Lightening Your Hair With Lemon Juice: Here’s What You Need to Know

Don't just drink lemon juice; learn how to use it as a bleach substitute to lighten your locks.

Reviewed by Madison Dufour, Barber & Cosmetologist Madison Dufour Madison DufourBarber & Cosmetologist facebook_iconlinkedin_iconinsta_icon
Written by , BA (Literature & Psychology), PG Diploma Arshiya Syeda BA (Literature & Psychology), PG Diploma linkedin_icon Experience: 7 years
Edited by , BTech Anjali Sayee BTech linkedin_icon Experience: 7 years
Fact-checked by , MA (English Literature) Swathi E MA (English Literature) linkedin_icon Experience: 3 years

Lemons are natural bleaching agents. You can use lemon juice for hair lightening to naturally achieve those sun-kissed highlights. You can get those fun golden streaks right at home with this hair dye alternative, and without having to spend big bucks at the salons. The trick is to make sure you use lemon juice properly, or you may end up frying your hair.

This article discusses how to use lemon juice as a hair treatment to lighten your hair. Follow the instructions carefully to achieve the best results. Happy hair goals!

Lemon Juice To Lighten The Hair: How Does It Work?

Lemon juice is a natural bleaching agent
Image: Shutterstock

To understand how lemon juice can lighten your hair, you must first know how bleach works. Bleach oxidizes the melanin of your hair and depletes your natural hair color, giving it a lighter appearance instantly. Citric acid, the main component of lemon juice, is a natural bleaching agent with oxidizing properties (1). It absorbs into the hair easily and works with the UV rays from sunlight to accelerate the hair brightening process. Just like bleach, it oxidizes the melanin of your tresses, resulting in visibly lighter hair.

Now that you know how lemon juice can help lighten your hair, find out whether it works on dark hair or not.

Can You Use Lemon Juice To Lighten Dark Hair?

Woman spraying lemon juice hair spray on dark hair
Image: Shutterstock

No. According to beauty enthusiasts and bloggers, lemon juice generally works for brunette and blonde hair. As citric acid is a mild bleaching agent, using it on dark hair will not make any noticeable difference. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that using lemon juice on dark hair results in the appearance of red-orange tints.

If you have blonde hair and are looking for subtle highlights, follow the steps in the next section to lighten your hair with lemon juice.

How To Lighten The Hair With Lemon Juice

Woman squeezing out lemon juice to make hair spray
Image: Shutterstock

This is a simple and easy process that works best on unwashed hair.

You Will Need

  • 1 cup of lemon juice
  • Conditioner
  • Lukewarm water
  • A spray bottle


  1. Fill the spray bottle with lemon juice.
  2. Top it up with a conditioner in a 2:1 ratio. You may also use water instead of the conditioner, but it may dry your hair out.
  3. Shake the bottle to mix the ingredients.
  4. Add some chamomile tea or honey for brighter highlights.

How To Use

Woman using lemon juice hair spray
Image: Shutterstock
  1. Spray the DIY hair care mixture all over your hair for uniform coloring. You may also apply the spray on certain sections of your hair that you wish to highlight.
  2. Expose your hair to direct sunlight for at least a couple of hours.
  3. Wash your hair thoroughly with lukewarm water and follow up with a deep conditioning routine.
  4. Let your hair dry naturally to reveal subtle, gorgeous highlights.
protip_icon Quick Tip
The combination of lemon juice and sunlight exposure can lighten your hair in three to four days.

Haley Van D., a lifestyle blogger shares her experience about using a simple lemon juice and conditioner solution to tone down her hair color to a softer one. “My hair was left the color I had wanted to end up with in the first place! A golden/honey blonde as opposed to light bulb bleach, then grey. It was also was left in much better condition (i),” she claims.

Now, let’s have a look at what other benefits lemon juice has on your hair. Scroll down.

