Using Henna to dye your hair

I first dyed my hair age about 14 with those wash in wash out sachet you bought in chemists, I remember my Mum being very unhappy about it and the reality was my hair looked no different.  As the years have gone by I have dyed my hair on and off from red through to nearly black and every shade in between.  It got too dark from dye over dye that a couple of years ago I bleached it to start again and dyed it brown.

My hair wasn’t terribly happy with that!

But the other thing that has happened over those years is that I have gone from dyeing my hair as I wanted to change the colour and dyeing it to cover the grey.

My family are one of those darker skin, dark hair, early grey types.  My greys are all through my hair, not lots but enough now.  Last year I decided as an experiment to leave it as maybe it was ok to be a bit grey.  I lasted about 3 months and that was enough to prove to myself I wasn’t ready to go there yet.

But one thing I have noticed in more recent years (or actually post pregnancy years) is my hair has changed.  Pre pregnancy it was totally straight and smooth, I didn’t need straightners, it just went like that with no effort from me.  And then after pregnancy it started to have weird waves to it and each hair was no longer totally smooth.

I had used henna dye when the body shop sold the powder – oh what nearly 18 years ago I am guessing, but apart from that have always used chemical dyes.

My grey hairs are VERY resistant to chemical dye too, I can leave it on the longest and even over that time and still it is hardly covered.  Semi permanent dyes (even ones done professionally) made no difference.  So I was ending up putting the chemicals on my hair, wrecking my hair more and it wasn’t actually working.  Added to that also anyone who uses red shades of brown dye know that after 2 weeks of lovely colour it starts fading.

Last summer I met up with a friend and her hair was an AMAZING colour of red and so shiney and healthy looking, I asked how and she told me Lush Henna Caca Rogue.  So I decided that is what I needed to do.

Lush do 4 different colours of henna – well actually they are henna mixed with other natural things to change the shade it turns out.

Caca Rouge – Rouge brick is the really red one. Use this if you are after vibrant red tones.

Caca Noir – Noir brick has dark Indian indigo as the star with red Persian henna in a supporting role. Use this if you want to achieve dark dark hair with red henna to give shine to the blue black tones of the indigo.

Caca Brun – Brun brick gives equal importance to reds and browns; use this if you want to achieve a rich deep brown hair shade with underlying hints of red and amazing levels of shine.

Caca Marron – Marron brick majors on red, but has indigo and ground coffee to add some darker notes.  Use this if you are after rich chestnut tones that shine with a red glow in the sunlight.

(There are various tips on the Lush site of how to change/increase the various tones)

I have only used the Caca Rouge as I love the red tones that really show up in the sun

The Process

Lush sell the blocks of Henna, when my hair was long (to my waist) I needed a whole block, now it is shorter I only needed 2 squares.

Now here is the warning, this is a faff to do (technical term) it is messy, takes a long time BUT for me it is worth it for lovely shiny healthy beautifully coloured hair.

You start my grating the block up into a fine powder, I used the chopping attachment for my hand blender, but have also used the food processor grating attachment.  Or you can use a normal kitchen grater (but it will take a while)

You then mix the powder with hot water until it is a thick paste, not so thick you can’t work with it, but you don’t want it runny either.

Now here is an important bit

It is VERY messy, the first time I did it I sat in the kitchen and everything got covered even though I thought I was being careful.  Now I do it in the bathroom as I have a black floor.  The henna will stain anything, clothing, light floors and walls etc.

I put an old towel or sheet on the floor and then wear a long sleeve old pj top that I can get off with buttons, and I also wrap an old towel around my shoulders.  I then put some moisturiser around my hair line to protect my skin from staining.

Gloves on (in store they often give you a pair) and begin.

henna Lush

I start on my parting, using a brush like this (was from a roots touch up kit I think) and you just sploge it on (again technical term) making sure the hair is covered.  Carefully apply to you hair line and then work through the rest of your hair.  It is a bit odd if you are used to using liquid dye as there are lumps in it and bits fall off and you hair does become quite matted whilst you apply it.

Once you have gone all through your hair make sure it is worked to the ends and then twist hair around and stick it on top of your head.

Depending on what variety you use you will either wrap it or leave it to dry.  I wrap mine to intensify the red (apparently) in cling film. I have learnt not to do it too tight as it squidges the henna out the back/sides and gives you a head ache!

And now the longer you leave it on the better it will be, so for me this can only be done over night, according to the Lush info though it stops working after 4 hours. (I will admit now that I thought it was longer!!)

I cover my pillow in a pampers bed protector sheet as it will stain your bed and pillow etc.

In the morning I wash it out, it is again pretty disgusting as it is like tried matted mud in your hair.  I have to wait for a mornnig we aren’t heading out early a it takes at least 2 shampoos to get the water clear.

And the result?

I don’t have a before photo but my natural colour is very dark brown (with a sprinking of grey all through it)

The photos aren’t the best as it is hard to take them!  And also I hadn’t blowed dried/straightened my hair before taking them but they show the colour!

It always amazes me for a product that doesn’t lighten your hair as it contains no chemicals quite how dramatic the effect is.

Obviously before using refer to the manufacturers instructions and do a strand test and all that important stuff.


  1. Rachel
    5 February , 2012 / 5:54 pm

    Mmmmmmm very tempted!

  2. Wannabefitmum
    6 February , 2012 / 11:33 am

    Also v tempted. The last time the hairdresser tried to re-colour my roots, she had to redo the dye 4 times, as they just wouldn’t take it. Slightly concerned about how messy/difficult it is, for someone who hasn’t dyed their own hair themselves for about 17 years… :-s Chances of it all going horribly wrong? How long do you think it’d take to apply (actual application, not setting time) on just past shoulder-length hair?

    • 2 Stars and a Swirl
      6 February , 2012 / 5:22 pm

      It probably takes 20-40 mins to apply and if you put an old sheet on the floor that will the lumps that fall off. Now I know it only has to stay on for 4 hours it is probably easier to do at 5pm ish and wash off before bed.
      It should be strand tested on previously dyed hair BUT mine was fine and matched on the roots and previous dyed hair

  3. 11 February , 2012 / 10:01 pm

    I’ve been so tempted to try this stuff for a while. My best friend when I was a teenager, who had ginger hair like me, used to use the powder, and it made her hair amazingly red. I am still proud of my hair’s natural colour, but would love it to be a bit more vibrant 🙂

    • 2 Stars and a Swirl
      12 February , 2012 / 10:12 am

      I am guessing it would lovely! Maybe buy a block and test on a bit at the back?

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