Colour me black, red, brown…the LUSH Caca way

 

                                SAMSUNG

                     Good old henna has indeed come a long way and how! From being the neglected hedge in the backyard to going international in a big way with LUSH!

               There is probably hardly any Indian woman who has not dabbled with or thought of dabbling with henna, be it for colour or for conditioning. However, with the advent of chemical hair colours and the media blitzkrieg surrounding it, poor henna fell upon bad days so much so that most salons will today refuse to even do the application for you, forget offering henna hair colouring as a service. The lack of standardised henna in the market does not help matters either. What to talk of others I myself used henna off and on for conditioning purposes but found it too drying. Last summer I went ahead and got global INOA in red colour with red highlights. As I mentioned in my earlier post on TVAM Henna and Indigo, while my hair looked great initially (specially when blow-dried) eventually the results were rather disastrous. As the colour started fading, I had horrid red left over, not to mention the fried condition of my hair. 

                               It was in such dire conditions that I discovered LUSH hennas. I had used LUSH products but thanks to lack of LUSH stores up North (just one at Select City Walk, New Delhi) I had been out of touch. LUSH henna however came in just at the right time to redeem my hair from its fallen state!

                          Okay…first things first.. LUSH calls its hennas “Caca” which is French for poop. And their logic? That their hennas are 100% natural with no chemicals- as safe as poo..whatever!! If nothing else, you have to give it to LUSH for sheer irreverence. LUSH likes to shock you out of your happy lethargy into noticing things. The henna is not in powdered form as we are used to seeing it. Instead what you get by way of this “no s**t hair colour” is a solid brick that has 6 small squares – “a completely new way of using an age-old ingredient”. The ingredients of Caca Noir are – indigo henna,red henna, fair trade cocoa butter, irish moss powder and clove bud oil . According to LUSH, by making henna into solid blocks, they don’t need to add preservatives in it and it makes it easier and more effective to use. I can’t say about the preservative part but solid blocks make henna more difficult to use even if marginally so.

                               In the name of packaging there is nothing much. LUSH will just wrap it up in paper and hand you the block which is not a bad deal..you can feel a bit saintly that you have done something by way of helping the environment. Some instructions along with the new age henna on how to use it however would be helpful. Or else you need to go on the LUSH UK site which will answer all your queries. Doing a strand test is always a good idea. If you find it difficult to try out the henna on a part of the hair on your head, use the left over hair in your hairbrush for the strand test. Really no point raving and ranting later on.                                

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           LUSH tells you to break the henna into pieces and then cover it with boiling water. I tried this out but eventually figured out a way that worked better for me- chopping, almost shredding it into a powder form, like in the picture on the side, and then mixing it up with water. For my mid-waist length hair I used 3 squares from a single block and the shredding process took about 10-15minutes. Whatever extra time this shredding takes is compensated by the time saved in mixing it up. As compared with conventional henna, LUSH Caca Noir takes more water and cakes up on drying probably because of the indigo in it. I used just about, but not boiling, water to mix up the henna and once you have the desired consistency, its application time.

                                               SAMSUNGLUSH tells you to put the henna bowl on a saucepan of simmering water and heat gradually – the hotter the henna, the brighter the colour you get. I did the best I could – didn’t put it on a saucepan and heat it but just on a vessel that had hot water. The application is as messy as with any other conventional henna and I prefer to get it done from a salon. If you can find a salon or someone who will do the application for you, it’s much better than struggling with it on your own. LUSH tells you to apply Ultrabalm or Ultrabland around the hairline. To my mind, any cream or Vaseline would work just as well or like me, you could go without it also- no harm done. For a darker colour, LUSH recommends you to go without any cling film- let it air dry. And that’s what I did. The henna dries up and cakes up real quick so you need to watch out for the bits and pieces that will keep falling off.

                        After about 5 hours (LUSH tells you to keep it for minimum of 4hours), comes the washing off time which is as messy as with any other henna. That it has solidified on your head means more water and time but that is about it. The cocoa butter makes it quite greasy to shampoo out. Once or twice I tried the old henna way- just rinse off the henna and oil the dried hair leaving the shampooing for the next day. However, with the huge amount of cocoa butter in it, I found shampooing it that very day a better alternate especially because it doesn’t affect the colour in any way. I have been using LUSH Cynthia Sylvia Stout Shampoo and Retread Conditioner but any shampoo-conditioner would work well. Just that the lesser the chemicals in it, better it is for the hair and henna. I let my hair air dry and as the indigo darkens over the next 48 hours, the actual colour will be apparent only then.

