How to Naturally Lighten Hair: 6 Easy Methods That Work

Updated April 10, 2020
woman holding a lemon

You can learn how to naturally lighten hair with some very easy home remedies! You can get started right away by following a few quick steps.

How Lemon Juice Works to Lighten Hair

Lemon juice creates photosensitivity, a heightened reaction to the ultraviolet rays of the sun. Lemon is highly acidic, so when you apply it to your hair, it will change the pH in your hair. The heat from the sun will force the hair cuticles to open, allowing the lemon juice to lift the pigment in your hair. If your hair has been chemically treated, lemon juice probably won't work, depending on the chemicals used to treat your hair. You might get a little lift, but chances are, you won't get any lift.

How to Use Lemon Juice and Water to Lighten Your Hair

First, you should at the very least dilute the lemon juice with water. No matter how tough your hair is, this will help protect it. You can also choose from a number of lemon mixture variations. Always use freshly squeezed lemon juice. You'll need a new/clean small spray bottle.

Lemons juicer and glass of water


  • Spray bottle
  • Towel to protect shoulders, clothing

Short Hair Ingredients

  • ½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ cup warm water

Long Hair Ingredients

  • 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 cup warm water


  1. Pour the lemon juice and warm water into the spray bottle and shake to blend.
  2. Wet your hair and towel dry until damp.
  3. Comb your wet hair.
  4. Spray the lemon/water mixture onto your hair, careful not to get it on exposed skin, especially your face.
  5. If you accidentally get it on your skin, immediately wash it off. Don't go into the sunlight with mixture on your skin. The acidity can irritate your skin, cause a rash, or even cause sunburn.
  6. Sit in the sun for a minimum of 30 minutes. If your hair is darker, you can add 10 minutes to your first treatment.

Tips for Best Results

The key to making lemon juice lift the color of your hair is to get out into the sunshine. The sun's heat and UV rays will do the work to bleach your hair with a very natural look. Close the hair cuticles by rinsing in cold water to avoid damaging your hair.

Your Hair Grows Lighter With Each Treatment

How much the lemon juice lightens your hair depends on your hair color. If you have dirty blonde hair or very light brown hair, you should see good results. The lighter your hair is before you add lemon juice to it, the better the bleaching will be. Your hair will grow lighter with each lemon juice treatment.

Lemon Juice for Highlights

You can use lemon juice to add highlights to your hair. Don't wet your hair. This lightening treatment is done with dry hair. The longer you leave the lemon juice treatment on your hair, the lighter you highlights will be.

Quick Tips Before Applying Highlights

You may wish to do a small test sample before attempting to fully highlight your hair. Try one test sample for 20 minutes and see if that timing gives you light enough highlights. If not, increase your next test by 10 minutes up to a total of 60 minutes.

Ingredients and Supplies

  • ¼ cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice (½ cup for longer hair)
  • ¼ cup of warm water (½ cup for longer hair)
  • 100% cotton balls
  • Plastic wrap


  1. Mix the lemon juice and water in a shallow bowl.
  2. Separate the hair strands you wish to highlight using hair clips.
  3. Dip a cotton ball into the mixture and draw it down the length of each set of dry hair strands. Allow the juice to penetrate the strands.
  4. Wrap a length of plastic wrap around the strand the same way you would with any type of highlighting agent to keep it from touching other hair strands. This ensure you end up with only the strands you wish highlighted.
  5. Once you've applied the lemon juice to all the highlight strands, go sit in the sun for a minimum of 20 minutes. The longer you sit in the sun, the lighter your highlights will be.

Use Olive Oil for Conditioning

Since lemon juice is a natural astringent with a high acidic level, it will tend to dry out your hair, so you'll want to follow any lemon lightening with an excellent conditioner. For a natural hair conditioner, try olive oil.

Woman applying oil on hair ends



  1. Work the olive oil into your hair.
  2. Leave it on for 10 minutes.
  3. Shampoo, rinse, condition, rinse, dry, and style.

Add Olive Oil to Lemon Juice During Hair Lightening Treatment

Instead of conditioning your hair afterward using lemon juice to lighten it, you can save time by mixing the lemon juice with the olive oil for an instant hair conditioner. This combination will protect your hair from drying out. Follow the above lemon juice and water recipe and swap the water with olive oil.

  1. Wear plastic gloves to protect your hands.
  2. Work the olive oil and lemon juice mixture into your hair.
  3. Sit in the sun 30-60 minutes, depending on level of hair color lightening desired.
  4. Once you've finished, comb out the olive oil and/or squeeze it between layers of paper towels.
  5. When you've removed as much olive oil as possible, you can shampoo your hair.
  6. Col water closes hair cuticles, so make sure you rinse your hair in cold water.
  7. Shampoo, rinse, condition, rinse with cold water, dry and style.

