Hair

How to Lighten Your Hair Naturally or with Chemicals

We are saying goodbye to winter and hello to sunshine and long days. Ditch the dark hair tones and bring in the light, bright tones to match the season. Here’s how to lighten your hair.

The first decision you need to make once you are certain you want to lighten your hair, is whether you are going to attempt a DIY job, or will be heading to the salon.

There are a number of ways you can use natural ingredients in the comfort of your own home to lighten your shade of hair color, and the results can be subtle but kind to your hair. At a salon, results can be more dramatic, and it will be quicker to get to the desired color, but hairdressers will sometimes need to strip the hair or use bleach. Here's how to lighten your hair with the help of some natural ingredients everyone has lying around in their house.

The natural way

With natural ingredients, the damage to your hair is dramatically reduced. What’s more, a homemade effort is much cheaper than a trip to the salon. The reason most people opt to try some natural, home methods is to protect the condition of the hair. If you have dry or brittle hair, or have colored it a lot in the past, the DIY method may be a safer option for you. Now, where to start?

There are many natural ingredients which can lighten hair shade, and some results are more subtle than others (and overall, results are much more subtle than bleach).

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Some of these ingredients include:

  • Chamomile tea – Leave a chamomile tea bag in hot water for 10 minutes and remove it, leaving the tea to cool. Rinse it through your hair and leave for about 15 minutes to absorb. For a lighter result, repeat an extra two or three times. Black tea will also be effective, but chamomile helps bring added shine to the hair follicles.
  • Cinnamon – Add cinnamon powder (about the size of a 10p piece) to the usual amount of conditioner that you use for your hair and mix it. Comb through the hair to spread evenly and leave it in overnight. The following morning, rinse it out and your hair should appear lighter. You can repeat this as often as you need, as cinnamon is safe to use on hair and leaving conditioner in your hair gives it a great sleek feel.
  • Honey and vinegar combined make an effective lightening agent, and it is best used with a drop of olive oil to add moisture. Use two cups of distilled vinegar to one cup of raw, uncooked honey and a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. Add a small amount of cinnamon (see point above) and mix them all together. Apply the mixture to damp hair and comb through. If you want streaks of highlighted hair, just apply to sections of the hair. Fix the hair in place with a shower cap and leave the conditioner to work overnight.
  • Bring some rhubarb to boil, and allow it to cool before straining it and using the liquid to rinse hair. Leave it for about ten minutes before rinsing again with clear water.
  • Baking Soda is a great way to strip the hair of any build-up of chemicals. If you have colored your hair various shades or use a lot of products, it can be great to use to strip these away as well as lighten the hair. The results are very subtle, so it is best to use a small amount once a week to work gradually.
  • Lemon is one of the more well-known lightning agents, but it can be drying. Mix up some lemon juice with water to rinse hair and sit in the sunlight to let it develop before rinsing out again, but make sure you use lots of conditioner. Again, this may take a few times before results are noticeable, but if you have blonde hair and want it to look brighter, it works like a charm. The exact same method goes for vinegar, and in the same way it can be drying. Apple cider vinegar smells nicer than normal vinegar. But again, be sure to condition well.
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When ‘doing it yourself’, patience is key. Some of the natural ingredients can take a while to lighten the hair, and are best used on hair that is already light to maintain the shade or brighten it up.

If you want to take dark hair to blonde shades, the salon is the most effective way to go.

Going to the salon

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They say that ‘blondes have more fun’, but deciding to go from a dark shade to a light one can be anything but fun! It can be a lengthy process and involve a few ‘in-between’ shades along the journey. First of all, make sure you have the patience, time and money to go through with it – it could involve up to three salon appointments, as well as keeping on top of touch ups once you’ve got the desired color.

In addition, if your hair is brittle, it can make the condition even worse. But once you have decided that blonde will suit you and you are committed, you won’t regret it!

Many people think that hair colorists are miracle workers, and expect their hair to transform from a dark brown to a platinum blonde in a single sitting. The reality is, it can take two or three times to get it right, and after the first sitting, it can look a slightly undesirable shade (orangey).

Before starting the process of bleaching your hair, try to get it to the best condition possible – with leave-in conditioners and regular trims. This will ensure that it can handle the harsh chemicals better. If you hair has been subject to lots of dramatic shades and frequent coloring, it may need stripping, which can be particularly harsh to hair condition. Keep hair well-conditioned with hair masks.

It is hard to maintain platinum blonde hair for too long, simply because the bleach can seriously damage the condition of your hair – but for a short time, it can be a really fun shade to experiment with. If you think your hair is starting to wilt under all the bleach, consider adding other shades to it, such as some brown streaks or darker tones of blonde and try not to touch up the roots too often (bleach and touching the scalp do not mix).

Once your hair is lighter, take good care of it – with great nutrition (vitamin and mineral filled diets), exercise, sleep and some good quality products (such as heat protectant spray and leave in conditioners). Once you are happy with the shade, consider some of the natural ingredients to keep it looking fresh longer.

So, there we have it – natural or salon, getting your hair a few shades lighter is possible. Which do you prefer? Have you tried out some of the natural options? We would love to hear your feedback and advice! Don’t forget to comment below about your experiences of taking your hair to the lighter end of the color charts!

About the author

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Rachel A.

Welsh Journalism graduate and full-time writer Rachel has a love of words! A workaholic with champagne desire on a lemonade budget, Rachel is most at home with her laptop on her knee and a cup of tea close by.

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