This generation is all about standing out with idiosyncratic choices, and if everyone else is just opting for chemical hair treatments to learn how to lighten hair naturally, why not choose better, less expensive methods using ingredients you make at home?
After tearing a hole in your pocket with those expensive salon treatments that could leave your hair frizzier than a poodle and rougher than a broomstick, look for ways to lighten your hair without using bleach.
And that’s why we bring you the best natural remedies to lighten your hair at home without touching dyes or bleach.
Can all hair be naturally lightened?
The ability to naturally lighten your hair depends on several things: the color, texture and type of your hair.
If you have darker hair (like black or dark brown hair), many of these DIY methods will not be powerful enough to lift the pigment in your hair. However, lighter hair colors can use home remedies like lemon juice.
Thicker hair types can be lightened naturally, but you must ensure that you cover all of your hair with your chosen treatment. It can be difficult to ensure every hair is treated and some treatments need to be diluted.
It is important to note that each method can produce different results depending on the hair. So use caution when attempting to achieve a naturally lightened color.
How to lighten hair naturally – without bleach
Before trying these methods, you should prepare your hair well. Oil your hair three times a week, use a deep conditioner or try a hair mask. This will make the process much easier and more effective.
It is recommended to expose your hair to the sun during the process or afterwards. Also, don’t forget to give your hair a nice massage with UV-protecting leave-in conditioner before going out in the sun.
1. Lemon Juice
You get the benefits of lemon juice not only by drinking it but also by using it on your hair.
The citric acid in lemon juice is a very weak oxidizer that reduces melanin production and naturally lightens hair. Exposing your hair to the sun speeds up the process. Keep in mind that prolonged exposure is also not advisable.
- 1 cup lemon juice
- 1/4 cup conditioner or a teaspoon of coconut oil
- 1 spray bottle
Part your hair and spray the mixture from roots to ends. Wait until it’s fully saturated, sit in the sun for at least 20 minutes (now you won’t hate summer anymore), and get ready to rock that diva-esque post-wash hair.
2. Honey and Vinegar
This mix might sound like a bad idea, but don’t worry – if you end up with feathery, silky-scarf-like curls after using it, you’ll thank us personally.
If you don’t like apple cider vinegar because of its foul smell, you can always replace it with warm water.
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1 teaspoon coconut oil (if your hair is very dry, also mix in a small amount of conditioner)
Make a paste of these ingredients and apply the mixture well with a nylon bristle paint brush. Leave it on for at least four or five hours, or you can leave it on overnight by wrapping a towel around your head.
3. Baking soda and hydrogen peroxide
Baking soda for hair is always a good option, and when combined with hydrogen peroxide, the fusion of the two results in diva-like hair.
Since many people tend to just use hydrogen peroxide, they keep wondering why when the results aren’t up to par. Well, because using just hydrogen peroxide won’t lighten your hair.
- 1 cup baking soda
- 3-4 teaspoons of hydrogen peroxide
Mix them well and apply the mask liberally. Leave the mixture on for no more than 60 minutes and wash your hair well.
4. Saline solution
A salt water solution lightens your hair and removes dandruff and debris stuck at the roots of your hair, giving you an effortless, spa-like at-home treatment.
This blend is perfect for those who have already bleached their hair and want to keep the bleach longer. Saline solution only slightly opens up your hair cuticle and sun exposure produces better results.
- 1 cup of warm water
- A pinch of salt
- spray bottle
Spray the solution on your hair and leave it on for about 15-30 minutes while sitting in the sun. Then rinse it off.
5. Orange juice and lemonade
Vitamin C in orange juice is an effective hair lightening product.
While the results may not be adequate, mixing other ingredients into the juice not only makes it a great option for lightening hair, but also removes layers of chemicals that haven’t washed away. You can also crush up 8 or 9 vitamin C tablets in case you run out of oranges.
- 1 cup orange juice
- 1/4 cup club soda
- 1/4 cup fresh grapefruit juice
- 1 drop of sage essential oil
Prepare a mixture in a spray bottle and shake vigorously to form a consolidated solution. Divide your hair into four sections and spritz the mixture from front to end.
Wear a plastic shower cap and let the orange juice penetrate your scalp. Sit in the sun for an hour and rinse off.
6. Henna paste
Some women have been using this technique since time immemorial, particularly in parts of the Arabian Peninsula and the Indian subcontinent.
