How to Lighten Dark Hair Easily With These 5 Methods





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Last Updated: December 18, 2021

Ever since the namesake song in 1978, everyone has been saying that blondes have more fun. It might be the bounce in the hair or the comparisons to Marilyn Monroe, but something tells us it’s the ability to skip the bleach.

Even if you’re just looking for lighter hair without preparation for a future dye job, actually getting your hair lighter can be a pain, especially if you have dark locks.

Ahead, we’re going to share some simple methods to lighten your dark hair at home that can help make the process easier. We can’t guarantee that you’ll be Monroe blond, but you’ll certainly get a little closer.

We also talked to licensed cosmetologist and barber Madison Dufour of The Exquisite Find to give you some inside tips on how to lighten your hair naturally.

Is Lightening Your Hair Safe?

When it comes to color treating hair, it’s typical to consider what kind of damage it might cause. Dryness and breakage are the main concerns, since going lighter means you have to strip the darker color from your hair first. 

“Lightening dark hair is difficult because color doesn’t lift color,” Madison Dufour tells us. “A person can’t put a light brown on their dark hair and their hair lifts to a lighter brown. Natural pigments need to be removed first.”

When it comes to damage, here’s what Dufour has this to say on the subject: “No matter what you do to your hair, it will cause a little bit of damage,” she explains on her blog. “Even brushing your hair, sleeping on your hair, and washing your hair will cause minimal and gradual wear and tear on the hair.”

So, although there are ways to help reduce damage to your hair, such as hydrating and conditioning it regularly, there will be at least minimal damage done when lightening your hair. It’s not enough to cause a lot of concern, but it’s something to keep in mind.

With that said, here are some of the easiest ways to lighten your hair at home.

RELATED: 10 Best Hair Bleaches for Every Hair Type

How to Lighten Dark Hair

Method 1: Use Baking Soda + Peroxide

For this method, we’re going to be taking a cue from salon lightening treatments. When you go to a salon to get your hair lightened, the activator in that bleach is hydrogen peroxide

“Hydrogen peroxide is the best and safest way to lighten the hair, carefully, and patiently to the level desired,” says Dufour. 

The important thing to note here is that you don’t need a lot of peroxide directly on your hair to do this. For one full cup of baking soda, you only need 2 to 3 tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide.

When you’re mixing this up, make sure you apply it with gloves and don’t leave it on your hair for more than 30 minutes at a time.

Out of all the methods on this list, this one is most similar to a salon treatment and is probably going to work better if you have really dark brown or black hair.

Pro tip: “Do not mix with box color,” Dufour warns. “There are metallics in box color that will cause a catastrophic chemical reaction that will be very difficult to repair on the hair.”


Method 2: Try Vitamin C (for dyed hair)

We all need Vitamin C: it’s good for the development of tissues and repairing your body. But it’s also good for lightening your hair!

Vitamin C is healthy, but it’s still acidic, so you’re going to want to mix it with a clarifying shampoo.

Take about 20 to 30 over-the-counter vitamin C tablets, crush them with a rolling pin or wood spoon in a ziploc bag and mix the resulting powder with clarifying shampoo to make a paste.

On damp hair, apply the mixture and leave it on anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour. Thoroughly rinse out the mixture and enjoy your lightened hair!


Method 3: Spray on Saltwater

Remember all those beachy highlights everyone was obsessed with a few years ago? Well, turns out calling them beachy isn’t just trendy, since saltwater can actually lighten your hair.

Saltwater obviously isn’t as harsh as peroxide, but you still don’t want to coat your hair in salt like your head is a freshly caught fish. In one cup of water, you only really need a tablespoon of salt. Use a spray bottle and spray your hair with this, leaving it on for about 15 minutes before rinsing.


Method 4: Use Lemon Juice

If you’ve ever looked at the back of a bottle of Sun In, you’ll probably notice that they put lemon juice or lemon oil in it.

This isn’t an accident, since lemon juice does actually lighten your hair. When combined with sunlight, the citric acid in lemon juice works as a natural bleach.

With that said, it’s still an acid, so you shouldn’t put it directly on your hair without diluting it with something else. You don’t need much, a 1:2 ratio of lemon juice to water will work just fine. 

Put the mixture in a spray bottle and spritz on your hair, then activate the mixture by either using a handheld UV light or spending a little time in the sun. 


Method 5: Apply Apple Cider Vinegar

Much like lemon juice, an acidic mixture of apple cider vinegar and water is a good way to lighten hair at home.

What you should keep in mind when using this particular remedy is that apple cider vinegar requires more dilution than lemon juice. 

For this particular remedy, you’re going to want to dilute one part apple cider vinegar with 6 parts water. Spray on or comb through your hair, and leave it for about 15 to 20 minutes before rinsing it out.


Bottom Line

Can you lighten your hair at home? Absolutely, but you should always take into account your own safety and the health of your hair first. 

If you’re using something acidic or bleaching, always make sure to handle it with gloves and use it sparingly. Dilute everything well, and wait a few weeks between treatments. 

If you’re unsure about anything, contact a qualified hair colorist before attempting to bleach your hair at home.

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