How to Lighten Dark Brown Hair to Light Brown Naturally

From time to time, we all want to change your hair color.

Perhaps you want something more seasonal, or just want to lighten dark brown hair. Unfortunately, whether you want a neutral color or something more unusual, changing color can be a damaging process. Lightening your hair from dark brown to light brown can be detrimental to your hair and scalp.

Most lightening procedures require bleaching the hair. Unfortunately, bleaching can strip your hair of many nutrients. It may help to give you the color you want, but at what cost? People who frequently get their hair bleached can experience a lot of problems. But, it only takes one time for the damage to be done.

Hair dye often contains harmful chemicals as well. No matter the color you’re going for, you could be putting yourself at risk. Lightening your hair to a different shade may seem like the easiest process for a professional stylist, but it’s not any less harmful than dyeing your hair pink or purple.

So, should you avoid lightening your hair altogether? Not necessarily. If you understand the harmful nature of bleaching your hair, you can avoid it and talk to your stylist about alternative coloring options. Or, you can try some safe DIY methods.

Can I Safely Lighten Dark Brown Hair?

How do you lighten your hair without bleaching it? We’ll be focusing on several safe alternatives. Bleach-free options that you can use at home or find over-the-counter may not give you the drastic effect that chemicals can. But, you can take comfort knowing you’re protecting your hair from harm.

Thankfully, lightening your hair just one shade doesn’t have to require bleaching to be effective. Let’s first take a look at why you should avoid bleach on your hair altogether. Then, we’ll go through a few safe options you can try right away to get the hair color that you need.

What Does Bleach Do to Hair?

There are several stages your hair goes through when you bleach it. The first and one of the most important is that it begins to swell. This swelling is what allows so much damage to occur in the first place. Swelling causes the cuticles of your hair to open up. While this can make it look fuller and give more volume, it also makes your hair more susceptible to damage.

When your hair is more open, the chemical agents in bleach can easily penetrate them. The longer you leave bleach on, the more pigmentation will be removed. But, it can also cause damage to the cortex of the hair. This will lead to breakage and split ends.

Even after you lighten your hair with bleach, it becomes more porous. This doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be able to soak in moisture easier. In fact, your hair may look dry and damaged more often than not. It’s also much harder to go back to your original color after your hair has been bleached, because of the damage that has been done.

There are safer alternatives to lightening your hair. Again, you likely won’t see the same drastic results as you would with bleach. However, you also don’t have to worry about damaging your hair in the process. Let’s take a look at some of the most effective ways to turn dark brown hair into light brown hair safely.

Lemon Juice

Lemon is one of the most popular natural lightening agents. Lemons are easy to find and inexpensive. But, what makes them work to lighten your hair? First, it’s important to note that lemons will only work on hair that hasn’t already been color-treated. You can only use them effectively on your natural hair color. It’s also best to used freshly-squeezed lemon juice, and not juice from a bottle.

Lemon juice contains citric acid. This is considered to be an oxidizing agent, like bleach or peroxide. But, it is much weaker than the chemicals found in bleach, and it’s all-natural. It’s the oxidization process that lightens your hair to a different shade. It typically takes a lot of lemon juice to see strong results, but many people swear by this method. To lighten up your dark brown shade, follow these steps:

  1. Mix equal parts fresh lemon juice and water in a small spray bottle.
  2. Spray the solution all over your hair (or the areas you want to lighten) until it is damp.
  3. Sit out in the sun for 30-60 minutes. The UV rays from the sun are what ‘activate’ the oxidization process. Using other forms of heat will not work.
  4. You can choose to leave the lemon in your hair, or rinse it out after you’ve spent enough time in the sun.
  5. Follow up with a hydrating conditioner to combat the acidity in the juice.

If you don’t get the lightening results, you’re looking for in one treatment, repeat this process weekly. You’ll see a gradual lightening effect over time. If you’re consistently out in the sun, be sure to take the proper precautions to protect your skin from UV rays.

