3 Natural Ways To Lighten Your Hair

UPDATE: This post originally ran on  June 13th but with summer at its peak we wanted to share it again!

I have brown hair, but by the end of the summer it is a definitively lighter shade of brown than in winter.  I love the natural highlights, especially against sun-kissed summer skin. Time spent in the sunshine can bring out natural highlights in many hair colors, but there are also natural products you can use to make the sun bring out those highlights even more. Here are a few all natural home remedies to lighten up your locks – what’s your favorite way to lighten your hair?

lemon juice to lighten hair

I used to put lemon juice in my hair all the time back in high school! This is probably the most common natural hair lightener. Lemon juice is a citric acid, and when it heats up in the sun, it opens hair cuticles and lifts out the pigment. Squeeze some lemon juice into a spray bottle, and spritz on your hair before spending a day in the sun!

chamomile to lighten hair

I never knew this, but chamomile tea is another great way to lighten hair! Brew a batch of the tea and rinse your hair with it after showering – or add some to your shampoo and conditioner and watch as your locks gradually lighten over time!

honey to lighten hair

Lastly, honey is another product you probably have at home that you can use to lighten hair.  When mixed with distilled water, a form of hydrogen peroxide forms in the honey, which can then be used as a natural “dye.”

natural ways to lighten hair

Which of these all natural remedies would you try? If you have any other methods share them in the comments!

More beauty tips from the BLDG 25 Blog.


  1. When I was in highschool I tried a product called “sun in”, I think I mixed lemon juice in it too. But it turned my brown hair, an orangey blondish color. I probably used too much too. It was bad! Don’t ever use that stuff!

    Oh, be careful with the lemon juice too. It gets crunchy like gel or hairspray, and burns a little too. Lol.. Camomile works I think. It’s in all my hair products, and I have nice natural highlights now.

  2. Remember that the lemon juice will fry your hair. It’s acidic and combines with the sun (which is damaging unto itself) you might be left with dried out, damaged hair.

  3. Honey is also extremely moisturizing and a great humectant, I use it as part of my moisturizing pre-poo routine along with yogurt, olive oil, coconut oil and argan oil – and sometimes an avocado if I didn’t eat them all. I might add some chamomile tea to this next time. :)

  4. Make a rosemary tea and let it cool. Use the cool tea as your last rinse in the shower. Totally worked in my brown hair. I think I got this from ym magazine. Haha.

  5. Keep in mind that the Lemon will give brunettes an orange-ish hue and that the chamomile can actually darken already blond hair. A spray bottle of peroxide will also lighten your hair but for brunette’s holds the same threat of yielding the dreaded brassy/orange hue that the lemon can create. Vary coarse dark hair can be lightened up to 2 shades (if applied and left on overnight) with a mixture of cinnamon+olive oil+lemon+conditioner. Try 1/2 cup of Conditioner, 1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 4 Tbsp organic cinnamon and the juice of one lemon :)

  6. Great post! I am always looking for natural ways to lighten my hair. Thanks for these great tips, I usually use cinnamon to lighten my hair. :) Can’t wait to try these!

  7. If hairdressers could take one product off the shelf, it would be Sun In. More corrective color has been done over the years from that product ruining someone’s hair than anything else. True…hairdresser for 30 years!

  8. Stefanie, or another — could something natural be used in place of the conditioner? I’ve got coarse, curly, dark hair and I don’t use manufactured shampoo or conditioner because of all the damage it causes. (Home brews work much better, curly girls!) Is there something about the chemical cocktail in conditioner that causes a reaction with the other ingredients? My knowledge on hair chemistry isn’t so great… egg yolk or something fatty?

    On another note… has anyone tried baking soda? Know it’s good for teeth whitening and “shampoo,” as long as it’s balanced with something acidic like vinegar or lemon juice.

  9. I’ve tried lemons, but as someone mentioned above, the juice definitely fried my hair to some degree. Lemon juice will give you gradual highlights if your hair is medium blonde/brown. It takes more than a few sittings. Worth it? I dunno.

    I do also notice my hair getting lighter when I’m swimming in the ocean, so try that. It’s more fun than squeezing lemons onto your head. I say use the lemons for your skin instead !

    Going to try chamomile and honey though. Sounds delicious for hair health, even if it doesn’t work.


  10. my cousin got 3rd degrees burns from putting lemon juice in his hair while tanning, it got onto his shoulders and boom! bad!

