DIY: How to Naturally Lighten Hair and Add Highlights (at home!)

How to Naturally Your Hair At Home

Who else spent their summers as a teen, lounging by the neighborhood pool, squeezing lemon juice onto their hair? You know, just trying to achieve that perfectly golden hue that only the most popular girl in class was actually genetically blessed with?

Naturally lightening your hair is a trend as old as Bonnybell chapstick but one most of us outgrew, opting instead for the traditional salon treatments as we got older. 

But honestly, our teenaged instincts to go the natural route were actually quite sound and is worth trying out again! If the idea of dousing your scalp in a bucket full of chemicals sounds like a less-than-appealing way to achieve the lighter locks youre currently coveting, there are a variety of safer easier - and way more affordable! - ways to do it, we promise. 

How to Lighten Blonde Hair

Blonde Lightening Hair in the Sun

Lets start with the easiest first: lightening blonde hair it requires little effort and there are a multitude of easy ways to do it.

Lemon Juice & Water to Lighten Your Locks

First, the classic: heres how to lighten your hair with lemon juice with a recipe from the Almost Exactly blog: 

  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1/4 cup water

Just put the mixture into a spray bottle and spray onto wet hair. Let your hair dry in the sun, rinse and condition (no shampoo!). 

The Most Fun & Cheapest Way to Lighten Your Hair - Swim in the Ocean

Sun and salt water is a powerful combination when it comes to getting naturally lightened hair; both help to naturally liftthe color from your hairessentially bleaching it sans chemicals.

Salt, Oil & Sun - to Lighten Blonde Hair

But if youre landlocked or your fear of sharks outweighs your desire for blonde locks and you still want to know how to lighten your hair in the sun and how to lighten your hair with salt, try this super simple recipe from Coconut Girl. Youll need:

  • 2 tbl sea salt
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tbl coconut oil
  • Lots of sun

Put water and sea salt together in a sauce pan on the stove and heat until salt is fully dissolved. Shampoo your hair (no conditioner!) and saturate hair with the sea salt water; do not rinse. Rub the coconut oil from mid-shaft to your ends; not only does it help moisturize your hair, the oil also attracts sunlight! 

Next, just take yourself outside in the sun and stay as long as possible; make sure to keep your hair down and that your entire head is getting the same amount of sunlight. You can continue to layer on the sea salt water after your hair dries until you get to your desired color!

Natural Hair Lightening Spray from Nearly Natural Nicole

This next method may sound like a refreshing summer cocktail but its actually an easy combination on how to lighten hair with chamomile tea and lighten hair with lemon and vodka! 

  • 1 cup chamomile tea
  • 1 tbl lemon juice
  • 1 tbl vodka 

Combine all ingredients in a spray bottle; spray on damp hair every morning and style as usual. Your hair will gradually lighten as it is exposed to the sun each day. 

How to Lighten Hair with Beer

If hard liquor isnt your speed, heres how to lighten your hair with beer! Girls Gone Sporty suggests simply rinsing your hair with your beer of choice after shampooing and head out into the sun. The rays will activate the acids in the beer and help lift the color naturally. Its best to use flat beer if you want to avoid the boozy smell!

How to Lighten Hair with Honey

Honey contains small amounts of hydrogen peroxide that will gently and gradually help lift the color from your hair naturally. Here is a (very simple!) recipe from Living the Nourished Life blog 

  • 1 tbl honey
  • 1 cup water

Combine the honey and water and a bowl and distribute evenly on your hair. Let sit for an hour and rinse.

If youre looking to amp up the lightening effects of honey, heres two other recipes that contain honey and other color-lifting ingredients that will work together to make a more powerful natural hair lightening mixture.

How to Lighten Hair with Cinnamon, Honey and Olive Oil from Kennyista blog 

  • Olive Oil
  • Honey
  • 1 tbl cinnamon
  • Splash water

Mix an equal amount of the first two ingredients in a bowl. The measurements dont have to be exact, just make sure you have enough to evenly coat your head! Add the cinnamon and a splash of water to help make the mixture less vicious. Let the mixture develop for about 15 minutes before distributing it evenly over your entire head. Let sit for 40 minutes. Repeat the process often for more noticeable results.

How to Lighten Dark Brown Hair

Brunette Pulling On Lightened Hair

If youre looking to add some dimension to your dark brown hair, vinegar is the way to go. Read below to find out how to lighten hair with apple cider vinegar

How to Lighten Brown Hair with Vinegar

  • 1 tbl apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup water

Mix the two ingredients in a spray bottle. Spray on damp hair and let sit for 30 minutes. Rinse and style as usual. (pro tip: apple cider vinegar is also a wonderful product to make your hair soft and silky- bonus). 

How to Lighten Black Hair

How to lighten black hair

Lightening black hair is probably the most difficult to accomplish; with so much color to lift, it can be hard to see results with natural hair lightening DIYs. But hope is not lost! There are a couple tried-and-true natural methods for lightening even the darkest manes! These recipes will also work if youre looking to understand how to lighten dyed hair. These methods are great if youve recently gotten your hair dyed and its turned out a bit too dark for your liking.

How to Lighten Hair with Vitamin C from The Neon Leopard 

  • 100 Vitamin C pills
  • 2 tbl shampoo
  • 2 tbl coconut oil

Using a food processor with a milling blade, finely ground the Vitamin C pills into a fine powder. Add the shampoo and coconut oil until all ingredients are well combined; you should have a thick paste. Distribute mixture onto wet hair and let dry. Rinse and style hair as normal. 

How to Lighten Hair with Baking Soda (and hydrogen peroxide) from Sadiaayn

  • 3 tbl hydrogen peroxide
  • 6 tbl baking soda
  • 1 tbl conditioner

Mix ingredients together in an open container (if you put a lid on this mixture, youll be in for a surprise POP! when you take off the lid!) and evenly distribute over your hair. Let sit for an hour before rinsing and styling as usual.

This method also works well if youre trying to lighten dark brown hair with light brown highlights. Simply section off the parts of your hair youd like to highlight and wrap them in aluminum foil once youve coated them in the baking soda mixture. 

As you can see, its quite easy to achieve naturally lightened hair with safe, natural products you probably already have in your refrigerator and pantry!

One word of advice: with any of these methods, be sure to condition your hair well after each use. Even though these recipes are natural, theyre still essentially bleaching your hair which will undoubtably dry out your tresses. Slathering on some coconut oil for a few hours once a week should do the trick!

If you liked this blog post, check out our entire site as it's full of DIY health & beauty recipes and ideas.


Sara Rogers
Sara Rogers

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