Blondes—sometimes they do have more fun. The naturally flaxen-haired get to hang out in the summer sun and come in with enviable natural highlights. A twist of lemon or a few drops of olive oil can even speed up the lightening results. But what if you’re more of an indoors-y person?
You can obviously lighten your hair at home using boxed highlighting kits, but for a natural, chemical-free method, just reach right into your kitchen cabinets. The effectiveness of natural lighteners depends on your hair color—don’t expect to go from brunette to blond in one wash. You may need several treatments to see a change.
Chamomile is an ingredient in lightening shampoos for a reason: it works. This herb that’s often brewed into a relaxing sleepy-time tea can also gradually change the hue of your hair. While sunlight boosts the lightening effects of chamomile, a regular rinse with a strongly brewed cup of tea works even without the rays. After shampooing and conditioning, rinse hair with cooled tea. Don’t rinse again with water. Style as usual.
Beer as a hair rinse can add brightness and bring out natural highlights. Use light beer, not a stout, and rinse with the libation after shampooing and conditioning. Follow a regular styling routine afterward. The beer may even nourish your hair thanks to its B vitamins and proteins.
This sticky substance can result in lighter hair when applied for eight to 12 hours. Mix honey with distilled water in a spray bottle; use about 4 parts honey to 1 part water. Add a little of your favorite conditioner to make the mixture more nourishing. Spritz your hair thoroughly with the blend, and cover your head with a shower cap for several hours—overnight, ideally. Rinse out with warm water, and you’ll have soft, honey-hued hair.
Citrus juice helps lighten the color of your hair, so go for straight vitamin C to concentrate the effect. Crush a dozen or more vitamin C tablets and mix with 1 to 2 tablespoons of dandruff-reducing shampoo. Comb the paste through your hair, then cover with a shower cap and let it sit for 1 to 2 hours. Rinse and condition your hair; style as usual.
Brunettes or redheads looking for highlights can opt for cinnamon. This spice may be reminiscent of oatmeal cookies and banana bread, but it also naturally lightens darker tones without turning them brassy or orange. Simply wet your hair and comb conditioner through. Create a cinnamon paste with water and spread it through your strands. Leave on for several hours, or overnight for the most lightening effect.
Although all of these natural lightening methods are safe, many can dry out your hair. Limit any method to three to four times per week, and deep condition regularly.