All Natural Highlights at Home

If you spend enough time in the sun without UV protection, your hair will naturally lighten, and the results can be absolutely fantastic. But, who has all summer to wait for fantastic hair? There are a few ways to speed up the process with just a few ingredients from your kitchen or a short trip to the grocery store.

Lighten Your Hair Naturally
Happy young woman carrying a surfboard on the beach – ianmcdonnell / Vetta/Getty Images

First thing’s first though, determine if you’re a good candidate for this process. The lighter your natural hair color is, the better results you’ll get and less brassy/orange tones you’ll likely expose with these methods.

It’s great for natural blondes to light brunettes. The darker your hair is, the more caramel in color your hair will turn out to be.

There are a few different ways to go about this natural highlighting process. Click to the next page for detailed mixing instructions.

Pick Your Potion

Pick Your Potion
Lemon – AndrewComings/Flickr

The first thing you’ll need to do is decide what natural concoction you’re going to use to lighten up your hair.

  1. Lemon Juice, mixed with equal parts water
  2. Lemon Vodka, mixed with equal parts water (then mix up a summer cocktail)
  3. Chamomile tea, straight up, prepared (only use on brunette hair to subtly lighten and create warmth, or it could actually darken light hair)
  4. Hydrogen Peroxide, straight up or mixed with equal parts water.

The more watered down it is, the more subtle the results will be. This method can be harsh, so use caution when using straight hydrogen peroxide.

All of these mixtures will work to lighten your hair, and the process is the same after you mix it up. I like to mix up my concoction of choice and pour it into a spray bottle. The amount you need really depends on the amount of hair you have, but I’ve found that a 1/2 cup to 1 cup of prepared natural lightener goes pretty far. If you’re using freshly squeezed lemon juice, be sure that the seeds and pulp are removed.

Click over to the next page for instructions on what to do with your spray bottle.

How to Lighten Your Hair with Your

Lighten Your Hair
A woman at the beach – Colin Anderson/Blend Images/Getty Images

To lighten your hair all over or bring out your natural highlights and warmth, simply put your mixture from the previous page into a spray bottle and saturate your hair evenly. Brush to distribute evenly through your hair and then go catch some rays. Take your spray bottle with you and reapply as it dries, if desired.

If you want your highlights to be more precise, spray a toothbrush (preferably one not currently being used for oral hygiene) with your mixture and brush onto your hair exactly where you want your highlights to be.

You can focus your highlights around your face this way for a more customized look.

For ombre highlights, simply keep your mixture concentrated toward the ends of your hair, rather than all over.

Start with short trips (20-30 minutes) in the sun to make sure nothing crazy happens. Yes, you can turn your hair orange with these mixtures, so beware before you spritz your hair with lemon juice and then spend the day in the sun. The darker your natural hair is, the higher chance for an unattractive orange hue.

You can repeat these steps daily, every few days or weeks until you have achieved your desired results. Your hair should change subtly, naturally over time. Rushing the processor expecting dramatic results isn’t recommended.

Keep in mind, that just because these lighteners are “natural” doesn’t mean that they can’t damage your hair. They can absolutely dry your hair out, causing frizz or other unwanted dryness, so a good deep conditioning treatment after lightening your hair is highly recommended.

Also, keep in mind that everyone’s results will vary. If you’ve colored your hair in the past, had previous highlights, or just have crazy undertones to your natural hair color, you might be surprised with the way it turns out. Check out the next page for fixes to common natural highlighting blunders.

Home Highlighting
Redken Blonde Idol Custom-Tone Conditioner – Photo Courtesy of PriceGrabber

What to do When At Home Highlighting Goes Bad

The most common issue with natural highlights is that they can turn out brassy, orange, or just too yellow. It’s usually due to your hair’s natural undertones that are exposed when lifting the color out. Fret not if your hair does turn an undesired color, you can correct it with a blue or purple shampoo/conditioner that is designed to tone out the unwanted colors. Here are a few brassy tone eliminators that I love:

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