Ways to lighten hair naturally

Get those dreamy surfer girl highlights when you lighten your hair naturally


The first time I dyed my hair, I was 7 years old.

Armed with a bottle of Sun-In, I took my first stab at lightening my hair. Maybe it was the lack of British sunlight or the poor product, but my hair went an amusing shade of urine yellow. It wasn’t a good look.


The second time was in a science class. When the teacher wasn’t looking I’d soak strands of my hair in hydrogen peroxide. I succeeded in lightening my hair and also burning my fingers.


Drew Barrymore 90s grunge

Seriously, who didn’t want to look like Drew Barrymore in the 90s!


Then came 90s flower child Drew Barrymore. Obsessed with everything Seattle, Nirvana and Courtney Love, I bleached my hair and chopped it into a pixie cut for spring. Fast-forward to the first day of school with two inches of root re-growth, I was suspended. Apparently, the posh boarding school I went to wasn’t into the Riot GRRRL look! Go figure.


Alexa Hohenberg as a 90s snowboarder

Me as a 90s grunge snowboard rat!


By 14 I had discovered highlights. Achieving sun-kissed surfer hair with highlights has been a regular fixture on the top of my head for last 18 years. Only now am I starting to look at how to lighten hair naturally or without using bleach (this SunBum semi-natural hair lightener product with pineapple and other goodies works a treat too!).


Roxy Pop surf collection

The ultimate surfer girl – Stephanie Gilmore for Roxy



How to lighten your hair naturally

Us surfer girls tend to have sun-kissed, lighter hair, especially around the face. UV rays definitely lighten your hair naturally but like surfer girls, you need to spend a lot of time in the sun. During winter, I like to give my hair a helping hand and try to use natural products to lighten it.



Read: Surf Hair Do Care – How to get beach blonde hair


Use lemon jouce to lighten your hair naturally

Photo from Beauty – Organic x Benefits


Lemon juice for highlights:

The acid in lemon can lighten the darker pigments in your hair so you can easily lift your colour a few shades lighter. Note that lemon is heat activated so use on a day when you know you will be outside in the sunshine.


Take two parts lemon to one part water and spray it on your hair or soak a few strands here or there. Add a few drops of organic coconut oil or argan oil to the lemon mixture to stop it from drying out. Take a long walk outside in the sun and repeat over a few days.


As the acid will dry your hair, get yourself a good conditioner at the ready like Tapa Reef for surfer girls, to restore some moisture. Also watch out not to get the lemon on your skin as it will burn.


Use Chamomile tea to lighten your hair

Photo from foods4betterhealth.com


Camomile tea for lifting your shade:

Lightening you hair naturally is just one of the amazing properties of camomile tea. Brew a strong tea with 5 or so tea bags to a few cups of water. Let it cool and then spray the tea on your hair or rinse with the tea after washing. Go out in the sunshine and gradually, the tea will lighten your hair. It will also smell great!


Cinnamon for hair

Photo from Healthline


Check out the surfer’s Sun Bum natural hair lighter product, it’s AMAZING!

Cinnamon can also lighten hair:

Cinnamon is a great way to lighten hair naturally and also ensure it smells great! Mix some cinnamon powder in with you conditioner to crate a thick paste. Then comb through to distribute evenly. Leave the cinnamon mixture on for 4 hours or overnight if you can. Rinse with shampoo and repeat until desired effect.


The ultimate surfer girl hair

Dream hair vibes.


Honey for blonder hair:

Honey has been used to lighten and soften hair for years. While it does sound like a sticky mess, you can mix honey into any of the other natural ingredients to help lighten your hair.


Mix with your conditioner, the cinnamon paste, lemon juice or apple cider vinegar (2 cups to 1 cup honey). Like with the lemon juice, add a bit of oil to stop your hair from drying out. I absolutely love this Beach Formula Argan hair oil.

Isabella Nichola surf hair

Photo courtesy of Billabong


Baking Soda will also work!

Baking Soda is used in tooth paste and natural cleaning products as it strips chemical build up. You can use it on your hair too, to give it a deep clean and also lighten your hair. Make a paste with ½ cup of warm water and cover your hair for 20 or so minutes. Not only will it lighten hair naturally, but it will strip it of product and chemical build-up at the same time!


Apple cider vinegar to lighten your hair

Photo from Authority Nutrition


Try Apple Cider Vinegar

This pantry staple is not only great for drinking diluted in warm water in the morning but also for rinsing your hair. Mix 1/2 vinegar, 1/2water and rinse or spray onto your hair. Leave on for 30 minutes and rinse off with fresh water.



KOKOH bikinis make beautiful surf inspired bikinis for a surfer girl

Photo courtesy of KOKOH bikini



I hope you have fun experimenting on how to lighten hair naturally (stay away from Sun In!). These natural recipes are not a quick fix so repeat until you get the desired effect and remember which ones are sun/heat activated (lemon and camomile tea), or try this surf hair Sun Bum product. I absolutely love it!


Water PH, amount of sunshine and quality of natural ingredients and the type of hair you are trying to lighten, will all affect the results. If you are after that sun-kissed blonde hair quickly, you may need to visit the hair dresser. Here’s a great article on what to ask for if you are after sun-kissed surfer girl blonde hair.


Cover image of Felicity Palmateer by Billabong.


More surfer girl tips:

Surf Hair Care – Pro surfer tips on how to look after beach hair
Surf Hair, Do Care: How to get beach blonde surfer hair
Best Surf Bikinis – Review of top active swimwear brands + discount codes
For Her Eyes Only – Surf tips for girls. Because all these things will happen to you!
Surf packing list – What to pack for your next surf trip
Surfer Girl Style – Top 10 surf fashion staples
Best Surf Sunscreen – Full review & breakdown of top brands
The Do’s and Don’ts of Surf Bikinis


Have you any other tips on how to lighten your hair naturally?  Some people say Rhubarb works but I reckon that would just make your hair pink! Have you ever tried it?


About the author

Still Stoked (Alexa)

Hiya, I'm Alexa. Always on some sort of adventure! I'm excited to share my stories & introduce you to other rad women, also living the dream.
I'm here to inspire you to do the same :-)

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