  11. Lessan- Baking soda is often used (diluted or in shampoo) as a clarifier, which means it strips the hair of all the dirt, oils, and products. While it’s great every other week or so to get the excess products off, I don’t think it works as a hair lightener. It shouldn’t hurt you to try, just don’t use it more than once a week at the most, as it can be damaging.

    And, just as a side note, a lot of people use vinegar as a natural conditioner. I have no idea what it does mixed with baking soda, except for in the science experiments (:P), but you could try, just, again, be careful with it and do your research before you do something crazy!

  12. Apple cider vinegar is actually really good for dandruff, as it kills all fungus and ive heard that it also works as a good lightener.

    I used Chamomile for ages when I was younger and it gave my light brown hair a reddish shade that wasnt very nice.

    I might try that olive oil, lemon, cinnamon and conditioner suggestion tho, sounds good.

  13. Any suggestions for red/auburn hair? I love my hair color, but want to have more natural highlights this summer; and want to go lighter, too.

  14. I have not try this way which lighten my hairs but I think it is a very good way. I will try this when I I was free at home.

  15. I wonder if I could just test these different items using some hair from a hair brush and leave a braid hanging in my bedroom window all day. If it turns a funny shade of red or gets all dried out I will know not to use it.

  16. i have naturally light brown hair which has been bleached light blonde and dyed medium brown,

    i used crushed vitamin c tablets (which removes hair dye), lemon juice, honey, and cinnamon, mixed with conditioner, left that for around 2 hours, then rinsed with cold cammomile tea. my hair is a good 3 to 4 shades lighter (bleached/dyed part) and around 1 to 2 shades lighter (natural part, where my roots are coming through)

    i think you are meant to leave it on for 4-8 hours though, but i still got a lot of results from only 2hours

  17. Don’t use lemon juice! The acid dries out your hair, and in combination with the sun, you’re just asking for damage and frizz. My hair is pretty damaged from sun exposure alone, and once you damage your hair there is no way to completely restore it except for cutting it/growing it out. Also, as some people above have mentioned, you can get some pretty serious burns from it too.

    Brown hair is beautiful, ladies. You don’t need to worry about lightening it. It’s of better value to maintain it and make sure it is strong and healthy than damage it with color or lightening. By lightening your hair, you are taking pigment out of a layer in the cuticle, and it’s hard to do that without damaging the strands. Your hair is beautiful, no matter what the natural color it is, and don’t you forget about that!

  18. I had super bleach blond hair when I was younger and it would turn green from chlorine in pools all the time. I always put lemon juice in after a swim to keep the green out. My hair never dried or frizzed– in fact it felt great! It might not be the best for brown hair but for lighter hair I think it’s great!

  19. I am not sure what to use as I haven’t given it much thought, but being a hair stylist for 13 years I understand how hair color works. Even with natural lighteners such as lemon, I would think the same rule applies as using something like bleach. If your hair turns a warm color such as orange, you need a cool color like blue to counter it aka tone it. General rule: use green for red tones, violet for yellow tones and blue for orange tones. This is why they have the violet shampoos and such. I have used the best of the best hair products (so they say) over the years and I recently switched to “no-poo” and I absolutely love it! No more chemicals for me. Anyway, maybe something like an avocado mask might help with the reddish tones you get when lightening. Not sure, just an example! :)

  20. Oh yeah, since using the baking soda for shampoo and vinegar as a rinse/conditioner, my hair has lightened up quite a bit. My natural hair color is a dark blonde but I have bleached and colored it pretty much every color in the book. The last thing I did was about 5 months ago- colored it all a dark red/brown. I am now letting my natural grow out and the baking soda/vinegar has really helped with the transition… my hair has lightened up a lot and now matches more of my natural color. This is going to be a long process as my hair is to the middle of my back and im not a fan of roots, but not about to cut it off… no way! Going natural is the best thing I couldve possibly done tho… not only for health but for appearance as well! Good luck ladies! xx

  21. Hi Julia, I never thought hair could be lighten without using products. I thought lemon could only lighten the skin. But now I learn it can also lighten hair. thank for presenting this idea. Will really try this.

  22. Great post with even better comments! Apple cider vinegar definitely changes hair color. My hair is a light to medium brown which is naturally ashy (cool toned). The apple cider vinegar has given my hair warm reddish undertones which catch the sun beautifully. I’m lucky enough to have a neutral skin tone so the warmth actually looks pretty good with my skin. Especially with a summer tan! :)


  23. Question: Since my hair is more dark brown/off-black would it be safer (as in avoiding brassy tones) if I used my Aveda black malva conditoner (which is kinda blue/violet) with cinnamon and honey? Or would it make no difference?

