Make: All-Natural Hair Lightening Spray DIY

UPDATE: This post originally ran on May 24th, 2014, but with summer finally — gloriously! — here and more time spent outdoors, we wanted to share it again!

For as long as I can remember, a beach trip without a bottle of lemon juice in tow was unheard of, a trick passed down from Mom as we made after-school ocean pilgrimages. Ever since, sun-kissed hair is my go-to. Spritzes of lemon juice post-saltwater plunge, but before laying — protected — under the warm sun. It’s the simplest way to lighten up your locks.

As summer kicks into full gear, nearly all of us see beaches and pools in our immediate futures. So what better time to make an ultimate — and natural — hair lightening spray? After a little research, here’s what we found to be a perfect combo to lighten hair safely and naturally.


When lemon juice is added to the hair, it acts as an accelerant to the sun’s lightening abilities. The acidic properties of lemons mix seemingly mix just right, giving off a gradual highlight.


The natural coloring and chemicals of chamomile flowers work together to bring out lighter tones in the hair. Chamomile also helps in fixing split ends.


When honey is mixed with distilled water, the chemical process that takes place will lighten hair quickly.


Cinnamon naturally contains peroxide, which is a chemical used in hair lightening, BUT! Cinnamon won’t dry out your hair… and it smells amazing!

Coconut Oil: 

Though coconut oil won’t lighten your hair, it WILL moisturize your locks so other ingredients won’t dry it out.




Chamomile tea, brewed

Juice of 3 lemons

2 crushed cinnamon stocks (or 1 tsp cinnamon)

Squirt of natural honey

1 tsp coconut oil

8 oz spray bottle (preferably glass and UV-protected)


First, brew chamomile tea. I let mine steep for about 5 minutes. Take spray bottle and fill halfway with the tea. Next, add remaining ingredients. Fill rest of bottle with warm water. Give a good shake before spraying it on your hair to ensure mixed well.

You can spray it all over, or apply to ends for an ombre’d look. Using your potion on the beach is ideal: after dampening hair with salt water, spray all over. The sun should maximize all of the ingredients’ lightening powers. You can also spray on damp hair before bed. (Just be sure to wear a shower cap since the honey  may make your hair a bit sticky.) Rinse out in the morning and feel sunny!

You should notice your hair becoming gradually lighter in just a few easy applications. Enjoy!

More homemade beauty products from the BLDG 25 Blog.


  1. Hi! I’m wondering where to buy these mini spray bottles online… I can’t seem to find the type you post with on your blog. Thanks **

  2. I wonder if I can only use it fresh or keep the mixture in the bottle for a few days or so? <3

  3. This is great! Always thinking about highlights but I’m really not into having it done with unnatural hair coloring. Thanks for sharing!!

  4. Awesome I just made the concoction, hope it works! Since I didn’t feel like waiting 3-5 business days for bottles I found you can make it out of small Perrier bottles, or something of the sort, and the nozzles I had screw right on. Thanks Jana!

  5. hi! i think this is really wonderfull, in summer i have natural hair lightening, but in winter can u use this product if im not under the sun often than im on summer. its work?

  6. This sounds great! I have medium brown hair, but how long does it take to work on your dark hair, Jana?

  7. I am half asian and have dark brown hair and it worked on me too :) But it took almost all summer to see the effects but lemon really damaged my hair :( Maybe really moisturize it overnight with coconut oil :) But even today it is still light and I did this last summer, now it looks like a natural ombre :)

  8. I actually made this concoction today but the teaspoon of cinnamon made it very gritty and thick. Is that how its supposed to be? And how did you get everything into a 2 oz. bottle? Mine was probably 4 oz. of mixture using the 3 lemons and everything else. Thanks fp jann!

  9. Is there a spritzer that won’t get clogged with the cinnamon? I tried grinding sticks myself and even pre-ground cinnamon. Both mixes clogged up my bottles.

  10. I tried this but it wouldn’t go threw the spray, I think it was from the cinnamon clogging it. help? :)

  11. Has anyone found a solution for the cinnamon clogging the spritzer? I can’t get my bottle to spray at all.

  12. Hi, I was just wondering if this spray lightens hair on the spot when you spray it on or if it lightens when you spend time in the sun? thanks :)

  13. Mine got clogged with the cinnamon, so I just put it directly on. My hair smelled like cinnamon even after I washed it, totally delicious :*

  14. Is there possibility of damaging the hair using this, or is it safe? Someone above also mentioned the lemon damaging her hair.

