Archive for November 17th, 2008

Caca review

I thought I had lost my post about the caca brun hair henna, but apparently it posted last night without me noticing, so the following is my account of the process and outcome.  It is quite an epic post, but I think it will answer most questions about the process and outcome.  Feel free to ask any questions though, and I’ll try to post a photo as well.

First of all, it apparently is really supposed to translate to sh*t, because they call it the “no sh*t hair dye.”  I’m thinking maybe “sans caca” would mean more in the way of a “no sh*t” hair dye, at least to me.  Or why didn’t they just call it henna hair dye?  Is that trademarked??

Also, in Canadian dollars, the block cost me $18.95 pre-tax, which is more expensive than regular old hair dye, but if you have up to say, a little past shoulder length hair, you’ll only need half the blocks, so that makes it around $10 each time you dye it.

Another thing to note before I explain my hair outcome, is that this stuff stinks to high heaven.  It just stinks, I can’t explain it any better.  I was advised to use espresso as the fluid instead of water, so I did, and that made it smell even worse.  Some people like the smell of henna though, but I’d say that’s maybe only 5% of the population.  From the reviews I read, around 50% of the people who try this stuff get a pounding headache from the smell.  Some websites suggested putting essential oils into the mix, but I didn’t have the time to go looking for essential oils, so I had to go without.

They suggest you grate the blocks into a non-metal dish (something about henna reacting to metal), which I did, but let me tell you, I can cheese grate with the best of ’em, but I had to stop more than a few times and rest my arm.  Because it’s a fairly hard block, it is hard to grate, and it takes longer than you would think.  And it gets on your hands as it sort of melts, and then the smell starts to appear.  Stinkus-maximus.  I ended up trying to chop the rest up because I couldn’t deal with grating it.  Maybe if I tried to prep that part a few days in advance I wouldn’t have gotten fed up, but I did and I chopped.

The various instructions I read also stated that you shouldn’t pour boiling water into the brown dye because that will change the molecules.  I don’t know if that’s really true, but I’d rather not have to walk around with green hair, so I just used the hottest tap water I could to make the espresso.

So you mix it to this paste that’s kind of like a thick, thick sour cream.  I couldn’t get the little chunks to melt, and I stirred and stirred.  No dice.  I assume that the boiling water would have come in handy at that point.  I just plopped it on my head with a few chunkles in it anyway.  I started with my front hairline.  THIS WAS A MISTAKE.  Basically, you are putting mud on your head, thick, sort of sandy mud. Once you paint some on your head, you’ll be hard-pressed to try and part your hair with a comb, your fingers, a fork, your dog….ANYTHING.

It will also start to dry as you put it on.  I read a good suggestion that it’s best to sort of hold your head over a tub and apply it from back to front.  I found it really difficult to get into the middle of the hair pile, which is usually pretty easy with regular dye because it’s so pliable.  My solution for that was just slopping a shitload of henna on after I was mostly done and just mashing it around.

When it dries it also starts to crack a little bit off of your head, so it’s very messy, and it will dye anything that it touches (the same as regular dye).  You don’t get gloves, so I used my hands.  Most of the dye washed off my hands, but they are slightly greenish-tinged on my palms.  Really not noticeable, but since my hands are attached to me, I noticed it. You can usually buy a pair of rubber gloves from the pharmacy counter, in case you need to know where to get gloves.

After I got all the dye on, I had to wrap my hair in cling wrap to help the color develop.  I HIGHLY recommend this, as the henna will dry and crumble off of you otherwise.  This also took the punch out of the smell, making it more tolerable.

The instructions recommend that you leave the dye on a minimum of 2 hours, up to 8 hours.  Really, unless I slept on it and wrecked my sheets, I wouldn’t be able to sit around for 8 hours waiting for color to develop.  I only lasted 3 hours.  I was noticing the smell too much and it was making me sick, so I went to the tub to wash it out.

Washing it out is another ordeal. It didn’t harden on my head because it was only on 3 hours and it had cling wrap over it, so that was good.  Basically it’s like washing mud out of your hair.  This is where the little clumps became an issue.  I spent probably 30 minutes rinsing my hair, if not more.  I tried to get it out faster and detangle by using a cheapy conditioner in large amounts, rinsing, applying more, rinsing, etc.  This helped, but my hair still smelled entirely like henna and coffee, so I had to use shampoo, and then conditioner.

