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    The Lowdown on Using Lemon Juice to Lighten Hair

    Using Lemon Juice to Lighten Hair

    Yes, Lemon Juice will Lighten Some Hair . . . But

    A recent question from a student in my online class Finding the Right Hairstyle for You, asks:

    I’ve been told that lemon juice can bring out high lights in hair, and I have tried this. In the summer I always naturally get lighter high lights in my hair as I spend time outdoors. In the winter I lose them. This winter I did try lemon juice once. It looked very dim and nondescript the first day, but then seemed to give me some nice high lights for a few weeks. Is lemon juice damaging to hair? Can it bring out lighter high lights in some hair colors?


    Lemon juice as a hair lightener will work for some hair types but, it’s not the best choice.

    Lemon juice has a low pH level and is acidic. Using this too often on healthy hair will make it brittle. It’s not controllable on chemically treated hair.

    Hair care products these days are formulated to have a balanced pH level which leaves the hair in better condition. Straight lemon juice on the hair will dry it out. Here is what I know about using lemon juice as a hair lightener:

    • Lemon juice, plus oxygen and UV rays, equals a bleaching product.

    • Lemon juice as a hair lightener is only effective on hair that is dishwater blonde or lighter in color. Its bleaching quality is only effective when used in the sun and will not lighten brunettes or red heads.

    • Using lemon juice on chemically treated hair can turn it an orange or brassy color.

    • It can also dry out the hair with its acidic quality and make the hair extremely brittle.

    If you still decide you want to use lemon juice in your hair, don’t use it straight without diluting it. Dilute one tablespoon of lemon juice in a gallon of water and use it daily as a rinse. Use it this way when you know you will get sun exposure and it will lighten your hair, but be aware of how it is affecting your hairs condition.

    Lemon juice high lights used sparingly may be fine in healthy, non chemically treated hair. Also think about this, if you use it too often, you will have bleached hair with roots growing in, now what do you do?

    Need I say . . . my first recommendation is to have high lighting done by a professional if you want it done right. It may save you lot’s of hair and headaches to come.

    Barb Quinn on Google+  



    1. Hi Robynn,

      Thank you for your wonderful feedback! It sounds like you love hair color. Have you ever tried hair chalking? It’s a new, inexpensive way to achieve fun temporary hair color. Check out the blog Hair Chalking: An Easy DIY Guide to learn all about it.

      Have a great hair day!

      Comment by Michelle Skye — March 2, 2013 @ 1:56 pm

    2. As someone who has been through hair school I would recommend going into a salon to get your hair highlighted. But before I was in school I tried lemon juice on my little sisters hair and worked. Although it is more unpredictable because it didn’t work as well for a friend of mine.

      Comment by Robynn Lansyn — February 15, 2013 @ 5:15 pm

    3. When I was younger, I swam and spent my days at the beach, and during the summer my hair was always blonde. Now my summer’s are filled with working, so I don’t get a chance to bleach (at the beach or pool) my hair as much. To maintain my blonde hair, I fill a spray bottle of lemon juice with about 5 tablespoons of water and the rest with water. I spritz my hair before bed, or before I go in the sun. It takes time, but it certainly lightens your hair. My hair is naturally “Dirty blonde”, and the resulting color is not brassy, just a brighter blonde. I think my hair is healthy with the lemon juice, but I may have a skewed perspective since I used to be a swimmer.

      Starting in 7th grade, I started getting subtle highlights to maintain the color during the winter. It is my experience that highlights done professionally can look good, provided you are willing to pay for a good stylist.

      Comment by Jenna — June 29, 2011 @ 12:11 pm

    4. okay. i gotta go with eliza. im going to try her method. i am going on vacation this week and i want to get lighter. hope it works!!

      Comment by katie — June 1, 2011 @ 12:05 pm

    5. Alaina,
      Using lemon juice on your chemically highlighted hair can be unpredictable.
      My recommendation . . . go with highlights again by a professional and no worries it will be done right. Last highlight lasted a long time and it will be predictable.
      Good Luck!

      Comment by Barb Quinn — July 7, 2010 @ 2:03 pm

    6. Okay so I want to put lemon juice in my hair. My hair is dirty blonde. I got my streaks professionally dyed around Christmas 2009. It’s Summer 2010 now. I still see some streaks but before I got it professionally done the stylist said I had natural streaks, so I’m not sure. I think lemon juice will dry out your hair but washing it everyday with moisturizing conditioner might help, right? I’m in Spokane, WA so there’s sun. But I really want more blonde hair so would lemon juice be okay?

      Comment by Alaina — July 2, 2010 @ 10:58 am

    7. Wow i DEFENITALY do NOT recommend lemon juice! It breaks apart your air, makes it dead, dry, and unhealthy. It makes a difference and its hard to get your hair to be the beautiful way it was before

      Comment by melissa — May 21, 2010 @ 3:56 pm

    8. I just got my hair professionally highlighted but the roots were a little too yellow for my liking.. After 2 weeks I decided to try lemon juice and water in the sun. I was in the sun for an hour, some of my ends ended up breaking and it actually didnt help my hair at all…
      I wouldnt recommend it

      Comment by Ashley — May 14, 2010 @ 4:46 pm

    9. I used to have really blonde hair when I was younger, with gorgeous natural high lights. But, now that I’ve gotten older and am almost 15, my hair has darkened and I barely have any natural high lights any more :( Anyway, about 2 years ago I went to the salon and got high lights for the first time (and only time of my life). I thought they looked so FAKE. After living my whole life with natural highlights, then getting those, they just seemed so fake to me. I didn’t rehighlight my hair again (it didnt look bad…but to me it just wasn’t natural and I didn’t really want to have to do that). Today, the fake highlights have all grown out and are gone, with still a little lightness at the tips of my hair but I’m not sure if that’s the remains or if it’s natural from the sun.