  15. is it safe to use on dyed hair? like dyed medium brown or will it go horribly array ://

  16. Normally I just put a little bit of lemon juice in my hair and it works a treat! Bare in mind that you do need to keep it topped up, every half hour in the sun I would apply another lemons worth of juice. It is quite a lot but after 5-6 hours (or a nice chill day in the sun) my hair was noticeably blonder. Love it!

  17. hi , i was wondering how long does this last on your hair . i have dark brown black hair .

  18. hi, also wondering if this is ok to use on already highlighted hair ? I once had a traumatic sun-in experience so I’m a bit nervy

  19. I’m going to a pool party in Santa Monica could I wear while I’m thei?r because I was thinking about curling my hair to make it beachy could I just spray right after I’m done curling it instead of using a hairspray? & how light do you think it would make a dark brunette?

  20. Do I have to maintain this to keep the color looking natural? Or can I just do it once??? I’m afraid if I do it once, that the color might fade in some areas???

  21. This didn’t lighten my hair at all, but that’s alright since it’s naturally jet black and I haven’t had success lightning it with any other DIYs. However, unlike the other DIY’s I’ve tried, this made my hair incredibly soft, something I haven’t felt I’m years. Defiantly making this again (minus the lemon juice) to use as a deep conditioning treatment!

  22. Hi, Thank you for this post.

    I have been doing some (or a lot by now) research on highlighting hair naturally and found many different ways to do so: using lemon with distilled water, using honey + cinnamon, or chamomile + water, and I was wondering if I could put all of these ingredients together to make a more potent version without damaging the hair and whether it would work (not decrease the effect by putting them together)… so I decided to google it to be sure and came across your blog! Thanks for posting it :) I’ve also read people who use olive oil to help during the process to moisture the hair.. Good to see coconut oil also works.

    Furthermore, there are a lot of people who have also used Hydrogen Peroxide for highlights, but I don’t recommend that nor think that would be wise unless you REALLY want to bleach your hair, but if you wish to do so then you might as just well go to the salon and do it professionally (or buy a DIY kit) over damaging your own hair unknowingly..

  23. I think you’re supposed to let the cinnamon dissolve. Having steeped the chamomile the water SHOULD be hot enough to do so.
    I am also wondering if a hair drier can be used instead of the sun since it’s getting cooler here and not much time is spent outdoors.

  24. hi! thank you soo much for sharing this I always wanted to have some highlights in my hair naturally and thanks to you I finally can do it yay! you’re awesome but will it work on black hair????

  25. This will be my fourth day in a row using this treatment. And results are so far amazing! I actually wish I had taken before pictures. I made a few minor changes to the ingredients, instead of using the chamomile tea I used lemon ginger (no specific reason, I just didn’t have chamomile in my pantry) and I added an extra tablespoon of coconut oil for extra conditioning since there is a lot of lemon used. I soaked it in my hair for about an hour and a half before going to bed and immediately washed right after with regular shampoo and homemade conditioner. I did however use a a little finger dap of coconut oil for my ends after the shower to keep the conditioning.
    For the clogged spray bottle I just ran hot water through tube part each time before use and kept the bottle refrigerated.
    I didn’t use direct sunlight either because it was before bed time and I had black hair but now I’m getting a lighter brown tones.
    I thought I was just paying attention to much to the color but it wasn’t until today when I got asked by a coworker if I color my hair and I was proud to say no (: and my husband also noticed a difference.

  26. Does the lemon dry out your hair? I want to try this really bad but I haven’t touched my hair in over a year and I’m pretty nervous.

  27. @Jordan and everyone else asking about lemon damaging your hair: yes , it can be damaging if you use straight lemon everyday in youe hair. However, the coconut oil is a natural SPF and coats your strands so that should counteract the lemon. Cha m omile also helps the hair. I still wouldnt recommend using it every day. Unless you are doing it for an event coming up very soon (a week) .