  24. I have dark blonde hair, color it with a semi-permanent dye in winter (to cover the grey). I just started using the chamomile tea & couldn’t be happier. Not only is my hair lighter but shinier also. The first time I used it I soaked my dry hair & sat in the sun. The results were immediate! I use it at least once a week in the shower or take it to the pool with me.

  25. Try using the honey trick with cinnamon and olive oil :)
    Also if you have very dark hair these tricks will take a LONG time to get you a big change.
    Using hydrogen peroxide will give you a more drastic change but is lot of people don’t count it as ‘natural’ and if could damage your hair.
    Actually honey has a small amount of peroxide, not enough to damage your hair in any way, and both olive oil and cinnamon help release the peroxide from the honey and act as peroxide boosters actually.
    Hope this helps :))

  26. Very interesting post! So I just had to try it out to see if it works on my hair :)
    I mixed honey, cinnamon and olive oil, held it for about 4 hours covered with a shower cap. I left out lemon juice cause I have some red pigment in my hair and I didn’t want to get orange hair.
    As a result, my ash blonde hair became quite much lighter, like sun bleached.
    I now wonder what happens if I should leave it on over night. Will try next week.
    Oh, and it’s probably better to have this stuff in your hair when you sleep, cause then you’re horisontally and nothing will drip or run. Just put a towel on a pillow.
    And, big thanks for sharing this. This trick will save me a lot of money that I’d otherwise spend on highlights :)

  27. As an Asian woman, my hair is black and thick. If I dye my hair with comercial hair dye, it needs 2 times (2 box) applied of very light colour to give it a shade. And I end up with a very dried & damaged hair with a reddish tone :(.
    But recently, I’ve been using honey+spring water+olive oil+ground cinnamon to my wet hair for about 3-5 hours, then re-wash it.
    After 4-up times, my hair became brunette (visibly lighter under the sun) and the colour was spreading evenly, whilst the comercial hair dye just gave uneven colour on some section.
    Just love it :)

  28. I’m surprised at the negative comments regarding Sun In. I have used this product several times and loved the results. I have naturally curly, golden blonde hair and never experienced any problems.

    As I grow older my hair is starting to grey just a bit and some parts are turning darker. I am trying to find natural products that will not damage my hair but will give me the golden blonde color. Any suggestions?

  29. One other thing…I tried a couple of colors of semi-permanent hair color and they worked well with regard to coloring, but neither of them are as light as my original golden blonde. Does anyone know of a semi-permanent hair color that will provide light or golden blonde results to naturally golden blonde hair?

  30. Pure Argan oil is wonderful for giving natural looking highlights . Just a tiny amount scrunched through long wavy hair gives it extra body and makes it curl too. I absolutely swear by it. It’s definitely the only product I use. I love it.

  31. Cinnamon has traces of peroxide in it so it helps to lighten your hair!:)just add it to conditioner or honey

  32. I used Sun In on my hair a few months back and the ends of my hair to get an ombre look but I instead got an brassy orange color .I definitely wished I would have reviewed it before using it in my hair and I don’t re commend that anyone use it in their hair ever!I have now died my hair the way I wanted but found that it began to fade quickly but I would rather not re dye it just yet because it its still a bit damaged and would like to know which one of these would be healthiest for my hair so I can maintain the blonde until my next coloring:) Also thanks so much for all the tips!I found them super super helpful :p

  33. Careful when using lemon juice, it tends to bleach your hair. I’ve tried the honey one and it works pretty nicely. I’m going to try cinnamon too. Love reading everyone’s comments, ya’ll are super helpful. Great post!!

  34. My hair is a natural light to medium brown, but It’s been died a auburn/red/violet mix. It’s not as red as it used to be, but comparing it to my natural color, there’s still a bunch of color left. I want to lighten my hair and then decide whether I want to keep the lightened color or use the new lighter shade as a more neutral base for new hair color rather than my natural brown. Will any of these lightening techniques (besides the lemon, I’ve heard that one damages hair!) work on my dyed hair? I don’t want the lightening materials to mix with my dye and create some orange red mixture in my hair! If anyone’s tried these with dyed hair it would be super helpful to know what your results were! xx

  35. My hair is medium blond and has gotten darker since having my last child. Last spring I went to the salon where she used a product to bring out natural highlights on virgin hair (since I haven’t colored my hair in many many years but I did use Sun In about 5 years ago which totally dried out the ends of my hair where I used it). I would like to have subtle highlights and wondering if anyone could suggest what may work or what have worked for those with medium/dark blonde hair. Thanks in advance! :)

  36. I have white hair and am looking to change it to a tad darker – light blonde maybe – any suggestions? Much appreciated.

