6 Ways to Naturally Lighten Your Hair (2023)

As the old saying goes, blondes supposedly have more fun—but truth be told, they also spend more money at the salon. Lightening your hair is a lot of upkeep. It means frequent trips to your colorist, more advanced haircare, and at least some damage (no matter what products you use). So how can we can have the joys of lighter hair without footing the bill for damaging foils?

The good news is there are a few natural remedies for lightening your hair at home (that professional colorists actually approve of). Off the bat, you should know that these methods aren't as powerful at lightening hair as bleach, but could still deliver the result you're looking for.

But first, let’s understand what we’re really asking here. Lighter hair isn’t as easy as grabbing an over-the-counter box dye, which is typically a great fallback for going darker or covering grays. Lighteninghair is a trickier process because it involves opening up the hair shaft and lifting the current shade out. Think about this: when you stain your whites, you use bleach to help liftthe stain out, right? Well, take that concept, add peroxide, and that's sort of what we’re dealing with when it comes to lightening hair.

Bleach breaks into the hair follicle while hydrogen peroxide, an oxidizing agent, strips away existing color. Have you ever caught a glimpse of yourself at the shampoo bowl and been terrified at the bright yellow or orange color you see? Thankfully, toners are there to deposit the desired color or "tone"back into the hair before re-sealing the cuticle. It’s the bleach and peroxide together that do the heavy lifting. But bleach can leave the hair feeling brittle, and depending on the level of peroxide used, your hair can be left in pretty bad shape.

So before you resort to a pricy set of full highlights at the salon, try one of these six home remedies. We even turned to the colorists behind the strands of Martha Hunt, Ashley Tisdale, and Khloé Kardashian.

Meet the Expert

  • Anja Burton is a Los Angeles-based colorist at Ramirez Tran Salon. She's known for creating hair colors that take influence from "beach culture," creating foiled and hand-painted looks that mimic that of a surfer.
  • Ashley Schafer is a New York City-based colorist at Jenna Perry Hair. She specializes in soft, seamless highlights.
  • Cara Craig is a colorist at Suite Caroline Salon in New York City. She's also the founder of hair accessories brand Preview Wear.

01of 06

Lemon Juice

6 Ways to Naturally Lighten Your Hair (1)

(Video) 6 Ways To Lighten Your Hair Naturally At Home

This might be one of the oldest tricks I’ve personally ever heard of. You've heard of '70s kids laying out in the sun with lemon juice on their hair and tanning oil on their already leathered skin, right? Thankfully, we now know to ditch the tanning oil for SPF, but the lemon on our hair remains. The acidity in lemon juice enables it to lift color by changing the hair’s pH levels, but it still needs a boost of heat for maximum impact.In terms of application, LA based colorist Anja Burton suggests the following:

"Squeeze lemon into a spray bottle and spray the strands of hair to mimic natural highlights. Let the strands dry in the sun.This technique usually only works on lighter hair tones.Avoid getting any lemon juice on your skin; it could burn with sun exposure.”

02of 06

Vinegar

6 Ways to Naturally Lighten Your Hair (2)

We’ve been advised to do an ACV rinse every once in a while to help strip our strands of build up and debris, but a prolonged rinsemay actually strip our color too, making it a great natural lightener. Using vinegar as a lightener requires extreme caution because too much can in fact be damaging. If your hair is super fine or already in a brittle state, this may not be the natural cure for you. If your hair is on the thicker side and in a healthy state, just be sure to dilute your vinegar with water at a 50/50 ratio. "Brunettes have a tendency to pull orange tones," explains NY based colorist Ashley Schafer. To avoid unwanted warmth, brunettes can try using white vinegar to pull cooler tones. Blondes, same goes for you if you desire cool tones, but apple cider vinegar is your best bet if you’re looking for more warmth.To get the desired effect, though, you'll like have to add toner to counteract the natural way your hair lightens (which is warm).

03of 06

Honey

6 Ways to Naturally Lighten Your Hair (3)

(Video) Testing 5 Ways To LIGHTEN Your Hair Naturally - AVOID ONE THAT RUINED MY HAIR

The main component in honey that works in our hair's favor is an enzyme called glucose oxidase. Its purpose is to break down sugars and to serve as a protectant from spoiling. But when you add water to honey, which could cause it to spoil, the enzyme actually generates trace amounts of hydrogen peroxide. On its own, honey can take a while to kick in as a lightening agent. Certain spices like cinnamon or cardamom may work alongside honey’s peroxide properties to help activate an added boost.