  28. Hi, I was wondering, can you use lemon juice you get in a bottle, and if so, how much would I have to use? And does it matter what kind of honey you use, or is there one that is better? I really want to lighten my hair going towards summer now :)

  29. Will it make a difference in the result if I substitute the chamomile tea with black tea or any other tea? And is this permanent or will it eventually fade? Thank You … I’m gonna go watch Supernatural now… haha Bye… BTW I love your website!

  30. Apaar – Black tea could actually stain your hair darker, so we definitely recommend sticking to the chamomile. The formula is for permanent results.

  31. Does it have to go on wet hair or can you spray it on dry hair in the morning if you’re going to be out in the sun all day?

  32. Is there an average timeframe that it takes to start seeing results?

    I have a grown out ombre in my hair that I’m trying to redo. I’m constantly putting the mixture in my hair, when I go outside (which is a lot), but am not seeing any results aside from the fact that my blonde tips have gotten brighter. My natural hair is a dark dirty blonde/light brown and that hasn’t gotten any lighter yet.

  33. the link to the bottle doesn’t work for me, so i was wondering how many mLs of water i need to add??

  34. I’ve read that honey and lemon juice mixed together is a natural hair remover. Will this make your hair fall out?

  35. No one seemed to have ever addressed the clogged bottle issue…did I miss something? I made this concoction and although it smells heavenly, I can’t even get it out of the bottle. I tried three different bottles…all clogged before anything could even come out. I tried adding more and more hot water to thin it, but it still didn’t work. The cinnamon doesn’t actually ‘melt’ into the water, so I’m guessing that’s the problem? Any advice?

  36. Hey, wish to try this i have black hair how long will it take ?
    How many mls of water do i add im using a different spray bottle (old cleaning spray bottle) ?
    does it have to be loose tea leaves or can i use tea bags ?if so how many bags ?
    Will cinnamon powder be ok or cinnamon sugar work ?
    please get back to me wish to start asap to get my hair to blonde for my wedding

  37. Just a heads up, this lightens your hair VERY gradually. If you really want instant results, try adding just a bit of hydrogen peroxide- but be careful this stuff is powerful and can seriously dry your hair out. A concentrated hydrogen peroxide (not bleach) is used to “bleach” hair before dying it, but your average drugstore hydrogen peroxide is not so strong especially when diluted. My hair was a dark brown and I did this once and people asked if I dyed my hair (it looked like a true medium brown, but I still got compliments). Never use hydrogen peroxide every time you use this spray or your hair will get brittle and unnatural looking, and don’t do this if your hair is super dark black/brown because it might turn orangey.

  38. Hello!
    Thanks for the great recipe.
    I found I had to filter the product through a coffee filter as the cinnamon/honey/coconut oil bunged up the spray nozzle which was very annoying.
    I also added some sea salt for good measure since I don’t live near the ocean (1 Tbsp).

  39. If you don’t want the cinnamon clogging up the spritzer, try boiling 2 cinnamon sticks and using the water in the mix instead of ground cinnamon

  40. Lemon, chamomile, honey, and cinnamon are all things with natural “bleaching” properties. I don’t know about the chamomile and honey, but lemon juice can be used to write “secret messages”, as can fresh, mashed ginger, I believe, by applying heat to the invisible message. Orange juice doesn’t react like that (sorry to whomever thought of using it), which is why it’s not used to keep cut fruit from turning brown or salads from wilting.
    Also, to keep spray nozzles from clogging, try 2-5 drops of cinnamon essential oil instead. It contains everything that makes the cinnamon work for this kind of thing, without the grains that make it difficult to use, and since it’s concentrated, it won’t take as nearly as much room in your bottle.

  41. Pineapple juice should also work, since it’s the same kind of acid as lemon juice. It too can be used to keep other fruit from oxidizing, so my guess is that it would also react with heat (hence the sun, though a hair dryer or hot iron on a low setting -so as not to scorch the hair – would also work) to create a beautiful lightening of your locks.

  42. Hi jana. I was wondering if i had to put it in the fridge? Because my family doesnt know im soing this and theyll probably tease me if they do. Ive already made the mixture and its my second time using it now (its currently in my hair) and i was wonderinng if it might damage my hair or work differently if i didnt put it in the fridge? Thanks. Respond soon please <33

  43. Also, prior to the comment above, i have dark brown hair and does it really turn orange? This kinda scared me a little. I want my hair to be a little lighter but not too much!

