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We Try It: Lush Caca Rouge

The Caca* line is Lush’s henna hair dye offering. The full line consists of: Caca Rouge, for red hair, Caca Brun for a coffee brown, Caca Marron for chestnut brown, and Caca Noir, which promises to dye your hair blue-black. Before I go into the actual product review, I want to first address the question of “Why henna?”

If you have never used it before, henna is a huge pain in the ass compared with other at-home hair dyes. For one thing, you are literally dyeing your hair with mud. Not only do you have to intentionally put a bunch of mud in your hair, but you really have to work that shit in so that the color is even. It takes a little getting used to. Since the mud is more solid than chemical colors, you will leave little crumbs of it all over your bathroom and they will stain pretty much any surface they land on a carroty orange if you don’t get them up quickly. There’s also a lot of rules to preparing and using henna; you have to use it hot, don’t use any metal in the preparation and it can react in odd ways with previously bleached or dyed hair. “Odd” usually means “green” with henna, but one time I bleached my hair after it had been henna dyed and it turned school bus yellow.

With all this working against it, you have to be asking yourself “Why bother?” I have a couple of reasons. The biggest is the smell. I am very sensitive to chemicals and their odors, hair dyeing can be a miserable process for me. I have had to spend my waiting period outside, where the smell could dissipate, and I’ve even had to wash dye out of my hair early because my eyes were watering and I was starting to get dizzy from the ammonia fumes. Henna has a mild herbal scent that is, if not exactly pleasant, at least non-offensive (depending on the batch, it sometimes smells like you have been smoking a lot of weed, which can be a little strange if you haven’t). It also does little or no damage to your hair. If your hair was dry to start with, it can actually come out a little softer with the treatment. And I love the color. I choose the fiery copper reds, and they are beautiful. It is technically semi-permanent, so the copper fades slowly over time. If you are like me, and dye your hair on a whim every few months without any root touch-ups in between, the dye line is a lot softer with henna than it is with chemical** dyes. And last, but not least, now that I am a little older, I really appreciate the way henna sits on gray hairs. It makes them look like someone has threaded copper wires through my hair and I think it’s neat.

Now, on to the review.

I was hesitant to try Lush’s henna, mostly because of the cost. You can get a simple box of henna from a place like Whole Foods for under $10, the Lush Cacas are $24.95.

$5.95
$24.95

I finally decided to pony up the money because I have had some bad experiences with the cheap stuff. Since henna is a plant, each batch is a little different. Some crops don’t grow with the same staining properties of others. Let me tell you, it really sucks when you have gone through the hassle of coating your head in hot mud, and all the clean-up it entails, and washed it out to find that your hair is not noticeably different from when you started. I hoped that the increased cost meant that Lush did a little more in the way of color quality control. The other reason is that I did a little research and the reason the Caca Rouge comes in a brick instead of a little bag of green powder is that the henna is mixed with cocoa butter (and lemon juice and clove bud oil). Not only does the cocoa butter make the henna stick to your hair better, but it works as a deep conditioning treatment while you dye.

The preparation for Caca Rouge is a little different from what I was used to. They suggest using a double boiler, or a bain-marie, to heat up the brick while you mix in boiling water. I’m assuming the double boiler is to help melt the cocoa butter, since usually you just have to mix the powder with hot water and go. Lush also doesn’t have any directions about avoiding metal. I have used glass bowls and wooden spoons*** with my henna for so long that I was reluctant to use metal bowls just because they didn’t tell me not to. Since I don’t have a double boiler or a bain-marie, I cobbled one together with a Pyrex mixing bowl and a saucepan of boiling water. I boiled about a cup and a half of water in a different saucepan to add to the henna. You pour boiling water over the pieces of henna brick (I have fairly long hair so I used the whole damn thing broken into chunks) and let it sit for a few minutes. As it softens, you mix and add water until the mix is roughly the consistency of cake batter.

The application process is the same as with normal henna; gob it on until you look like you could play an extra in a caveman movie. The wait time is a bit different. Where my normal routine is to wrap my head in plastic and blow-dry for 30 minutes or so (the heat brings out the color), with the Caca you wrap your head in plastic and let it sit for at least an hour or two (up to six if you are feeling frisky)****. The Lush sales lady was kind enough to suggest a wearing a towel around my neck while I waited, because the cocoa butter melts from the heat of your head and oozes out from under the plastic bag. She was so, so right, as evidenced by the oily green spots on my keyboard from where I pushed the plastic off my ear and then started typing (did I mention that I am writing this as during my two-hour wait? Multi-tasking, bitches!). The towel is a good call.

It’s time! Off to the showers!

OMG, I have never been so grateful for my detachable shower head with the variable speeds. Being able to switch it to power-jet and get the water right up in my hair made it so much easier to wash out the mud, and I was able to use it to clean the walls and shower curtain. The whole thing reminds me of this:

Safety tip: the cocoa butter made the floor of my tub really slippery as I was washing it out. If you don’t have a bathmat or adhesive duckies, watch your footing.

Now that my hair is dry, it is R-E-D red, and I love it. This is easily one of the best results I’ve seen from any hair dye, henna or chemical-y. It is also soft, smooth and smells faintly of lemons. Was it worth $25? Hell yes. The overall process wasn’t much more difficult than regular old henna and the end product was worth the extra money. I give it an 8 out of 10 on the Damn I Feel Sexy scale.

Minus two points for generic hassle and waiting two hours with a bag on my head.

*And yes, they do know caca is french for poo.

**Dear Hillary: If this is a poor use of “chemical,” please tell me what the proper term would be. I wracked my brain to find a more accurate term, but chemical was the best I could do.