When applying your honey mix, slather it onto damp hair so the water helps kick things into gear. To keep the hair wet and contained, twist it up into a bun and cover it with a shower cap. You’ll want to keep the hair coated anywhere from 1 to 4 hours depending on how light you’re trying to go and how dark your existing color is. Again, heat can help speed things up, so whip out the blowdryer and apply some heat to your shower cap every now and then while you let it sit.

04of 06

Baking Soda

6 Ways to Naturally Lighten Your Hair (4)

While more frequently recognized as a way to naturally brighten your teeth, baking soda may do the same for your hair. If you go the baking soda route, you’ll be applying a paste to your hair the way you do your teeth. Mix one tablespoon of baking soda with 1/3 cup of warm water, aiming for a perfectly pasty consistency that’s not too thick or too runny. Apply with a color brush or paint brush and try your hand at some DIY balayage. Paint on your highlights and wrap them in foil. “Keep off the scalp and focus around your face and ends,” advises Schafer. And as with every application we’ve learned so far, applying heat will help kick things into gear and speed up the process.

05of 06

Sea Salt

6 Ways to Naturally Lighten Your Hair (5)

(Video) 6 ways to lighten your hair naturally & Fast at Home

Sea salt is perhaps my personal favoriteapproach to naturally lightening hair."It lightens and brightens previously lightened hair and also lightens natural bases (think children’s hair),” explains Burton.As if any of us need an added excuse to head to the beach, Burton suggests“get your hair wet with salt water from the ocean and let the sun air dry it.” And if you aren’t based in a place like LA with year-round summer, simply mix one tablespoon of sea salt with half a cup of warm water and leave it on for 10 to 20 minutes.

06of 06

Chamomile

6 Ways to Naturally Lighten Your Hair (6)

This delicate little flower carries a pigment in its petals called apigenin. Apigenin creates a golden tint, which may attach itself to the hair shaft when applied.

NY-based Cara Craig of Suite Caroline salon advises us to“dilute with water and apply to damp hair, distributing throughout with a wide tooth comb. The lightening agent will be activated with heat, so you can sit in the sun or use a hair dryer.” If you have a lighter natural base color to begin with, you can also try using the chamomile tea in your cupboard and dipping your hair into the tea once its fully steeped. The bonus is that chamomile may have conditioning properties that will leave your hair feeling soft and shiny.

Don’t be afraid to combine any of the treatments above. They’re all natural, after all. And in some cases, the added effort might be upping your chances for lighter strands.

40 Modern, Melty Shades of Blonde Hair to Try For Summer and Beyond

(Video) 6 Ways To Lighten Your Hair Naturally At Home

Article Sources

Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.

  1. Gavazzoni Dias MF. Hair cosmetics: an overview.Int J Trichology. 2015;7(1):2-15. doi:10.4103/0974-7753.153450

  2. Imai T. The influence of hair bleach on the ultrastructure of human hair with special reference to hair damage.Okajimas Folia Anat Jpn. 2011;88(1):1-9. doi:10.2535/ofaj.88.1

  3. D'Souza P, Rathi SK. Shampoo and conditioners: what a dermatologist should know.Indian J Dermatol. 2015;60(3):248-254. doi:10.4103/0019-5154.156355

  4. Gopal J, Anthonydhason V, Muthu M, et al. Authenticating apple cider vinegar's home remedy claims: antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral properties and cytotoxicity aspect.Nat Prod Res. 2019;33(6):906-910. doi:10.1080/14786419.2017.1413567

  5. Sindi A, Chawn MVB, Hernandez ME, et al. Anti-biofilm effects and characterisation of the hydrogen peroxide activity of a range of Western Australian honeys compared to Manuka and multifloral honeys.Sci Rep. 2019;9(1):17666. doi:10.1038/s41598-019-54217-8

  6. Ciancio SG. Baking soda dentifrices andoral health.J Am Dent Assoc. 2017;148(11S):S1-S3. doi:10.1016/j.adaj.2017.09.009

  7. National Center for Biotechnology Information. PubChem compound summary for CID 5280443, apigenin.Updated October 10, 2020.

