How To Lighten Dark Brown Hair Without Bleach

If you do not want bleach on your hair, these natural methods may help soften the shade.

Reviewed by Tiffany Young, Certified Trichology Practitioner
Written by Anjali Sayee
Edited by Ramona Sinha, Certified Skin Care Coach
Fact-checked by Krati Darak, Certified Skin Care Coach  • 

Changing your hair color is always fun, and there are many options you can try with. However, bleaches contain metallic and harsh chemicals like ammonia peroxide and hydrogen peroxide that may harm hair. So, how to lighten dark brown hair without bleach? It is known that bleaches can make your hair dry and brittle and give it a dull, lifeless look. Hence, we present certain natural alternatives to lighten your dark brown tresses. This article explores how you can use organic ingredients to lighten your dark brown hair, whether it’s natural or after using some dark brown hair dye. Take a look.

protip_icon Fun Fact
Horse urine was used as a hair-lightening ingredient in medieval times.

Lightening Dark Hair At Home

You cannot dye dark hair blonde or gray without lifting the color first. The natural remedies to lighten dark hair require constant use until the desired lightness is achieved.

Can black hair be lightened without using bleach? Yes. Check out the following section to know how.

How To Lighten Black Hair To Brown Without Bleach

It is difficult to lighten black hair without any bleaching agents. Natural remedies like green tea, coffee, and other organic lighteners have to be used regularly. You can also try swimming and stay under the sun to lighten your hair naturally.

Another option to lighten black hair is by using henna and pair it with a lighter shade. You can also buy lighter dye-at-home kits like blonde or ginger to lighten black hair. But these kits might contain oxidizing agents like hydrogen peroxide. It is best to take professional help as salon stylists can help achieve the right shade.

Dark brown hair might be difficult to lighten naturally at home. But you can opt for homemade sprays and masks with organic ingredients like honey, coffee, chamomile, mulberry, and olive oil. These elements are well-known skin lightening agents, and anecdotal evidence supports using these ingredients to lighten the hair at home.

protip_icon Trivia
The Romans were among the first people to introduce the concept of hair lightening.

How To Lighten Dark Brown Hair At Home Without Bleach

Woman sitting in sunlight to lighten her dark brown hair naturally
Image: Shutterstock
color options for darker hair shades
Image: Shutterstock

Krysta Biancone, a hair stylist, says, “To lighten dark brown hair without bleach or damaging your hair, you can use a variety of natural methods. Castor oil can be used as a lightening agent for dark brown hair and can be applied directly to the scalp and/or strands. Chamomile tea is also an effective lightening agent, but will require more frequent applications to achieve desired results. However, both of these methods are much gentler than bleach and do not damage the hair.”

She adds, “It is important to remember that these natural methods will usually only lighten your hair by a few shades, so if you’re looking for dramatic results, it’s best to consult a professional hairstylist before attempting any kind of drastic color change.”

Here are a few ingredients that you can use to lighten your dark brown hair naturally:

