The last time I dyed my hair with henna, I was intrigued by the instruction booklet’s suggestion to use hot tea instead of water to alter the final color: black tea to reduce the red undertone, red tea to enhance it. I stuck with regular hot water that time around, but I made sure to stock up on tea for the next time. And that time is now!
As I discussed in my last post on the subject, henna has been used as a natural, organic hair dye for centuries. It’s known for it’s thickening and conditioning properties and, of course, its distinctive red tone. Since I’ve been hankering for a new hair style (you may have noticed I’m growing it out), it was the perfect time to make a statement, so I decided to add red (or Rooibos) tea to my henna powder for vibrant red hair.
I chose to use Numi Organic Tea because of their commitment to fair trade practices, sustainable infrastructure, and quality. They kindly sent me a range of teas to select from for my little experiment and I decided to stick with their traditional Rooibos. Numi tea is really delicious – unlike many grocery store brands, they use full leaf tea in their bags for a richer flavor – so I made sure to use every last drop of it by drinking what I had leftover from the dye process while I let my hair steep. It’s not every day that you can say you drank your hair dye or dyed your hair with a beverage. The efficiency freak in me feels quite satisfied, so I’m coining a new term for this process: tea-fficiency.
The dyeing process is actually quite simple. Don’t let the plethora of preparation materials intimidate you.
Two tea bags, a plastic spoon, a glass or plastic mixing bowl, henna powder (I purchase mine from Whole Foods), gloves (definitely use them – I didn’t and now my hands are orange!), a plastic bag or shower cap, and a towel.
Make sure you’re wearing clothes you don’t mind dyeing and avoid metal utensils and bowls, as henna reacts with metal.
For Bright Red Hair:
- Make sure your hair is clean. It may be damp or dry.
- Pour boiling water over two Numi Organic Rooibos tea bags and let steep for 5-6 minutes.
- Add a few tablespoons of henna powder to a glass or plastic bowl. You can always add more if you run out during application.
- Add tea until mixture takes on the consistency of yogurt.
- Put on gloves and apply mixture with your hands, making sure to cover each strand from root to end. Make sure to cover counter tops and surfaces, as henna can and will dye ceramic tile and other materials.
- After a thick coat has been applied to your hair, wrap a plastic bag or shower cap around your head, then wrap a towel over that.
- Wipe off your ears, wrists, forehead, and neck to keep henna from dyeing unwanted areas.
- Brew yourself some extra tea to sip as you sit in a warm place (I sat in my back yard) for at least an hour.
- Wash your hair thoroughly, first with warm water, then with 1-2 rounds of shampoo. Finish with conditioner, then rinse with cool water.
Henna is heat reactive, so it’s important to apply the henna while the tea is still warm, adequately cover your head to close in heat, and find a warm place to let it do its work.
The interesting thing about henna is that it will actually get brighter in the hours after you finish dyeing your hair as it continues to react to heat. You can expect your henna to last 4-8 weeks depending on how frequently you wash your hair. The color will fade back into your regular hair color over time.
I LOVE the result of my Henna + Numi Rooibos Tea experiment, and judging by the incessant compliments I’ve been getting, so does everyone else. The red is quite assertive without looking alien. Keep in mind that your results may vary depending on your base color, but the tea should deepen your red tones all the same.