How To Lighten Your Hair

Lightening your hair is a great way to give yourself a new look. For light colored hair, such as blond or light brown, natural products, such as hydrogen peroxide, lemon juice, honey, and chamomile tea can work more gently to lighten your locks. If you have dark hair, though, you'll need to use bleach to fully lift the color out. All lightening methods are potentially damaging for your hair, but bleach is the harshest so it's usually best to have it done by professional.

Lightening Hair with Lemon Juice

  1. Mix equal amounts of lemon juice and water. Lemon is a classic natural lightening agent for hair. While it’s natural, it can still dry out your hair so it’s important to dilute it. Combine 1 part lemon juice with 1 part water to reduce its acidity, and pour it into a spray bottle.
    • For the best results, use fresh, organic lemon juice. Bottled juice can work but make sure that it’s 100% real juice. Alternatively, you can buy your own lemons, cut them in half, and squeeze out the juice.
    • Lemon juice is acidic and will dry out your hair. If your hair is already extremely dry, you can substitute coconut oil or conditioner for the water to minimize damage.
    • You can also dilute the lemon juice with more water if you’re concerned about damage.
  2. Spray the mixture on your hair. After you’ve mixed up the lemon juice solution, decide where you’d like to lighten your hair – whether all over, just the tips, or in highlights. Then, spritz the solution in those areas. You can also use your fingers to gently work it into your hair to ensure that the locks are evenly coated.
  3. Air dry your hair in the sun. Once your hair is coated with the lemon juice solution, you’ll want to sit out in the sun. The heat will help the citric acid in the lemons lighten your hair, so remain outside until your hair is almost completely air dried.
    • To avoid damage, don’t sit outside in the sun for more than an hour and a half.
    • If you’re concerned about damaging your hair, you can also apply the lemon mixture to your hair at the start of your shower as a rinse. When your shower is over, wash it from your hair and follow up with conditioner. Repeat the process regularly to gradually lighten your hair.
  4. Wash the lemon juice out of your hair and condition it. When your hair has mostly dried, take a shower and rinse the lemon juice out with your usual shampoo. Condition the hair to ensure that it’s properly hydrated, and allow it to air dry.[4]
    • For more intense lightening, you can leave the lemon juice solution in your hair overnight and wash it out in the morning.
    • If your hair needs a more intense conditioning treatment, try sitting under a heated dryer with conditioner on your hair, under a plastic cap.

Going Lighter with Raw Honey

  1. Stir the honey into some water. Raw honey contains trace amounts of hydrogen peroxide, so it can gently lighten your hair. To make a natural hair lightening solution, mix 1 to 2 tablespoons (21 to 43 g) of raw honey into 1 cup (237 ml) of water until well blended.
    • For a more nourishing lightening treatment, swap the water for olive oil. Olive oil is extremely moisturizing, but it also has gentle lightening agents so it works very well with honey.
  2. Apply the mixture to your hair. When the honey and water are fully combined, use clean hands to gently massage it over your hair. You can apply it all over your head or target specific areas where you want to add highlights.
  3. Allow the mixture to sit on your hair for up to an hour. After you've covered your hair with the honey mixture, let it sit on your locks for 30 to 60 minutes to give it enough time to lighten your hair. If you like, you can place a shower cap over your head and let the honey mixture sit on your hair overnight for more intense lightening results.
  4. Rinse the honey from your hair and condition it. When you’re ready to get the honey out of your hair, wash it with your usual shampoo. Follow up with a good conditioner, and let your hair air dry.

Creating a Lightening Rinse with Chamomile

  1. Brew some strong chamomile tea. To make a strong cup of chamomile tea, bring a kettle of water to a boil. Place a chamomile tea bag in a tea cup, and cover it with water. Allow the tea to steep for 10 to 15 minutes to ensure that it is strong.
    • If you have very long or thick hair, you may need two or more cups of tea. Add an extra tea bag for every additional cup that you’re making.
  2. Cool the tea completely. Once the tea has steeped long enough, remove the tea bags and discard them. Let the tea sit out on the counter until it reaches room temperature so you don't burn yourself when you apply it.
    • Leaving the tea out for 20 to 30 minutes is usually enough to cool it completely.
  3. Apply the tea to your hair at the start of your shower. Spray or pour the mixture over your hair at the start of your shower. Allow it to sit on your hair as you do the rest of your bathing routine.
    • You can leave the chamomile rinse on for a half an hour, so you may want to douse your hair before you even get in the shower
    • You can also pour the cooled tea into a spray bottle, mist your hair, and sit out in the sun for a half hour if you prefer.
    • You can use apple cider vinegar in a similar rinse. Just dilute the vinegar by combining ½ cup (118 ml) of it with 1 cup (237 ml) of water, and use it just as you would the chamomile tea rinse.
  4. Rinse the tea out and condition as usual. At the end of your shower, wash the tea out of your hair with your usual shampoo. Moisturize your hair with a good conditioner, and allow it to dry naturally.

