by Mary Wolff

Highlights are a great way to show off the beauty of your curls. If you don’t have time to run to the salon, or you just want a more affordable, easier solution, you may have heard about lemon juice for highlighting at home. So, does lemon juice lighten natural hair? What do you need to know about doing this DIY hack for highlighting?


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Will using lemon juice lighten my hair?
Lemon juice does lighten hair thanks to the acidic nature of the fruit. The juice of a lemon essentially strips the color pigments from your hair to make it a lighter color. The key is to apply it and then sit in the sun for a few hours. The results will not be instant just from rubbing lemon juice through your hair. It will only work through the combination of the juice and time spent in the sun. It should also be noted that it will lighten hair, but it won’t be drastic. For example, if you have dark brown hair, it will become medium brown hair, and not light brown, and definitely not blonde. It also won’t be immediate and you may have to repeat the process a few times to get the results you want.

Are there downsides to using lemon for dyeing hair? 
Lemon oil and lemon juice can be used on hair for a variety of reasons. Lemon has a naturally antibacterial property making it great for a scalp dealing with an abundance of bacteria. Lemon oil is also reported to stimulate hair growth for scalps that need help with circulation. While the lemon juice lightening trend is a popular one, there are a few things to keep in mind.

  • Lemon juice can and will dry out your hair if you overuse it. If you use it on hair that is already dry or damaged, the damage will be even worse. One way to combat this is to do a deep conditioning hair treatment after using lemon juice.  A simple olive oil mask can help undo any damage without losing the lightening effects. 
  • Always wash your hair after a lemon juice treatment. This will help remove the juice and help restore moisture.
  • Do not overdo it! It is best to apply lemon juice and spend no more than an hour or two in the sun to avoid over drying the hair. You also want to make sure you don’t do this every week since it will damage your strands. 
  • Many people wonder if they can use lemon juice and a hair dryer instead of the sun. The problem is that lemon juice’s lightening factor is created by the UV rays of the sun, not the heat. 

Lemon Juice Lighting Treatment
If you have hydrated hair, combine 1 cup lemon juice with ¼ cup of warm water. You always want to dilute the lemon juice to make it less drying. Apply to hair. Sit in the sun 1-2 hours. Wash out.

If you have dry hair, use 1 cup of lemon juice coupled with ¼ cup of conditioner instead of water. This will give you a better layer of protection.  Apply to hair. Sit in sun 1-2 hours. Wash out.

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