You may be wondering why a product meant to darken hair can lighten it at the same time. Only blondes don’t want to lighten their hair, women with dark brown and black hair do.
- 3 tablespoons of henna
- 1/2 cup boiling water
Leave the mixture on overnight for the color to activate. Apply to hair the next morning and leave on for 2-3 hours. You can add a tablespoon of cinnamon powder to the mixture for a greater effect. Rinse it off with lemon juice or vinegar.
7. Cinnamon and conditioner
This pleasantly scented blend is so versatile that it gives your hair a powerful and irresistible fragrance that leaves it lighter and softer. You don’t even have to shampoo your hair to get rid of the smell that other blends might give you.
- 1/2 cup ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
Make a thick paste and apply. Tie your hair in a bun and leave the mixture on for 3-4 hours before rinsing. You can even add a tablespoon of honey for more satisfying results.
8. Tea, lemon and yogurt
Tea bags for the eye area, tea bags for the home bath, green tea for weight loss and now chamomile tea for lightening hair? This herbal tea is a gentle and natural way to lighten hair.
The easiest way is to brew 4 to 5 tea bags. Allow the mixture to cool before rinsing your damp hair. To make it even more effective, add some natural hair lightening ingredients.
- 1 cup freshly brewed chamomile tea
- 2 teaspoons lemon
- 1 teaspoon of yogurt
Mix all these ingredients together well until it becomes a paste and then apply it on your hair. Pin your hair up and leave the mixture on for 30-60 minutes.
Wash your hair and take good care of it. If you’re only using chamomile spray, let it air dry instead of washing it.
9. Marigold Petals
Who would have thought that the benefits of marigold petals also included hair lightening? The best thing about using calendula is that it also moisturizes coarse and dry hair and gives you dandruff free hair as it moisturizes the scalp.
You can also use marigold tea for this blend. Its lightening properties give you both softer curls and lighter hair tones.
- marigold petals
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon almond oil
- spray bottle
Boil the marigold leaves with apple cider vinegar. Filter the mixture and add almond oil to the already prepared solution. Spray the finished mixture on your dry hair and let it dry.
This species of plant is controversial as we are not yet sure if it is a fruit or a vegetable.
Rhubarb is a seasonal spring vegetable but is considered a fruit. There is no doubt that with its exquisite name, it also has excellent benefits and one of them acts as a hair lightening agent.
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- 1/4 cup chopped rhubarb
- 2 cups of water
Cook them together and set the mixture aside to cool. Once cool, strain the liquid into either a spray bottle or a bowl if you think you can pour it all over your hair.
Leave it on for about 10 minutes and complete the wash with a conditioner.
This method is highly recommended for women with brown and black hair. Not only can you use coffee as a hair mask or hair loss treatment, but you can also use it to lighten your hair and make it easier to comb.
It’s recommended to use organic coffee, but if you don’t want to spend a little extra, you can always add other natural ingredients to make the blend powerful.
- 2 cups of freshly brewed coffee
- 1/4 cup conditioner
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- spray bottle
Allow the coffee to cool on its own or store it in the refrigerator. Pour half of it into a separate cup so you have 2 separate cups of coffee.
Spray it all over your hair and sit in the sun for at least 20 minutes. Wash it normally and then pour the other coffee on your hair.
12. Vitamin C tablets
Vitamin C is a good choice when it comes to lightening your hair due to the citric acid it contains. You should treat your hair with a vitamin C wash once a day until you see the results you want.
- 10-20 vitamin C tablets
- spray bottle
A vitamin C wash is easy to make. All you have to do is crush some vitamin C pills, put them in a spray bottle with water and spritz them on your hair.
13. Beer or vodka
Because beer has a pH of around 4, it’s strong enough to lighten your hair slightly. It can also effectively moisturize frizzy hair.
- 2-3 flat beer cans
Open two or three beers (make sure they’re flat!) and take a shower. Shampoo as usual, then pour the beer over your hair, working from root to tip.
Take a 30 minute break to sit in the sun before rinsing your hair. Then use a good amount of conditioner after shampooing. If you don’t have beer, you can do the same with vodka.
Vartika Puranik is a writer, content strategist, and social media expert whose work has appeared in Discover Magazine, The Huffington Post, Business Insider, Forbes Advisor, and SYFY, among others.