Monday, February 24, 2014

Healthy Hair Products: LUSH CACA MARRON Review

Today I'm reviewing Lush's Henna hair dye, Caca Marron. You'll get all the details here: Does it really make your hair that much softer and healthier? How bad does it smell? Is it really that messy? Is the colour worth it? But first you'll have to read my little rant on how I got started on this healthy hair journey (or you can just scroll down til you see the big heading and get the goods right away!)

I watched a documentary on Netflix called Pink Ribbons Inc. about the pink ribbon campaigns that are so common today and how much we, the public, support this industry. The reality of the situation, the documentary claims, is that it's just a moneymaker for the companies that slather everything in pink; the money isn't going to the important research that needs to be done on environmental causes of breast cancer. The documentary (which I highly recommend by the way) briefly touched on how many of the products women use every day, like makeup and hair products, contain ingredients which may be carcinogenic. In fact, the documentary claims that many of the same companies that support breast cancer research are the same companies using these harmful chemicals in their products. Of course, this really made me think about the products I use every day, whether they are harmful to me, and what I should do if they are.

Originally, I planned to just write one article on this topic, but honestly, it is so huge and complex that to do it any justice I need to break it down. First off, I'm going to focus on hair, and more specifically, hair dye.

The documentary mentioned the website, the Skin Deep Database, where you can look up products you use and get a rating from 0 (good, containing less potentially harmful ingredients) to 10 (flashing warning signs!). Most of the products I use were only mild to moderately concerning, but my precious, lovely, very favourite hair dye in the world, John Frieda's Radiant Red Deep Cherry Brown is rated a ghastly 10. There are bunch of horrible things in this product (most of which are found in any popular hair dye, so it's applicable to almost anyone who dyes their hair), and I'm going to break it down for you in plain English.
  • PROPYLPARABEN (10) (Developmental/reproductive toxicity, Ecotoxicology, Endocrine disruption, Allergies/immunotoxicity, Miscellaneous, Use restrictions) 
This harmful chemical is a preservative which imitates estrogen and can interrupt your hormones.
  • FRAGRANCE (8) (Ecotoxicology, Allergies/immunotoxicity, Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs), Miscellaneous, Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive))
Although it seems like the ingredient listing fragrance would be relatively harmless (what's wrong with a little smelly stuff, anyway?), it was news to me that this is actually high risk. Linked with this are "allergies, dermatitis, respiratory distress and potential effects on the reproductive system"... definitely concerning!
  • RESORCINOL (8) (Cancer, Ecotoxicology, Endocrine disruption, Allergies/immunotoxicity, Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs), Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive), Occupational hazards, Use restrictions)
Resorcinol is a skin irritant and is also associated with other effects on the body, including links to cancer. According to the website, the US Federal government regulates its use in the workplace, but not in personal care and I have to wonder why not? If it is dangerous enough to be regulated in one place, it's dangerous enough to regulated when uninformed consumers are using the product in their homes.

Each company and each individual hair product that I looked up had a slightly different chemical concoction, but these harmful ingredients like this were common in many of the dyes I looked at.

I was absolutely torn between continuing on as a creature of habit and having the hair colour that I wanted and trying something new. I could keep using a product that gave me great results physically, but at what price? I decided I didn't want to look back later in life and regret that I didn't start taking care of my body earlier.

When I was in LUSH the other day I realized I had to try it, even if it is a bit of a commitment. You can't just switch back and forth between henna hair dye and chemical hair dye, you will need to wait at least 6 months to a year before using chemical hair dyes again, lest a reaction happens which fries your hair or turns it a scary colour. Seeing the employees and how enthusiastic they are about the products was definitely one of the things that convinced me.

