These days, we seem to be increasingly hearing about the toxic ingredients contained in many common beauty products. Although most cosmetics and personal care products are known offenders, hair colours are especially notorious for containing a cocktail of potentially lethal ingredients.
Such information leaves many people, especially women, with a big dilemma: although we're naturally concerned about the health implications of such ingredients, we still enjoy the boost in confidence which comes from looking good with an attractive new hair colour. In addition, those of us who are getting older may also be want to cover up some unwelcome grey hair. So what do we do?
Fortunately Lush has come to our rescue with its small but fabulous range of natural hair colours which contain henna and a variety of other plant-based ingredients. In comparison to chemical-based products pumped out by large pharmaceutical companies, the Lush range contains only four different colours: Caca Rouge (for brilliant, sunset red hair), Caca Marron (for a rich dark red, chestnut shade), Caca Brun (deep brown) and Caca Noir (a beautiful glossy black). However, these can be combined together to create many more subtle and unique shades, although unlike the mainstream products, you can't aim for an exact colour. My natural hair colour is dark brown with auburn highlights, and I usually mix the Caca Brun with the Caca Noir to enhance my highlights and cover grey hair. I've always been pleased with the result, which varies slightly depending upon the percentage of each colour that I use and time it's left on my head.
Like most henna-based hair products, the Lush range can be a bit time-consuming to apply, especially if you want a good grey coverage. It's recommended that you leave the mixture on your head for a minimum of two hours, with a longer application time (up to six hours) promoting a greater richness of colour. This is a big contrast to most modern conventional hair colours which confidently promote their convenience and the speed with which they can be applied. To combat any feelings of frustration, I try to plan my hair-colouring day so I can spend it in the most relaxed way possible: while my colour is working its magic, I ensure that I have a good book at hand, some relaxing music playing and plenty of other pleasant diversions to help the time slip by. It's also helpful to remind yourself of the benefits to both you and the environment. While a salon or supermarket variety of hair colour is undoubtedly cheaper and quicker to apply, the long-term cost is high.
Applying your Lush hair colour can also be a messy business, but if you're thoroughly convinced that a natural henna-based colour is the healthiest, most environmentally way to go, you'll appreciate that giving your bathroom an extra clean afterwards is a small price to pay.
Like all henna-based products, it's important to note that the Lush range won't lighten your hair. It's most effective for people with brown or darker hair who want to give their locks a bit of extra colour. As all the Lush Caca products contain henna, they'll give the hair a warm earthy glow: great if you want to add depth to your natural highlights. Although the predominantly red shades are gorgeous on those with medium to dark hair, blondes or those with a substantial amount of grey should be wary of using them, as the lighter hair magnifies the effect and a very bright orange colour can result. While some people aren't bothered by this, and love the bright dazzling effect, others are horrified and find it a bit too much. Black henna, applied alone, should also be avoided by people with blonde or grey hair, as it can result in a very unflattering greenish shade. If you'd like your hair to go darker, perhaps add it to one of the other colours. I usually mix one part of black to three parts of brown to achieve my desired colour: a warm earthy dark brown.
Once you get the hang of it, colouring your hair with the Lush Caca range is pretty straightforward. Each colour comes in a large slab, so first of all you'll need to grate the amount that you want to use. A kitchen grater is quite alright for this purpose, although be sure to wash it thoroughly afterwards. The amount that you grate will depend on the length of your hair and its thickness. For your first application, make an estimate and adjust the amounts in the future, based on this. As my hair is just below shoulder length and quite fine, I find that a quarter of a block is quite sufficient.
The next step is to mix the grated henna with very hot water in a plastic or ceramic bowl to form a mixture which is of a thick, soupy consistency. Stirring the mixture slowly and carefully with a plastic spoon, I ensure that all the henna has become part of the mix and the consistency will be suitable for easy application. I then put the mixture aside for about five minutes to let it cool slightly. Although it's important for the colour to be warm to best 'take' to the hair, it's also crucial that the mixture isn't so hot that it will burn your scalp. Before applying, check the temperature very carefully.
When you're confident that the mixture is warm enough with being too warm, you can start to apply it. So your hands and nails aren't stained, use latex gloves for this purpose. Apply the mixture slowly and systematically, ensuring that all parts of your hair are covered. When all your hair has been covered, place a plastic shower-cap over your head, and cover it with a thick towel. As mentioned earlier, it's crucial to keep your head as warm as possible to achieve the best results. If it's a cool day, turn on the heater, and settle down for a lovely relaxing time. After two hours or more, rinse the mixture from your hair and enjoy the beautiful, nature-inspired results.
In conclusion, despite the added effort of colouring my hair with the Lush Caca range, I honestly wouldn't consider using anything else. As a semi-permanent hair colour, I find that the product lasts for about five to six weeks. However, to combat any regrowth, I usually colour every four. While grey coverage is mostly very good, it's probably not quite as thorough as a conventional chemical based product: a price that I'm willing to pay to go natural.
Lush's Caca range of hair colours can be purchased at their shops which can be found in all of Australia's capital cities and many other countries around the world. Alternatively, you can purchase them online from the Lush website. Although, at around $24.00 each they're not particularly cheap, I find that they last for ages since I'll only use a quarter of a block at a time. If you like colouring your hair, but want to steer away from chemical-based products, I strongly recommend that you try Lush's Caca range.