Are you looking for some subtle, sun-kissed highlights this season? If you are wondering how to lighten hair in a natural, safe, and effective way, look no further. You may have just what you need lying around the house today.

You can lighten your hair with a box of dye, but these methods can damage your healthy hair.  The bleach and peroxide in off-the-shelf hair dyes are full of harsh chemicals that can cause lasting harm to the hair follicle. Hair dye can also cause allergic reactions, itching, hair breakage, and even hair loss. Luckily there are many natural approaches you can take to lighten or highlight your hair this summer.

Before you begin, consider what your goals are. Natural ways for how to lighten hair can be effective, but it only works if you have fair hair with a fine texture to begin with. These methods will most likely only lighten your hair 1-2 shades. So if you’re looking to add highlights to brown hair that is dark in color, you may have little success with these methods.

The best results are seen in hair medium brown or lighter. For girls with light brown hair, you might see dark blonde highlights. Blondes will get blonder. And if you’re a redhead, these methods may give you some strawberry blonde highlights. These natural tips for how to lighten hair will pull out the red and orange undertones in your natural color, giving you that light, bright shade you are looking for.

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1. Lemon Juice

For lots of people, lemon juice comes to mind when looking for how to lighten hair naturally. Lemon juice in hair really can work, but be careful not to leave it in too long, as it can have a drying effect on your hair. Mix fresh or bottled lemon juice with coconut oil and apply to the hair as a mask. The oil will help to hydrate your hair and keep it from drying out. The longer the lemon juice stays in contact with your hair, the lighter the results. Spend some time in the sun while the mixture is on your hair to see even better results.

2. Apple Cider Vinegar

Vinegar is another great household product used to lighten hair. Apple cider vinegar can be very useful, pulling out natural reddish highlights in your hair. This method will work slowly, but it creates a gorgeous, subtle look. Combine a ½ cup of apple cider vinegar with a ½ cup of distilled water and either spray onto your hair or apply with a cotton ball or brush. This vinegar also helps gently lighten hair and dissolve buildup. Try this apple cider vinegar hair rinse and reap all of the benefits. 

3. Chamomile

Chamomile doesn’t just calm you down, it can be used to lighten hair as well! Brew a strong cup of chamomile tea and let it cool down. Pour over hair if you’re looking to lighten all over. Apply it to strands of hair using a cotton ball or swab for highlights. Let it dry naturally in the sun for maximum effect. Because chamomile is gentle, rinse this through your hair daily for safe and effective results.

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4. Rhubarb

Look no further if you’re wondering what might be the most unique method on how to lighten hair. Rhubarb is an old-fashioned method for lightening hair naturally, but it does work! Boil 3-4 tablespoons of dried rhubarb root or half a cup of fresh in a quart of water for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the mixture steep overnight. In the morning, strain the ingredients. Use this concoction as a rinse after washing and conditioning. Pour the rhubarb dye through your hair, catching the liquid as you pour. Repeat 2-3 times, then let hair air dry without any further rinsing. Before you know it, your hair will be glowing.

5. Baking Soda

There seems to be no end to the great things you can do with baking soda, and naturally lightening your hair is one of them. Take ½ cup of baking soda and add warm water until it makes a paste. Apply to your hair and leave on for about 15-20 minutes, checking the progress as it develops. Once you’re happy with the results, rinse, shampoo, condition, and style as usual. This method will not only naturally lighten your hair, but it will cleanse it as well, leaving you with lighter and fresher hair.

6. Vitamin C

Vitamin C boosts your immune system and brightens your skin, but it can also naturally lighten your hair. Crush 5-10 tablets, depending on the length of your hair and mix into your shampoo. Lather thoroughly into your hair. Cover your hair with a plastic bag or shower cap and wait at least an hour before washing off the mixture. Continue to use Vitamin C to both lighten your hair and strengthen it.

7. Honey

Honey nourishes the skin, and it also works wonders for your hair! Honey naturally contains the elements of hydrogen peroxide that will lighten your hair. When combined with olive oil, you can expect subtle highlights and softer hair. You can also mix honey and vinegar together and get the benefits of both at the same time! Use distilled water with honey to create a chemical process that slowly and carefully lightens your hair. Apply into wet hair for as little as 30 minutes or even leave it overnight to help deeply condition your hair while it lightens. 

8. Sea Salt

Picture that perfect combination of ocean water and sun that can give you beachy waves and subtle highlights. You can create that same effect at home with sea salt and warm water. Dissolve 1 tablespoon of salt into a ½ cup of warm water. Leave in your hair for about 10-15 minutes and watch as the salt water lifts the color from your hair naturally.

9. Olive Oil

Oils can moisturize, but olive oil can also bring out your natural highlights. Use a few tablespoons of olive oil to coat your hair. Leave in for at least 30 minutes, but it is safe to leave in overnight. Oils naturally will moisturize your hair and heal damage while being the perfect way to lighten your hair. 

10. Sun

Nothing can be more natural or more effective than lightening your hair in the sun. Combining your time in the sun with any of the other methods above will only enhance their effects. So grab some sunscreen and take advantage of the sunshine by laying out at the park, beach or backyard.


All these methods will vary in your results depending on your hair type and color. Your hair may absorb or lose color differently depending on a lot of circumstances. So give yourself plenty of time and experiment, maybe even mixing different methods to create a great hair mask. Good luck!