One of the biggest struggles I have as a cruelty-free lifestyle enthusiast is finding a cruelty-free and pretty natural hair dye. In an ideal scenario, I would choose not to dye my hair at all. I have however been blessed with some early grey hair genes, so I dye my hair to hide them. I have been using a non cruelty free hair dye for a long time which I won’t mention the name of because I don’t want to promote it but I have finally decided that I don’t want to pay for such products no more! Henna was the way to go.
From what I’ve read, henna can only improve the condition of hair. It can be applied as frequently as we wish, it’s cruelty-free, it’s natural, it’s basically all fabulous. I decided to try out the CaCa henna from Lush because I could physically go to the store and pick one up. Buying henna online didn’t sound great to me mainly because I have never been anywhere near henna before.
It turned out that Lush offers samples of henna before one decides to buy an entire block. It was recommended that if I want to cover the greys, I should apply CaCa Rouge henna first, which tends to cover light shaded hair better, and then apply the Brun or Noir which are the brown and black. I decided not to go with that approach because if I had to dye my hair twice every time the roots needed touching up, I’d be stuck at home for 2 days. Too much work. Single coat was the only way to go.
The strand tests
Tests were based on Caca Brun and I performed them for a few reasons.
- To see if the non-brown hair will be covered.
- To ensure that my hair won’t turn green.
- Allergic reaction wasn’t really a worry for me but I wanted to see how henna would react with already chemically dyed hair.
Strand test 1:
A completely failed attempt because there was no difference in my hair what so ever. NADA. That’s because I’ve made the henna mix too runny.
Strand test 2:
Another day, another strand test. This time the greys were affected. They were definitely less silver shiny but still not completely covered. The mix was probably too thick this time.
The henna day! What did I do?
Finally I decided to just go for it and apply Caca Brun on my entire head.
- I cut/sliced about 50% of the Brun block. Learnt my lesson from the strand test where I didn’t cut it up enough and ended up with henna chunks in my hair.
- Henna ended up in a glass bowl which I added some boiling water to and placed in a bain-marie. Ensure there’s quite a lot of hot water left in your kettle as you will need more as you mix.
- I kept adding water to my bowl whilst it was still in bain-marie and mixed it with a wooden spoon.
- Once it was the right consistency which people compare to a brownie mix- I would compare it to a thicker hummus consistency – I took it out and left it to cool a little. Not completely as I’ve read it works best on the hair when it’s warm.
- Luckily I had someone to help me out with the actual application of henna but even then it was a messy job.
- Here is where I made my biggest mistake! I have read that henna develops better when it’s heated, so I wrapped my henna hair in cling film…and put a hat on. I think this is the reason why my hair turned out more red than brown when exposed to certain lighting. Let me point out that there was absolutely no damage, only the color turned out more red. The greys were mostly covered too.
- I know I have definitely overheated because after several hours when I came to washing out the henna, some of it was still wet. From my research I know henna should dry solid.
I have later done some more digging and discovered that extra heating is recommended if we want redder hair whereas cooling is recommended when we want a dark shade.
I should have read that earlier…
This was the day after my henna application. As you can see, the red undertones are pretty strong:
Henna day, take 2
To sharpen/darken the color I have bought Caca Noir and mixed it with Brun hoping I will find the perfect middle ground and get rid of the redness. I’m aware that at this point I already had a layer of henna in my hair.
I used about 50% of Brun and 70% of Noir blocks and cut each into little pieces to make sure it will all melt nicely together. The process was the same as before with a difference in protection of my hair afterwards. I still wrapped it in a thin, plastic hair cap mainly because I didn’t want to sprinkle henna pieces all over my house. I cut little holes in the cap to let some air in for a cooling effect. This way I wanted to avoid extra heat and ensure that the henna actually dries solid.
The final color was fabulous!
I loved the end effect. My hair was dark brown, the greys were partially brown, partially light brown which I actually didn’t mind. Hair felt soft, natural, smelled lovely and I knew I harmed no animals in the process. Unfortunately the brown faded quickly and after a 2-3 weeks my silvers were fully visible again.
Learn from my mistakes:
- Don’t make your mix too runny.
- Don’t make your mix too thick.
- Slice/chop your henna block before melting.
- Use a larger bowl than you thought you need.
- Cover up your environment a lot more that you planned. This stuff is messy.
- Don’t wrap your hair excessively if you want brown hair.
- Don’t apply extra heating if you want brown hair.
- I kept the henna on for 4 hours the first time round – no need. 2 was enough the second time round
Final thought on henna
The great thing about henna is that I could reapply it over and over again, day after day, I could overheat it, and my hair wasn’t damaged at all. Imagine what would happen if we followed this process with a chemical hair dye.
It’s a true shame that henna didn’t work out for me this time. All I want it to have a single color on my hair which henna provided me with initially, but then it faded out quickly.
I might give another henna brand a go in the future or experiment with CaCa again. For now, I’m still on a hunt for a natural, cruelty-free hair dye that is long lasting and doesn’t take an entire weekend and several attempts to apply. Now that I’ve made a step away from chemical dyes, I don’t want to go back.
I have my eye on a cruelty-free hair dye already which I will test out and review for you shortly. #staytuned
For more of my reviews visit my beauty section.