How To Lighten Your Hair Without Bleach

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So, you’re ready for a new hair look and you’ve decided to go brighter. But you want to avoid the damage that bleaching will cause because you know it can result in weaker strands that are prone to breakage. Luckily, there are a number of ways you lighten your hair.

Wondering how to lighten your hair without bleach?

There are many natural solutions that will give your hair a lighter hue without bleach. Because these hair treatments are natural, they won’t give you the exact same effect as bleach. But you’ll still be able to achieve a lightening lift by up to three shades.

If it’s your first time experimenting with your hair and want to lighten it without committing to bleach, then you probably have questions about how to do this. So, let’s take a look at how to lighten hair without bleach.


How To Lighten Your Hair Without Bleach

You may have heard stories of your mother or grandmother lathering their leathery skin in baby oil and soaking their hair in fresh squeezed lemon juice to lay in the sun the 1970s. The goal was to emulate the California sunkissed beach babe look of Farrah Fawcett in Charlie’s Angels, the poster girl of all things 1970s.

Well, not only can you use lemon juice to lighten your hair without using bleach, but there are other items in your kitchen cupboards that you can use that are not only easy to apply, but also won’t break the bank.

1. Freshly Squeezed Lemons


Lemons have the ability to give your hair a natural lightening result with vibrant, gradual, and subtle highlights. So many love using this method! This is because of the bleaching properties of the citric acid contained in lemons.

And the good news is that you don’t have to lay out in the sun or in a tanning bed for this process to work (although if you do, the lightening results will be magnified). If you choose the latter option, make sure that you wear adequate sunscreen so that you don’t burn your skin while lightening your hair.

The results that you can expect from using lemon juice to lighten your hair without bleach will vary. If your hair is a naturally dark brown color, for example, then you can expect a lighter brown hue with auburn red streaks.

Potential Drawbacks of Lemon Juice

There are a couple of things to consider if you’re planning to lighten hair without bleach using lemons:

Dried Out — Citric acid can severely dry out your hair, especially if it has been dyed before. So, you’ll have to up your moisturizing game after your lightening treatment.

Time Travel — You’ll need to be patient to see this process through. Most hair colors don’t lighten quickly with this method of lightening hair without bleach.

2. The Big Apple

apple cider vinegar

The use of apple cider vinegar (also known as ACV) as a dietary aid, fungus-remover, and even as a household product and cleaner, has become popular over the years. However, ACV can also work wonders for your hair.

Using an ACV rinse, every now and then, is a great way to strip your strands of any product residue that has built up, which can cause your hair to feel greasy, limp and lifeless. But it also has amazing properties as a lightener.

Unfortunately, caution must be observed if you have thin or brittle hair. Vinegar’s drying effect can add further damage.

If you have thicker brunette hair, you can expect more orange tones, while if you have healthy blonde hair, you’ll get more warmth with the cool hues that will appear.

Both ACV — and distilled white vinegar — will lighten your hair by giving it more warmth. Make sure that when using ACV as a lightening rinse, you dilute the solution in water at a ratio of 50/50. This is because ACV and (distilled white vinegar) are acidic in nature and could cause your hair to dry out.

After you rinse the vinegar from your hair, do a cold water rinse and add an oil to seal in moisture. This is an important thing to remember, especially if you have bleached hair already. 

And finally, if your scalp has any scratches or small cuts, vinegar will burn the skin. So wait until it heals.

Potential Drawbacks of ACV

Sniff Test — Apple cider vinegar has a very strong, albeit fresh, smell that has the potential to linger in your hair after you’ve washed it.

Strip Off — Being acidic in nature, apple cider vinegar can also make your hair brittle and weak. So, if your hair is already brittle or fine, using ACV may strip it even more, causing further damage.

3. Honey Bear


A sticky favorite of many, honey contains bleaching properties. It is also a great moisturizer for hair, so is a great thing to incorporate into your natural hair care regime if you suffer from dry or damaged locks.

