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You probably already know that commercial lightening treatments can damage your hair, but that doesn’t mean you have to stick with your natural color, forever.

There are several ways you can get highlights or brighten up your whole mane without using harsh chemicals like hydrogen peroxide.

If you’re a natural brunette, don’t expect to get light blonde hair with any of these methods; you may need to visit a professional if you want a dramatic color change. But if you want to get some subtle, summery highlights without hurting your hair in the process, keep reading for seven easy DIY methods.

1. Lemon juice

Lemon juice is a tried-and-true way to lighten hair. It works best for people who already have blonde or light brown hair; if you’ve got dark hair, lemon juice could turn it orange. This method can be a little drying, so make sure to condition your hair well after treatment.

To lighten your hair with lemon juice, mix several tablespoons of the stuff (freshly squeezed is best) with a cup of water and a teaspoon of oil in a spray bottle. Spray it all over your hair, or just apply it to the strands you want to lighten. Then go outside and let your hair dry in direct sunlight. The sunlight is crucial, as heat interacts with the citric acid in the lemon to create a brightening effect. Just don’t get a sunburn!

Here’s video blogger Ela Gale with a lemon juice recipe that works for her…

2. Cinnamon

Cinnamon conditions your hair while lightening it. It also makes your hair smell great! One caveat: cinnamon can make some people break out in a rash, so before you use it on your hair, you should use a small amount on a limited area, as a patch-test.

To lighten with cinnamon, take half a cup or so of your regular conditioner (or more if you have very long hair). Mix in several tablespoons of powdered cinnamon. Spread the mixture evenly throughout your hair and wrap with a plastic bag or shower cap. Leave the cinnamon in your hair for at least two hours; the longer you leave it, the more it will lighten your hair.

3. Apple cider vinegar

For a super simple way to lighten your locks, pick up a bottle of raw apple cider vinegar. Mix the vinegar with an equal amount of water and spray it all over your hair, or use a paintbrush to apply it where you want highlights. Bonus! Vinegar makes your hair extra shiny, too.

4. Chamomile tea

If you’re a tea drinker, the secret to lighter hair might be sitting in one of your kitchen cupboards right now. Chamomile tea won’t change your hair color dramatically, but it provides a mild lightening effect, even for people with naturally dark hair.

Start by brewing a large cup of strong chamomile tea with four or five tea bags. Let the tea cool; you can put it in the refrigerator to speed the process up. Once it’s ready, wash your hair. Pour the tea slowly and evenly over your hair as a final rinse. Don’t rinse it out! Put your hair in a bun or shower cap overnight. If it’s daytime, go outside and let your hair dry in the sunshine. You can repeat this treatment as many times as you want since chamomile tea is so gentle on your hair.

5. Salt

Have you ever noticed that your hair looks lighter after a day at the beach? The combination of salt and sunshine bleaches your hair naturally, giving you a sun-kissed look. You can recreate this effect at home, no beach required. Just dissolve some salt in water, spray it on your hair, and let it dry in the sun.

6. Honey

Raw honey contains hydrogen peroxide, the same ingredient that’s used in commercial hair bleaches. Unlike those bleaches, honey also conditions your hair, so it’s far gentler on your locks. Be aware that processed honey won’t work to lighten your hair. You’ve got to use the raw (or natural) kind, which is typically available at health food stores.

To use honey on your hair, start by mixing it with a little water or conditioner to make it less sticky. Spread the honey mixture evenly on your hair and cover it up with a shower cap or a plastic bag. Leave it in for at least an hour (overnight is even better), then shampoo it out.

7. Rhubarb

Rhubarb brings out reddish tones as it lightens your hair, so it’s perfect if you want auburn highlights. To use it, boil ¼ cup chopped rhubarb in two cups of water. Strain the rhubarb out. Once the juice is cool, pour it evenly over your hair and leave it in for 10 minutes. Then shampoo your hair to get rid of any traces of stickiness.

Watch video blogger, Dove Sorys, demonstrate a hair lightening recipe that includes cinnamon and other natural ingredients!


Lightening your hair doesn’t require any damaging chemicals or expensive trips to the salon. If you’ve been craving a change, try brightening your look with one of these quick at-home methods, instead.

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