    (Video) 6 Ways To Lighten Your Hair Naturally At Home

FAQs

How can I lighten my hair fast naturally? ›

Natural bleaching agents like apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, chamomile tea, or cinnamon and honey can lighten hair gently and naturally with minimal damage. Rinse your hair in a solution of warm water and one or more of these lightening agents, then sit in the sun to dry.

How can I lighten my hair without a lightener? ›

Apple cider vinegar or distilled white vinegar are easy and cheap options for lightening your hair. Rinse your hair in vinegar and then rinse it again in cold water to lift color and revitalize dull strands. Top with a gloss or conditioner to seal in moisture—this is crucial if you've had a bleach mishap before.

Can hair naturally become lighter? ›

They just aren't using the pigment genes. The genes for making melanin might turn on or off over the course of a person's lifetime. If this happens in the cells at the bottom of your hairs, your hair might change color! Different genes control the levels of eumelanin and pheomelanin produced by melanocytes.

What household items can I use to lighten my hair? ›

10 Genius Hacks to Lighten Your Hair From Home
  1. Give a fresh lemon a squeeze. ...
  2. Mix honey well with water, followed by hydrogen peroxide. ...
  3. Use apple cider vinegar for slight lightening and deep shine. ...
  4. Mix chamomile tea with honey or apply solo. ...
  5. Create a sea salt and water spray.
3 Mar 2022

Does salt water lighten your hair? ›

Saltwater and chlorine are also culprits for lightening,” Gonzalez says. “They alter the natural keratin in your hair, resulting in lighter shades.” If frolicking in the ocean or a pool every day isn't an option or you don't want to leave it to chance, a salt spray or some lemon juice can help things along.

Does baking soda lighten hair? ›

Baking soda can also lighten hair that isn't dyed, but not when it's used by itself. To lighten nondyed hair, you have to use baking soda as a base with hydrogen peroxide. This is a bleaching agent that lightens hair.

What causes hair lightening? ›

In chemical terminology, the ultraviolet radiation in sunlight ruins things by oxidizing them. Similarly, the UV in sunlight oxidizes melanin into a colorless compound. This is why your hair gets lighter.

Does vinegar lighten hair? ›

Apple cider vinegar to lighten hair

It can reduce dandruff, encourage growth, and remove oil build-up, making it a wonder treatment for hair. For lightening, mix one-part apple cider vinegar with six-part waters and spray across the hair. Let it sit for at least 30 minutes before washing it out.

Does lemon juice damage hair? ›

While lemon juice is more gentle than some hair dyes and hair bleach, it's still acidic. This means there's a risk of the juice drying out your hair and scalp. This can cause dry, frizzy locks and hair breakage, as well as scalp irritation.

How can I make my hair blonder overnight? ›

Combine a fourth cup of strong chamomile tea with one fourth cup apple cider vinegar and a squeeze of lemon juice. Spray the mixture to saturate your hair, let dry, and leave in overnight. This hack can also be used in the sun to increase its lightening effects.

Does toothpaste lighten hair? ›

Can toothpaste bleach your hair? Yes, leaving toothpaste on your hair long enough may bleach your hair, but that doesn't mean you should try it. Even if whitening toothpaste can “bleach” or lighten hair on your skin and on your body, the result will be somewhat unpredictable.

Does honey lighten hair? ›

Honey has an enzyme that produces hydrogen peroxide, This lightens your hair by breaking down the natural pigment, much like bleach.

How can I go from brown to blonde at home without bleach? ›

To dye your hair from brown to blonde without bleach, start by mixing 2 parts lemon juice with 1 part water in a spray bottle. Lemon juice has natural bleaching properties that can help lighten your hair. When you've mixed the solution, spray it all over your hair and use a comb to spread it evenly.

Does salt water lighten hair without sun? ›

When swimming in the ocean, the salt from the sea can lighten your hair, especially since you are out in the sun. You can simulate that effect using sea salt and warm water. Just dissolve one tablespoon of sea salt with about a ½ cup of warm water.

Does cinnamon lighten hair? ›

Cinnamon alone may lighten hair. You'll find this ingredient added to various other DIY hair “bleaching” recipes, but you may try using this ingredient on its own to achieve highlights and overall lightening.

