Colorfully Curly: Lighten Your Hair Naturally

The average black woman’s hair – although glorious in its beautiful spirals, kinks, curls, waves, textures, thickness and density – is usually known to only come in one color only: Black.

While our hair is fun to play around with in different styles and lengths, in order to truly shake it up, many of us will turn to dying our hair to give it an extra POW factor. For us natural sisters who are fighting to maintain length with our fragile coils, this can spell bad news.

The commercial hair dyes readily available at our drugstores often require us to “lift” the dark color from our hair – essentially bleach it – so that the reds, blondes, and browns can actually be absorbed and be seen in our hair.

However once black hair has been chemically altered, it requires far more maintenance because the harsh chemicals dry out the hair, requiring more moisture to prevent breakage. Frequent deep conditioning, spritzes and sealing hair that has been lightened still often isn’t enough, with many natural girls suffering breakage and forced to chop off their hair and start from the beginning.

However, there are alternatives! Here are some simple and easy ingredients found in your kitchen that can be used to naturally lighten your hair without the chemicals and bring out brighter browns, reds, and golds in all of our locks. NOTE: All of these treatments have to be done multiple times as they SLOWLY change the color of your hair. The degree to which this happens also varies on own hair, quality of ingredients, and patience.


Along with being a great deep conditioner, the lesser known fact about honey is that when it is added with water it becomes a natural peroxide and can help turn your hair into a lighter brown. Honey hair lightning can be done on virgin hair, previously colored hair, and hennae’d hair to further enhance a color that came out too dark. Ktani provides a great article about it here.


Chamomile tea releases a gentle yellow dye that can brighten brown hair or previously dyed blonde hair. Buy chamomile tea at a grocery store or any organic store selling the herbs in bulk. Steep in boiling hot water in a non-metallic container for several hours and rinse through your hair – stay out in the sun afterwards to increase the strength of the dye!


Lemon is one of the fastest ways to create beautiful highlights and golds in your hair. As an acid, lemon slowly strips the color away from your hair. This treatment works best in summertime, as sunshine is the catalyst for the juice. Mix with a little conditioner, spray liberally into your hair and hang outside for a couple of hours! Just make sure to deep condition and add olive oil to your hair afterwards as lemon is drying and when not used with caution can also cause breakage.


Cinnamon is a great treatment to get your hair up to two shades lighter! Although there are many recipes online available, the general rule is mixing cinnamon with honey or lemon, water, and some conditioner and then add a shower cap on top and sit with it for about an hour. Cinnamon can be irritating to people’s scalps so be sure to test this out on a section of hair before trying it out.


Henna is one of the most commonly used natural dyes because it is known for its strength of dye. The plant is ground into a fine powder and naturally only comes in a single color – red. However online stores provide a host of different henna mixes in a variety of different colors.


Adding the element of chemicals to your hair when you color it increases the difficulty of maintaining length and the results are not always certain. These gradual ways to lighten hair ensure you are safe, in control, and can have some fun. You can even do combinations – make a lemon and cinnamon spray for your hair, and after several treatments you can now henna it for a really intense red. Now go forth and make the world a brighter place!