Before and after using Lush Caca Rogue Henna on my faded red hair

How I use Lush Caca Rogue to enhance my faded red hair

Henna for red hair: my honest review of Lush Henna hair dye

One of the fascinating little facts people like to quote about redheads is that our hair doesn’t go grey, it simply fades.

Which, in all honesty, is its own kind of tragedy, really.

Take me, for instance. As a child, my hair was a bright, vibrant red – the kind of colour people would stop me in the street to comment on. (Not always favourably, of course, but what can you do?) Now, on the other hand? Now it’s faded to a washed-out strawberry blonde, seen here shortly before I discovered Lush Henna Hair Dye:

strawberry blonde hair

Now, I should say here that there’s nothing remotely wrong with strawberry blonde hair IF that’s what you choose. I, however, didn’t choose to be a strawberry blonde. No, I’ve always been a redhead, and a redhead I will remain, by hook or by hair dye.

Which brings me to the issue at hand:

It’s almost impossible to find hair dye in a natural red shade

Note the word “natural” in that sentence. There are plenty of very UNnatural red hair dyes out there, but that wasn’t what I was looking for. I didn’t want to look like I’d dyed my hair; I just wanted to return it to the colour I was born with (or something like it, anyway), and which I’d been for my entire life, up until the dreaded fading started.

To this end, I started experimenting with hair dyes. The only one I found which came even remotely close to teh shade of natural red hair (or “ginger” as some people persist in calling it…) was Clairol Nice N’ Easy in 8WR – Golden Auburn. (Buy it here)

This is a very nice, natural red, which comes pretty close to replicating my original colour. Problem solved, I thought, optimistically.

Now, however, there was another problem:

My auburn hair just wouldn’t hold the dye.

No, despite claiming to be a permanent dye, the color I got from this would last a week at most in my hair. I REALLY wasn’t into the idea of slapping a chemical dye on my head every single week, so I did some research, and discovered Lush Henna Hair Dye. At last.

Henna for red hair: What is Lush Henna Hair Dye?

Lush Henna [buy it here] is a natural, plant-based hair dye that can be used to revive faded red hair, amongst other things. It’s made from ground henna leaves, which are rich in pigment, and other natural ingredients like cocoa butter and aloe vera. It comes in a range of different colours, from jet black to strawberry blonde, but I went for Lush Caca Rouge – the original (And reddest) shade they do.

Here it is:

Lush Henna Hair DyeAs you can see, Lush henna hair dye comes in a solid block, which you need to grind down to make a paste. More on that later. For now…

What are the benefits of henna for red hair?

This natural hair dye is made with henna, which has been used for centuries to color hair. Henna is known for its conditioning properties, so it can also help improve the health of your hair, and won’t damage it like chemical dyes can

. In addition, Lush Henna Hair Dye doesn’t contain any harsh chemicals, so it is gentle on your hair and scalp.

And the downsides? Because there have to be some, right?

Correct. I’ll say more about all of these laters, but, in brief, here are the main problems I have with Lush Henna Hair Dye:

  • It’s messy. Like SUPER messy. Use your oldest towels. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
  • It’s incredibly time-consuming – think hours, not minutes.
  • It’s very permanent – which I guess can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how much you like it.
  • Hairdressers hate it. I’ve personally used chemical dyes over henna without any issues, but that only applies to PURE henna, with absolutely no artificial additives. A lot of hairdressers won’t touch hair that’s previously been dyed with henna, purely because they have no way of knowing how it will react to the dye, so if you think you might want to use regular dye in the future, you’re going to have to tread very carefully.

How to use Lush Caca Rouge on faded red hair

These instructions apply to all colours of Lush henna hair dye, which, as I said, comes in a solid block, like this:

Lish caca rogue henna

To get this into a form which you can use to dye your hair, you have to first of all turn it into a powder, which I do by grating it (Yes, with a cheese grater…):

Grating Lish Caca Rouge

I’m not going to lie, this is an absolute pain in the ass, and seems to take forever. Lush recently changed the formula of their henna hair dye to make it a little softer, but having to prepare it is still a faff I could definitely do without, and one of the biggest disadvantages of it, as far as I’m concerned.

(I’ll quickly add here that I know some people boil it, blend it, or just chop it up. I haven’t tried any of those methods, so I can’t speak to how effective they are, but it’s worth pointing out that my way is not the only way to do this…)

Once it’s in powdered form, you simply add enough boiling water to make it into a thick paste, then cover it and leave it for a few hours in order for the dye to release. I generally leave mine overnight, and I guess this is another of the disadvantages of Lush Henna Hair Dye – you do have to plan ahead with it!

