I've had red hair before - for over a year. Every 8 weeks I'd do my roots and bring the color down into my ends to brighten up my whole head of hair. It looked good until I got a bad box of Feria (or was it Garnier?) and it looked like I poured red Kool-Aid on my hair. Rather than trying to fix that, I decided to go brunette. It seemed like a good idea at the time. And here I am, months later trying to get back to a red that I like that doesn't look like clown hair.
I thought I'd finally accomplished my aim when I fixed what the salon had wrought, but it too faded over time and was pulling pink with brown tips. I was nearly ready to give up when Alan convinced me to try Lush Cosmetics' Caca Rouge Mama henna dye. While we eat fairly clean, and I'm generally not a fan of synthetics or chemicals, this tends NOT to apply to my hair choices so I've never considered going the all-natural route with my hair color. I guess I just thought that nothing would be as effective as the ones that smell really bad and make your eyes water. I've since I've been coloring my hair since I was 17 or so, I pretty much have a routine down. But this henna thing? Yeah, that was a whole other story.
First of all, it comes in a giant brick. It looks like a Hershey bar on steroids.
Second of all, the directions aren't all that great. Cut, mix with hot water in a double boiler until a paste, apply. Um, how much water? What if you don't have a double boiler? How thick a paste? I love Lush but their directions leave something to be desired. I consulted my friend Google and put together a paste that was about as thick as toothpaste. I laid down a dark blue towel (from our wedding registry 11+ years ago), and covered the granite countertops in our bathroom with newspaper. This is where it gets tricky. You see, putting that stuff on your hair is HARD. It's essentially mud. And there's really no easy or elegant way to coat your hair in mud in any sort of consistent state. I started by sectioning my hair and applying it to my roots (about 1/3 inch of growth) with a spoon. They do recommend a dye brush if you have one. I don't, so I got creative. I didn't have too many drips as others reported, but I also wasn't having quite an easy time coating my hair the way my internets told me too. I diluted the mixture a bit more and started putting it from root to ends. Again not very easy. At one point I was leaning over the sink and just pouring the bowl over my head to coat as much as possible. At other times I was scooping it into my hands and rubbing it into my hair like shampoo. I'm not sure I ever found a "good" technique for covering my hair, but eventually I was happy with the coverage.
This is someone who did a much better job than I did of achieving even, full coverage.
From there I wrapped my hair in a plastic bag (this is going to be harder and harder since my county has banned them) and put a shower cap on to wait. Other users recommend waiting anywhere from one to six hours; some even suggest leaving it on your head overnight. Since this was the first time I was using it and I already had a red base to work with I left it on for 3.5 hours. When it came time to rinse my hair I was cackling like a deranged witch. I looked like one too. It took about ten minutes to rinse my hair clean of ... debris. At that point my hair felt horrible - dry, brittle, and gnarly. I'm sure I was minutes away from having full on dreads. I loaded my hair up on L'oreal conditioner and let it sit on my head for about five minutes. From there I rinsed and hoped for the best.
Overall, I really like it. I'm curious to see how it fades. I read that the color will intensify the first few days due to oxidation, so we'll see what happens. In the meantime, this is MUCH closer to the color I originally asked for from the salon. I'm really confused how the professional told me the only way to lighten my hair would be to bleach it, but this henna treatment clearly lightened the plum red she put in my hair and then the intense red I used to cover that when it turned pink and purple. Alan thinks it looks really natural and he seems generally pleased. I did tell him that next time I apply the henna I'll need his help to make sure that I get everywhere. I don't know that I'll say I'm a lifetime convert (after all, I used to swear by Feria), but I'm very pleased with this first use of Lush's caca rouge. We've been using the company's face wash (Herbalism and Angels on Bare Skin) for years almost exclusively, so it's safe to say that I'm definitely a fan.