How to Lighten Hair Naturally Without Absolutely Damaging It?

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I realize this is the polar opposite of what you wanted to hear, but hair lightening should almost always be left to the professionals. Even if you’ve spent the last year perfecting the art of box dye, experimenting with color waxes, and experimenting with tinted hair masks like it’s your g’damn job, “lifting” (aka lightening) your hair color requires the assistance of a licensed stylist (especially because bleach is typically involved). Regrettably, I do not create the rules—I am only here to assist you in preventing irreversible harm to your hair (and scalp!).

How to Lighten Hair Naturally Without Absolutely Damaging It?

That is not to say you can’t experiment with a few safe options—whether it’s a mild DIY, a heat-activated hair spray, or a clarifying shampoo that will slightly brighten your color. Hairstylists and dermatologists agree that you should avoid harsh chemicals (think: baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, and white vinegar) and instead choose elements that will benefit your hair’s general health (hi, honey and cinnamon). And, if in doubt, Always schedule an appointment with a professional if/when possible.

The greatest natural DIYs, shampoos, conditioners, and sprays to help you lighten your hair at home are included here (without, you know, totally destroying it in the process).

1. LIGHTEN HAIR WITH A MIST – Oribe Bright Blonde Sun Lightening Hair Mist

Which chemicals are the stars of this hair-lightening mist? Extracts of lemon and chamomile work synergistically to softly brighten blonde hair and highlights. Due to the fact that the solution is heat-activated, you’ll need to place your hair under a dryer or sit in the sun (obviously while wearing a big ol’ glob of SPF) to reap the brightening effects. Additionally, may we take a brief moment to enjoy the packaging? Consider how lovely it is.

2. LIGHTEN HAIR DYE WITH CLARIFYING SHAMPOO – Bumble and Bumble Sunday Shampoo

If you’re attempting to lighten your hair following a botched dye job, colorist Meri Kate O’Connor recommends stocking up on an ultra-clarifying shampoo (one that has the stripping chemicals you often avoid, like sulfates). She recommends this one from Bumble and Bumble—as well as Prell Shampoo—which should be immediately followed by a super-hydrating treatment to replenish some of the dryness caused by clarifying.

While no shampoo can completely remove or lighten your hair color, it’s an excellent place to start before meeting with your colorist to discuss more effective lighting alternatives.

3. ASK YOUR STYLIST ABOUT VITAMIN C POWDER – 365 Everyday Value High Potency Vitamin C Powder

Vitamin C’s antipigmentary properties make it an excellent choice for naturally lightening hair or removing hair dye, though O’Connor recommends skipping the DIY and instead having your colorist create a concoction for you (it’s all about getting the proportions right, and there’s a lot of room for error, TBH). After cleaning and conditioning your hair at home, schedule another appointment with your hairdresser to get your hair lightened using vitamin C powder.

4. LIGHTEN HAIR WITH APPLE CIDER VINEGAR – Bragg Organic Apple Cider Vinegar

To be honest, it’s difficult to find a hair DIY that doesn’t include apple cider vinegar, owing to its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory qualities. Along with gently cleaning your scalp of product buildup and excess oil, ACV can also help lighten your hair (especially if your natural highlights are on the warmer side). Fill a spray bottle halfway with ACV and water, spritz it on your hair, and let it stay for a few minutes before rinsing it off. Bear in mind that you will most likely not notice quick results—try repeating this method twice weekly for a month.

Honey is another popular ingredient for naturally whitening hair, particularly when coupled with cinnamon (a natural scalp clarifier), olive oil (a powerful moisturizer), and apple cider vinegar. Take my word for it, though—thousands of YouTubers have endorsed this DIY mask as well. Bear in mind that all of the components in this are mild and hydrating, which means that even if it does not lighten your hair, it will be (at the very least) moisturized.

6. GET NATURAL HIGHLIGHTS WITH LEMON JUICE – Tropicana Fresh Lemons

Lemon juice is an excellent alternative for natural blondes seeking to lighten their hair. However, caution should be exercised while using lemon juice to lighten hair, since the super-acidic qualities can actually dry out your hair and scalp (along with irritate your face). A word of advice: Use it sparingly and always combine it with conditioner to keep your hair looking lovely and healthy.

7. TRY A BRIGHTENING SHAMPOO – Christophe Robin Brightening Shampoo with Chamomile

This luxurious little shampoo is a must-have for anybody interested in progressively lightening their hair color. The formula’s chamomile (a natural brightener) and cornflower (an antioxidant-rich extract) ingredients work together to gently and effectively lighten virgin and color-treated hair. It’s also lightweight enough to be used on a daily basis.

This conditioner is ideal for brightening dull or ashy blonde tones. It contains two natural hair lighteners (chamomile and lemon extract) and a powerful hydrator (sunflower seed oil), all of which work to keep your hair smooth and silky. After washing, distribute this bb evenly into your strands and allow it to rest for five minutes.

9. GO LIGHTER WITH A HONEY SPRAY – Klorane Sun Lightening Spray with Chamomile and Honey

Meet the Sun-In of 2021. Unlike its predecessor, this lightening spray contains chamomile and honey to gradually—and gently!—brighten the color of your hair. Every day for three to four weeks, spritz it all over your hair (wet or dry), and your color will gradually lighten. While it’s somewhat more effective on blondes, lighter brunettes should expect a few honey-gold highlights with continued usage.

10. TRY A SPRAY IN-BETWEEN LIGHTENING APPOINTMENTS – John Frieda Sheer Blonde Go Blonder Lightening Spray

This mixture is rather potent, so please use it sparingly if you have natural or color-treated blonde hair (brown shades can go orange or brassy with this one). It’s ideal for lightening dark roots in between salon sessions, and the formula’s citrus and chamomile combination ensures that you retain all of your softness and shine.

11. LIGHTEN YOUR HAIR WITH TONING DROPS – IGK Mixed Feelings Leave-In Blonde Drops

If your blonde hair tends to get brassy quickly, you might require these IGK leave-in toning drops. You also have a lot of leeway with the formula, as the degree of toning is entirely dependant on the quantity of droplets used. The company recommends using one to three drops (in a leave-in conditioner, shampoo, or rinse-out conditioner—the choice is yours) on blondes for subtle toning.

12. TRY A HEAT-ACTIVATED HAIR-LIGHTENER – DpHue x Kristin Cavallari Blonding Brush

Regrettably, brunettes, this hair lightener is also excellent for blondes (it’s not personal…promise). For a genuinely brighter sensation, the lemon juice and hydrogen peroxide in the recipe are blended with purple pigments (to tone brass) and glycerin (to moisturize). Bear in mind that this pick is triggered by sunlight or heat, so make sure your blow dryer is ready to go before you begin.