Kasja enjoys learning new ways to style her hair and shares her tutorials with others.
It is possible to lighten or highlight your hair without the use of strong chemicals and expensive salon trips. The following list includes a number of techniques you can use to lighten your hair with natural ingredients that cause significantly less damage than bleach and still yield great results.
3 Household Items That Can Lighten Hair
- Lemon or Lime Juice
- Chamomile Tea
- Hydrogen Peroxide
Things to Consider
- If your hair is dyed a darker colour (like red or black), these processes may not work, as the mixtures must first work through the dye and then your hair. You may have to strip the colour out of your hair first or wait for it to fade.
- Changes in your hair are normally gradual when using these natural methods. You must continue with frequent applications.
- Use the sun. Direct sunlight will speed up the processes with all of these methods. You can go for a walk or even lie outside, but be sure to always use sunscreen with at least 40 SPF.
1. Lemon or Lime Juice
Depending on your hair colour, lemon and lime juice can produce gradual to extreme changes in colour, sometimes even after one application. To avoid any unwanted results, you may want to do a small strand test first.
This method is a favourite of mine. I have achieved great results and highly recommend it. (My natural hair colour is a dark brown and I now have light brown to reddish streaks.) You must be patient and dedicated though, because it will not cause most colours to lighten quickly.
- Depending on how much you are planning to lighten, squeeze two to four lemons, or use a lemon juice concentrate. If you have chosen to squeeze them, dilute the mixture with 1/2 to a whole cup of water. (For dry hair, I recommend adding in a teaspoon of conditioner or honey to the mixture and whisking it. Using lemon or lime juice will make your hair extremely dry!)
- If you are planning to coat your entire head, you may now pour the mixture into a spray bottle and shake well for about two minutes.
- Apply the mixture using your fingertips or a hair dying brush (for highlights) or a spray bottle. Make sure that your hair is completely coated and distributed evenly with a comb.
- Apply sunscreen to your body and head out into the sun for at least an hour. The UV rays from the sun in combination with oxygen and the citric acid in lemon juice creates a natural bleaching effect. Due to this, direct sunlight is vital for this process in order for it to work. If you do not wish to sit outside, find a sunny spot indoors and focus on maintaining contact between the sunlight and your hair.
- The final step is to shampoo and condition your hair. You may now dry and style your hair as normal.
- Repeat this process at least twice a week for quick results.
2. Chamomile Tea
Surprisingly, one of your favorite teas may also be used to lighten your hair over time. Follow these instructions to brighten your locks using chamomile tea.
Chamomile tea has been known to cause allergic reactions in some sensitive people. Do not perform this method if you are allergic to chamomile or ragweed. Perform a skin patch test first if you are unsure. Apply a dab of cooled chamomile directly to your skin at least two hours before applying to your hair. If rash or swelling occurs, do not use this method. It's better to be safe than sorry!
- Heat up one to two cups of water in a kettle until it boils. Soak one tea bag, or two if you want the mixture to be more concentrated, in a mug. (Honey may be added at this time, but it is completely up to you. Honey has natural lightening effects and can help to retain moisture so that your hair will not be left feeling dry and brittle after this process.)
- After soaking the tea (and adding in honey), leave the mixture for 1-2 hours or until the water has become lukewarm or cooled completely.
- Once the mixture has completely cooled, transfer it into a spray bottle or any type of bowl. I recommend using the spray bottle if you plan on lightening your entire head. If you are only doing streaks or certain areas, you can leave the mixture in the mug or transfer it into a bowl. It is up to you.
- Using a spray bottle, coat your hair with the mixture. If you are doing streaks, you can use a hair dying brush or your fingertips. After applying the mixture, comb through your hair to evenly distribute.
- Grab a book, some sunscreen, and relax outside in the sun. Try to stay in the sun for at least an hour or until your hair completely dries.
- Rinse thoroughly and apply conditioner to your hair. If the tea has left your hair feeling very dry and brittle, you may want to apply a quality conditioner to your hair. Leave your conditioner in for five to ten minutes and then rinse. The final step is to dry and style your hair as normal.
- Repeat these steps often until your desired shade has been achieved.