                 LUSH recommends application on 3consecutive days to get the desired colour. Despite my frustration and desperation to get rid of the horrid red leftovers from my hair, I could manage application only twice in ten days. Nevertheless it did a great job of covering up the residue of chemical colour and even after two applications I could see some sanity being restored to my fly away dried up hair. I don’t have many greys, just a few around the hairline but the grey coverage was not as good as I would like it to be. But at least I did not end up with the orange-red that traditional henna gave. For jet black hair and perfect grey coverage I would recommend using indigo alone. I have been using TVAM Indigo (reviewed earlier) to cover the greys and LUSH Caca Noir alternating with TVAM Indigo are doing a great job for me. The picture below is after three applications of LUSH Caca Noir over a period of 20days (taken indoors in natural sun light around noon time)SAMSUNG

                I am no authority on hair- either on hair care or the henna vs chemical hair colour debate. What I can offer are my own experiences for anyone else who wants to make an informed choice. LUSH recommends henna for precisely the same reason that stylists are against it- that it coats the hair unlike chemical colour that forces the cuticle open. To my mind, a protective coating makes more sense than opening up the cuticle. At least my hair does not respond well to any chemical treatment or chemical colours no matter which one – this time I used INOA; earlier it was Majirel and Wella but consequences were as disastrous for my hair. I have pretty much “been there, done that”. After all the wanderings I think my hair have finally found their peace with henna and shampoos like those from LUSH, Body Shop and the like.

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Styled hair always looks good- professional cameras, lights, photographers and stylists will make any hair look good. This picture on the right is my hair blow-dried hair with no styling products except Kerastase Elixir Ultime for heat protection. And obviously it’s not professional photography or lighting. The picture was taken outside in the late afternoon, almost near sun set time ( hence the reddish tinge unlike the picture above).Nevertheless, to my mind the hennaed hair looks good enough to be compared with coloured hair. So colour or henna we all need to take our own call on that depending on how your hair reacts to them and the health of your hair.  

Just to end with a quick overview.

Pros-

  • 100% natural, safe ingredients
  • Good conditioning property due to cocoa butter in it
  • Does not give a red-orange tinge to the hair like conventional henna
  • Leaves hair looking and feeling healthy and shiny
  • Available in four colours- red, black, brown and maroon

Cons-

  • At Rs. 1020/- for a block it is expensive and LUSH is constantly revising its prices upwards
  • Not very good grey coverage
  • Time consuming and messy process specially when compared with the ease of chemical hair colouring

Price– Rs 1020/- for a block. Also available in red, maroon and brown

Available at all LUSH stores and many online sites

             

 

             

The Anatomy of Love- Grey’s Anatomy

           greys

                The idiot box is not called so for nothing. Despite a plethora of channels and programmes being aired, it still remains an idiot box. In fact to my mind the raison d’être for at least the existence of the entertainment channels ceased when “Sex and the City” went off the air. That was until Grey’s Anatomy started.

        Truth be told I didn’t start watching it immediately. I don’t like to watch medical dramas and I think I probably missed the first season entirely. As it is, I have enough of the morbid in me. I most definitely can do without seeing death and pain on TV. How and why I started watching it, I can’t recall…probably while flipping channels at the end of the day. And before I knew it, I was hooked.

                      What is it that I like so much about Grey’s Anatomy? Most definitely not Meredith Grey….neither the character nor the actress particularly. When I think about it, there is no character individually who makes it work, so to speak. Due apologies to all the Mc Dreamies, Mc Steamies and Ms. Mc Hot but they alone don’t make the series tick. And the episodes themselves vary between the sublimely touching and poignant to the downright bathetic quite like our desi K brand serials.What was Addison’s trip to L.A all about? And O’Malley? Dead in lieu of Izzie ?

                   But despite these hiccups there is something that clicks. To begin with, I love the voice over with which each episode starts. It doesn’t simply set the tone for the episode or give an insight into a character but puts the series in a broader human context cutting across incidental boundaries of place, time and setting. The characters could have been anyone, anywhere carrying on with their daily struggles, dilemmas, tragedies- real or tin pot. That they are surgeons in a hospital named Seattle Grace Hospital in a land and context far removed from ours seems incidental. Who amongst us has not known the pain of a failed relationship; the terror of confronting our worst fears; the warmth of a shoulder to cry on; the helplessness in comforting a broken partner or the joy of a sudden fortuitous turn of events? Human nature, life and predicament remain the same in essentials.Only externals change.

                           The characters, with their intertwining lives and those of the patients who come and go, make a great ensemble cast. Often they give the feeling of being “types” rather than well-rounded characters but work out well in the overall scheme of things. So we have the core group of surgical interns, now residents- Meredith with what she herself calls her “crappy DNA”, broken home and morbid, dark persona that now seems to be lightening up; Yang, the “robot”, Meredith’s “person” and voice of reason, sanity and logic with her seemingly cut and dry approach and overriding passion for cardio surgery; the softy Izzie who gets emotionally involved with every patient; Karev, hiding some deep scars behind a devil-may-care roguish attitude and the now dead George O’ Malley, a bit of a messed up softy. Surrounding them are the others- their supervising Resident,the “Nazi” Bailey who instead becomes their “Friend, philosopher and guide” ; Derek Mc Dreamy Shepherd, Meredith’s love interest; Mark Mc Steamy Sloan, the proverbial rake on the lookout for love and stability; Richard, Chief of surgery, something of a father figure and as much a part of Meredith’s past as her present; Torres, the orthopaedic surgeon;Lexie Grey, Meredith’s half sister. Many others come and go- Addison, Preston Burke, Owen Hunt-but life goes on.