  44. Made this today but used almond oil instead of coconut (so it wouldn’t solidify in the air conditioning and clog up my spray bottle, I have a habit of doing that) and added about 10 drops of Rosemary essential oil to stimulate hair growth (and keep the flies away, no doubt they’d be drawn to the honey smell ;) ).

    I love it! Smells great and gives a lot of texture too. Can’t wait to see the results over the coming weeks.

  45. I have heard that the only reason cinnamon and honey work to lighten hair is because of the peroxide they have but I have heard that you shouldn’t mix the two with lemon because it neutralises the peroxide I want to know if this is true also I have black hair and I wanted to know how long this would take to get my hair to a brown colour.

  46. I thought of replacing the chamomile with green tea because I read that green tea can help stimulate hair growth and it softens the hair. Do you think that this would still work?

  47. Isabella, green tea gives hair some natural coppery highlights (that even show on my dark brown hair!)
    I find them really pretty but not everybody likes copper so…
    By the way, chamomile does not lighten hair! just like green tea, it deposits pigment – apigenin, in chamomile’s case, which is a golden pigment that is also believed to fight cancer. Sorry, getting off track :D Just wanted to say that chamomile won’t lighten hair on its own, but instead give golden highlights.

  48. Hi I was wondering if i could make a video for my youtube about this recipe? Its really awesome and i would really like to. Tysm

  49. Wow! What a brilliant idea! Just wondering….I don’t have chamomile tea…..can I skip that part of the recipe?

  50. Hi, does anyone know if it would be okay to replace the coconut oil with moroccan argan oil? Thanks :-)

  51. I was wondering whether you can use not just the sun but a blow dryer or straighteners to get the ingredients to work. Thanks x

  52. I wouldn’t recommend using this mixture in a spray bottle. It ended up clogging my spray bottle, and I had to use elaborate methods to get it working again. It would probably work better in a normal water bottle and to just simply lather it in with your hands. One method I use which really works well is a mixture of one cup of strong chamomile tea (2 bags) with 2 tablespoons of sea salt. After it’s cooled down, I add 1 lemon’s worth of juice and a few drops of lavender essential oil. This works great it a spray bottle and leaves your hair smelling citrus-y, looking lighter, and gives you that nice, beach-wavy definition.

  53. Hi I’m Brazilian and I’m blond
    The sun here is very power it’s not danger spray lemon and take a sun?
    Because lemon usually burn our skin under the sun
    What happend with our scalp?

  54. Hi I was wondering if there were any other tea substitutes that bring out blonde highlights like chamomile does

  55. hii i would just like to know if this works on all types of hair because i have quite fluffy ,curly,afro kind of hair
    also if i would be able to use this on my child she is 11 ???

  56. Here’s some tips on properly lightening your hair naturally:

    DON’T use any heat drying products. The sun gives a NATURAL lighting effect, which heat drying (blow dryer) will give you reddish hair.

    If you don’t have coconut oil, (Like me..) use olive oil instead. It also has some lightening agents, so +1!

    I heard Apple Cider Vinegar works, but don’t try unless you want to be a redhead.

  57. I made the formula, and I thought it was going to be a great idea, as soon as it touched my skin, it instantly stung and my skin got really red and irritated. I don’t know if it was the cinnamon or the lemon but I’m not allergic to any of the ingredients. It wasn’t worth the pain .

  58. Hey thanks for the DIY!! It’s awesome and I can’t wait to try it… Also Insted of using just straight up chamomile tea I used ginger and chamomile tea. Turns out ginger makes your hair super healthy and also makes it grow faster so that’s a win win!

  59. hey i have black hair and i have been reading that lighting your hair naturally can make it orange or using stuff like sun in. will this make my hair orange?? i really want to try this but im scared ughh

  60. I have dyed my hair and bleached it a few times and now I am looking for something natural. At the moment I have a purple -ish color on my hair. will it lighten my hair by doing this a few times a month? will it work with out being exposed to the sun? could I let it sit over night in my hair ?

