Saturday, 17 August 2013

Lush Caca Noir Henna - tutorial and review

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:
  • Henna
  • Gloves
  • 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.
  • Patience

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!


  1. What a great post Krissy!! I have been wondering about these Lush Henna but was afraid to use it mainly because I don't know how to, whether they work or whether they would be easy to use or whether they would damage the hair. I might have to try them out. I have naturally black hair, do you think the Caca rouge will work for my hair?? Thank you xoxo

    1. Thanks for reading Ina! I think the Caca Rouge would work in your hair to give it a red shine, especially after a couple of applications. It's not damaging for hair at all, and it actually makes it feel great - once it's all clean! It's hard work on the arms, it's a good workout I'd say, but it's worth it to have healthy, shiny hair :)

  2. Great post! Think I would have killed the students and trainer if they did that to my hair!

    I remember reading somewhere that you can use henna as a hair treatment to strengthen and help it appear thicker, it was said that there are types of henna that don't colour the hair. Do you know if this is true?

    I have really long hair too and recently had a few inches taken off because they were beyond repair but I want to grow them back! I also have an issue with my hair thinning out and want to help my poor sad locks, do you think henna is something to consider?

    1. I used to use a hair mask called "Henna Wax" when I was a kid (mum was a bit of a hippie!) and it made my hair so soft and shiny. I just found out it's still available at Chemist Warehouse. The brand is "Ultra Organics Clear Henna Wax" - I plan to get some next week!

    2. Thank you! Will check it out :)

  3. Awesome Post & I love all the snaps :)
    Krissy what alternative treatment would you recommend for blonde hair?


    1. Hi Lisa, thanks for reading! You are so lucky to have blonde hair :) Any henna colour will have a bit of a reddish/orange tint, even the ones supposedly meant for blonde hair. I would try the clear henna mask I linked to in the above comment, for the treatment benefits of henna without turning you ginger!
      The Lush Henna also has cocoa butter as the second ingredient, and I assume this is what makes the hair super soft, so there may be cocoa or shea butter treatments around that will give a similar result.

  4. This was such a great read, and so helpful! The only thing that's holding me back is how much work this was! I'm all for treatments as long as they are easy. My flat is so cold that if I slept overnight with a henna mask in my hair, I think I'd wake up with pneumonia!

    I'd love to hear more the clear henna though!

  5. oh you have bought back memories of mixing henna with beetroot juice to make it even redder when i was young!
    The washing out though!! OMG!!!
    Thanks for being honest with both the benefits and the challenges in using henna :)
    Rika xo