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Tips to Lighten Hair

Updated on November 15, 2011

Many people have blonde hair when they are children but as they grow older, an increase in melanin - the protective, natural chemical that causes skin and hair colour - begins to kick in and as a result the hair darkens and they lose their natural blonde streaks.

In some cases people can have even have pale blonde hair as children and wind up brunettes by the time they are teenagers. Why this extreme change happens is not entirely clear but scientists believe it has something to do with our 'genes recipe' being read by cells and turned on at a particular stage of growth. If the 'recipe' for dark hair is not read, blonde hair will result. Geneticist, Dr Barry from Stanford University has a deeper explanation here:

Ask a geneticist

The Sun

In the summer months, just being under the sun will lighten hair, particularly if your natural shade is anywhere from light brown to blonde -drying freshly washed hair in sunlight can bring out lighter highlights and hues.However if you are a true brunette or darker, probably the only way to go lighter is with conventional bleaching products. The best candidates for natural methods of lightening hair are those with hair colour in the mid to light brown/dark blonde range.


Regular pool swimming will lighten your hair, as the combined effects of drying your wet hair in the sun with the chemicals used in pool water will bleach the hair. Similarly, salt water swimming in the sea and drying your hair on the beach will give you that sun-streaked surf look. However, you do have to be careful of the deleterious effects of too much sun exposure - not much point in lovely sun streaked hair if your skin is a shrivelled up and leathery. Too much salt and chlorine will also dry out your hair.

Lemon Juice

The lightening effects of the sun can be further enhanced by giving your hair a final rinse in lemon juice, which has been squeezed through a sieve.

Lemons are a natural bleach and while you wouldn't want to be rinsing with it everyday due to drying effects, periodically rinsing your hair with it will do no harm.

Natural Herbs for Lightening

Chamomile works very well as a brightener and conditioner for blonde hair but works best as an enhancer for hair that already has some natural blonde highlights - it won't create them in darker hair. You can make your own chamomile hair rinse by boiling the flowers for 30 mins..allow to cool then strain through a sieve and use as a final hair rinse.

For a stronger approach, you can use a product like Herbatint, which combines natural chamomile with a mild peroxide that, over time, will lighten hair gradually, without damaging it.

Even ordinary black tea can have a lightening effect on brown hair, though it probably wont make difference to blonder hair...just make a cup of tea using the normal process, cool and apply as a final rinse.

Adding Streaks and Tips

Applying commercially made bleach to the hair on the tips or on selected streaks can work extremely well on mid to light brown and dark blonde hair as it adds depth and contrast , creating the effect of blonde hair without having to apply chemicals to your whole head of hair - resulting in less damage and more natural looking hair. Sometimes just a couple of well-placed streaks along the front hairline is all it takes to lift and brighten the hair and face.

You can have this done a salon but the cheaper option is with one of the many home products available , many of which come with detailed instructions and easy to use applicators.


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