Lightening your hair with lemons in the summer sun – can it work for you? Under the right conditions, lemon juice and a little sun exposure can lighten your locks to natural, sun-kissed streaks. Let’s look at the particulars.
How It Works
The citric acid in lemon juice is a weak oxidizing acid. That means it reacts when it is exposed to oxygen. It also reacts to the UV rays in sunlight, accelerating a process that penetrates the hair cortex. It reduces the amount of melanin, essentially, which brightens the pigment.
The effect is permanent. Once lightened, it will not go back to its original color.
The success of the venture will depend on your hair color and type.
- It works best with finely textured blond or ashy brown hair.
- It produces lighter streaks in light brown hair.
- On red hair, it will give you strawberry blond streaks and highlights.
- Brown to mid-brown hair may reveal an orange or red color – you can try a single lock to test it first.
- It will not work on dark brown to black hair.
- The effect on hair that has already been color treated will be variable – a single lock test is recommended.
Lightening requires lemon juice plus heat. Use one of these recipes on your hair and then go outside, preferably for a few hours. You can repeat every other day for a week or so to enhance the effect, but you’ll want to monitor for dryness.
- Squeeze the juice of 1 lemon into a spray bottle.
- Add 1 teaspoon of olive oil to prevent drying.
- Shake the bottle to mix thorough and spray on immediately.
- For a more subtle look, add water to the lemon juice in the ratio of 1 part water to 2 parts lemon juice.
- Shake thoroughly and use right away.
- To avoid dryness, or to treat it if your hair is dry already, use 3 parts freshly squeezed lemon juice to 1 part leave-in conditioner.