How to Naturally Lighten Your Hair: Our Top Tips and Tricks

caucasian woman with light curly hair smiling at the camera

While summer may have passed us by and you will likely be spending more time indoors in the coming weeks, this does not mean that you can't experiment with your hair by trying out a lighter color. Yet, a trip to the salon can be expensive, and appointments can be hard to come by right now with many salons running at reduced capacity.

While a dramatic change in hair color will require the help of a trained professional (as many boxed DIY hair coloring methods can damage your hair), there are things that you can do from home to give your hair a lighter, brighter appearance without absolutely destroying it. Using natural ingredients and tried-and-true methods, you can lighten your hair naturally without causing any damage. In fact, you may discover that most of the ingredients you need to lighten your hair are already in your medicine cabinet, pantry, or even your spice cupboard. 

To help you transform your look this fall, here are a few ways you can lighten your hair color naturally. While these methods will not deliver a drastic change and their effectiveness will depend on your hair, following these tips can give your hair a noticeably brighter appearance that you are bound to love.

Start With Vitamin C

An easy place to start when trying to lighten your hair is with the vitamin C tablets that you likely already have in your medicine cabinet. The great thing about vitamin C is that it works with your hair rather than against it to give your hair a brighter look. Simply take vitamin C tablets or powder (for this to work it must be compressed powder, not vitamin C gummies or other chewables) and add it to your shampoo. Of course, tablets must be crushed into a fine powder before they can be added to your hair care products. 

Vitamin C will help to strip your hair naturally and give it a lighter color. If you do not want to mix anything into your shampoo, you can also add your vitamin C powder or crushed tablets to a spray bottle with water. Spray this mixture on your hair and let it sit for about 30 minutes before rinsing. 

Get Natural Highlights With Lemon Juice

Of course, if there is a natural hair lightening trick that you have heard of, it is likely lemon juice. This is one of the oldest tricks in the book. At some point, you may have even tried squeezing lemon juice into your hair right before laying out in the sun. But you may find yourself wondering if this method really works and if it is good for your hair. 

Believe it or not, applying lemon juice is an effective method for lightening your curls if you do it properly. The acidity in lemons helps to brighten your hair by changing its pH levels. However, due to its acidity, lemon juice can burn your hair, so it is important that you do not squeeze lemons directly onto your hair. The most effective way to lighten your hair with lemons would be to add lemon juice, water, and hair oil (or olive oil) to a bottle and spray it on your hair before spending the day outside. The lemon juice will need to be exposed to heat and sun in order to effectively brighten your hair.    

Try Some Apple Cider Vinegar

Not only can apple cider vinegar be used to help reduce buildup on your hair and scalp but it can also help lighten your curls! Similar to lemon juice, apple cider vinegar can help to naturally brighten your hair due to the effect it has on your hair's pH levels. However, like many of the natural ingredients on this list, you will want to be careful when using apple cider vinegar on your hair as it can be damaging in large amounts. You should then dilute it with equal parts water before applying it to your hair. Once your hair is completely saturated, cover your hair for 30 minutes before thoroughly rinsing out all of the vinegar. This method tends to work best for people who already have lighter hair, as it may give brunette hair an orange-like glow. To avoid this, consider using white vinegar to pull out cooler tones.  

unrecognizable brunette spraying her hair with a homemade treatment

Use Sea Salt

If you've ever spent a day at the beach, then you have likely noticed the lightening effect that salt water can have on your hair after it dries. Fortunately, you do not even need to go for a swim to take advantage of this effect, as you can recreate it at home with a bit of sea salt. All you have to do to recreate this beach-brightened look is to mix a tablespoon of sea salt with warm water and apply it to your hair. Let the sea salt mixture sit on your hair for about 20 minutes before rinsing it out, and you will have noticeably brighter hair after it dries. Of course, the immediate effect might not be as drastic as you were hoping for, but if you apply sea salt regularly, you will likely notice a significant difference. However, sea salt will dry out your hair over time, so it is important that you use conditioner or hair oil after each treatment.   


While you likely know chamomile as a relaxing tea that can help you fall asleep at the end of a hard day, this tea can also give your hair a noticeably brighter look. This is because the chamomile flower carries a pigment in its petals called apigenin. Apigenin creates a golden tint that will attach itself to the hair shaft when applied. All you have to do is brew camomile tea like you normally would and apply it to your hair generously with a spray bottle after letting it cool. Then, sit out in the sun for 30 minutes and let your hair dry before rinsing and conditioning it. Chamomile tea is good for an overall hair color change, as it creates a tonal change that is noticeable in bright light and in the sun. While it does not provide as aggressive a change as some of the options on this list, it is also less harsh on your hair and can be applied repeatedly to maintain a brighter hair color.  

Apply a Cinnamon and Honey Mask

This sweet-smelling hair lightening remedy uses ingredients you likely already have in your kitchen: cinnamon and honey. Honey and cinnamon make a great hair lightening solution as, when mixed together, the trace amounts of hydrogen peroxide in honey become activated by the cinnamon. Leaving this mixture to sit on your hair for a few hours can then help to lighten it by a few shades. Create a hair mask by combining two tablespoons of honey, one tablespoon of cinnamon, and one tablespoon of either olive oil or conditioner (for hydration). After applying this mask, cover your hair with a shower cap and let the solution sit for at least four hours for the best results. If you choose to leave this mask on overnight, just make sure that you put a towel over your pillow to protect it in case any of the mask leaks out.  

Make a Paste from Baking Soda and Hydrogen Peroxide

Mixing baking soda and hydrogen peroxide is another great way to give your hair a lighter look. If you have ever used baking soda to clean, then you have seen how powerful of a whitener it can be. If you mix baking soda with hydrogen peroxide, which also has whitening effects, you can create a paste for your hair with double the lightening power. Simply combine one cup of baking soda with three tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide and apply the resulting paste to your hair, leaving it in for 30–60 minutes. Be careful not to leave it in for more than 60 minutes though! After rinsing out this paste, you will have hair that is one to two shades lighter!  

Don't Forget About Henna Powder

This one may sound a bit unconventional, but henna powder can actually be an effective method for DIY hair lightening if done correctly. Henna powder comes from a plant that has been used for centuries to stain leather and adorn skin. Yet, if it is traditionally used as a natural stain, why would we suggest it as a hair lightener? While henna powder will darken naturally light/blonde hair, those with dark brown and black hair can use it to achieve natural highlights and a reddish tone. While henna may not provide a drastic change, it can be the perfect option for those looking for a more natural tonal change.

Just because you don't have time to go to the salon, this does not mean that there aren't safe options for lightening your hair without using harsh DIY chemicals. By using one of the natural methods listed above, you can give your hair a noticeably lighter look using all-natural ingredients. Feel free to contact us to learn more about safe and effective DIY hair care tips and tricks. 
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