Picture of Lemon Juice Highlights
Ever wanted natural-looking highlights without dropping mucho dinero for the salon version? This Instructable will show you how to get subtle and natural-looking highlights from lemon juice and sunshine.

Friendly warning: I do mean natural and subtle highlights. Brown or black hair might go red, not blond.
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Step 1: How it Works

Picture of How it Works
The lemon juice acts like an accelerant to the sun's natural hair lightening abilities. It's magnifying the amount of lightening the sun can do, which creates the subtle highlights.

This is permanent.

It may fade with time, but treat it like permanent hair dye. Luckily, the color change is so gradual that it is very easy to control.

Step 2: Supplies

Picture of Supplies
What you'll need:

1. A bottle of real lemon juice (not lemonade).
I like the little lemon-shaped ones, the squeeze tops work perfectly.

2. A shower or water squirt bottle. Something to get your hair soaked.

3. A towel. A hand towel or washcloth is okay.

4. Sun protection gear. Specifically sunscreen and sunglasses.

5. A brush and/or comb.

Step 3: Getting Wet

Picture of Getting Wet
You'll need to get your hair really wet. Clean and wet is even better. Like it's fresh from the shower. The simplest way is to do this is right after your shower.

For streaky highlights-- towel off your hair, so that it's damp, not dripping at all.

For soft highlights or all over lightness-- pat your hair with a towel, so that it's not dripping.

Remember: It's easier to get your hair drier than it is to get it wet again.
czareyna1 month ago

Can I use a hair dryer than the sun? I'm doing this thing on night time..

If there no sun n its so cloudy can u use the hair dyer to blow dry ur hair to get ur highlights just asking n let me know asap please needed to know soon k I really appreciate it n thanks

I was just wondering if i could use the hair dryer method too :/

sara1081 year ago

do u have to use the sun cuz im doing it at night! plz answer me

Le Pew4 years ago
did you know that lemon juice is just as acidic as battery acid? that it will break the cystein bonds in your hair faster than bleach? ever wonder why your hair feels sticky? thats your hair becomming systeic (this means that ginormous holes are being litterally punched through your hair shaft) nice instructable but if you can't pay the price of a salon you have the option of a school not just that but you will eventually damage your hair with a process like this! 2000 hours of schooling is required with courses covering "but not limited to" chemistry, bacteriology, anatomy, to achieve a full understanding of how chemicals and human body affect one another, and how to apply chemical treatments to the human head of hair! Pleas see and speak with a salon professional before undertaking any DIY hair or skin treatment.
SiderAnne (author)  Le Pew4 years ago
I agree that anyone could damage their hair with a process like this. Any chemical process can be damaging to hair, even by professionals with 2000 hours of schooling.
However, I would not have posted this if I had not at least tried it myself numerous times, and know others who have done it as well. I tried to include as many warnings and specific instructions as I could in my tutorial.
i am a hairstylist...

while chemicals are damaging to your hair, this can be just as if not more harsh, with an uncontrolled outcome.

if you naturally, like the poster, have that all american ashy, gets blonde in the summer sun anyway hair, then yes, this would work for you with maybe just one careful application.

if your hair is remotely darker, it will suck, and you will be sad, and have to go to a salon to try to correct the main problem, which is, uneven tones that you have created and usually look like cheetah spots... just being honest, seen it happen.

if your hair is naturally:
RED- you will go orange maybe strawberry blonde
MEDIUM BROWN- if it changes at all, it will be brassy, or tawny
DARK BROWN/BLACK- sadness, doubt it will change, if it does it will be a red orange color.

IF YOU HAVE BOX COLOR OR ANY COLOR ON YOUR HEAD, FORGET IT. box color is so unpredictable, some brands plant unseen metallic colors in the hair, such as pink and green (not kidding) and when lightening, is the time they decide to show up. ( this is even a challenge for a stylist)

Stylist tip- Cant afford color? go to a beauty school, they offer very low prices, or find a high end salon in the area, they have an apprentice program, and the prices are unbelievable and your still getting top service from top stylist just applied by a jr. stylist.