Honey

Honey is one of the world’s most perfect substances. It can be used for a variety of different health and skin conditions, and it can also be beneficial for your hair. One thing to be aware of is that honey contains trace amounts of hydrogen peroxide. It is this substance that helps to lighten the hair.

There are several different ways in which you can use honey to give your locks a lighter shade. A couple of the most common processes include:

  • Mix 1/3 cup honey (preferably raw honey) with a small amount of your usual conditioner. Apply the solution to wet hair, and massage thoroughly throughout your tresses. Put on a shower cap to let the mixture sit overnight. Wash your hair in the morning as you normally would.
  • Combine two tablespoons of raw honey with a cup of warm water. Spread the mixture evenly throughout your hair. Let it sit for an hour before rinsing away.

Like lemon juice, it may take several ‘treatments’ for you to see significant lightening results with honey. Always use the purest form of honey that you can find. Honey that has been pasteurized may not work.

Hydrogen Peroxide

The same hydrogen peroxide you use to treat cuts and scrapes can also be a great at-home method for lightening your hair. It’s inexpensive and can be found at just about any pharmacy or big box store. Because peroxide can be quite potent, It’s a good idea to do a color test before using it to lighten all your locks. Snip a small piece of your hair and try this method on those strands, first. This simple test will show you how peroxide will affect your hair.

If you’re confident in the lighter color it will give you, follow these steps to use peroxide effectively:

  1. Combine equal parts hydrogen peroxide and water in a spray bottle.
  2. Spray through already-damp hair, and comb through to distribute evenly.
  3. Allow the solution to soak into your hair for 15 minutes.
  4. Rinse away.
  5. Apply a deep conditioning treatment to your hair shortly after using this method. Peroxide can be drying.
Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is used in different hair and scalp solutions to help heal and restore. But, it also works as a lightening agent. Not only will it help to change the shade of your hair, but it can also remove chemical buildup on your locks, or on your scalp. You’ll be making your hair healthier while you lighten it. To use this option properly, use the following process:

  1. Add ¼ cup apple cider vinegar to one cup of warm water.
  2. Apply the vinegar solution immediately after following your traditional shampoo routine.
  3. Let the solution soak into your hair for 15-20 minutes.
  4. Rinse away completely.

How to get light brown hair without the use of bleach

Chamomile Tea

You may not think of something like tea when you consider lightening agents. But, some people swear by the effects of chamomile. While it is typically used on hair that is already lighter in color, consistent use may be able to change dark brown hair to a lighter shade.

Perform a small ‘patch’ test on your skin before using chamomile on your entire head. Though it is a natural ingredient, some people are allergic to it. If you find that it’s safe for your skin, use these steps to complete the lightening process:

  1. Steep one or two bags of chamomile tea in a cup of boiling water. Let cool to lukewarm.
  2. Once the solution is cool, add to a spray bottle for easier application.
  3. Spray the mixture all over your hair until it’s damp.
  4. Comb through your hair to ensure the solution is evenly coating every strand.
  5. For best results, sit in the sun for 30-60 minutes to speed up the lightening process.
  6. Rinse thoroughly and apply a conditioning treatment to your hair.
  7. Repeat steps weekly until the desired color has been achieved.
Cinnamon

Cinnamon has natural bleaching effects, but it is also great for your hair. It contains fiber, calcium, and iron. It’s best to use cinnamon with another lightening agent for even better results. It’s most commonly used with honey or olive oil. Follow the directions here to use it with honey, and reap the benefits of both of these natural ingredients:

  1. Mix one cup of raw honey with one tablespoon of olive oil, and one tablespoon of cinnamon.
  2. Work the mixture through your hair, combing it through if necessary to get all the strands evenly.
  3. Cover your hair with a shower cap and let the solution sit overnight.
  4. In the morning, wash your hair as part of your normal routine.

