Switch from Lush Henna

Here was a recent question by a customer.  We have tried to answer it as best as we could.  

Hi, I'm interested in the henna products for hair and learning how to properly use them. I have been using the LUSH hennas for less than a year, but they are really hard to work with.

Using henna to dye your hair is not as daunting of a task as you may believe.  It is broken down into four  simple steps.  1—get the right ingredients; 2—mix the ingredients according to the instructions; 3—apply the paste then rinse as directed;  4—repeat as required or desired.

STEP 1:  Get the right ingredients
First, you have to know what ingredients you need in order to dye your hair.  Simple henna powder mixed with lemon juice will give any hair red in it.  (So if you are a blonde and going for a ginger red, henna is the way for you.)  Cassia is the way to go if you are a natural blonde wanting to cover your grays.  Mixing indigo in with henna will help tone down the red henna tones and bring out the brown-auburn tones.  You can even get jet black hair if you correctly use henna and indigo.  Refer to our Guide to Healthy Hair to figure out what ingredients you need for your hair.  

STEP 2:  mix the ingredients according to the instructions
Let’s keep this simple.  Henna gets mixed at least 12 hours in advance with lemon juice (or warm water/tea).  Indigo, cassia and amla gets mixed right before application with warm water.  All the powders get mixed to a thick consistency so that the application is rich and easy.
indigo mixed with warm water

henna mixed with lemon juice at least 12 hours before application.

STEP 3:  apply the paste, then rinse as directed
Keeping natural hair dye in your hair for as long as possible will give you a rich, deep dye.  We recommend 4-6 hours, with overnight is the best.  Conditioning treatments should stay in your hair for at least 30 minutes.  Use lots of water to rinse out the natural hair dye, and then shampoo. 

STEP 4:  repeat as required or desired
First time natural hair dye users should do the application twice, just to make sure your whole head is covered.  Experienced users can do natural hair dye applications once a month or as required (either the whole head or just root touch ups).  Depending on how fast your roots grow, root touch ups can be done every two weeks, or as required.  Conditioning treatments can be done every month.
Using henna, indigo, cassia and amla powder is very easy for natural hair dye.  Unlike the Lush henna bars which you have to grate before mixing, Henna Art’s natural hair dye powders are simple to mix with warm water or lemon juice.  It requires less time to mix, and does not make a huge mess.  Remember, you can also store your henna paste in the freezer for up to six months if you have any left over (just henna paste).

This is all the information you really need to dye your hair.   

Below you will find the powder equivalents to Lush henna bars.  We have tried to break it down for you so you know how many parts of each natural hair dye powder you will need.  We also include the use of Amla powder, which helps tone down red tones from the henna.  Once you have figured out what you need, you can read our opinion about Lush henna bars below.

Here are the ingredient and powder equivalents for the Lush henna bars.

Caca Rouge Mama—use henna powder only mixed with lemon juice.  Add a couple drops of some rosemary and clove essential oil if you want some of the spicy fragrance.   {All parts henna}

Caca Marron Mama
—use henna powder and indigo powder.  Mix the henna powder 12-24 hours before application with lemon juice and the indigo powder with warm water right before application.  Mix the two pastes together and give it a stir.  Then apply!  The lush bars also add coffee to the mixture—which you can do as well.  Increase the quantity of henna if you want more red.  Increase the quantity of indigo if you want more brown.  Unfortunately, you cannot adjust quantities with the pre-made henna bars. {1 part henna and 1 part indigo}

Caca Brun Mama
—use indigo powder and henna powder.  This bar is more for people who want a browner tone instead of red.  Increase the quantity of indigo powder to give you more brown than red. {1 part henna ; 2 parts indigo; 1 part amla}

Caca Noir Mama
—use indigo powder and a little bit of henna powder.  This is for individuals who want dark tones  {1 part henna and 4 parts indigo}

Our opinion on henna bars...
In our opinion, there are two things that raise red flags for us with Lush henna—first, that they are pre-mixed and second that they have a large amount of cocoa butter.

Henna and natural hair dye (including indigo and cassia), should be mixed fresh in order to give you a dark stain.  When the henna is pre-mixed, chances are that the dye quality will be low because the mixture has gone stale.  Remember, the best way to store henna paste (and only henna paste) is to freeze it.  When stored on shelves for months on end, the dye quality goes.  Don’t get us wrong here—there is nothing wrong with pre-mixed henna, just as long as it is stored properly.  Since Lush makes their henna months in advance, you may be getting a more stale batch of the henna hair dye bars.   

When mixing henna with a warm or acidic liquid, the lawsone (dye) molecule gets released.  With the pre-mixed bar, you are getting henna that has probably gone through a dye release process, which is not the best when you are trying to dye your hair.  

Secondly, lush henna hair dyes are pretty nice to look at.  They are inspired by Russian tea blocks and we will admit, they are gorgeous on the shelf.   However, to give the henna hair dyes the look that Lush has so beautifully created, it requires the henna to be mixed with something that will hold shape.  And while lush has used a natural ingredient, they are using copious amounts of cocoa butter to help the henna blocks hold their shape.  Cocoa butter is nice for the hair, as it is a natural moisturizer, but at the same time is very hard to wash out, leaving a greasy residue.  A recent reviewer of the lush henna said:

"The blocks are very convenient and the results are convenient, which makes Lush's Caca a good choice for henna first-timers. However, the cocoa butter in this product makes it very difficult to rinse out fully and leaves a greasy residue, so you have to shampoo during the rinse-out -- which is counterproductive, since it reduces the vibrancy of the colour (you should not shampoo for two or three days afterwards, to give the colour a chance to fully develop).”

Another reason we are not a huge fan of the lush henna hair dyes is that they are mixed with essential oils.  Essential oils are the best way to get a natural fragrance, but in our opinion, you should leave the essential oil content to a minimum to none when using henna for hair dye.  Since you are leaving the henna paste on your head for several hours, a high essential oil content may cause you a headache!  Since fragrance sensitivity is different for every person, we dislike pre-mixed henna hair dyes with essential oils already added.  We will admit that the henna paste does smell nice, but this effect can be achieved by simply adding a couple of drops of your favorite essential oil, instead of having to deal with a pre-made henna hair dye bar. 

Do yourself a favour… before heading over to buy a somewhat pricey henna,($25+ for 325 grams total, including the cocoa butter), read the reviews on Lush and consider buying just henna powder and natural dye herbs to dye your hair.  You still have to do the mixing of the powder yourself, but it is a heck of a lot easier to mix a powder with liquid than to grate, melt and mix henna bars.  

DISCLAIMER:  This post, and all posts are the opinions of the writers.  They are not intended to cause defamation to any individuals, groups, corporations, businesses or companies.