A Year of Natural Health & Beauty Tip #14: Enhance Your Hair’s Red Tones with Hibiscus

Hibiscus tea

Photo by Andrea Drugay

Red is a temperamental hair color! It likes to make a bold entrance, but doesn’t like to stick around.

If you’re a natural-born redhead, you might notice a gradual fading of your vibrant hue over time. And if you color your hair red, you might notice that it often fades quicker than other colors.

There are a couple of easy home remedies to perk up your fiery hues, without slathering your head with chemicals.

The first, and perhaps most well-known, option is to use 100% pure henna instead of hair dye. Henna is a plant that’s been used since ancient times ~ think Cleopatra ~ to impart a red luster to locks. It’s an excellent all-natural choice if you’re looking to dye or to replace chemical dyes with something simple and time-tested. However, be aware that it’s a commitment, usually taking several hours from start to finish. It also coats your hair strands more than chemical dyes do, which can make it near-impossible to be removed, so if you’re a commitmentphobe, stay away.

However, if you’re looking for all-natural, easy ways to enhance any naturally existing red tones or to brighten up fading color, look no further! It’s extremely simple to make your own red-highlighting hair rinse using just tea. If you’ve tried my homemade hair lightening spray, you already know how easy that one is. This one is just as easy ~ even more so because it only contains ONE ingredient!

This DIY spray will impart warm, red highlights. You can use it on individual strands or chunks, or on your entire head for an allover refresh. When used over time, it will keep your color vibrant, bright, and fiery!

If you are a blonde or have blonde highlights, be sure to check out my post on DIY hair lightening spray. If you’re dark-haired, check out my tip for enhancing dark hair!

Stuff to Know:

  • This rinse is recommended only for hair that is its natural color (“virgin” hair) or has been colored only with pure vegetable dyes or 100% pure henna or herbs. If your hair has been chemically treated or if you go to a salon for highlights or coloring, please talk with your stylist first.
  • Spot test any products or ingredients before using any homemade products on your face, head, or body, especially if you have sensitive skin or are prone to irritation and/or allergies.
  • This rinse can be stored in a cool, dark, dry spot for up to 1 week.

For a container, I used a small plastic spray bottle from the drugstore, which cost $0.99. I had all other ingredients on hand.

Photo by Andrea Drugay

Hibiscus Hair Rinse for Red Highlights



  1. Boil the water in a saucepan. Once the water has reached a rolling boil, turn off the heat.
  2. Add your tea bags or flowers to the steaming water. Steep for 5-10 minutes. The longer you steep it, the stronger your rinse will be.
  3. Strain the flowers or tea bags and allow the water to cool completely.
  4. As an optional step, you can add a pinch of paprika to the tea. Mix well until incorporated.
  5. Transfer to your container. Store the remaining tea ~ or drink it!

To use:

  • Spray on dry, clean hair, either all over or in small sections for targeted highlights.
  • Comb through. Leave on for one hour, then rinse and shampoo as usual.
  • For expedited red highlights, blow dry your hair while the spray is still on it, or sit in the sun while your hair air dries. The heat will speed the highlighting process.

Like this tip? Consider buying my book to get all 52 tips PLUS bonus tips in an easy-to-read format! It’s called A Year of Natural Health and Beauty: 52 Easy, Frugal, Natural Ideas to Enhance Your Mind, Body, and Spirit. You can buy it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other places. Click here to learn more or to purchase!


Questions for readers:

Do you have red hair or red highlights?

Have you ever used henna or other natural hair coloring?

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About andrea drugay

San Francisco hairstylist and writer

41 responses to “A Year of Natural Health & Beauty Tip #14: Enhance Your Hair’s Red Tones with Hibiscus

  1. I have naturally red hair, and I used to use a henna shampoo that really added amazing shine. I can no longer find that shampoo. Hibiscus is a great idea. I know a girl who regularly dyes her hair with beet juice….It’s a vibrant red purple color. Beautiful!

  2. Interesting, plus I bet it smells good too!
    My hair was every color in the book too…haha :)

  3. That’s a brilliant idea! I’m blonde so I’ve heard of using chamomile to highlight blondes – it makes total sense that hibiscus would work really well for redheads. I’m from the Cayman Islands and hibiscuses abound there – they’re just the most beautiful flower! My favourite is actually iced hibiscus tea. So good!