How do I make my hair blonder? ›

To use, mix together 1 cup (236.6 g) of baking soda with 3 US tbsp (44 mL) of hydrogen peroxide in a bowl, and apply it to your hair from root to tip. Leave the mask on for 30-60 minutes, then rinse it out completely with shampoo and conditioner. After you rinse, your hair may look 1-2 shades lighter!

Is there a shampoo that lightens your hair? ›

The John Frieda Sheer Blonde Go Blonder Lightening Shampoo gently cleanses your hair, giving a brighter and 'sunlit' shade in just three uses. This formula is ideal for color-treated, natural, and highlighted blonde hair.

What happens if you put lemon juice and baking soda in your hair? ›

Sometimes you end up with dye on your skin or the color in your hair is not what you expected. No worries: you may be able to remove hair color with lemon juice and baking soda. Lemon juice lightens the hair and removes built-up product, and baking soda acts as a mild scouring agent.

Does Dawn remove hair color? ›

Dawn dish soap also acts as a mild bleach and can, therefore, be used to remove or lighten hair dye on your hair.

Does Epsom salt fade haircolor? ›

Bath salts which contain sodium bicarbonate and Epsom salts are of great help to remove unwanted hair color easily. Add a certain amount of bath salts to the water and soak your hair in that water for around 15-20 minutes.

What hair color is most attractive? ›

Blonde is Crowned the Sexiest Hair Colour of 2021!

When asked which hair colour they think is sexiest, almost a third of people said they have no preference. However, of those who did have a colour preference: Most say that blonde hair is the sexiest (31.5%)

What are the rarest natural hair colors? ›

Blonde and red hair, the rarest hair colors in the world, are so rare because they are recessive traits that are easily “covered up” by a single dominant black or brown hair gene. It takes two parents that both carry a recessive blonde hair gene or mutated red hair gene to result in a child with blonde or red hair.

Can your hair color change from what you eat? ›

Eating protein rich foods such as grains, meat and soy aids in the production of melanin. Lack of protein in the body can result in the loss of hair color.

What is the best hair lightener? ›

What Are the Best Hair Lightening Sprays?
  • Klorane Sun Lightening Spray with Chamomile and Honey.
  • John Frieda Sheer Blonde Go Blonder Lightening Spray.
  • It's a 10 Haircare Miracle Leave-In-for-Blondes.
  • Sun Bum Blonde Formula Hair Lightener.
  • Oribe Bright Blonde Sun Lightening Mist.
15 Jul 2022

Can vinegar damage your hair? ›

It's best to dilute the ACV when using and then thoroughly rinse out the mixture. But please be careful with this mixture because as we mentioned earlier, ACV is a very powerful ingredient and can damage the scalp when not used with care. ACV is very acidic and when used too often, or too heavily can damage the hair.

Will peroxide lighten my hair? ›

Hydrogen peroxide is commonly used to lighten hair. It may be used on its own or in other blonde dyes. Hair dye with hydrogen peroxide is considered permanent dye, which means that it will only go away as new hair grows.

Does putting lemon in your hair make it lighter? ›

"Lemon juice works best as a natural highlighter in the sun for people with blonde and dark blonde hair." The downside however are that while this low-cost lightening method isn't as drying as bleach, lemon juice is still acidic and can have a dehydrating effect, so you're not getting something for nothing.

What does baking soda do to your hair? ›

Baking soda dissolved in water helps to remove any buildup of oils, soaps, and other ingredients in typical hair care products. By stripping away this buildup, baking soda can leave hair squeaky-clean, shiny, and soft.

What does honey do for your hair? ›

Honey has emollient and humectant properties that add moisture to the hair follicles. This naturally smooths the hair shaft and restores shine and luster to frizzy, dry, curly, or dull hair. Its natural humectant properties seal in moisture to prevent future moisture loss, too.

How can I lighten my hair overnight? ›

Combine a fourth cup of strong chamomile tea with one fourth cup apple cider vinegar and a squeeze of lemon juice. Spray the mixture to saturate your hair, let dry, and leave in overnight. This hack can also be used in the sun to increase its lightening effects.

How do you lighten hair that was dyed too dark? ›

A lightening or clarifying shampoo can lift the color and help you get the desired result. You can request that your stylist use a shampoo that is designed to lighten your hair. You can also wash your hair with clarifying shampoo in between salon visits safely to lift the color even more.

