The Cruelty-Free Review

A review of compassionate products, foods, and recipes

LUSH Henna Hair Dyes

on February 3, 2012

I was actually going to wait to put this review up since I reviewed as LUSH product not too long ago, but thanks to the snow, I didn’t have to go to work, and I don’t really feel like doing anything school-related, so I figured today is as good as any other.

I came across the henna hair dyes a few weeks back while perusing the Lush website for new products. I’ve never completely dyed my hair or done an at-home dye job, so I wasn’t initially interested. Plus, reading some of the reviews put me off a bit, as it sounded too complicated and messy. But last weekend at the mall, I decided to just give it a whirl. I was looking for a bit of a different look, since I’m still deciding if I want to keep my hair short or grow it out. And what would a review site be if I didn’t take some risks once in a while?

Lush’s henna hair dyes come in 4 colors: Rouge Mama, which provides a red color; Brun Mama which gives a darker brown color; Marron Mama, a reddish-brown blend, and Noir Mama, for dark black color. The dyes are a blend of natural henna and cocoa butter. No synthetic colors or chemicals to be found, which is what really intrigued me. I’ve had highlights done, and I’ve always felt bad about how the chemicals would strip my hair. The clerk at the store suggested I try Marron Mama since it would complement my naturally brown color while adding some red to it. The dyes come in a block of 6 squares, and are meant to be cut so you can use only what you need for your hair length and type. The clerk said that I would probably only need 2 or 3 squares since my hair is so short. Unfortunately, you have to buy the whole block, which costs $24.95. That seemed a bit steep initially, especially given I had no idea how well it would work, but compared to a salon dye job which can cost twice as much, I think that’s fairly comparable.

The directions for prepping and applying the dye are as follows (taken from the LUSH website):

1. Cut henna up into small pieces and put in a heatproof bowl.

2. Add hot water and let steep. Mix to a yogurt-like consistency.

3. Put on gloves and apply from back to front, coating hair thoroughly.

4. Cover in cling wrap for a more vibrant red. Leave on for one to six hours.

5. Rinse, shampoo, and condition hair.

Tips: Always do a strand test first. Use face cream (or Ultra Bland) around your hairline and ears to protect skin. Wrap hair in cling film for a redder color. For darker, richer colors, leave on longer (up to six hours).

However, the directions that come with the actual block of dye differ a bit. They call for using a double boiler to melt the dye and adding water as hot as you can stand and to keep it warm over the boiler while applying. They also suggest laying newspaper down on the floor before applying, and also have all kinds of suggestions as what you can add to enhance the color (coffee, cinnamon, etc). I used the directions from the website and just added boiling water to a bowl to mix, then took that into the bathroom to apply. I used 3 blocks, but it turns out I probably only needed 2. I also did not do the strand test, because I figured in for a penny, in for a pound, right?

I do highly suggest the newspaper, as the mixture will begin to pebble up and little balls will drop on the floor the more you add to your hair. This might have something to do with not keeping the mixture over the boiler to keep it warm; next time I will probably try that. It wasn’t a huge mess to clean up so it wasn’t a big deal. I wrapped my head in saran wrap (which I also suggest to keep any of the dye from falling off onto your couch or clothes) and let it sit for 3 hours. This is a time intensive process, so if you don’t have at least the hour suggested to let the dye sit, it probably won’t work out well. The smell—well, that took some getting used to. To me, it smelled a lot like really bitter, burnt coffee. Some other reviews said strong green tea. It wasn’t horrible, especially compared to chemical hair dyes, but it doesn’t smell like roses either.

