depending on your hair length you can use less and put the rest away for later. The Lush consultant should be able to advise you on how much you'll need to use.
You will need:
- Old or dark towels
- hot water
- to break up the block: a large (like A4 size) ziplock bag and a bashing implement like a rolling pin or hammer, OR a grater or food processor.
- Glad wrap or a plastic shower cap with tight elastic
- Cheap conditioner - LOTS OF IT.
First of all, you need to break up the block (it's not sold grated because it oxidises - the inside of the blocks are bright green and fresh) by either grating, putting it through a food processor, or bashing it with a hammer or rolling pin while it is inside a big zip lock bag. This is time consuming but important. I used the rolling pin method this time and I was pretty lazy, I left a lot of BIG lumps (golf ball size!) which took ages to dissolve in the water, I was kicking myself! Next time I will spend more time breaking the block up so only pea-sized lumps remain.
Next, you need to add hot water to the henna to make it into a cake batter consistency. Don't add boiling water, it can reduce the efficacy of the dye, just make it as hot as you'd normally have a hot shower or bath. Add about a cup at first, then keep adding until you're happy with it.
The mixture below is still a bit too thick (more "brownie mix" than cake batter). You want it to really pour, like thickened cream, because once it gets on your hair it starts to solidify pretty quickly, and it can be hard to work with if it's too thick.
Once it's the right consistency, apply it to your hair. Start at the roots and work your way down. It's very messy, but the advantage of henna over chemical hair treatments is that it doesn't stain straight away. I've had bits of henna on my skin overnight and it hasn't stained. So take your time, get dirty, and worry about the mudfest later. Pretend you've been to Woodstock.
This is like 5kg of mud on my head. Seriously. Hehe there's my pointy ear saying hi.
Cover your hair in glad wrap or a shower cap, and start cleaning up - don't forget to clean your ears! You'll probably need a shower, that mud gets into all kinds of places. Then leave the henna on for as long as you can. Some instructions say 1 - 3 hours, but I found I got the best results when I left it on for much longer - at least 6 hours, preferably 8. If you can leave it on overnight, this is perfect. It's much less uncomfortable, and you'll get a great colour result too. So be patient, and wait as long as you can.
JayDee is the master of patience. He rarely moves at all.
If you want more indigo tones to come out, you need to leave the hair exposed to the air, uncovered. To bring out more reddish tones you need to keep the hair damp and covered, protected from the air, hence the shower cap/cling film.
I like the warm red tones the henna adds to my hair, and I also like leaving the henna on overnight, because it gets quite heavy to wear around all day, so having it covered protects my sheets (I still cover my pillows in a towel for the night, it's not the best night's sleep). If I wanted to leave my hair to air dry, I would have to do it during the day, because I can't imagine the mess I'd wake up to if I left my mud-filled hair uncovered overnight!
Once you've left the henna on for the desired time, you get to the final hurdle - rinsing.
My foster kitten Mister Meowgi wasn't too keen on it either.
This is a MARATHON. It took me exactly 30 minutes in the shower to rinse my hair clean. I rinsed out the majority of the mud and grit first, and then used handful after handful of conditioner which I worked through my hair to pick up the remainder of the henna.
I was lucky enough to snap up this huge bottle of conditioner for $3 as it was old packaging, but you can use basically anything cheap. It just helps soften the henna and pick up all the little gritty bits. Even the next day, when I scratched my head there were traces of green under my fingernails from the residue, but the next wash got rid of it all completely.
The colour result you get immediately is not the end result. Henna oxidises and changes over the next couple of days. When I first dried my hair, the ends were light mousy brown, but now a lot more red is coming out. As you can see, my hair is a work in progress....
Now that the henna has taken, you can see how weird and uneven the bleaching was during my disastrous ordeal with the student hairdressers. While it's a shame about the colour right now, it's inevitable - unless I chemically dyed it again, and I think it would have completely destroyed my hair. At this point I don't really care about the colour, I just hated the way my hair felt like straw and I knew Lush Caca would bring it back to its silky best. Eventually when my hair is completely happy again after a few months' rest, I'll dye the whole lot black with John Frieda colour mousse and it will be business as usual :)
And now for the important part - OMG it feels wonderful!! It's so soft and silky, I'm so happy I could almost cry. I love it to bits, and I remember when I used to use Lush Caca regularly, I would get SO many compliments on how silky and shiny my hair was. I will never, ever take my hair for granted again!