Benefits Of Using Lemon Juice For The Hair

Woman checking her clean scalp after using lemon juice
Image: Shutterstock
  • Alleviates various scalp conditions like itchiness, dryness, and flaking.
  • Helps in hair care by Improves the pH balance of your scalp.
  • Helps clean the scalp and unclog hair follicles, which can help reduce dandruff.
  • Controls excessive production of oil on your scalp. Helps in scalp care and combat dandruff and scalp acne (2).
  • Maintains overall hair health.

Infographic: Simple Steps To Lighten Hair With Lemon Juice

Lemon juice is a natural, safe, and affordable way to lighten your hair. The citric acid in lemon juice is a natural bleaching agent. However, remember that even though this natural remedy is safe on the hair, it is acidic and can dry out your hair. The following infographic briefly summarizes the simple steps to lighten your hair with lemon juice at home safely. Scroll down and check it out!

simple steps to lighter hair with lemon juice (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

The citric acid in lemon is a mild bleaching agent. When applied, it oxidizes the melanin in your hair and lightens your natural hair color. However, it may not work effectively for those with dark hair, while those with light brown and blonde hair can certainly bank on lemon juice to get those sun-kissed highlights. In fact, using lemon juice for hair lightening also nourishes the scalp and unclogs the hair follicles. However, have a proper conditioning routine in place if you choose to apply lemon juice to your hair to prevent dryness. Remember, using lemon inappropriately can fry your locks leading to hair discolouration. So, practice caution.

protip_icon Quick Tip
You can dilute two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with lemon juice and apply the mixture evenly to hair before rinsing it off with a conditioner. This can make your natural hair color look shiny.

Note: Do not use lemon juice to lighten your hair more than once a week. Lemon juice is acidic and can damage your tresses when used too often.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to lighten the hair with lemon juice?

You will need multiple sessions to see a gradual but permanent lightening effect on your hair with lemon juice.

Can you use store-bought lemon juice to lighten the hair?

No. It is better to use freshly squeezed lemon juice to lighten your hair as packaged juice is highly processed and contains chemicals.

Does lemon juice lighten the hair without the sun?

No, the citric acid in lemons requires the sun’s UV rays to lighten your hair.

Can you lighten your hair with lemon juice permanently?

Yes, lemon juice oxidizes the hair pigment to cause a permanent lightening effect until new roots grow out.

Are there any precautions for lightening the hair with lemon juice permanently?

As lemon juice tends to dry out the hair, follow up the hair lightening routine with a deep conditioning treatment.

Will lemon juice lighten dyed hair?

Yes. The highly acidic nature of lemon juice can strip dye from your hair.

Can you mix lemon juice and baking soda to lighten hair?

Yes. You can mix lemon juice with baking soda to lighten your hair. Applying this mixture to your hair and letting it dry for a few hours helps lighten the hair color.

Can I mix lemon juice with shampoo?

Yes. If you have an itchy scalp, mixing lemon juice with shampoo can help cleanse the scalp.

Key Takeaways

  • The citric acid in lemon oxidizes the melanin in your hair to lighten the strands.
  • You can highlight your hair by spraying lemon juice on selected strands.
  • It promotes scalp health and maintains the pH balance.
  • It controls excessive oil production in the scalp and protects it from acne.
Lemon Juice For Hair Lightening

Image: Stable Diffusion/StyleCraze Design Team

Lighten your hair naturally by using lemon juice. Get tips on how to apply it by watching the video below and see the results for yourself.

Personal Experience: Source


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  2. Ethnopharmacological survey of home remedies used for treatment of hair and scalp and their methods of preparation in the West Bank-Palestine –
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Madison Dufour

Madison DufourBarber & Cosmetologist

Madison Dufour is a licensed and practicing barber and cosmetologist with 10 years of experience, as well as an entrepreneur running several hair businesses, including MadisonD Barbering and The Exquisite Find Hair Blog. After working behind the chair for several years, she felt the calling to start the non-profit Barber in a Bag that teaches basic hair cutting skills in street and slum communities in South America.

Read full bio of Madison Dufour