I washed my hair again this morning and I can still smell the henna, if that’s any indicator of how much the smell sticks to your hair.

When I dried it the first time I noticed the ends of my hair were sort of green/blue, which scared me, but as I looked closer in the mirror, I realized that it was just more henna residue on part of my head.  I washed it again, and even this morning I had to wash a portion of my hair in the sink as the residue seemed to want to stick to this one part of my hair.  I haven’t heard of anyone else having that problem though.

As for the payoff, colour-wise I got a nice, shiny dark brown that blended the new roots with the darker portions.  I also had a nice weird strip of hair that was a bit lighter in between the new growth and the point which I dyed my hair from a golden sort of orange to deep brown, and the henna covered that as well.  I’ll have to see how the color develops, as apparently it takes a few days to experience what the final result will be.  So far my hair is nice and shiny, and it feels really nice and healthy.

I feel like if you want a drastic change in color that this stuff might not be what you’re looking for.  Basically, my natural hair is a bit mousy, so I am just trying to make it more vibrant, and this stuff does that.  I wouldn’t do it again without essential oils to try and cover the smell.  It made me feel sick, so I had to take two Tylenol, and it’s still sort of wafting into my nose today.

I think I will try again though, now that I’ve tried and know what the consistency is.  I may even just try another brand of henna, as I am sort of trying to move away from chemicals right now.  Any organic grocery store probably has henna as well, so there are options other than the caca block.  If the henna comes pre-ground, I’d probably go for that over having to grate the block myself.  I also don’t really like the idea of shelling out $20 on a trial because you can’t buy it in smaller blocks.

I just wish there was a way to get rid of the awful smell!  Smells really set me off, so this was not exactly pleasant.  And sitting around with plastic wrap on my head made me sort of antsy.  I think that’s because I’m used to the fragrance of chemical dye, and the fact that I usually only wait like 25 min for the color to develop.

If you are committed to trying to be more eco-friendly though, and gentle on your hair and scalp, I suggest trying it out, even though I had a number of complaints.  I think as I do it more, I’ll get better.  If the color doesn’t stay on well, I may pass on the Lush brand again, and opt to try another brand.  I’m not sure how the dye is priced at other places?  Possibly better, possibly not?  Lush also sells 3 colors I believe, a red, a brown, and a black.  I read complaints that the caca brun was dying a few people’s hair reddish, but that didn’t happen to me.  I managed to rid my hair of most of the red though, so perhaps these people had some red in their hair to begin with?

If you have any gray hairs please be cautious.  I’ve read that because the structure of gray hair is different, it absorbs henna with a VERY bright colour payoff.  I don’t know if I’d use this stuff if I had light hair.  It’s also tricky because there are no swatches to reference.  There are a lot of photos on the Lush message board though, a lot of before and after, but a lot of the people also don’t know how to take a close-up photo without it being terribly blurry.  I think it will give you an idea of what the expected outcome can be.

Also be cautious if you’ve dyed your hair chemically within the past month.  Try perhaps strand testing first.  Some people have had their hair go green due to a chemical reaction between the dye set in their hair and the henna.  I know my hair well, so I know it reacts reasonably well to henna, and back again.  My suggestion for a strand test is to pull some hair out of your brush (enough of a clump that you’ll be able to see the change in colour) and put that in some henna and then rinse.

If you are feeling less risky, you can find professional hairdressers that use henna, you just might have to hunt.  My last henna experience was maybe 6 months ago, and I got it done at a salon.  It was red henna, and my hair has trouble keeping the best of reds, so this stuff came out within 2 weeks (BUMMER). This, with a haircut cost me about $150.  However, if you want a nice brown, I would think the colour would stick better for the cost because the molecules are smaller. I’ve been dying my hair since I was 12 and my hair feels just as silky with henna as with chemical dye.  I’ll keep you updated on the status of the “wash out factor” though.

In conclusion, I give the Lush henna a 3/5.  It’s pretty messy, pretty stinky, takes a long time, is hard to grate, and hard to clean up (tub cleaning took another 1/2 hour).  HOWEVER, I think I would still choose this a few more times before moving back to a chemical dye because it’s better for your hair, conditions your hair, leaves it nice and shiny, is much better for the environment, and will likely improve in application with practice.

November 2008
30 collective fashion consciousness.