***Another benefit from using a wooden spoon is that, after you wipe off the excess mud, the henna has stained the spoon roughly the same color it will stain your hair. It’s like a little sneak peek.

****Mr.B wanted me to stress the time thing (he mentioned it while cooking dinner for me and the kids, since I was tapping away at the keyboard with a bag on my head and no one wanted dinner with henna crumbs mixed in). The whole thing was about 3 1/2 hours from start to finish.

By [E]SaraB

Glass artisan by day, blogger by night (and sometimes vice versa). SaraB has three kids, three pets, one husband and a bizarre sense of humor. Her glass pendants can be found at www.etsy.com/shop/AngryOwlStudio if you're interested in checking it out.

33 replies on “We Try It: Lush Caca Rouge”

this article is a bit older but perhaps there are more henna-curious out there …

lush has a “high-end ready-mix” version and little choice re. nuances. there are several other brands as well, some w/ more nuances. i love “henné color paris” and am using them for over 20 years already. my hair is so long that i am able to sit on it, so there’s something to be said about the beneficial properties of this brand ;)

those of you who are sensitive to different types of chemicals: be careful though, sometimes, there is an ingredient called sodium picramate contained in the powder.

if you want your henna to soften the hair (as lush’s dyes do), you can mix in virgin coconut oil or cocoa butter. broccoli seed oil works miracles in very dry and damaged hair.
something acidic (such as lemon or lime juice or apple vinegar) intensifies the color.
the longer you let it sit, the more intense the color gets. but don’t worry, it never will be firefighter red ;)
lots more information about do’s and don’ts with henna can be found under longhaircommunity.com: Forum> Discussion Forums> Recipes, Henna, and Herbal Haircare> The basics of henna (in case links are allowed, here it is: http://archive.longhaircommunity.com/showthread.php?t=56615)

I should really try this. I’ve destroyed my poor hair using boxed dye ( a few months ago decided I wanted super blonde hair, and bleached it 3… Maybe 4 times in one week). I’m trying to get my hair red now, but its just not working. My last attempt turned a gross orange shade.

I have blonde-ish reddish hair naturally, but I still dye my hair bright red once or twice a year- and since my hair is naturally reddish, it doesn’t look funky as it grows out. I haven’t tried Henna yet, though.

My worry is that because I have super long hair, that it will be super expensive for me. Any suggestions for a strong but cheap version? I don’t mind spending a long time with it on my head for strong results either.

FOr a short period of time I could Just sit on it. Then I got sick (Anxiety and then depression because of poor anxiety management) and wasn’t brushing every day and it got damaged. I’m currently about a hand’s width from having to worry about sitting on/pulling my hair when I sit. Though some parts are shorter by up to  5-6 inches because l finally let someone else cut my hair- first time since I was 14? I think?- and I let her put a tiny bit of layering in. Not that it’s noticeable because of the length, but it has made the brushing easier. But I wear it in a bun the vast majority of the time.

I, Uh, Saw Crystal Gayle performing when I was very young on TV, and went “Ooooo I like how long her hair is.”

The actual instructions say to use the Lush Ultra Bland (or Balm, I’ve seen it both ways), and the kind Lush lady gave me a sample for just for this purpose, but vaseline or a thick lotion works just as well. As long as you wipe the henna off your skin when you’re done getting it into your hair, it won’t stain for more than a few hours.

Okay, so when you say R-E-D red, how red is it, really? Are we talking Manic Panic Reds, or a more realistic sort of auburn red?

(I am hoping for something the “completely unrealistic and silly” type of red, as that is my favorite, and i’d love to achieve it without chemicals. I’m pretty sure Feria’s Ruby Rush includes Red #40.

I’ve been using Godrej Nupur Mehendi Powder 9 Herbs Blend (it’s henna with some other herbs in it basically) for the past few months,  much less messy because it’s a powder already so no need to break out the double boiler to melt anything down. Just add your mix-in’s (the package says to use water, but I use apple cider vinegar and honey), let sit, and apply.

It’s also $3 for a package I can use twice on my chin length hair, so the price is definitely right.

I concur on “synthetic.” Everything’s a chemical, pretty much, even stuff that originally comes from plants. Especially in the jargon-heavy world of beauty products, I find that “plant-derived” and “synthetic-based” or “petroleum-based” are more accurate.

I sporadically dye my hair with henna, because I looooove the colour I get out of it (best copper ever!).  I’ve never used it hot, though — the stuff I usually uses just said “add water to make a thick paste.”  I have a box kicking around somewhere — I should use it sometime soon!

I am so going to do this now! My hair has been getting lighter and lighter for years to the point where it’s now a weird dish-water mix of light brown and gold, but my hair is super thin and I have reservations about adding chemicals to my scalp. (Just google hair dye allergies.) Just a couple days ago my guy asked me if I had given any thought to dying my hair. I told him no because of the chemicals but that I wanted to. Well, I wasn’t considering all of my options! I completely forgot about henna dyes! So I think I might give this a try. Thanks for doing the hard work for us!

I want a detachable shower head with variable speeds. For uh, reasons.

But this does sound good! I’ve gone prematurely grey (at 18! Thanks genetics) so I dye my hair on a regular basis (wondering if I shouldn’t, the greys might give me some gravitas that the acne takes away from me). I’m not a fan of the supermarket box dyes, I fried my hair using them over a couple of years, so this might be worth a shot.

Also bizarre beauty treatments that confuse Mr Cesy are some of my most favourite things in existence. I live to confuse him with face masks and eyelash curlers, his reactions are priceless.

I was this close to telling you all to keep your minds out of the gutter when I said I loved my shower head, but then I decided that the gutter was kind of a fun place to be so smirk away!

I also enjoy confusing my family with bizarre beauty treatments. They really are priceless.

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