  4. Pingback: A Year of Natural Health & Beauty Tip #39: Enhance Your Hair’s Dark Tones with Coffee or Tea « andrea drugay

  5. jainy

    Can i make this on a dark brown hair ??
    cause i really want my hair red but am afraid of dying it

  6. I actually have blonde hair, and I am trying this for the first time today. I have read that Red Zinger tea has ingredients that are good for your hair anyways, so I figured I might as well try. It washes out on the first wash anyways, because the tea is not permanent. So, I’m going to be daring and try it out, then if it looks insane I’ll wash it out. Though, I have heard that blondes have done it and it only tinted some strands reddish, but did not dye them. I am hoping to get some pretty subtle results! I will come back and leave a reply when I have the results.

    • Well, I tried it, and there was no change in my hair color at all. It made it feel a little bit dry, and quite straw like. I sprayed a bit more of the tea into my hair, and yet again it did nothing. Oh well! It was worth a try, and I guess I am glad that it did nothing, rather than turning my hair the color of a tomato. ;)

      • Thanks for sharing your results :-) I personally got very bright results, so I guess everyone’s mileage will vary. Good reason to always do a strand test first! ;-)

      • Maybe the herbs just do not react to blonde hair as they do to darker hair?
        Oh well! I love playing around with my hair anyways, so it was fun to do and then wait for the results.
        Also, it could be possible that I did not use enough tea bags, I only used 2 in 2 cups of water. Maybe I will play around with it again sometime, no one drinks the Berry Zinger tea here anyways. ;)

  7. Malitany Miller

    How often do you use the spray? I had red hair when I was a little girl and then it faded to blond and now its kinda coming back. I love red hair and would like mine to be darker. I’m super excited to try this spray.

  8. Lakiesha

    How often do you do this?

  9. Karin

    So my hair is naturally a rather dark red and I’d like to see it a shade or two lighter. What would you recommend, this treatment or the homemade hair lightening spray? I plan on doing my entire head and my hair’s pretty short.

    • I wouldn’t recommend either, because they are only for highlights. If you want to lighten your whole head a full shade or two, you should have it done professionally in a salon! :-)

  10. Pingback: Keep Dyed Red Hair Colorful with Natural, Non-Toxic Treatments - EcoSalon | Conscious Culture and Fashion : EcoSalon | Conscious Culture and Fashion

  11. Jennifer

    Hey, a local fruit/veggie store that has a lot of all natural & organic stuff has this Hibiscus vinegar, do you think that would be okay or would the tea most likely work better? thanks

    • Well, since vinegar is more acidic than tea, I would imagine it would not penetrate the hair well enough to notice a color difference. It would probably make your hair very shiny, though, if you used it as a rinse! (That goes for any vinegar, really)

  12. I have natural brown hair, and i just had red highlights.. but they don’t look as red as i want them to be. Do you think this will enhance it ? :)

  13. Emily

    I have naturally black hair, do you think this will make a red tint or not show up at all. All I want is a natural way of making my hair seem redish in the sun.

  14. Awesome post. Yes, hibiscus petals or powder of its leaves can help your hair in conditioning and coloring. This is really a good idea. You can use the cocoa/coffee liquids to spray your hair. Spraying hair can reach to all over the scalp and hair. Rinse your hair for 15 to 20 min and wash out your hair with shampoo. This can helps you in reversing grey hair.

  15. Rainbow Joy Ride

    Do you have to comb through? I usually brush my hair in the shower because it is unruly <3 How much of a difference does it make?

  16. I have a naturally light brown-ish color hair, but with lots of red tones. I’d like a slightly lighter (and redder) color… But I’m afraid the hibiscus will turn it BRIGHT red, instead of the natural strawberry-brown/blonde I’m shooting for. Do you have any advice? Could I possibly use chamomile to lighten my hair alongside the hibiscus?

    • Hibiscus won’t turn your hair bright red. If anything, it will give it more red tones in the light. But if you go lighter and then put red on top of light strands, the red WILL show up brighter. If you want the red to be more subtle, keep it on your darker strands.

  17. Allie

    I suppose that if you did this regularly on blonde hair you might end up with a strawberry blonde color, right? Also, does the paprika have a any specific purpose? Does it actually make any type of difference if you decide to add it to the mix? Just curious.

  18. Jean

    I was born with super red hair, but as I got older it has turned into a very light strawberry blonde. I love red hair or strawberry blonde hair, and I would love for my hair to go back to the way it was. My parents would never let me use chemical dyes on my hair but I would like to add more red to my hair in a way that is not sudden. If I use this often over time, would it make my hair more strawberry blonde?

  19. Pingback: A Year of Natural Health & Beauty Tip #3: Make Your Own Hair Lightening Spray | andrea drugay

  20. Pingback: Natural Beauty Tips Of The Ancients | Beauty Eats

  21. Cindy

    Is this permanent? Or does it wash out the first time you shampoo like someone said earlier???

  22. Ket

    Would this work with any red tea or just hibiscus?

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