  • Dye-At-Home Kits: Buy over-the-counter dyes and apply them at home. But the color might not come out the way you expect with these dye-at-home kits. First, opt for deep blonde or light brown hair shades, and then, you can progress to light blonde and ginger shades.
  • Chlorine: The chlorine used in swimming pools makes hair color lighter (1). Hence, you can try swimming to lighten your hair without bleach.
  • Sunlight: UVA rays increase the production of free radicals and lighten the hair color (2). Hence, the more you spend outside, underneath the sun, the lighter your hair will become.
  • Natural Ingredients: Many natural ingredients help lighten your hair from the comfort of your home. But they take time to work and require constant maintenance for any substantial results.
    • Salt: The chloride in salt can help lighten hair color.
    • Baking Soda: Baking soda or toothpaste containing baking soda can help lighten the hair.
    • Cinnamon: Cinnamon contains vitamins A and C, which are used as lightening agents (3), (4).
    • Honey: Diluted honey contains glucose oxidase, which produces hydrogen peroxide, an oxidizing agent used in bleach (5). This suggests that honey can be used to lighten your hair color.
    • Lemon: Lemon juice acts as a natural hair lightener, which reduces melanin production (6).
    • Vitamin C: Vitamin C or ascorbic acid is used in many hair products like dyes to lighten the hair color.
    • Vinegar: You can use vinegar with honey, lemon, or chamomile to lighten the hair and turn it yellow or blonde (7)
    • Rhubarb: Rhubarb root contains oxalic acid that turns the hair light brown or blonde (8). It also helps prolong the life of your hair color. Rhubarb with honey and chamomile imparts a golden hue to your hair (9).
    • Chamomile: Chamomile flowers contain an active ingredient called apigenini  XA natural product belonging to the flavone class that helps with muscle relaxation and sedation, depending on the dose. (10). Chamomile imparts a yellow shade to your hair and boosts light reflection.
    • Coffee: Coffee is used in hair masks to make dark hair a shade lighter or two. You can achieve shades like reddish-brown and blackish-brown using coffee (11).
    • Henna: Henna imparts a reddish-brown tint to dark hair. Using henna on dark brown hair can make it a shade lighter. This is the most common and effective lightening treatment.
    • Green Tea: Green tea contains EGCGi  XCalled epigallocatechin gallate, it belongs to the class of catechins commonly found in green tea and has antioxidant properties. that inhibits tyrosinasei  X A copper-containing enzyme responsible for controlling the production of melanin, which plays a role in skin pigmentation. activity (12). This makes your dark brown hair lighter.
    • Licorice Extract: Licorice root extract contains glabridin that helps reduce melanin pigmentation in the skin (12). Hence, it can also help lighten dark brown hair.
    • Aloe Vera: Aloe vera contains aloesin, which limits melanin production (12). This helps lighten your hair color.
    • Grapeseed: Grapeseed contains proanthocyanidinsi  XA class of polyphenols found in plants such as cranberry, blueberry, and grape seeds that exhibit antioxidant properties. and procyanidins that help reduce melanin production (12).

Note: If you want to try dye-at-home kits, opt for balayage. Lighten your hair at a salon, as professionals will create the exact shade you like without using bleach.

These natural ingredients need to be kept on the hair for a few hours to lighten it. Wondering how to color your hair with these remedies? Here are a few hair tips to achieve it.

Color Options For Darker Hair Shades

Blue is a good color option for dark brown hair
Image: Shutterstock
  • A convenient option for women with dark brown hair is to change the hair tone. Opt for a shade lighter than your natural hair color and gradually reduce the shade with further applications.
  • You can also change your hair color to a bright cool-toned shade like blue, purple, or green. These shades are typically produced through bleaching dark hair and then depositing color. Red is the exception and can easily be obtained on dark hair without using bleach.
  • Stick to your natural undertone when picking a hair color. Choose a lighter brunette shade as it will look more natural.
  • Use henna, which helps lighten dark hair by imparting a reddish tint.
  • To make your lightened hair color look natural, try an ombre effect using the balayage technique. Pair your natural hair color with a lighter shade of the same color.

Follow these safety tips while lightening your hair at home.

Is It Safe To Lighten Your Hair At Home?

Yes, lightening your hair at home is safe since bleach is not used. But without proper care, it may cause adverse reactions like burning or itching. Here are a few things to keep in mind while lightening your hair at home:

  • Even natural ingredients for dyeing your hair may cause allergic reactions like itching, redness, or swelling. If this happens, avoid further contact with the component and consult a doctor.
  • The chemicals in hair dyes may cause a burning sensation on the scalp. Do not use hair dyes if you have any bruising or inflammation on the scalp.
  • The major setback of using dyes at home is that you might not achieve the desired results. Visit your hair salon as professional stylists know what can lighten your hair properly without using bleach, and they may even be able to offer advice on other hair treatment options.

Infographics: Top 5 Ingredients That Lighten Dark Brown Hair Without Bleach

Bleach contains strong chemicals like ammonia and hydrogen peroxide that can make your hair brittle and dry. Combined with regular hair styling, it can prove to be disastrous for your hair. So, if you are looking for natural ways to lighten your dark brown hair, you have come to the right place. We have compiled a list of affordable ingredients that can bleach your hair without causing further damage. Check out the infographic below to know more!

top 5 ingredients that lighten dark brown hair without bleach (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

Save the high-quality PDF version on your device now.