3. Hydrogen Peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide is a well-known household item that is often used for cleaning up around the home. Many people use this solution not only to sanitize their homes but also to lighten their hair. Many prefer to use it because the results can be achieved quicker. However, this product has the potential to be very drying and damaging to hair, so make sure to follow up with a good deep conditioning after every application.
If you have brown to dark hair, please do a strand test first as this method has been said to cause certain darker shades of hair to turn orange!
- Obtain a bottle of 3% hydrogen peroxide and combine an equal solution of it to water (50/50).
- Leave the product in your hair for at least an hour, depending on the shade you wish to receive and the darkness of your hair.
- You can do this immediately before you go to bed. However, this can cause unwanted results and extreme drying. If you wish to take this risk, please mix in honey. If you plan to do this during the day, try to get out into the sun. Sunlight will cause the peroxide to work quicker, however, you can choose to avoid the sun if you wish. If you choose to avoid the sun, the changes in may be gradual and take longer to obtain.
- Shampoo and condition your hair very well and style your hair as normal.
- Repeat these steps often for quick results.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Makayla on May 25, 2020:
I was tired of the same old dark brown hair, and i did not want to dye my hair with dyes because i dont want to damage it. Im exited to find this out so i can have the hair i wish for
Mackenzie on May 08, 2019:
I really wanna lighten up my hair it has gone ginger after dying it blonde from brown anyone got any advice using shampoo and other hair care products? X
Wise guy on April 17, 2019:
You can also use vinager to lighten your hair I did and it made my hair red to orange
yeeterson peterson on April 16, 2019:
i’ve actually seen that using clorox wipes makes a quick bleach effect and it looks really good. don’t know if it’s actually damaging or not.
J on January 08, 2019:
I've used hydrogen peroxide in my hair 3 times so far and it hasn't done anything yet... should i just keep going?
Calamiki on June 07, 2018:
Can I use household bleach like from the laundry room
meljackie on December 30, 2017:
so i want to lighten my hair and i tried many things and it has not help what should i do?
Aaliyah on June 19, 2017:
Would the peroxide work im scared?
Donna on April 09, 2017:
My hair dresser dyed my hair black and it is way to dark for me. I just want soften color to a dark brown so which household product will give me an even lighter color.
Hannah on October 09, 2016:
Can I use house hold bleach ?
Taylor Crump on April 16, 2016:
This is actually really good tips.
Tasmia on October 18, 2015:
I don't have hydrogen peroxide but I do have a color booster that's has hydrogen peroxide in it. Will I be able to use that?
Ashley on December 13, 2014:
I tried all of these methods and they all worked amazingly
Bianca Simmonds on December 03, 2014:
My hair is blond so I'll probally use condisioner
chloe tuck on October 28, 2014:
so im dark headed , so would i be able to use honey on my hair
Ricky on August 27, 2014:
Or you can use the lemon juice, let it dry a bit, then pass a straightening iron (set on low) along every strand you want lightened. This is quicker then sitting in the sun.
Melody on August 13, 2014:
ive heard of the lemon hair lightening trick but I didn't think it would work!
Michelle on April 22, 2014:
Thanx to all. I'm glad I read this 1st. I wanted to put dark streaks n my hair like purple or burgandy. I've tried to dye it that colour several times. Being that my hair's dark brown w/red highlights already. I just keep getting more of the same. Thank God I didn't try the peroxide or bleach thing. I guess when it comes to hair the best results REALLY DOES COME TO THOSE WHO WAIT!
Bhoomi on April 10, 2014:
It worked! :D
I am so glad! :D
bobbyjoethomas on January 11, 2014:
The verb, to bleach, means to lighten the color of something.
The noun, bleach, is a substance used to lighten the color of something.
Thus, if you lighten the color of your hair, you have used bleach. There are MANY substances that work as bleach -- even ultraviolet is a bleach.
Cynthia B Turner from Georgia on January 30, 2013:
Great tips here. I like hair that has great highlights. My grandmother would use tea, but as a way to cover gray, not as a highlighter. However, the results looked as if she had highlighted her hair because the gray didn't become completely dark.
I used the lemon juice method when I was a teenager. It worked and looked very natural. I think I'll go back to that, trying your mixture.
Voted up and useful.