How do you make homemade hair lightener? ›

A mixture of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda is an effective DIY lightening method. While you actually use hair bleach here, you only need one teaspoon of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide and mix it with two teaspoons of aluminum-free baking soda.

How long does it take for vinegar to lighten your hair? ›

Vlogger Sarah Williams claims that plain vinegar and honey can lighten hair in as little as 10 minutes. You can even apply this solution at night and sleep your way to natural highlights.

What does vinegar do to hair? ›

Science supports the use of apple cider vinegar as a hair rinse. It could help strengthen hair and improve luster by lowering hair and scalp pH. It may also keep pesky scalp infections and itchiness at bay.

Can toothpaste dye your hair? ›

Yes, leaving toothpaste on your hair long enough may bleach your hair, but that doesn't mean you should try it. Even if whitening toothpaste can “bleach” or lighten hair on your skin and on your body, the result will be somewhat unpredictable.

Does vinegar lighten hair? ›

Apple cider vinegar to lighten hair

It can reduce dandruff, encourage growth, and remove oil build-up, making it a wonder treatment for hair. For lightening, mix one-part apple cider vinegar with six-part waters and spray across the hair. Let it sit for at least 30 minutes before washing it out.

Will Honey lighten dyed hair? ›

Yes, honey will work the same if you have dyed your hair or have natural hair. The bleaching pigment in honey, hydrogen peroxide, works on hair the same way. However, you shouldn't get your hopes up and start looking for lighter streaks with just one use.

Will lemon juice lighten dyed hair? ›

When you think about lightening your hair color, using fruit might be the last thing on your mind. But lemon juice is an excellent DIY method for changing hair color. Lemon juice contains citric acid, which is a natural bleaching agent.

How can I lighten my hair in 30 minutes? ›

To use, mix together 1 cup (236.6 g) of baking soda with 3 US tbsp (44 mL) of hydrogen peroxide in a bowl, and apply it to your hair from root to tip. Leave the mask on for 30-60 minutes, then rinse it out completely with shampoo and conditioner. After you rinse, your hair may look 1-2 shades lighter!

How does honey lighten hair? ›

Honey has an enzyme that produces hydrogen peroxide, This lightens your hair by breaking down the natural pigment, much like bleach.

What is the best hair lightener? ›

What Are the Best Hair Lightening Sprays?
  • Klorane Sun Lightening Spray with Chamomile and Honey.
  • John Frieda Sheer Blonde Go Blonder Lightening Spray.
  • It's a 10 Haircare Miracle Leave-In-for-Blondes.
  • Sun Bum Blonde Formula Hair Lightener.
  • Oribe Bright Blonde Sun Lightening Mist.
15 Jul 2022

Does vinegar change hair color? ›

The truth is that Apple Cider Vinegar is only slightly acidic–not nearly enough to strip hair color. Whew! The only thing you do need to know about using Apple Cider Vinegar on your hair is this: don't use it too often. Like any clarifying shampoo, it is meant to be used every few weeks to refresh hair.

Can you dye your hair with tea or coffee? ›

Using coffee is a perfectly natural way to dye your hair (and it includes all these benefits). Using this resource to darken your hair is also great because your hair will have a completely even tone.

Videos

1. 6 Ways To Lighten Your Hair Naturally At Home
(GREEN LIFE)
2. HOW TO LIGHTEN HAIR DRASTICALLY WITH NO BLEACH || CHEAP AND FAST
(Kaila Sunday)
3. How to lighten your hair naturally with LEMONS!!!
(Ella)
4. 6 Ways To Lighten Your Hair Naturally At Home
(Natural Cures)
5. NATURALLY LIGHTEN YOUR HAIR AT HOME!!! ❀
(lala)
6. Testing the Lemon Juice Hair "Lightening" Hack for 6 HOURS
(Hannah Forcier)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Sen. Emmett Berge

Last Updated: 02/07/2023

Views: 6292

Rating: 5 / 5 (80 voted)

Reviews: 87% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Sen. Emmett Berge

Birthday: 1993-06-17

Address: 787 Elvis Divide, Port Brice, OH 24507-6802

Phone: +9779049645255

Job: Senior Healthcare Specialist

Hobby: Cycling, Model building, Kitesurfing, Origami, Lapidary, Dance, Basketball

Introduction: My name is Sen. Emmett Berge, I am a funny, vast, charming, courageous, enthusiastic, jolly, famous person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.