I love experimenting with the lighter hues of caramels in my dark brown hair, but what about the potential for damage? As curly girls we've learned to be quite risk-averse when it comes to hair damage, but I've found a damage-free way to lighten my hair with natural ingredients, and it is so simple you won't even believe it. 

How do natural ingredients lighten hair?

To put it simply, this entire method is based on a chemical reaction that, with the right proportions, will release low peroxide quantities. I cannot stress enough the importance of using the correct quantities if you want to achieve positive results.

What does peroxide do to hair?

Peroxide is the ingredient responsible for changing the color of your hair. It is the same ingredient found in your hairdresser's bleach.

Why is it safer and gentler in this form?

Because you are using minimal quantities: Repetition is what will give you results. Plus, the other characteristics of the honey (emollients and vitamin-rich) will protect your hair in the process. You just have to have a little bit of patience. This method is an old and widely used method, and done correctly you should experience no breakage, thinning, or dryness. The choice of the ingredients and the execution in this case are extremely important: This is not your ordinary DIY mask.

As everyone who studied some chemistry can confirm, the quantities and choice of reactants are essential. It is a highly effective treatment.

How light can your hair get with natural ingredients?

It won't take you from black to platinum blonde, so if that is your prerogative then you will have to look elsewhere, but it can take you a couple of shades lighter without damaging your hair, giving you an extremely natural and sun-kissed look with all natural ingredients.

Choose the right reactants

Honey

You have to use a honey with a high peroxide value, meaning that it will produce a higher amount of hydrogen peroxide. The best that I have found in Europe is the black locus honey. The Jarrah Honey from Australia, the Aldi "Specially Selected Clover Honey" for the UK and the Whole Foods Wildflower Amber honey in the USA are considered good choices. 

Water

It has to be distilled water. The minerals in the normal water will interfere with the reaction making it less effective. A spray bottle is suggested as the mixture is extremely liquidy. It will drip, a lot--it's a sweet mess.

How to make hair lightener with natural ingredients

What you'll need

  • distilled water 
  • dark honey
  • a spray bottle

The formula for lightening your hair

The dilution that works best is, according to longhaircommunity, four times the amount of water to honey, calculated by weight. For example:

  • 10 grams of honey
  • 40 grams of distilled water

You can convert to milliliters, ounces, tablespoons, or cups, but remember we're talking in terms of weight here, not volume. One tablespoon of honey needs 6 tablespoons distilled water or you could use this handy honey conversion calculator

How to use peroxide boosters

You can add "boosters" -- ingredients that increase the peroxide value. Some naturals swear by cardamom. I also like cinnamon (that scent!) 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon. 

Should you use lemon to lighten hair?

Avoid putting anything else inside, especially lemon. The high vitamin C value would lower the peroxide level of the potion. The lemon lightener works on damaging the cortex though acidic maceration, which is not what we want.

How to apply your DIY hair lightener

1. Apply the mix to "naked hair"

Apply your mixture on freshly washed hair, not conditioned. The hair has to be "naked". You can condition after you rinse out the mixture. 

2. Let it sit

I found that I get the best results if I apply it right away on the hair with a spray bottle and I let it sit for 1-2 hours. After that, there will be no additional peroxide release so it is pointless to let it sit longer.

3. Rinse

Then rinse, condition and style as usual.

The Results

As I said, you won't go from black to blonde in one session. I saw results after 5 times and I achieved beautiful honey hues in my hair. It will also strip away any unwanted dye; always in an extremely gentle way. If you have dark hair (read: jet black) you will need more sessions and you probably will obtain just a warm reflex in your hair. You have more pigments inside your cortex and the cortex itself is thicker, making it harder to lighten. This mixture is so gentle that it preserves your hair integrity but can't take you more than 2 shades lighter. 

Light hair will achieve quicker and more dramatic results! 

That is all! So get to work and be ready to show off your amazing natural honey hues without damaging your tresses!

This article has been updated.