Honey will provide your hair with varying shades, depending on the amount of time you leave it on. It works especially well if you’ve previously dyed your hair, but find the color too dark.

If you want a very light look, you can add some hydrogen peroxide to the mix.

Potential Drawbacks of Honey

Dirt Alert — Honey is sticky. So unless you completely rinse your hair, any residue left behind can cause dirt to be absorbed, leaving sticky, gunky deposits.

Bee Careful — If you’ve ever had an allergic reaction to bee pollen, then you probably shouldn’t use honey as a lightener for your hair.

4. Cinnamon Girl


Spicy cinnamon has the power to improve your hair’s growth and structure, as well as act as a bleaching agent.

You can use it to lighten colored hair up to two shades. Using a cinnamon mask on the hair will also reduce hair loss.

Potential Drawbacks of Cinnamon

Rash Decision — Although considered safe, like any spice, cinnamon has the potential to cause a reaction. If you feel and irritation or experience redness, wash it out immediately.

Light Work — Cinnamon’s lightening effects will only work on very light brown or blonde hair.

5. Getting Salty

salt water softener

Bring the salty beach vibe to your bathroom by using sea salt as a hair lightener! Just like getting your hair wet in seawater and sitting in the sun’s heat to let it dry, you can get the same tousled sun-kissed results at home.

Sea salt will brighten hair that’s been previously lightened and will give a boost to lighter brown tones. Using a sea salt rinse works best for oily or limp hair.

Potential Drawbacks of Sea Salt

Oil Slick — If your hair tends to be on the dryer side, using sea salt as a lightener will cause it further stress.

Break Chance — Sea salt also strips the hair of its natural protein, which can leave it feeling sticky and much more prone to breakage.

6. Half Baked

baking soda

Working in a similar way to how apple cider vinegar does, baking soda strips the hair of chemical buildup. It can also be used as a mild cleaner. Some people use it as a tooth whitener, as well as a shampoo substitute. And besides its effective bleaching properties, baking soda has the ability to remove excess oil buildup and restore your hair’s luster.

Baking soda also has the added benefit of reducing cuticle damage and hair breakage. This is due to its high pH level, which can rebalance your scalp.

Make a mask for your hair and wrap it in plastic film. If you apply heat, it will accelerate the bleaching process.

Potential Drawbacks of Baking Soda

Itchy Business — Long-term use of baking soda as a lightening agent can strip your hair of its natural oils. This can cause irritation to the scalp, especially if you have sensitive skin.

Trick or Treat — If your hair has previously been chemically treated or colored, then using baking soda to bleach your hair can make it dry and brittle.

7. Time for Tea

chamomile tea

Get the hot water on the boil and settle yourself down for a cup of tea… for your head! If you have naturally blonde hair, then a cup of chamomile tea can enhance it, while it gives light brown hair soft, golden tones.

Chamomile tea also contains soothing properties that prevent itchiness and dandruff. It enhances the hair by giving color extra shine and is great for blending in any stray gray hair. Soak your hair in a rinse made from cooled-down chamomile tea and use old towels.

It can leave yellow stains that aren’t guaranteed to come out in the wash.

Potential Drawbacks of Chamomile Tea

Patch Test — Chamomile tea can cause some sensitive people to experience an allergic reaction since it’s a relative of ragweed.  Do a patch test on your skin if you’re unsure and wait at least two hours before applying to see if any swelling occurs.

Baby Alert — If you’re pregnant or planning an addition to your household, then chamomile is contraindicated, because of its anti-inflammatory properties.


By using these natural treatments, you’ll be able to lighten your hair 2-3 times a month without causing it any harm that can’t be fixed with a deep conditioning treatment. These natural solutions provide quick, easy, and cost-effective ways to lighten your hair without bleach.

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Written by Kayla Young

Kayla is the founder of LuxeLuminous. She has worked professionally in the tanning industry for years. She has been interested in esthetics since childhood, and has tried every hair, skin, and makeup product ever produced (more or less).