Download Infographic in PDF version Download Infographic
Download Infographic in PDF version

It may sound impossible to lighten brown hair without using bleach, but it is possible. There are some natural ingredients you can use to lighten dark brown hair, but you should use them consistently to see results. Ingredients like honey have skin lightening properties that may reduce the melanin in your hair, leaving you with a lighter hair color. You can also try the other options listed above, such as sun exposure, swimming, and home dye kits. While these suggestions may not be as powerful as bleaching agents, they do not cause damage to your tresses and are very safe to use.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does coconut oil lighten dark brown hair?

No, coconut oil cannot lighten dark brown hair.

Will olive oil lighten dark brown hair?

No, olive oil cannot lighten dark brown hair. But it can remove yellow brassy hues from your hair color.

Does dye without bleach damage hair?

Semi-permanent hair dyes without bleach do not cause damage to your hair because they only deposit pigment. However, any kind of hair coloring, whether permanent or demi-permanent, inflicts some damage to your hair as these still contain small amounts of bleaching agents like hydrogen peroxide.

Can brown hair be lightened without bleach?

Yes. To lighten dark brown hair, you can use natural methods. However, if you want a more effective solution, you should opt for hair dye or bleach. Hair dyeing methods like demi-permanent hair dye, direct/high lift dye, and temporary colorant can also lighten hair without bleaching.

Does color without bleach fade?

Yes, hair color without bleach can fade over time. The length of time your hair color will last depends on many factors, such as the type of dye used, your chosen color, and how frequently you wash your hair and expose it to sunlight. On average, hair color without bleach can last from 6 to 8 weeks, though this varies based on whether or not you’re covering gray hair.

Can you lighten hair without changing its texture?

No. Using bleach in any form can make your hair more porous and brittle over time. However, products like demi-permanent colors won’t damage your hair as much as bleach and will leave you with a beautiful, natural-looking color.

Key Takeaways

  • You can lighten your dark brown hair with natural ingredients such as green tea, honey, cinnamon, henna, or coffee.
  • You can opt for a lighter brunette shade or go for funkier shades like purple or blue to change up your look.
  • Exercise caution when using natural hair dyes as they may cause itching or redness if you are allergic to them.

Learn how to lighten your hair without bleach at home in this video! Follow these simple DIYs and get the perfect blonde shade without damaging your hair.

Sources

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Check out our editorial policy for further details.
  1. Hair Color Damages Caused by Exposure to Chlorinated Water in the Presence of Ultraviolet Radiation
    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/236109930_Hair_color_damages_caused_by_exposure_to_chlorinated_water_in_the_presence_of_ultraviolet_radiation
  2. Uv Damage of the Hair
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19138021/
  3. Cinnamic Acid Derivatives in Cosmetics ‐ Current Use and Future Prospects
    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/325582982_Cinnamic_acid_derivatives_in_cosmetics_-_current_use_and_future_prospects
  4. Fairness Via Formulations: a Review of Cosmetic Skin-Lightening Ingredients
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22487451/
  5. Honeybee Glucose Oxidase–Its Expression in Honeybee Workers and Comparative Analyses of Its   Content and H2o2-Mediated Antibacterial Activity in Natural Honeys
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24969731/
  6. Elixir of Cardium
    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/287217486_ELIXIR_OF_CARDIUM
  7. Ethnopharmacological Survey of Home Remedies Used for Treatment of Hair and Scalp and Their Methods of Preparation in the West Bank-Palestine
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5499037/
  8. Importance of Village Plant Rhubarb: Review
    http://www.pharmahealthsciences.net/pdfs/volume4-issue62016/1.vol4-issue6-2016-MS-15345-review1.pdf
  9. For the Love of Color: Plant Colors and the Dermatologist
    https://www.ijdvl.com/article.asp?issn=0378-6323;year=2020;volume=86;issue=6;spage=622;epage=629;aulast=Gopinath
  10. A Review of the Natural Resources Used to Hair Color and Hair Care Products https://www.researchgate.net/publication/318795653_A_Review_of_the_Natural_Resources_Used_to_Hair_Color_and_Hair_Care_Products
  11. Synthesis and Evaluation of Herbal Based Hair Dye
    https://opendermatologyjournal.com/VOLUME/12/PAGE/90/
  12. Plant-Based Skin Lightening Agents: a Review
    http://www.phytopharmajournal.com/Vol9_Issue1_09.pdf
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