How to Lighten Hair with Lemon Juice

Lemon has astounding benefits beyond adding flavor and keeping our bodies healthy. It’s great for use on your hair because not only does is reduce oil buildup, treat dandruff, and add shine; but also it has bleaching and lightening properties.

Lemon has cleansing abilities that can aid brighten the natural color of your hair, especially for dark hues such as black, brown, and brunettes. In here, learn how you can use lemon to lighten your hair color at home, drawbacks and tips for better results.

How Does it Work?

Lemon contains citric acid which is a bleaching and oxidizing agent. It works by whitening and lightening hair strands chemically from its original hair color through its melanin pigment.

What’s more, if combined with the sun or direct exposure to a source of heat, it accelerates the process of lightening even further.

The effects of lightening work best with lighted hair shades such as light brown to blonde. Black and dark brown colors only have effects after extended periods of processing, and even then, the effects are quite minimal.

Lemon fruits and juice
lemon juice

How to Lighten Hair with Lemon

It’s vital to note that black hair gets the advantage of becoming more shinier than lighter in shade. However, for other colors, you will see a change after a few applications.

Black Hair

Start off by gathering all the essential ingredients you’ll need for this process. They include;

  • Two or three fresh lemons
  • Water bottle or spray bottle
  • A washcloth, towel or hand towel
  • Sunblock for when you’ll be basking
  • A hairbrush or comb


  1. Slice the lemons to extract the lemon juice. Empty the juice into a water bottle or spray bottle.
  2. Dilute the lemon juice with equal parts water to avoid damaging the hair with too much acidity from the lemon juice.
  3. Stir it or shake the mixture in the bottle till to get a fully mixed solution.
  4. Dampen your hair or leave it wet after you wash and condition it. The simplest method is to use a cotton ball dipped in the mixture and use it to apply to your hair, but different results require different techniques.
  5. Apply the mixture to your hair using the spray bottle or using alternatives like a color brush, pastry brush, or just take a cup and pour the mix all over your head.
  6. Mix up the application process – you can opt for various types of applications. From streaky highlights to a mohawk look, fringe application, ombre for this with long hair, or just a full-on application.
  7. Head out to the sun – after the application is done, its advisable to sit under. the sun for about an hour. Sunshine is the best source of heat in these scenarios since they don’t directly target your head, its indirect heat. Put on sunblock or sunscreen to avoid getting sunburns.
  8. Stay under the sun for half an hour to an hour to have the best sun exposure.
  9. Air-dry the hair instead of getting into a dryer. The hair is already dry and slightly brittle from the exposure to lemon water for quite some time. Therefore, letting the hair dry on its own gives it ample time to rejuvenate. Avoid blow driers, curling irons, or using a flat iron.
  10. Repeat the procedure as many times as you’d like. The results will not show in the first instance – that’s a given. Therefore, repeat the process three to four more times or until you have the desired look. Keep the intervals at once a week to protect the hair.

Counteracting the Drying Effects of Lemon Juice

We have already established that lemon can really dry out your hair. Therefore, here is a bag of tricks you can use to your advantage.

  • Add oil to the vinegar mixture. Oil is a good moisturizer and can reduce the side effects of using lemon to your hair. Therefore, consider adding carrier oils such as olive oil, coconut oil, or almond oil to aid retain moisture.
  • Dilute the mixture further. Using lemon juice directly may get the work done faster but it can cause irreparable damage to the health of your hair.
  • Mix up the spices – adding cardamon it cinnamon can easily do the trick especially if you want the dyeing prices to work faster. The hastier the process the fewer times you have to use the lemons.
  • Rinse the hair with chamomile tea after you’re done with the lemon rinse. Chamomile has soothing qualities that can reduce the acidity introduced to your hair by the lemons. Once the ph of your hair is balanced out, the damage is mitigated.

Other Types of Hair (Blonde, Brown)

Brown hair can show signs of lightening after two to three applications. Here are a few recipes you can use;

Lemon Rinse / Spray


  • Half a cup of freshly squeezed lemon, you can add more if you have thicker or longer hair.
  • Half a cup of warm water to dilute the lemon, you can also add more if you have more hair.
  • Empty spray bottle
  • Towel
  • Shower cap


  1. Once the hair is prepared for the procedure, make the lemon rinse mixture by putting equal portions of lemon juice and water into the spray bottle.
  2. Shake it till you get a homogeneous solution.
  3. Dampen your hair to retain some moisture after the drying effects of lemon.
  4. Cover your shoulders with the towel and also place a towel on the floor beneath to avoid splashing water on the ground.
  5. Spray your hair with plenty of the mixture. Ensure to cover from the roots to the ends of the hair. Gently massage it into the scalp.
  6. Cover with a shower cap and sit under the sun to activate the lemon juice. Covering the hair is optional. Sit for approximately one hour then head back in for a rinse.
  7. Run your hair under cool water as you rinse off the lemon mixture. Then, shampoo and condition the hair accordingly.
  8. Air dry your hair and moisturize to keep it healthy.

Dry hair can easily suffer from this mixture since the lemon will strip the hair of its oils even the essential ones. Therefore, you can add a half a cup of olive oil or a conditioner to the mixture to keep it from damaging the hair.

To highlight parts of the hair, use cotton balls when applying the mixture so it’s only visible on some areas of the hair. Cover those strips of hair with a plastic foil or aluminum foil and let sit rest for a while.

What Happens when Lemon Juiced Hair is Exposed to a Drier?

Lemon juice has a drying effect, a technique the acid uses to clear dirt and oils from the hair and scalp. Hence, when the juiced hair is further exposed to another drying agent, it could have severe effects on the health of your hair. You will be risking your chances of hair damage which will take you longer to correct once the hair is affected.

Therefore, avoid sitting under the dryer with already juiced hair.

Lemon Juice on Bleached Hair

Bleached hair is weaker than your original hair, a foreign chemical compound has been introduced to the hair leaving the hair wanting of moisture among other hair nutrients. Adding lemon juice will offset the ph balance of your hair.

Imagine this scenario, healthy hair has a ph of 4.5 to 5.5 once you add lemon juice it becomes acidic and even dangerous to the health of your hair. What if you add it to already acidic hair, thanks to the dye you had kept? The results could mean the hair is acidic double the time and very unhealthy to the hair.

This method of using lemon to lighten the hair is meant to be an alternative to storing bought dyes not something you add onto it. Otherwise, you risk adverse effects of even hair loss.


Lemon has proven its abilities time and time again. It can lighten the hair to about two tones lighter, make the hair shinier, and even add beautiful highlights. However, there are possible risks to the hair.

  • Because of the lemon’s drying nature, you want to counteract its effects by adding a soothing/ moisturizing agent. You can add a leave-in moisturizer or mist, honey, or even yogurt.
  • Minimize hair treatments to at most once a week to give your hair time to rehydrate after the procedure.
  • Prolonged sun exposure can easily be harmful to your hair as well. Therefore, limit the time to about an hour only to avoid any damages.
  • Take some time to understand the process before you go ahead with it. This is because red hair may turn to orange. Therefore, it’s good to test out on a small strip of hair before you jump to a bulkier portion.

More on Bleaching and Hair lightening

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