I’ve got brown hair and since I’ve been living in Jakarta, my hair’s been really bland and dark since I don’t get out much. I used to get my highlights in my hair at the salon using bleach but I decided to stop doing this since it dries out the hair and does serious damage to it.


Instead to lighten up my hair and get natural highlights, I’m switching to natural methods of hair lightening. Here are a few options:

1. Black Tea – Boil water and put a teabag in as usual, allow to cool and then use it as a rinse. Let it sit in your hair for 15 minutes or so. It is recommended that the rinse is repeated between 3-6 times before rinsing it out with water.

  • I actually use this one. Camomile tea specifically works best (and might even be better fresh). I only do one rinse and I don’t leave it in very  long so that it’s a very slow transition and so it doesn’t get too light. Apparently fresh camomile is even stronger.

2. Lemon Juice – Rinse hair with lemon juice and let set for 10-20 minutes. It’ll get crunchy after some time as it dries (which is why lemon juice works as natural hairspray!) and that’s a good sign to rinse the lemon juice out with water. 

  • Lemon juice alone dries out the hair so it is recommended to dilute it with an equal part of water or olive oil. This will make it take longer to get the desired effect but more healthy for your hair.
  • Olive oil has lightening effects so this will be more quick and hydrating than water and is also recommended in equal parts to lemon juice. It might require shampooing twice to remove so it isn’t recommended for those who don’t use shampoo.
  • Brown hair will probably turn more orange if used too much. Brunettes cannot achieve very blonde hair with this method.

3. Rhubarb – Mix 1/4 cup of chopped rhubarb to 2 cups of water and then boil. Let the mixture cool before straining it and using it as a rinse. 

4. CinnamonMix cinnamon (powdered or boiled sticks) with water and let it sit in your hair for about an hour. It will lighten the hair and make it more of a reddish-caramel colour than the other rinses (which is not flattering on all hair colours).

5. Baking Soda – If you’re going no-poo (no-shampoo) then you will notice that after washing your hair with baking soda over a longish period of time that your hair will lighten in the process. 

6. Vinegar – Rinse your hair with 1/6 parts vinegar to water and let it sit for a little bit. This will only work over a long period of time. Apple cider vinegar  works best and is better for your hair.I assume most who go the no-poo route do this regularly already. 

7. Vitamin C – Crush about 8 vitamin C tablets and mix with shampoo (or baking soda with water) and clean hair. Maybe wash hair multiple times for more noticeable effect. 

8. Salt – Mix salt with water and let sit in hair for 10 minutes or so. Apparently it works quite well.

9. Honey – Add 1 tablespoon of honey to a cup of water and wait for half an hour (apparently that makes it work better) and then coat the hair with the mixture and leave in for at least 20 minutes. You can sleep with this mixture in if you cover your hair with a shower cap or saran wrap. 

10. Henna Powder and Camomile (for dark hair) – mix henna powder with powdered camomile (or any other light herb) and mix with enough boiling water to make a thick paste. Let the mixture cool and then comb it into wet hair. Put a plastic bag or shower cap over your hair and leave it in for half an hour to two hours. Leave the dye in longer for darker hair (such as black). Remove the plastic and rinse hair.

  • note: try this mixture on a small section of the back underside of your hair before doing large amounts as henna is strong

11. Swimming – Swimming in chlorinated pools or salt water (seas/oceans/salt-water pools) will lighten hair as chlorine and salt make hair lighter. Salt water is recommended, especially for those going no-poo because of chemicals.

12. Sun – The easiest and most natural way is just to spend time outside! Make sure to protect your skin while naturally getting your hair done 😉


Mixing up lightening methods will work faster and more apparently:

1. Mix Camomile tea and lemon juice and use as a rinse. Perhaps let it sit for a few minutes and repeat. 

2. Spray hair with lemon juice and sit out in the sun while hair dries. This would be good to do at a beach or something with a spray bottle. Rinse with water after hair dries. Repeating this process multiple times is recommended for stronger effect. This will likely dry out your hair so maybe dilute it with water. 

3. Mix salt with lemon juice and let dry then rinse. It will definitely dry out your hair so perhaps between doing this, put olive oil or conditioner in for a little bit. 

4. It would be quite effective to do any of the rinses (1-7) and let hair dry in the sun before rinsing. Maybe even rinse it out while swimming

5. Vinegar can be added to any of the other rinses (1-5 and 7) to improve the lightening as well as condition your hair.


All of these are effective if you are going shampoo-free as they contain no chemicals, no commercial hair product, are natural and other things that mean the same thing. All the rinses can be used as conditioning after cleaning the hair with baking soda.

Hydrogen peroxide is used by many people to lighten hair quickly and it is natural but it damages the hair so I would not recommend it.