Bye-Bye, Bleach — 9 Tips For How to Lighten Hair Naturally (2023)

“Despite the popularity of this hair lightening method, both baking soda and hydrogen peroxide are quite harsh chemicals that can damage the cuticle and irritate your scalp if you add too much paste on your hair and hold it for too long,” Monica Davis, a hairstylist and founder of MyStraightener, said.

To try out this method while mitigating the risk of damage, combine one cup of baking soda with no more than three tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide. Mix it up and apply the paste to your hair, letting the mask sit 30 minutes for lighter hair and 45 minutes for darker.

As an extra precaution, you can “protect your hairline with petroleum jelly and apply a moisturizing mask right after dying,” Davis adds.

6. Make a Cinnamon and Honey Mask

This is one sweet-smelling solution for how to lighten hair naturally. When you mix honey and cinnamon together, something magical happens. “Honey combined with cinnamon activates the hydrogen peroxide traces in the honey,” Abdullah said. “This combined with honey's glucose oxidase produces a chemical reaction that causes your hair color to change (to) one or two shades lighter if you have light brown hair.”

Create a mask by combining two tablespoons of honey (raw is best), one tablespoon of cinnamon and one tablespoon of olive oil for extra hydration. Mix it all together and add a bit of conditioner if it's too thick. Then, let the mixture sit for half an hour, giving the cinnamon and honey a chance to mix and the hydrogen peroxide time to activate. Apply the mixture to your hair, secure it in a bun, and top it off with a shower cap. Leave it on for at least four hours. It's even better if you can let it sit overnight (just remember to put a towel over your pillow so you don't stain your pillowcase!).

7. For an Ultra-Gentle Change, Try Chamomile

Chamomile “helps revive hair's luster” while adding natural highlights, Abdullah says. It’s all thanks to quercetin, a flavonoid — or, the thing that gives plants their pigmentation —found in chamomile. Quercetin is known to inhibit tyrosinase, which is an enzyme that helps control hair’s production of melanin, and that makes chamomile an effective DIY hair lightener.

(Video) How to lighten your hair naturally NO BLEACH + methods to avoid EP.9

When used with honey, or even on its own, chamomile will subtly lift the overall tone of your hair. So if that’s what you’re looking for, great! And if what you’re interested in is natural highlights, you’ll want to try a DIY solution that you can apply to more targeted parts of your hair instead, like the lemon juice-conditioner combo.

To make your hair lighter using chamomile, all you’ll need to do is brew a few tea bags (Abdullah recommends seven). Let them steep for a while so the tea is extra strong, allowing it to cool in the process. Then, put the tea in a spray bottle, throwing in a teaspoon or two of honey if desired. Spritz it on and let your hair soak for 30 minutes to an hour max before rinsing. (Keeping it under an hour is important if you don’t want to emerge from this experiment with majorly dried-out hair!)

8. Pour One Out (And Over Your Hair)

For, ahem, of-age readers with a six pack in their fridge, beer can make for a dece DIY lightener. “The average beer has a pH of around 4, which is enough to lighten your hair a tiny bit,” Davis said. “At the same time, this beverage can hydrate your hair and reduce frizz quite effectively… The lightening effect isn’t guaranteed, but nothing will for sure go wrong, too.”

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