                  The twists and turns in the plot are riveting but very often nothing much to write home about. Meredith and Derek’s off and on relationship; Sloan’s sex escapades; Yang being abandoned on the altar; Izzie’s cancer; O’ Malley’s death- the series takes its audience along on the emotional roller coaster. We may not be surgeons facing death and trauma every day but which one of us has not faced mortality in one form or the other? Who cannot feel Bailey’s moral dilemma, as she fights not simply with Derek but with herself in order to save a young life? Or Meredith’s passionate appeal for understanding when she herself fails to understand her grief on a convicted murderer being given the lethal injection? Which one of us has not yearned for a friendship and understanding beyond words like that of Yang and Meredith? Or the tough choices one has to make between family and career? Each one of us has tried to “seize the day” in our own way in the face of death and uncertainty of life as Meredith and Derek do with their post-it marriage.

            Yes, life is short; we all are living on borrowed time as it were. Why and how do we take life for granted? I think it is this very basis of our assumption of daily living that Grey’s Anatomy challenges and also shows us the way out- Love…love among friends, among partners, among colleagues, even among strangers- the bonds that form whether we want them or not but make life worth living anyways. It is this emotion that takes us along life and its varied paths. And this is the chord that Grey’s Anatomy touches, which “Packed to the Rafters”, despite Karan Johar popping up again and again with the tag line “When all else fails, there is family”, fails to do. If it were not for love, how would one cope with all that life can throw at you? Sadly, in our limited human perceptions we often fail to see this and value what needs to be valued. Time is short, every bond we form is nothing but a loss somewhere down the line. Hence Meredith’s advice- tell the ones you love that you love them while you can tell and they can hear. For who has indeed seen tomorrow?

 

LUSH No Drought Dry Shampoo

                                  For all the good that it does to your body, regular gym workout doesn’t do much for your hair. Any woman who regularly visits a gym (to workout and not merely to gossip or socialise) will vouch for the truth of this statement. With my hair that is always on the drier side, a daily shampoo, even with the mildest of shampoos, remains out of the question. I have also tried what is known as co washing (leaving out the shampoo and only using the conditioner instead for washing hair) but without much satisfaction. Hair feel neither clean nor dirty- just in between.

               This is the prelude to my hunt for Dry shampoo. I had heard of Oscar Blandi Dry Shampoo but could not find one in India. Now with Sephora opening up at Select City Walk, New Delhi maybe things change. Last year however the only option was LUSH No Drought Dry Shampoo and a pretty good option to my mind.

               The bottle is like any other LUSH liquid shampoo bottles and, again, like most LUSH products, what got my attention immediately, was the smell- citrusy-lemony. The smell is not too overpowering but fresh enough and the shampoo itself is a very smooth powder. SAMSUNG

                The list of ingredients reads as – Cornflour (Zea mays), Magnesium Carbonate, Talc, Perfume, Grapefruit Oil (Citrus paradisi), Lime Oil (Citrus aurantifolia), *Citral, *Geraniol, *Limonene, *Linalool  and the product is Vegan. LUSH tells you to “Massage sparingly into your scalp and through your hair, then shake it out (if you’ve got long hair, you might need a quick brush to make sure you’re fully covered)”

          The application part can be a bit tricky as a lot of the product comes out at one go. LUSH tells you to either “puff it directly into the hair or onto your hands and work it through”. Either ways too much of the product comes out and I almost always end up having at least some of it on my clothes or the floor. Whether I’m just plain clumsy or the dispensing needs to be better designed (having had no experience with the spray dry shampoos) I really can’t say but taking it onto my hands and then working it through the hair is more economical. Very little of the powder is needed and it does a good job of absorbing the excess of oil and dirt. I do make it a point to brush my hair well to ensure that the entire scalp is covered and no excess powder is left to give white streaks in my black hair. The nasty dirty hair smell is gone and hair has nice bounce and fresh feel to it. The residue is not something that I can complain about and not a problem to wash out on your regular shampoo day. Of course it will only get you through a day or so without shampooing but that is about all one needs.

Pros-

  • Smooth powder easy to work through the hair.
  • Takes off the oil and dirt effectively.
  • Very fresh citrusy smell that is not too overpowering but just about right to leave your hair feeling fresh and clean.
  • Not much of a residue that leaves white streaks in the hair or that can be a problem to wash off.
  • Gives a nice body to the hair.
  • All natural ingredients.
  • Takes very little of the product so will last a long time.
  • At Rs 800/- for a 115g ( I picked it up for Rs 760/- I think but LUSH is constantly raising the prices :-/) bottle it is not particularly expensive specially as LUSH products go.

Cons-

  • The dispensing system- either I am way too clumsy to be able to use it without spilling or it needs better/different cap.

 SAMSUNG

Rs 800/- for 115g bottle.

Available at all LUSH stores and many on line stores.