      Anyway, I have tried lemon juice before and I think it’s more natural. Personally, I’d go for the lemon juice over the salon if you don’t want your high lights to look “Fake”. I mean, it’s not that salon high lights look bad…they usually don’t!! But to me I can just tell how fake they are. I dunno…it’s just something about them. This girl in my class at school has blonde highlights that are clearly fake (you can CLEARLY see when she rehighlights her hair), but they do look nice. That’s another thing I don’t like, how when you rehighlight your hair everybody can clearly tell.

      So, I’m going to be trying this lemon juice thing again. It’s getting close to summer, and I live in Floirda, so there will be LOTS of sun. Hopefully it’ll bring out some of my natural highlights! I was thinking about trying the product “Sun-In”, but I’m not sure I will seeing as my mom said it turned her hair orange when she was younger, and so did many of the reviews (there were also good reviews, but many others not so good). For now, I’ll stick with the natural lemons. I also don’t want to worry about dying or high lighting my hair yet, seeing as I’m only 14 and will be entering high school in a few months. Believe me, I have enough to worry about, I don’t need yet another thing like if my roots are growing in.

      Maybe later I might text sun-in on a little piece of my hair, but I don’t want orange hair. Lemons is safe, and I’m hoping it’ll work nicely.

      Good luck to everybody else in the same situation as me!! :) With summer coming around soon, before you know it we’ll all have lemon-scented, gorgeous, & NATURALly high lighted hair!!

      Comment by Nicole — April 25, 2010 @ 12:03 pm

    10. I have dirty blonde hair and I’m about to go to the beach. I hope it works because I am not allowed to dye it. Will it split my hair and make it look unhealthy?

      Comment by Gretch — March 15, 2010 @ 5:32 pm

    11. This is grate i tried it and it worked i love putting lemon in my hair! you can also put it on your face and it cleans acne for you!! i Love Lemon! drink it too but, not to much its good for your body though!!!

      Comment by Star — February 16, 2010 @ 8:59 pm

    12. I have like a dirty blonde color hair. i have recently used lemon juice in my hair. i put juice of 1 whole lemon in a spray bottle and a bit of water which ended up filling the whole bottle. i just sprayed it through my hair and blow dried it instead of going out in the sun since it was raining. i did this for 3 days 1-2 a day and i saw no improvement to the blonde in my hair so i decided that night to wash my hair. I washed my hair as i would normally and the next morning it was a gorgeous light blonde color!!! i love it!!! nothing has gone wrong with it since so i think its better than getting it bleached.. xxxeliza

      Comment by eliza — April 23, 2009 @ 6:39 pm

    13. ohkayy so i have pretty light blonde hair and im planning to use lemons and go out in the sun after to make it go lighter, will it work? i have never had highlights or had it dyed cause my mum wont let me. this is the only option i have, is it a really bad idea and willit work? also will it work for my sister who has strawberry blonde hair? PLEASE HELP!!!

      Comment by tori — April 15, 2009 @ 9:43 am

    14. okay so i have blond hair. (dirty blond hair) and i wanted to go back to school and make it look lighter. But im scared that it will look really bad. I had wicked light blond hair before. But idk what to do. help meee

      Comment by genna — March 30, 2009 @ 8:26 am

    15. I should have went out in the sun like I normally do rather than get my hairlighted again…..a friend of my recommended someone and I went to her……well she barely did anything…..then I went back today and had her redo it…more blonde……unfortunately the color looks cheap…..I will not go back to her I paid $55 for this….next time (Christmas) I will return to my prior hair stylist ($90) and get it done right… the meantime I may even put streaks of wash out brown paint in my hair……terrible terrible…monica

      Comment by monica — October 7, 2008 @ 3:49 pm

    16. I have a naturally light blonde shade to my hair. I use lemon juice, and I rarely dilute it. I use it when I’m going to lay out or go swimming for the day. I would say it dries my hair out as much as chlorine from a pool, so its not bad at all. I have very long hair, so the season texture change is nice. It give my hair that “I just got back from the beach wavy-ness.” Which I can never get any other time because my hair is long, fine and pin straight.

      The roots are never an issue because it looks so natural. It makes my hair look like I have been in the sun a lot in the summer. It more fades back into my hair as winter drags on.

      Do it, its cheap and Way better for your hair than bleach. It looks natural, where as paying a ton of money for salon highlights, they look just like that… like you went and paid to get your hair dyed.

      Comment by sarah — August 9, 2008 @ 4:55 pm

    17. Don’t you think that putting lemon juice in hair, i have dishwater blonde hair gives it a more natural look than having a professional do it? I have never had my hair professionally lightened but i am worried because i think i wouldnt like the color. plus either way your roots are going to grow in darker so in both circumstances you will have to either add more lemon juice when roots go in or have your hair lightened.

      Comment by michelle — November 9, 2007 @ 1:51 pm

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