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How to Lighten Hair Without Bleach

October 22, 2020

1 Min read

Whether you’re hoping to go platinum blonde for the summer or just looking to add some highlights to lighten up your look a little for the winter, bleach is not always the answer. Bleach can damage your hair — leaving it dry, brittle and vulnerable to breakage and split ends. And depending on your original hair color and the products you use, your locks can end up looking an unexpected (and undesirable) color. In the spirit of helping you reach your hair care goals, let’s look at some less-damaging options when it comes to how to lighten hair without bleach.

Soak Up the Sun

Getting the lighter shade you’ve been wishing for may be as close as the great outdoors. Sunshine is totally free, completely natural and readily available for lightening your tresses. You may have noticed that your hair is a little bit lighter after a day at the beach. This phenomenon occurs when rays from the sun mix with the oxygen found in the air. The result is a visual lightening of the hair due to a reaction in the hair’s pigmentation.

To use sunlight to lighten your hair, slap on some sunscreen and hit the outdoors. Choose styling products that offer UV protection to keep your hair looking and feeling moisturized and healthy.

 Lemons – Not Just for Juicing

Lemon juice works in much the same way as bleach, but it contains an oxidizing agent that works much more gently than traditional bleach-based products on the mass market. Lemon juice isn’t just a natural hair lightener; it’s also very cost-effective and safe. It’s much less acidic than bleach and hair dye, so it is gentler on your hair.

To use lemon juice to lighten your hair naturally, just add the juice of fresh lemons or bottled lemon juice to water. A ratio of one part water to two parts lemon juice is ideal. Spritz the mixture on wet hair, covering only the segments of your hair that you want to lighten (or all of your hair, if desired).

Head outside and allow the sun’s rays to work their magic. When sunlight hits your hair, the citric acid in the lemon juice strips off your hair’s first layer of color, causing it to appear lighter. It generally takes an hour or two of sunlight exposure to experience the lightening effect of lemon juice. Be sure to rinse the lemon juice mixture from your locks once you’ve exposed your hair to sunlight for the recommended time, and then apply conditioner to revive your hair’s moisture and shine.

Lemon juice usually works best on lighter hair. Brunettes may achieve some highlighting effect using lemon juice, but it may also cause a slight orange color to develop. For best results, use this method only on already blonde hair, whether light or dark blonde. You can repeat every 3 to 4 weeks, if desired.

A Hack to Lighten Darker Hair

Lightening darker hair is not an easy feat, even with bleach. But there is a natural alternative to try: chamomile tea. Chamomile tea doesn’t just lighten dark hair; it also brightens it, all without the harshness of bleach. Chamomile tea works by affecting the compound known as melanin that determines the darkness of each strand of hair.

To use chamomile tea as an alternative to lightening your hair with bleach, just prepare the tea as you normally would and apply following the use of shampoo and conditioner as a rinse. Work the tea into the hair, and then rinse. Repeat the application of the tea up to five times. You can apply more conditioner after rinsing or use a moisturizing treatment mask to combat any drying effects.

The results achieved from using chamomile tea to lighten hair may take a few applications to see, but some folks see brighter-looking hair fairly fast. Be sure to rinse thoroughly, as leaving residue from the tea in your hair can lead to drying of your hair and damage.

Yearning to find out if blondes really do have more fun but unwilling to risk the damage that bleach can inflict on your hair? Take the Prose hair consultation. Our pros help curate a regimen featuring your own customized shampoo, conditioner, hair care treatments and styling aids to take care of your hair, no matter which color you choose.



The Prose Staff is here to share the best hair tips and tricks to help you achieve all your hair goals with custom hair care, breakthrough innovation and more

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  1. Please don’t use lemon juice on your body before exposing it to sunlight or UV. You can get serious burns. “The use of citrus fruits on the skin could leave you with bigger worries, like a second-degree burn. The psoralens in lemons and limes can cause a phototoxic reaction on your skin when it’s exposed to UV light.”

    1. Hi there, you’re totally correct! We do not recommend using lemon juice anywhere on the body, this blog post is focused just on hair strands.

      -Keely, Prose Community Manager