How to Bleach Hair with Less Damage

If you want to go a shade lighter quickly, bleaching can be an option. Keep in mind that you should always go for a natural solution if at all possible. Even with the right kind of protection, bleach can still cause damage to your hair and scalp.

However, one of the best ‘protection methods’ that is consistently used by people who bleach their hair at home is a coconut oil application. By applying a thin layer of coconut oil all over your hair before bleaching it, you can still get the lightening effects. The coconut oil will add moisture into the exposed cuticle. This helps to reduce dryness and breakage caused by the chemicals.

Healthy Tips for Changing Your Hair Shade

If you want to lighten your hair from dark brown to light brown, the methods listed in this article are safe DIY solutions. However, you should still take proper care of your hair before, during, and after lightening it. Take these three steps into consideration before you choose to change the color of your hair, and throughout the process to hold onto patience.

  • Condition before lightening. Whether you use a safe home remedy or choose to bleach your hair, properly ‘preparing’ it beforehand can make a big difference. Before lightening, use a deep conditioner or hair mask. This will help to add moisture and lock it in. Bleaching and even some natural alternatives can make the hair feel dry and brittle. Conditioning it beforehand can save some of that moisture and replenish it.
  • Choose the right color for your hair before you start the lightening process. It’s important to consider your skin tone, and how a lighter color will look on you. The lighter you want it to be, the more ‘treatments’ will likely need to be done, and that can cause more damage. So, take your overall ‘look’ into consideration before you get started.
  • Lighten your hair gradually, if possible. This is usually easier to do with DIY solutions if you’re avoiding bleach. But, it’s also the healthier way to go for your hair. If you drastically remove as much color from your hair as possible all at once, it could cause a lot of damage including breakage, split ends, and frizz. Even if you do use one of the methods in this article, give your hair follicles a week or so to ‘rest’ between lightening treatments.

Natural ways to lighten up the hair

How to Take Care of Lightened Hair

Once you’ve achieved the lighter brunette color you want, keeping some general color-care tips in mind will be useful. Not only will it help you to keep the lighter color longer, but it will keep your hair and scalp healthy in the process. Consider these tips:

  • Use color-safe products. Even though you haven’t technically added any dyes or chemicals to your hair with these lightening methods, you should protect your hair by using the right products to preserve the lighter shade. Many color-safe shampoos and conditioners will contain things like UV protection. This is essential for lighter hair, as it helps it to avoid sun damage and additional breaking and drying.
  • Consider a hair mask. Hair masks are different from deep conditioning treatments. They are often considered more beneficial with longer-lasting effects. You can either purchase an over-the-counter mask or create an at-home hair mask using ingredients you probably already have on hand. For best results, apply a mask about once a week.
  • Limit hair washing. Washing your hair too often can be damaging. But, lighter hair that has been treated in any way can dry out faster and be more susceptible to damage. Not only is it important to reduce the number of times you wash it per week, but you should be conscious of the water temperature you’re using. Avoid water that is too hot, as it can continue to dry out the hair and cause breakage. If you have oily or greasy hair with a dry scalp, try using a dry shampoo between washes.
  • Stay away from heat. Hot water is bad, but heated styling tools are even worse. Try to avoid using a hair dryer or curling iron as much as possible. If these tools are necessary for your preferred style, use a heat protectant spray before you touch them to your hair.

Is It Safe to Lighten My Hair from Dark Brown to Light Brown?

Making any color changes to your hair can be risky. Some people are more prone to having a dry scalp and brittle hair than others. There are also different hair types to consider. What works well for one person may not have the same effects on someone else.

However, choosing a natural DIY method is a much safer route than using bleach to lighten your hair. If you’re still hesitant about making the switch to a lighter shade, ask a professional stylist for their opinion, and voice your concern over the dangers of bleaching.

When you take the time to make it a gradual process using natural ingredients, you can lighten your hair safely. Take the proper precautions before, during, and after the lightening process to get the best results and keep the health of your hair and scalp intact.