If you’ve ever used Sun In, then you’ve likely used lemon juice to lighten your hair. For those who grew up in the later parts of the last century, it’s almost like the product was a right of passage. Those in the know (or from earlier decades) realized they could achieve similar results by squeezing a lemon over their locks (via Healthline).
Byrdie got the low-down on using the yellow citrus fruit to brighten your hue. Guy Tang, colorist and founder of #mydentity, told the publication how lemon juice works to lift color. “The sun will always affect the tone of the hair, but it is magnified with lemon juice due to the high acidity level,” he explained. Of course, it doesn’t all happen at once. It takes a few applications before you’ll see noticeable results from squeezing the tart liquid on your mane.
As usual, when lifting color, all that lightening doesn’t come without some negative consequences for your hair, which you need to be aware of before deciding to go this route. Gretta Monahan told Byrdie that, “When combined with exposure to sunlight, the citric acid accelerates the bleaching process and basically this reaction breaks up hair pigment to expose the underlying lighter color(s).” With each application, some of the hair cuticle breaks down.
Here's what you need to know before using lemon juice to lighten your hair
While you can safely use lemon to lighten your hair no matter its original color, the results vary depending on your hair’s texture and hue. “As an example, someone who has very dark hair naturally has a lot of pigment and isn’t likely to see a noticeable result or can actually experience a red-orange/brassy result,” Gretta Monahan explained (via Byrdie). If that describes your mane, and it’s not the outcome you desire, then using lemon as a natural lightener might not be for you.
If you have lighter hair, lemon juice will work when exposed to sunlight (via Healthline). It’s more subtle than bleaching, which means it may look more like natural sun highlights. It works best for people with dark blond locks or lighter. Healthline suggests that you squeeze a lemon and put one part juice to two parts water in a spray bottle. You can spritz it on your hair, focusing where you’d like to lighten your hair the most — for instance, around your face. Another positive for the treatment is the anti-fungal properties of lemon juice may help with scalp itchiness and flaking. Both Tang and Monahan warned that this concoction might make hair feel dry and brittle (via Byrdie). Rinse out the lemon juice as soon as it’s dry and apply your favorite leave-in.
If you’re ready to take the plunge, grab some lemons and enjoy some sun.
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