Chamomile Tea to Lighten Hair Naturally

Chamomile tea will give a pleasing lift to lighter hair colors. You can use regular tea bags to make the lightening mixture.

Short Hair Ingredients

  • 2 to 3 chamomile tea bags
  • 8 ounces water, boiling
  • 8 ounce coffee cup/mug

Long Hair Ingredients

  • 4 to 5 chamomile tea bags for long hair
  • 16 ounces water, boiling
  • 16 ounce coffee mug


  1. Steep tea for 10-15 minutes to ensure full strength.
  2. Let cool.
  3. Pour into a clean spray bottle.
  4. Spritz dry hair with chamomile tea mixture.
  5. This lightener is activated by heat, so either sit in the sun or use a blow dryer for 30-60 minutes.
  6. Shampoo, rinse, condition, rinse, dry, and style.
  7. You will need to repeat this process every day until you achieve the lighter color you desire.
  8. For a more effective treatment, steep 8-10 whole chamomile flowers instead of tea.

Honey and Vinegar to Lighten Hair

Lighter-colored hair can be lightened with apple cider vinegar. For darker hair, you'll need to use distilled white vinegar. The recipe is the same for both types of vinegar.

Apple cider vinegar with honey and lemon


  • ½ cup honey
  • ⅓ cup olive oil (conditioner)
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar (lighter hair) or distilled white vinegar (darker hair)


  1. Mix ingredients thoroughly and apply to damp hair.
  2. Wrap hair in a towel and leave for 1-5 hours, depending how light you wish your hair.
  3. For faster results, use a hair dryer so the heat will activate the vinegar.
  4. Rinse with cold water.
  5. Shampoo, rinse, condition, rinse, dry, and style.

How to Lighten Hair Naturally Overnight

You can use three ingredients to naturally lighten your hair overnight. This is a safe way to achieve one to two lighter hair tones.

Short Hair Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons of honey
  • 2 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 4 tablespoon olive oil

Long Hair Ingredients

  • ½ cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • ½ cup olive oil


  1. Make a paste by mix all the ingredients together in a shallow bowl.
  2. Dampen your hair.
  3. Apply the paste and massage into your hair until you feel it is cover
  4. Coat your hair generously.
  5. Cover with a plastic shower cap.
  6. Leave on overnight.
  7. In the morning, rinse your hair.
  8. Shampoo, rinse, condition, rinse, dry and style.

Hydrogen Peroxide for Lighter Hair Color

Hydrogen peroxide is a long-time hair color lighting agent. This treatment often produces a brassy color that some people prefer. You can mix this with lemon juice to attempt a less brassy color, but you need to test a strand of hair before committing to this hair lightening method. This can produce a more orange tint than brass!


  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup hydrogen peroxide


  1. Mix the water and hydrogen peroxide and pour into a spray bottle.
  2. Lightly spritz hair when dry.
  3. Continue spritzing for several days.
  4. Be careful not to over spritz since this is a longer and gradual hair lightening process.
  5. Stop spritzing when you achieve the hair color you want.

Baking Soda and Hydrogen Peroxide Paste for Highlights

Often referred to as a mask, this paste is created by combining baking soda and hydrogen peroxide with a 1:1 ratio. That means if you use ½ cup of baking soda, you'll use an equal amount of hydrogen peroxide ( ½ cup). You should do a test strand before applying to all of your hair to ensure you'll get the desired highlights!


  • ½ cup baking soda
  • ½ cup hydrogen peroxide


  1. Mix baking soda and hydrogen peroxide in a bowl.
  2. Use butterfly clips to separate your hair so you can apply the paste.
  3. Create a buffer zone around your hairline with Vaseline or skin oil to protect skin.
  4. Use a brush or toothbrush to paint your hair with the paste.
  5. Wrap strands in foil.
  6. Leave paste (mask) on your hair between 20-60 minutes. Don't leave on any longer than 60 minutes or your hair will be damaged and you could suffer hair loss.
  7. Apply heat with a hair dryer to speed up the process.
  8. Rinse immediately with cold water.
  9. Shampoo, rinse, condition, rinse, dry, and style.

Learning How to Naturally Lighten Your Hair With Various Home Remedies

No matter what method you try, it's better for your hair, skin, wallet, and the environment to use a natural home remedy for lightening or highlighting your hair. If you don't like the results, unlike chemically treated hair, it won't take as long for your hair to fade back to its normal color.

How to Naturally Lighten Hair: 6 Easy Methods That Work