if you insist on diy, at least go to sally's and pick up a little better quality color then nasty box color you get at the drugstore. when you decide to change colors one day, you will be thankful. sorry that was a mouthful, hope it helps :)
jennyespa4 years ago
I have always wanted to try this!!
grooooovy4 years ago
Does this REALLY work? I thought it was more of a myth.
SiderAnne (author)  grooooovy4 years ago
As I said before, I've done it myself many times... before my mom would let me dye my hair with chemicals.
OMG in the fourth photo first I thought you suddenly went bald.... LOL :P
EvlPwnda4 years ago
Cranberry juice works well on brunette hair for nice auburn highlights
MyMenagerie4 years ago
This works very well. I have used it in the past. Vinegar can be substituted for a redish highlight.
poiki4 years ago
do you know if the lightening property is exclusive to lemon juice? could it be due to the acidity of the lemon (i.e. using diluted vinegar if lemon juice isn't available)? or even trying orange juice?
rhaubejoi poiki4 years ago
No, vinegar will not work for this purpose, however, it (cider vinegar) does clear out any 'gunk' on your scalp that is left from shampoo or styling product residue and also eats dead skin cells and its great for getting rid of the fungus that causes 'itchy scalp'. You can dilute the lemon juice for a gentler procedure. I used to use lemon juice on my hair when i was a teenager. It can give you frizzy unmanageable hair or just a strawlike consistency, so go gentle at first.
SiderAnne (author)  poiki4 years ago
I don't know that orange juice would be strong enough, even concentrated I think it has a lot more sugar. (which is why you use lemon juice, not lemonade)
Diluted vinegar might work, but I don't know anyone who has tried it, so I wouldn't recommend it without serious caution and precautions. I think the scent of the vinegar sitting in my hair for a day would convince me that lemon juice was better, just for the smell.
grahambob684 years ago
I believe you can rinse your hair with an infusion of privet leaves and get a similar result.
wocket4 years ago
this is a great instructable if you'd like to risk losing your hair. A classmate at uni tried it a couple of years ago and her hair fell out as a result. the strands that didn't fall out where really weak. So just a warning - remember that lemonjuice is an acid and hair does not react well to it.
SiderAnne (author)  wocket4 years ago
I tried to give as many warnings as I could in my tutorial, but everyone's hair chemistry is different and it can cause different results.
Can you explain what you mean by "streaky"? "Streaky" brinks to mind messy and skunky. Do you mean regular neat blond streaks? Also, can you get neat streaks doing this? Does the lemon juice not run over the wet hair haphazardly? Good tut, and will definitely experiment with this!
SiderAnne (author)  theblinddonkey4 years ago
I meant the fine lines of lightened hair that occurs naturally with sun exposure, as opposed to the uniform color one would get with box dye.
I wouldn't say blond streaks unless your hair is at least as light as mine in the tut.
This process is repetitive, and extremely subtle in coloring. Neat streaks might be possible if you were VERY meticulous and measured where you applied lemon juice every time.
Brushing the lemon juice through hair helps distribute it more evenly through the shaft.
eight4 years ago
Just a little warning... Lemon Juice attracts bees. I found that out the hard way 25 years ago. You've been warned. Nice instrucable, by the way. Ta for sharing it !
felipenavas4 years ago
(removed by author or community request)
I suppose if you're close to the Equator and prance around unprotected, it is STUPID
I did this all the time as a teenager and so did most of my friends. No problems ever. Why do you write "st*pid" instead of "stupid" - do you think you will be censored? I'm just curious.
Thank you for the idea. I never thought of it. And all natural too!
squishoso4 years ago
First, nice instructable! (And you are cute too!) Second, There`s an important warning about lemon juice and sun! I once accidentaly got some lemon juice on my hands before going out on sunlight. It actualy bleached my skin, making some brown spots appear! They disappeared after some weeks, but its still awfull! Take care not to let lemon juice drip from your hair to your skin while on the sun!
Shut Up Now4 years ago
I have black hair, so if i tried suppose tried to add a subtle streak into my hair, will it even be noticeable afterward? Btw I live in Arizona, so lots of sun isn't a problem. Oh, and cool instructable.
SiderAnne (author)  Shut Up Now4 years ago
It would probably take many applications, depending on how light you wanted the streak. This is a gradual process, since it just amplifies how the sun naturally lightens your hair. Most people with black hair tend to have it go red, not blond. I hope that answers your question.