  37. I’m not sure if anyone has mentioned it already, but cinnamon also helps to lighten your hair! :)

  38. I was a toe-head blonde till I was eight and then went to an ugly mousy brown most of my teens till I discovered coloring it. Last year, at 40, I had then luxury of spending a year in Florida by a pool for a year. Being completely in the sun for a year brought back my natural blonde. I worried constantly about chlorine damage, so I discovered the baking soda/vinegar method (although I use white vinegar only). I haven’t used reg shampoo since. I will also point out my grew out over 6 inches that year and when I returned home, I needed a cut. I refused to let anyone touch my hair while I was away. My hairdresser was shocked at the immaculate condition my hair was in, texture was. For a woman who swam every day, I had no dead hair. I ended up only needing less than 1/2 inch trimmed off.

    I will say, a year later, due to me mis-reading a box, my white blonde is gone (and trust me, I sobbed in the shower!!!) I was trying to just do my roots and grabbed the wrong box and ended up with light dark brown. Everyone loves it but me. But I still continue to do my baking soda/vinegar routine. I will never use shampoo again. I have naturally curls, and that system has brought such life to my hair. So now about 6 weeks later, the only way to describe my color is that is a very pale brown but when the light hits it just right, it glistens completely blonde. It’s really weird.

    But after reading all these comments about the honey, cinnamon and tea, I know what I will be doing to my hair tonight. And don’t forget ladies, if you ever get a really dried out head or too much damage from your flat iron, a great relaxing Sunday morning pampering is a beaten egg mixed with a cup of mayo and let it sit for about 2 hours. I even put a bag on my head so keep the heat in!!! Rinse it really well and talk about shine and softness for weeks.

    Also, after my baking soda/vinegar, I always condition, then after my shower, I wrap my hair in an old t-shirt, NEVER a towel. It decreases breakage, softer (think about it!) and then let it towel dry as I do my makeup. Then I always apply some argan oil, which has been my go to for over two years. And it won’t hurt you to put a drop of regular conditioner in before applying your styling products. It acts as a mini buffer.

    This routine has been working for me for a few years, and honestly, I only chemically treat my roots, and because I take such good care of my hair, and quite possibly because I don’t use a flat iron it, I’m able to go up to nice months between cuts. How well you take care of your care of your hair can determine a lot of the breakage.

    Best of luck everyone!!! Thank you for the advice!!

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  40. I hve a question if i use to honey to dye my dark black hair to turn them lighter wht color will they turn and should i apply honey regulary for the effect?

  41. Aww..I wished I read this before using freshly squeezed lemon juice, although I was tempted to use Vitamin C powder instead. Lemon juice dried my hair completely despite I used a deep conditioner treatment. It did stripped lots of purple and titanium (Joico Intensity) hair color, I want to change to auburn for fall/winter. This girl I met had purple hair she put mahogany over purple it turned Green, she had to bleached hair. Thank you everyone

  42. I love all the suggestions, but I am at a loss as to combining the ingredients. What is the ratio? How many tablespoons of honey, to cinnamon, to olive oil, etc?

  43. Hello,

    I am starting to experiment with homemade beauty products, and i wanted to achieve lighter hair in the sun. The recipe i have found was honey, lemon, chamomile, and olive oil. My question is, as some of the ingredients are actual foods i’m afraid they might expire. Does anyone have an idea about the rough amount of shelf life this finished product would have?


  44. I would definitely recommend honey. In December, I started using lemon juice, honey and water mixed all
    together (Since I couldn’t go out in the sun) and left in in my hair for 30 min. After, I rinsed it out and over time, I saw my hair gradually getting lighter. And the honey makes your hair very soft!!!!

  45. I hve a question if i use to honey to dye my dark black hair to turn them lighter wht color will they turn and should i apply honey regularly for the effect?

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  47. I have a naturally blonde five year old daughter who was begging for me to use sun-in in her hair because one of her older sisters had used it well I figured it’s supposed to lighten your hair she’s already a blonde couldn’t hurt right just make it a little blonder boy was I absolutely wrong I’m absolutely devastated my blonde headed baby girl is now a strawberry blonde for some reason the sun in turned her hair like a brassy orange red throughout her whole entire hair and she has beautiful long curly blonde hair is there anyway naturally I can get the sun in out of her hair or am I going to have to just let this grow out I’m just so angry with myself for putting that crap in her hair I do not recommend using that stuff ever

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