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.

Questions for readers:

Do you have red hair or red highlights?

Have you ever used henna or other natural hair coloring?

66 thoughts on “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. 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!

  3. 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.

    1. 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. 😉

      1. 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! 😉

      2. 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. 😉

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

    1. 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! 🙂

  6. 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

    1. 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)

    1. If your hair has been lightened by anything other than the sunshine (that is, if your highlights are from a salon or a box), I would not use this. Please talk to your stylist first! 🙂

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

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

  10. 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?

    1. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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?

  13. I have naturally red hair. It’s more toward a some-what dark coppery color. It used to be a fiery red, and it gets more and more fiery the more I sit in the sun. It’s winter sadly, and there is no sun where I live at the moment and I am growing tired of my copper-colored hair. If I sprayed this all over my head, would it lighten all of my hair? I don’t have highlights, nor have I ever had them. Can you please tell me what my best bet would be, using this and spraying it all over? What would potentially happen?

  14. After a long sun-less winter, my natural auburn hair was looking more dull brown. I didn’t want to wait until the middle of summer to see my red come back, so I gave this a shot. I used it every other day for a week followed by a deep conditioner. It worked great. It’s a very subtle change but I’m really happy with the results, as I just wanted my “natural” color back. Thanks for the great tip!

  15. Would you recommend leaving it on for extended periods of time? I’m thinking overnight and then rinse it out in the morning. I’ve read that hibiscus is good for a variety of hair things (stronger strands, helping with hairfall, anit-frizz, etc) – what do you think would happen if I didn’t rinse it out at all between washes?

  16. Hi ! Thank you for this post I really didn’t want to go to a hair salon!! Also I was wondering before trying it if after the 1st use it stays for a long time or not…? Also I have never done a color I have long brown hair with natural blond reflects mostly and some red reflects, once I use the spray will the blond reflects completely disappear or will they just be less blond? I’ll do the strand test but it’s in case i misjudge my 1st impression…..!

  17. Hi ! Thank you for this post I really didn’t want to go to a hair salon! Also I was wondering before trying it if after the 1st use it stays for a long time or not…? Also I have never done a color I have long brown hair with natural blond reflects mostly and some red reflects, once I use the spray will the blond reflects completely disappear or will they just be less blond? I’ll do the strand test but it’s in case i misjudge my 1st impression…..!

  18. Hi there! Thanks for the great tip. I recently had my hair colored at a salon. The color turned out beautiful- a really pretty rich chocolate with red undertones. However, it wasn’t as red as I was hoping for.

    I tried the hibiscus (yes, even with colored hair) and it worked SO great! It lightened my just a little but really brought out the red highlights, especially in the the light! I let it set in my hair for about 90 minutes, blow dryed about half dry, then showered.

    Also, like mentioned in a comment above, I use Shikai’s color reflect shampoo and conditioner on a regular basis as well. It has been helping to bring out the red in my hair, but the hibiscus really amplified it. So happy, thanks!! 🙂

    1. Cool! I was a little terrified when you said you did it on already-colored hair, but I’m happy to hear it worked out for you 😀 The Shikai color shampoo is great! Thanks for your comment!

  19. Would you happen to know if orange tea with hibiscus (Bigelow brand Orange & Spice) would have similar results in bringing out the red? Since hibiscus was listed as one of the main ingredients, I made sure the tea had it, but I forgot that this site suggested red tea.

    1. It will not cover greys. However, it should give them a reddish tone. Note that it might not “stick” well to grey hair, though. Depending on your natural haircolor, it could help the greys blend better!

  20. hey, I have naturally orangey-brown hair and I was kinda hoping this could boost the orange/red bit of it so the brown doesn’t take over. would this work?

    1. This totally worked for me. My hair is the same shade and I put it everywhere. My hair turned a shade more blue-red(like the color of red lipstick) than orange-red and I’m very pleased. I’m just wondering how long I can keep the tea in the fridge for reapplying.

    1. Stinks that that happened to you, but you should have read the whole post before doing it, especially the following warning: “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.”

  21. I’m sorry to hear! There’s a reason this is recommended only for virgin hair or 100% vegetable color. Anything with “regular” hair coloring chemicals can have an adverse reaction, including stripping the color.

  22. I have been doing this the past three weeks after shampooing and conditioning, waiting until my hair is half dry, pour over my red tea through my hair and comb through. I do not wash it out. It evens out the red tones in my hair and it has become more of an auburn color ( I had more light gingery highlights ) it’s kept my hair shed very minimal and my hair is so freaking soft! I think if you keep it in without washing it out, it gives it time to completely penetrate the hair and stay in longer even after washing.

    1. Thanks for your question! I’m not sure. The hibiscus can be pretty reddening, so my guess is it would override any lightening the chamomile might do. Instead of mixing them, you might want to try lightening with chamomile first, then using the hibiscus. But I’d be sure to try this on a test strand first, so you can see how it turns out!

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