  61. I’ve been using this for a few days and I have to squint to see results. How long does it take to lighten your hair?

  62. My hair is normally mouse brown with a few natural highlights. Mixed in a 4 oz bottle and tea made with 2 tea bags. A new spray bottle quit after a few minutes of spray and had to switch bottles. Put mixture on dry hair and sat in the sun today around 30 mins and left it in for about 3 more hours. Noticed results straight away! Going to try it a few more days as I would like to go a bit lighter but the results were Really pretty.. will check back in a bit later with more info =)

  63. Ladies maybe try putting the nozzle under hot water for a minute when clogged in not sure if it will work but that’s what we would do in cosmo when the spay bottles get clogged (: lmk if it works !

  64. Hey!

    Thanks for this lovely post. I have cinnamon and lemon essential oils, as well as roman chamomile. Is it possible to just use these EOs as opposed to their solid ingredients? As anyone experimented to see the difference?


  65. Do you think if I add a drop of peroxide it would turn orange the first time trying? I’m kinda worried

  66. Super disappointed!! Clogged two spray bottles! I was really looking forward to trying this. I could rub it in, but that’s not as convenient.
    Another comment suggested cinnamon essential oil, but cinnamon leaf or cinnamon bark?

  67. I used to have bright red hair and over the years it has gotten darker. Almost a brown auburn. Will this help to get some of the red back?

  68. don’t see why all other ingredients are needed coming from a natural dirty blonde and use these mysef you only need chamomile tea water and coconut oil are lemon juice coconut oil and water, all other ingredients are just fancy fancy, not needed been doing this since the age of 16 am now 25 so I definitely know it works, with just 3 ingredients

  69. Hey Autumn! I use a little bit of hydrogen peroxide in my mix and it has turned my hair into a chestnut brown color. So it does cause some red undertones but the camomile helps to bring out a warm brown hue. My hair went from black-brown to chestnut (like Kate Middleton’s hair color) within a month. I usually fill up my spray bottle with 1/4 peroxide and the rest with camomile tea then a dash of grape seed oil.

  70. When ur steaping your tea try throwing a couple sticks of cinnamon in with the tea bags or maybe soak a stick in lemon juice might work to extract the stuff u need from like steaping it in lets say vodka.

  71. Hey, do you think it would still work if you didn’t use coconut oil or replace coconut oil with conditioner instead. And one more thing would it work for dark thick brown hair? Thanks

