I am an African Woman and almost always have my hair in weaves and braids. I am an enthusiast and write about it.
To Bleach, or Not to Bleach?
Although the words "dumb blonde" plague many a light-haired person, a whole lot of us want to achieve a lighter all-over hair color or even just blonde highlights. While there are a great many options for bleaching kits, many of which can be safely used, some of us would rather avoid bleach altogether.
Some of us do not want harsh chemicals on our hair and want to lighten our hair without bleach. So it's great that the contents of your kitchen cabinet—things safe enough to eat—can lighten your hair.
6 Natural Ways to Lighten Hair Without Bleach
The products below will give you lighter hair color, but they may not bleach the hair till you are a platinum blonde. Most of them will only lighten your hair a few shades, but the highlights appear natural. A great advantage is that damage to the hair is minimal.
The products listed here include tea, honey, vinegar, vitamin C and lots of other safe, healthy options. The recipes for preparing homemade hair bleaches are included.
1. Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C)
This is good ole vitamin C, good for your flu and it turns out good for your hair.
Recipe for Vitamin C Hair Bleach
- 12 vitamin C tablets (500mg)
- Regular shampoo (enough for one rinse).
Crush the tablets and mix with the quantity of shampoo you need for one rinse. Wash the hair first and rinse off the shampoo. Apply the vitamin C-containing shampoo and leave it on for at least 5 minutes. Rinse as usual and use a conditioner.
2. Bicarbonate of Soda (Baking Soda)
Sodium bicarbonate is a great alkaline compound and can be used to treat hair. It helps to remove chemical build-up from the hair. Surprisingly, it is possible to use it to lighten your hair color.
Recipe for Baking Soda Bleach Treatment
- 4 tablespoons of baking soda
- 2 liters of water
Dissolve the baking soda in the water. Wash your hair as usual and use the baking soda solution for the final rinse before conditioning. Used once a week, your hair color will slowly lighten.
3. Chamomile Tea Hair Lightener
Chamomile tea can be used to lighten your hair naturally. It achieves this by slowly altering the color of the hair pigments.
Recipe for Chamomile Tea Hair Bleach
- Chamomile tea leaves (enough to make four cups of tea)
- A teapot and water
Brew a strong pot of tea. Let it steep in gently boiling water for a half-hour. Reduce a quarter of the tea till it's just a few tablespoons in quantity.
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Wash your hair as usual and rinse using chamomile tea as the final rinse. Add a few tablespoons to your conditioner and use them as usual.
4. Lemon for Paler Hair
This is the first natural hair lightener I ever tried. And it worked but very slowly. I ended up with lighter brown highlights, not blonde hair.
How to Use Lemon Juice to Lighten Hair
- Juice of one lemon
Simply squeeze out the juice of the lemon and mix with enough water to wet your hair, concentrate on the tips. Leave it on for at least an hour before you rinse off. For best results, sit in the sun for a while.
The acids in the lemon help in the lightening process but also dry out the hair. So be sure to condition your hair well. Also, do not use lemon more than twice a month on the hair.
5. Cinnamon Hair Lightener
With its distinctive aromatic aroma, cinnamon can do more than spice up your food. It can lighten the hair.
How to Use Cinnamon Paste to Lighten Hair
- 4 tablespoonfuls of ground cinnamon
- Water (enough to make a paste)
- Honey (optional)
Make a paste with the cinnamon (and honey). Wash and condition your hair as usual. While the hair is still damp use your fingers to spread the cinnamon hair bleach evenly. Comb with a wide-toothed comb and wrap for at least two hours. Rinse out and condition the hair.
For best results, cover with a shower cap or plastic wrap and leave it on overnight. Repeat as desired as the hair lightens gradually.
6. Vinegar With Honey
Honey contains a little amount of hydrogen peroxide which helps to lighten the hair. Mixing it with vinegar adds some acidity and works synergistically as a natural bleaching agent.
While this mixture will work effectively when used alone, it may damage hair, so it's best to incorporate a little olive or coconut oil.
How to Use Vinegar and Honey to Lighten Hair
- Natural Untreated honey (half cup)
- Vinegar (half cup)
- Coconut or olive oil (2 tablespoonfuls of extra virgin olive oil)
Wash and condition your hair, let it drip dry. Mix the ingredients together You want to leave the mixture on overnight and then wash it out in the morning. There is no need to sit in the sunlight.
This mixture works because honey has a small trace of hydrogen peroxide which is a lightening agent. Cinnamon and cardamom along with the extra virgin olive oil help to boost the lightening effect.
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.
© 2015 Bianu
Riley on May 05, 2020:
is there a faster solution for the cinnamon one, as i dont want to leave in overnight. can i blow dry then dry for an hour
Rei on April 26, 2020:
I tried the cinnamon honey face mask and it began to burn please please please be careful my face is red and burns it may burn you or you may just be allergic be careful
Bianu (author) from Africa on July 09, 2016:
So true about honey and the health. It also strengthens the hair, but remember to moisturize after treatment as honey used alone tends to dry out the hair.
poetryman6969 on July 02, 2015:
I have a bit of fascination with the notion of putting edible food on one's face and hair. Honey shows up everywhere when it comes to things that are said to be good for humans.