The Henna Experiment: Dyeing My Hair with Henna + NUMI Organic Rooibos Tea

dye your hair with henna and rooibos tea Numi collaboration
Special thanks to Numi Organic Tea for sponsoring this post. All opinions (and results) are my own.

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.

dye your hair with henna and rooibos tea Numi collaborationdye your hair with henna and rooibos tea Numi collaboration

The dyeing process is actually quite simple. Don't let the plethora of preparation materials intimidate you.

You'll need: 

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...

  1. Make sure your hair is clean. It may be damp or dry.
  2. Pour boiling water over two Numi Organic Rooibos tea bags and let steep for 5-6 minutes.
  3. Add a few tablespoons of henna powder to a glass or plastic bowl. You can always add more if you run out during application.
  4. Add tea until mixture takes on the consistency of yogurt.
  5. 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. 
  6. 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. 
  7. Wipe off your ears, wrists, forehead, and neck to keep henna from dyeing unwanted areas. 
  8. 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. 
  9. 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 Result:

  red tea and henna hair dye with Numi
Before and After

red tea and henna hair dye with NumiNumi Tea DIY henna

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.


For more creative uses for tea, check out the Numi Tea Garden Blog. 

Follow Numi on social media: Instagram // Twitter // Facebook

5 Reasons To Dye Your Hair with Henna + My Process

henna dye review process
I decided to ditch traditional chemical hair dyes last year when I realized that some of the more than 5,000 possible ingredients found in the ubiquitous drugstore product are carcinogenic. Used in commercial settings like hair salons, they can also pose a health risk to bystanders. Knowing this - and knowing that there was an easy alternative in henna, having dabbled with it before - made it easy to say goodbye for good.


1. It's conditioning.

Unlike chemical dyes that rough up the hair follicle and make it more porous - and thus, more susceptible to breakage - henna strengthens and conditions the hair follicles. It adds subtle thickness and lots of shine to my fine, dull hair, and the individual strands feel much stronger.

2. It's cost effective.

I pay $5.99 for a 4 ounce tub of henna powder at my local Whole Foods (it's even cheaper online). I just measure out a few tablespoons per treatment and screw the cap back on for easy storage. Since my hair is short, I get 5-7 applications out of one tub!

3. It's pretty and customizable.

You can buy henna in a variety of tones and supplement the dye with things like lemon and tea, though most shades will provide a bit of red. I have friends with very dark hair for whom henna provides a mahogany finish; one of them always mixes her henna with brewed coffee for a richer brown tone. I tend to get more of an auburn to bright red, depending on what shade I use and how long I keep it in. Henna is both heat and time sensitive, so if you wrap your head well and keep it under a dryer or let it sit for several hours, you'll get a brighter, richer tone. If you just want a hint of color, leave it in for an hour or less.

4. It's organic and non-polluting.

Henna is a plant native to parts of Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Henna powder is simply the crushed leaves of the Henna shrub, so standard henna dye contains no artificially-derived ingredients or pollutants. There are formulations of henna dye available on the market that are mixed with other ingredients that may cause allergic reactions, however, so make sure that the henna you purchase has clearly marked ingredients.

5. It connects you to a long tradition.

Henna has been used as a hair dye for 6,000 years and its use spans continents. From Ancient Egypt to India to nineteenth century Europe (a favorite of the Pre-Raphaelites), henna has provided aesthetic pleasure, connected people to their traditions, and reinforced cultural values.

henna hair dye


What you'll need:

  • a glass or plastic mixing bowl
  • a plastic spoon (I use a tablespoon)
  • rubber gloves (optional)
  • boiling water
  • henna powder (I highly recommend Rainbow brand)

What I do:

  1. Boil water in a tea kettle or in the microwave.
  2. Add desired amount of henna powder to a glass bowl (henna reacts to metal, so you must make sure you don't use any metal implements during the mixing or application process). Knowing how much henna you need will take some guessing at first. Err on the side of caution, because you can always mix more later.
  3. Add boiling water to henna powder and mix until the texture resembles cake batter. It should be runny enough for easy application, but thick enough to adhere to itself. You don't want it to fall off of your head during application.
  4. Cover exposed surfaces underneath the bowl containing your henna, apply gloves if desired (the henna will slightly dye exposed skin, but it will fade quickly), and begin applying henna by picking up a clump with your fingers and running it from root to end in thin sections.
  5. Continue until your whole head is covered. Make sure the henna is applied consistently and fairly thickly. You need it to dry to a paste for the dye to set properly. I usually have a bit of henna left in the bowl after my initial application that I use to double coat my hair. The more the merrier.
  6. Wrap your head in a plastic grocery bag or shower cap, then wrap a towel over it. This will keep the heat in.
  7. You can use a blow dryer for maximum saturation. I usually just let the henna sit in my hair for 2 hours.
  8. After the appropriate amount of setting time, jump in the shower and wash the henna paste our of your hair. This normally takes 2 washes for me. Make sure that your shower tiles are washed clean of henna runoff so that they won't stain. 
Henna is a temporary dye unless it is mixed with acid, like vinegar or lemon juice. It will slowly fade over several weeks, leaving you without exposed roots or the need for a touch up.

red hair with henna all natural hair dyeFor this application, I mixed Persian Burgundy with Persian Red for a more subtle red tone. 

Any questions? Just let me know and I'll do my best to answer them! 

If you dye your hair with henna, feel free to tag me (@stylewiseblog) in your Instagram and Twitter posts!

the moral wardobe: henna and layering

mata traders dress
blue knit sweater
mata traders
Ethical Details: Dress - Mata Traders fair trade; Sweater - thrifted; Boots - thrifted; Necklace - handmade via etsy; Belt - thrifted

I've been trying to figure out how to make this Mata Traders sundress work for winter ever since I bought it on sale late in the summer season. I'm pleased that this ensemble seems to really work. I like all the textures and shades of blue running up against each other. 

You may not be able to tell, but I dyed my hair with henna. I used the shade, Persian Mahogany, by Rainbow Henna. It comes in a screw top plastic container, which makes it easy to scoop out what you need for one application and store the rest. The application process is never a simple one and it smells pretty grody, but I learned how to keep a clean work area from last time, so it wasn't so bad. I like the subtle dark red tint it added and the way it evened out my partially natural, partially dyed hair color. I'm kind of a hair dye addict, but I am trying to keep things a bit more natural in terms of both color and processing. Henna is time tested and all natural.