  72. I’m a 61yo who used to be very (white) blonde as a child but over the years my natural hair colour has darkened to a dirty/mousy non-descript colour, therefore I’ve been “spray-lightening”, using various products, for more than 40yrs. In my opinion it doesn’t matter if you use a commercial preparation or a DIY solution, to achieve a natural, “sun-kissed”, result – patience is the ultimate byword. Plan well in advance if you want to look your best for a specific function or event because none of these products are an overnight success, whatever the ingredients or who has devised them. If “Natural” & “Sun-kissed” describe the look you are seeking, then this effect simply takes time to achieve. As with the sun’s affect that occurs naturally during summer, your hair should become lighter on top & remain darker underneath … this is as it should be! If you want “quick”: you could go to a salon but most will send you home with a uniform, lighter, colour that is obviously false. If you don’t mind that then it’s the route to take & good luck to you. For that naturally sun lightened appearance – with all the differing tones that make it special – I suggest that when you start your lightening campaign, you comb your hair straight back from your face & spray uniformly on the upper surface; comb preparation through with a fine-tooth comb for even distribution, then basically comb it into roughly the style you normally wear (ie: side part & loosely draped around the face) & re-spray the new outer surface & re-comb again to distribute. Sit out in the sun until dry … and it doesn’t have to be hot, summer, sun – it’s the UV rays that react with the preparation to get the job done, so winter sun will work just as well but will take a little longer, that’s all. The results may take a week or two to become obvious but by being slow & subtle, they are far more natural & attractive looking. You may even find that rather than getting the “Wow – what have you done to your hair?” reaction, people will be asking how come you look so great – never thinking you’ve been lightening your hair – because the end result is so gradual that it just appears to others to be an overall, healthy, glow. If you have patience, you can achieve this happy result. To begin, start with a regime of daily applications to clean, dry, hair for one to two weeks until the desired effect has been achieved (if working & time-poor, consider partially drying with a hairdryer before finishing in the sun). You should be able to see many, differing, hi- & low-lights because the solution is never directly applied to the same spot twice: only overlapping in places; therefore appearing far more natural than the salon result which is, grantedly, far quicker but altogether less natural in appearance. Bearing in mind that the original hair colour will determine the length of time that this stage will take (the darker your hair: the longer it may take … and I do stress “MAY” as everybody’s hair will react differently). Once you are happy with your new look, monthly applications to the regrowth should be sufficient to maintain it. Simply repeat the process (as above) but only spray root area & comb the solution down to about (approx) a third of the way past where the colour changes – this should be enough to blend the new treatment into the old seamlessly. It doesn’t matter which preparation you decide on, it’s the manner in which it’s applied that produces this lovely, natural, look – and THAT’S the most important thing! If you have black hair, you will get brown, coppery, highlights; lighter brown or chestnut hair will have reddish & honey tints; while dark blondes will achieve honey to pale lemon-yellow hints & tints. Remember: this IS a permanent change in hair colour & can only be reversed by re-colouration (dying) so if you aren’t sure, treat a small, inconspicuous, area first – I recommend the nape of the neck – to decide if it is the right process for you (and to ensure you don’t have any allergic or other adverse reactions – better safe than sorry – even though it’s a totally natural product.) I have never had any problems myself & to express how safe it is, I have been selling my hair for many, many, years to wigmakers who clamber for my beautiful, healthy, naturally blonde hair because they can do whatever needs to be done to it with regard to changing colour, etc, as they know it hasn’t been treated with harsh chemicals that may react with the products they use … therefore they are happy to know that they won’t pay a lot of money for something that may turn into a soggy, sticky, frizzy & frazzled mess that’s of no use to anyone! My last quote on a 35cm plait (between the elastic bands) of hair weighing approx 120gm was $US380 &, believe me, they don’t fork out that much money for rubbish! Hope this comprehensive report has been useful to some of you who are a little dubious and/or uncertain. Please feel free to respond if you have specific questions that I may be able to help you with. These suggestions, & accompanying advice, are all taken from my personal experience: I am not a haircare professional or trying to sell an alternate product. Having read through the posts here I realized that some of you felt apprehensive & unsure so am happy to add my wisdom & experience to the mix in order to assist others. May you all be lighter & more beautiful. Take care & I hope to hear from any of you if you need assistance!

  73. PS: Maria – if your greys are really silver then they can’t get any lighter than they already are so nothing happens – like mine. If they are more “salt & pepper” your “pepper” will lighten, as described, & become brighter & more vibrant whilst your “salt” will remain the same, apart from increased vibrancy. Cheers!

  74. I haven’t tried this spray just yet but I do have a plan to avoid the cinnamon from clogging the spray bottle nozzle, I’m going to steep ground cinnamon with the chamomile for at least an hour and then finely strain the mix into a pouring jug to then add to the rest of the ingredients. May work, may not, worth a try.

  75. I just made my mixture and will use it in the morning but I used Hemp oil instead of coconut because the Hemp oil I have is melted and Hemp oil is good for the hair anyway.

  76. I wonder if instead of cinnamon sticks maybe use cinnamon oil I am not planning to lighten my hair but am interested in growing longer stronger hair

  77. @nicole i think that will work well for the clogging. I did the recipe as instructed but before putting the coconut oil I strained everything using a paper coffee filter to get rid of the cinammon. I waited for about an hour to do this and then added the coconut oil and mixed everything up. Essential oils can also work well but do dilute it in the coconut oil as a carrier oil according to the right proportions. There’s tables for that use a 2-3%ratio EO .

  78. @nicole i think that will work well for the clogging. I did the recipe as instructed but before putting the coconut oil I strained everything using a paper coffee filter to get rid of the cinammon. I waited for about an hour to do this and then added the coconut oil and mixed everything up. Essential oils can also work well but do dilute it in the coconut oil as a carrier oil according to the right proportions. There’s tables for that use a 2-3%ratio EO . Also I skipped the honey to avoid the bees.

  79. I’m going to try with lemon oil and cinnamon oil instead. Should help make it less sticky and gritty.

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