The 21st Century Herbalist

Naturally Rev Up Your Red

It’s Week 3 of Natural Hair Dye Month and it’s all about the redheads this week.  Last week was all about the blondes and next week is for the brunettes.  Let’s dive right in!


Red Highlight Boosting Rinse

My hair is naturally a medium brown color but every now and then I like to bring out the red in it.  This rinse is a great way to do that without the commitment of a color change.  It’s also a great way to rev up red hair color that might be a little flat after a summer filled with chlorine pool water and long days in the sun.  I like to make a batch that will last for the entire week.  To get started you’ll need:

  • 3 3/4 c. distilled water – bring to a boil
  • 5-6 tbsp. of any combination of the following herbs: sassafras root bark, alkanet root, dried hibiscus flowers, dried red rose petals
  • spray bottle

Add the herbs to a container and pour the boiling water over them.  Place a cover over the liquid and allow it to steep for 30 minutes.  Strain the herbs and pour the infused water into a spray bottle.  Be careful when working with this liquid because it can stain your clothing and light colored towels.

Next time you shower, shampoo and condition as you normally would.  Gently squeeze out the excess water from your hair.  Shake the bottle of red water and spray it generously all over your hair.  Allow it to soak for 7-10 minutes, then do a quick rinse in cool water.  This is safe to do every day and you’ll slowly start to notice the red color building.  Once you’ve reached a color you like, start skipping a day or two between using the rinse.

Again, this can stain light clothing or towels so be cautious.


If you’re looking for bit more red that will last longer, then henna is the way to go.  True henna has a red tint to it, so this is really it’s best shade.  You can add other colors and herbs to it, to create different shades of red.  To apply the henna follow the directions on the jar or use my post from Week 1 (How to Use Henna) of Natural Hair Dye Month as a guide.

I like the brilliant red that I can get from the henna and sometimes I’ll add calendula flowers to accent the lightness of the red.  If you want to do this, bring 1 cup distilled water to a boil and add 2-3 tbsp of calendula flowers.  Allow the flowers to steep in a covered container for 30-45 minutes.  Strain the flowers and use the remaining water to mix your henna.  You can also use dark herbs, like walnut hull or brown hennas to create darker auburn shades of red.

Henna is a great way to color your hair naturally but just like any other drastic coloring, I wouldn’t suggest using this right before  a big event, like a wedding, unless you have used it on your hair before.  Even if your friend swears by it, the color will react differently for everyone due to differences in hair type and care.  Chemically treated hair is more porous than untreated “virgin” hair, so it will absorb the henna much quicker.  Don’t let this make you nervous though!  Henna is still a great option for coloring your hair, whether you’re looking for a natural solution or not.

Thanks for stopping by and be sure to check back next week for great ways to change-up your brunette locks!


image credits: the little mermaid and the sassafras root bark and henna jar were photographed by me

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