Finally, it was time to wash out. I got in the shower, stood under the water and began running my hands through my hair. And it made an unholy mess. Next time, I will just stand under the faucet and let the water get as much out as possible before I begin using my hands. I mean it was really messy, all over the walls and shower curtain. And it took a good 5 minutes or so before I finally got all the particles out. Once done, I decided to blow dry my hair to see what the color looked like…and wow, was I surprised! I loved how it was the perfect blend of red and brown and it made my hair super soft too. I got a ton of compliments on it at work the next day, and it actually looked like the color had deepened a bit. I will definitely be using this again. I don’t know how long it will last; some reviews said anywhere from 3-6 months. It probably just depends on how much you use and how well your hair holds color. Below are the before and after pics of my hair; I don’t think it does justice for how vibrant the color turned out, but you get the idea.


You can find the henna hair dye at and in their stores as well. If you are interested in trying, you might want to email them or visit a store and see if they would be willing to give you a small sample piece of the color you want to try a strand test first before committing to a whole block. Or, you can just throw caution to the wind like me and just see what happens!


10 responses to “LUSH Henna Hair Dyes

  1. Barb says:

    Ooh, pretty! I think the price is totally reasonable, I’ve paid 4x that for highlights before :-/

    • Reia says:

      Thanks! I plan on doing a 1 month follow up pic to compare and see how it looks. What I didn’t show was me with gunk in my hair, head wrapped in plastic wrap and a facial mask on. I think I freaked the kitties out a bit, if not for how I looked, than at least due to the smells emanating from me 🙂

  2. Gabby says:

    I’m really glad you did a review of this product. I’ve been eyeing it for a while. I look forward to seeing the follow-up!

  3. […] years I had long hair that I did nothing with except pull it into a ponytail. If you’ve seen my henna hair dye posts, you can tell that I’ve made quite a drastic change to a short bob. This has forced me to […]

  4. randi says:

    mine didnt even change and i use the caca rouge colour

  5. I know it has been a while since this post, but can you let me know how long the dye lasted? I have to say that the color was dramatic and gorgeous on your hair! I pay about $80 for a dye job packed with loads of chemicals and want to get away from that, mostly because it damages my hair. Thanking you in advance for the post-review!

    • Honestly it’s hard to say how long it lasted in definite terms. You can tell from the one month later review that the vibrant red had become more brown, but in the sunlight there was still a lot of red to be seen. Also the dye kind of fades out all at once and it was difficult to notice my roots until almost an inch had grown out. There are a few things that I think really influence how long the dye lasts: How often you shampoo, how old the henna is, how long you leave it in, and what kind of hair you have.
      I shampoo, condition, and put some sort of heat to my hair just about every day and that can take a toll on color. LUSH does have a shampoo called Blousey that is designed for colored hair; I began using it the second time I dyed and I do think it helped the color last, especially considering how much I cleanse.
      The first dye job I did was with a fresh, just-bought block. The second and third dyes were with a block I bought, then didn’t get around to using for a while. They still worked, but the third time the block was pretty dried out even though I put it in a zip lock baggie. Heed the expiration dates. That’s the one bad thing about how much you get; if you have short hair you won’t need the whole block. But if you do end up really liking the color and have some leftover, you can dye it several days in a row to get a really lasting, vibrant color.
      Another reason the color on the third dye job might not have been is good is because I only left it on for about an hour or so. I was impatient and that just wasn’t enough time to get really good color. If you do decide to try it, plan on at least 3 hours of sitting with plastic wrap on your head 🙂
      I have very fine, thin hair and I do think that it just won’t hold color as long as some other hair types might.
      Overall, I do suggest you give it a try. Like you said, it sure as hell beats dropping $80 to have harsh chemicals strip your hair. Definitely check out the tips on the LUSH site to get the most out of your dye. If you do give it a shot, please let me know what you think! And thanks for stopping by 🙂

      • raven chan says:

        Hi,thank you for your review..very informative and helpful. May I ask if you can keep the unused mixture and use it next time so you won’t have to boil and cook again?

      • Thanks for stopping by and I’m glad the review is helpful.
        I have not tried reusing the mixture but I don’t think it would work out very well. I imagine it would dry out, plus you need the heat to activate the henna anyway. Best just to start fresh each time!

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