Lemon Juice Highlights

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Intro: 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.

Step 1: 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

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

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.

Step 4: Lemony Fresh

You'll be dropping lemon juice into your hair from your forehead, and working backward. Drips might run down (gravity is like that) and this could mean into your face. A hand towel or washcloth is handy to clean up these drips. Lemon juice shouldn't bleach your skin, but it will probably take off your makeup, so wait to apply cosmetics. Also, the lemon juice will be COLD, since it should be stored in the fridge between uses.

If you have a regularly-used hair part, part it now. If you tend to wear your hair pulled back, brush it back now.

>>For Parted Hair, All-Over Lightening-- Drop lemon juice along right side of the part, comb out away from part. Repeat on left side of part.

>>For Parted Hair, Streaky Highlights-- Drop lemon juice in a zigzag across your part. Comb both sides away from part.

>>For Pulled Back Hair, All-Over Lightening-- Starting near the center of your forehead, drop lemon juice just inside your hairline, moving down toward your right ear. Repeat on the left side. Brush back from forehead.

>>For Pulled Back Hair, Streaky Highlights-- Starting near the center of your forehead, drop lemon juice in short lines away from your hairline. Move from center to ear, one side then the other. Brush back from forehead.

Step 5: Mix It Up!

Feel free to mix up the lemon juice application (previous Step).

Try throwing in a streaky highlights layer once a month.
>>Drop lemon juice in a zigzag at your forehead hairline.
Put an application of lemon juice just in the front for a chunky fringe highlight.

Mother Nature likes to get a little crazy, and this highlighting is so gentle that mixing it up isn't drastic in any sense.

For people with longer hair-- you may want to try dripping some lemon juice on your palm, rubbing your hands together, then running your hands through your hair, especially the ends. (Be careful of little cuts... cut+lemon=big ouch!)

Step 6: Catch Some Rays

Now, you'll be heading outside to let the sunshine do its part of the job.
Be sure to wear sunscreen and sunglasses! Safety first, people!

You only need to spend 30-60 minutes with your hair in the sun. Make sure your hair has the best sun exposure. This means the top of your head is toward the sun.

I've used the sunbathing method, to lighten my hair and lessen my glowing whiteness at the same time.
>>I've also done the yardwork method, adding a hat when the 30 minutes was up.

Step 7: Drying Up

Some of you may have dry hair by now, others may still find their hair is damp.

Dry and style your hair as you'd like.

For those of you with less than 30 minutes to spend in the sun... or if your sun has been taken away by a nasty old raincloud... never fear!  Heating the lemon juiced hair will also lighten it, although the effect will be much much subtler. A quick blow-dry on high heat or curling/flattening iron will do.

Step 8: Repeat As Needed

The results of your first time may not be obvious for a few days. And even then it will be incredibly subtle. Remember: You're giving Mother Nature a boost... this will take time.

Repeat Steps 3-7 once a week, until you've reached the desired look.

Doing this more than once a week can leave your hair feeling dry and brittle. Let your natural hair oils work their magic.

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    47 Discussions

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    Le Pew

    8 years ago on Introduction

    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.

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    Jeka FilmsLe Pew

    Reply 1 year ago

    So, what r u trying to say? We shouldn't do this diy then?

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    SiderAnneLe Pew

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    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.

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    Jeka Filmssara108

    Reply 1 year ago

    The whole point of this is the sun and lemon.

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    Addie Urie

    3 years ago

    I don't really understand all the people saying that the sun is harsher than bleach. Honestly I find this by personal experience, untrue.

    In December I dyed half of my hair to blonde with bleach products, and the result was terrible, my hair was truly damaged and I ended up cutting it.

    I have been doing this for about three weeks already, the lemon bleaching works better than chemicals, the result has been softer and lighter hair.

    For the author, perhaps you'd like to add that you can mix this with honey and olive oil for softer and bright hair, the honey and olive oil naturally heals your hair.

    Try not to wash it before applying, the shampoo might damage your hair when you wash it a second time. But make sure to use conditioner when you clean the lemon up, this will stop your hair from getting really dry.

    I hope this helps!

    1 reply
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    Jeka Filmssaraaman600

    Reply 1 year ago

    Its basically a natural dye. So if you don't like it, you either have to let your hair grow out, or dye it your natural hair color

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    Calistyle16

    3 years ago

    I have brown darkish light hair and I did this. The results turn good, my hair actually got lighter with highlights. The color went lighter brown and redish too. Also you might get gold highlights.

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    Jeka FilmsCalistyle16

    Reply 1 year ago

    I'm planning to do my tips, should I dye it? Should I use the recipe with 1 lemon, honey, and vegetable oil?

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    janielovesdiana06

    3 years ago

    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

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    saraaman600summerchange

    Reply 2 years ago


    • Dark brown to light brown or ecru
    • Light brown to golden blonde
    • Dark blonde to light blonde
    • Dark red to dark blonde
    • Light red to light brown or blonde
    • Black won't show much change at all.