How to use LUSH Henna hair dye:

  1. Cut the bar into pieces depending on the length and thickness of your hair. Each bar has 6 pieces. I used three pieces on my shoulder length, moderately thick hair. If your hair is longer, but thinner, you could probably use the same.
  2. Boil water or use a double broiler to melt the bars into a brownie batter like consistency. The packaging says shredding or grating is not necessary and I read that doing so can make it hard to tell when the mixture is ready to go. That being said it took forever to break down the three bars otherwise (consisting of a lot turning and scrapping) and next time I would break them into small pieces before adding hot water.
  3. Apply vaseline or lotion on to your ears, forehead, neck to avoid the henna staining your skin. I didn't find that the henna stained as bad (and definitely not as quickly) as chemical dyes, but it's better to be safe than sorry, especially when you are leaving it on for a long time!
  4. Apply the mixture to your hair starting from the back and working forward. Be warned: this is messy! If you don't want to spend a while cleaning up your bathroom floor, I would suggest applying it in/over the bathtub as it drips quite profusely. Also, a partner in crime to help you is strongly recommended. It is best to apply it as hot as you are able to stand, but be careful not to burn yourself! Applying it hot is important as it allows the colour to saturate your hair resulting in a more successful colour. This is one area in which I think my application could have been improved. When I applied the mixture it was lukewarm to cool as it had taken so much time to break down the bars!
  5. Wrap your hair into a bun. Saran Wrap your head as tightly as you can for a more vibrant red tone or leave in the fresh air for a more brownish tone. Leave on for 2-4 hours or as long as you can stand. I left mine on overnight, about 9 hours. Be sure to put a dark towel down while you sleep as it will inevitably leak and you don't want to wreck your bedding.
  6. Wash it out! It takes at least a couple shampoos to get the product fully out of your hair. I first rinsed my hair throughly with just water to get the chunks of henna out until the water became mostly clear. The granules of Henna are pretty annoying, but eventually they come out with a little work. Then I washed my hair twice with LUSH shampoo SEANIK (made from seaweed, salt, lemon oil for body and shine) and then conditioned with John Frieda Full Repair Full Body Conditioner (rated a 5 on Skin Deep). Even after that when my hair dried some underneath parts were crunchy, almost like I had put mousse in it.

Image of SEANIK, courtesy of LUSH UK

The Results:

The colour: On my medium/dark brown hair, dyed a reddish brown, the results were a reddish brown with purply tones. When in the light the reddish tones definitely come out stronger, which is really lovely and subtle.

I didn't see a lot of colour difference in the before and after because I chose a colour very close to the colour my hair already was (John Frieda's Radiant Red Deep Cherry Brown), but the overall tone was great (not brassy) and it blended my former roots in with the rest of my hair. I would definitely recommend this colour for those who would like a reddish tone, but don't want to go full on red (CACA ROUGE). In fact, I have gotten quite a few compliments on it in the last few days for just that reason.

The cost: Lush Henna products are $25 dollars each ($29 with tax here in Canada). It might seem like a lot for hair dye, however I only used half of the product and can save the rest for another application. As my usual John Frieda hair dye is around $14 dollars an application, there isn't much difference. Besides, I like to think of it like this: I'm paying for quality ingredients, like henna straight from India and creamy cocoa butter, but I'm also paying for what I'm not putting in my hair: chemicals, carcinogens, preservatives.

The smell: The product does not smell as bad as some of the reviews say. It's not pleasant, but it smells like a mix between hay, grass, and mud.

The mess: It's not as messy as I thought it would be after reading all the reviews, but I do not think it is all that much more messy than regular hair dye as long as you take proper precautions. Apply the henna while you are in or leaning over the bathtub as it will drip heavily on the floor and on you (so wear something old or nothing at all!). Put newspaper down if you choose not to do it in the tub. It will easily wash off your bath with some running water as long as you don't leave it for too long and it is the same with your skin. Yes, you will look like you are covered it mud, but rest assured, it will come off! As I already mentioned, if you choose to sleep or lay down with it on, be sure to put a towel down as it will leak.

All in all, I'm hooked and have started my LUSH obsession! I'm particularly excited about mixing the henna colours to create my own shade! Next time a mix of CACA MARRON and CACA ROUGE, maybe?

Have you tried any LUSH products you love? Are you interested in makeup and hair products that are healthy for you? Let me know what you think in the comments!


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