Using Hydrogen Peroxide to Lighten Hair

  1. Combine equal parts water and hydrogen peroxide in a spray bottle. For the most effective lightening, use hydrogen peroxide 3% solution, which is available at most drugstores. Mix 1 part hydrogen peroxide with 1 part water in a spray bottle, and shake well to mix it.
    • Using a stronger concentration of hydrogen peroxide may damage your hair.
  2. Comb and clip your hair into sections. Before applying the hydrogen peroxide mixture, detangle it with a comb or brush. Next, divide your hair into sections with clips so you can make sure to apply the solution to all of your hair.
  3. Spritz the hydrogen peroxide solution over your hair. Once your hair is sectioned, mist the mixture all over your hair as evenly as possible for all over lightening. If you want to create highlights, wet a cotton ball or pad with the hydrogen peroxide solution and rub it along the strands you want to lighten.
  4. Allow the solution to sit on your hair for a half hour. When the hydrogen peroxide solution is applied the way that you like, let it sit on your hair depending on how light you’d like your hair to be. For average lightening, 30 minutes is a good amount of time. Leaving it on longer may dry out your hair.
    • If you want to speed up the lightening process, sit outside in the sun with the hydrogen peroxide solution on your hair. When your hair starts to dry, you can wash the solution out.
  5. Rinse the solution off and condition your hair. Once your hair reaches the desired color, wash the hydrogen peroxide out of your hair with cold water. Apply your favorite conditioner to hydrate it, and rinse it again with additional cold water. Allow your hair to air dry.

Bleaching Your Hair

  1. Deep condition regularly beforehand. Because bleaching is so tough on the hair and can severely dehydrate it, you must make sure that it’s properly moisturized beforehand. For approximately two weeks before you bleach, do a deep conditioning mask twice a week to ensure your hair is fully hydrated.
    • If your hair is extremely dry, you may want to use the deep conditioning treatment as much as three times a week leading up to the bleaching.
  2. Mix the bleach with a developer according to the package instructions. You can purchase bleach powder at beauty supply stores, but you must mix it with a developer before you apply it to your hair. Add the amount specified by the packaging for the bleach and developer to a non-metallic bowl and stir them together well.
    • Developer comes in different strengths. To lighten your hair and limit the damage, opt for a 30-volume developer. If your scalp is very sensitive, though, you may want to use a 20-volume developer.
    • If you’re new to bleach, you might want to start with a 10- or 20-volume developer. This will let you go through the process a bit more slowly, though you may not get your desired shade immediately.
    • While bleach works best on virgin hair, you can still use it on hair that’s been colored before.
    • Bleaching damage is usually worse the darker that you hair is.
  3. Apply the bleach to the hair with a tint brush. To get the best coverage, use a dye or tint brush to paint the bleach mixture onto your hair. Use the pointed end of the brush to part your hair so you can get as close to the roots as possible. Carefully brush the bleach mixture through to the ends of your hair.
    • Be sure to wear rubber gloves when you’re applying the bleach mixture to your hair.
    • If you don’t mind having some roots showing, you may prefer not bringing the bleach all the way to your scalp. That can help limit the damage to your follicles.
  4. Let the bleach sit for about half an hour. After you’ve applied the bleach all over your hair, allow it to sit for approximately 30 to 45 minutes. Check on your hair every 15 minutes or so until it reaches your desired shade – whether light blond, yellow, or medium brown.
  5. Rinse the beach out your hair. When your time’s up, wash the bleach mixture out of your hair with cool water. Next, shampoo your locks with your favorite formula to ensure that it’s completely clean.
  6. Work a toner through the hair and let it sit. After you’ve bleached your hair, it usually has a brassy yellow tone rather than a cool white look. To soften the color, apply a toner to your damp hair. The toner is meant to neutralize the brassy tones in your hair, so allow it sit for 20 to 30 minutes.
    • You can purchase hair toner at beauty supply stores and many drugstores.
    • You can do the same thing with purple shampoo, as well. Purple shampoo will remove brassiness and yellow tones from the hair, and doesn’t need to sit as long as toner.
  7. Wash out the toner and apply a conditioning mask. When the toner has sat on your hair for the designated time, rinse it out with cool water. Treat your hair with a deep conditioning mask and rinse it out according to the instructions.
    • If you hair is extremely dark, you’ll need to bleach your hair two to three times to lighten it all the way to blond. However, you should give your hair time to recover before bleaching it again. Wait at least two weeks before lightening your hair again.

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