(Oh: I use about half the block for my shoulder-blade length hair, but how much you need will obviously vary depending on your hair, so you may need to experiment a bit.)

preparing Lush Henna

Applying the henna

The next morning (or as soon as the dye has been released), it’s time to apply the henna. To do this, you’re going to want to wear your oldest clothes, have your oldest towels at hand, and apply barrier cream of some kind (I use good ol’ Vaseline) around the hairline. Did I mention it’s messy?

I’ve read different opinions on whether it’s best to apply henna hair dye to wet or dry hair, but, having tried both, I have to say I don’t really notice much difference, really: so it’s up to you. However you choose to apply it, I’d advise wearing gloves, and taking care to cover the hair throughly, to make sure you don’t end up with patchy coverage. It can take a bit of time to do this, but, once it’s done, all you have to do is cover it with a showercap (I use clingfilm, because that’s how I roll), and wait.

And wait.

And wait.

How long you leave the henna on depends on the result you’re looking for. Lush recommend leaving it on for at least a couple of hours, but if you want to cover greys, or get a more intense colour, I’d say you’re going to need to give it at least four, after which you can jump in the shower and rinse it out.

Lush Caca Rouge – before and after

And here’s the result:

after using Lush Caca Rouge henna on my naturally red hair

Which is much more obvious when you see the before and after:

Before and after using Lush Caca Rogue Henna on my faded red hair

So, as you can see, Caca Rogue has left my natural red hair much more vibrant than it was before, but still quite natural looking (or I think so, anyway). The colour you see in the ‘after’ photo here is fairly close to my natural red, so I was pretty happy with it, BUT…

Yes, there had to be a “but” didn’t there?

For me, the main issue I have with Caca Rouge is that, while it works perfectly on the lengths, the hair around my temples is much lighter (It’s always been fairly blonde, but now has a fair few white hairs in there too), and Caca Rogue is much less natural on those lighter hairs – in fact, it turns them a fairly neon shade of orange. No, I won’t be sharing the photos of that…

In a bid to combat that, I tried a couple of the other Lush henna hair dye shades, namely:

  • Brun (brown)
  • Marron (chestnut)
  • Venetien (strawberry blonde)

Of these, I found than none covered the greys at my temples (Lush themselves advise that only Rouge will do this), even when mixed with Rouge. Brun and Marron didn’t make much difference on their own, but came out too dark when mixed with Rouge, and as for Venetien, it made absolutely no difference at all, even when left on for six hours.

Will I be using Lush henna hair dye again, then?

Probably not, to be honest. Although I like the result I get on the lengths with Caca Rouge (and LOVE the fact that it doesn’t damage my hair), the neon orange temples is a deal-breaker for me, and as none of the other shades have worked out for me, I’ve had to conclude that this one just isn’t for me, unfortunately.

So far I’ve yet to find anything that works quite as well to boost my hair colour, but if you’re looking for alternatives to Lush Caca Rouge henna, take a look at this post on how to enhance natural red hair for some ideas!

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  • I really like the sound of this, and I’m sure I can see a difference in your hair colour – quite an obvious one, actually. I’m going to give the brown a whirl, definitely.

    October 6, 2010
  • Have you considered trying the matching shampoo too? It’s meant to do the same thing but is much less time consuming to apply seeing as you just use it like normal shampoo. Obviously you could still use the masque but you might not need to use it as often.

    I used it when I had red (from a bottle) hair and it was a really nice product.

    P.S. Your hair is gorgeous!

    October 7, 2010
    • Thanks! I will probably get the shampoo at some point too – I wanted to try this one first because I figured it would make the most difference 🙂

      October 7, 2010
  • I can’t believe anyone hasn’t mentioned this yet: I absolutely love the coat you’re wearing on the photo.

    October 7, 2010
    • Oh, thanks! It’s one of my favourites 🙂

      October 7, 2010
  • wow your color is amazing!

    October 18, 2010
  • Pauline Gallagher


    Hi there, are you a natural redhead??? do you colour and if so what colour do you use? Im a redhead also and I use an Auburn, your is very vibrant.. Thanks Pauline xx

    October 19, 2010
    • Hi,
      Yes, I’m a natural redhead – I don’t use any colour, although, obviously in this photo I had used the product mentioned in the review.

      October 19, 2010
  • I guess I’m confused. This product temporarily dye your hair? After about 20 washes it goes back to ‘normal’? Are you using it regularly? May you remake a preview and display? I’m thinking of importing, because here in Brazil has not.

    November 4, 2010