How to Get Sun-Bleached Hair (And How to Avoid It)

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

How the sun affects your hair color

Sitting in the sun won’t give you the same results as a licensed cosmetologist (obvi). But studies show sun exposure can lighten hair. How? Your hair’s color comes from a pigment called melanin. UV rays can break melanin down and leave you with a lighter lewk.

FYI: The sun can lighten any shade of hair. But folks with lighter hair tend to have more noticeable results.

How to sun bleach your hair

ishonest No.501 - Frizzy Hair

No.501 - Frizzy Hair

Simply sitting in the sun can take your hair to new (lighter) heights. But some folks, especially those with darker hair, may need an extra boost. Here are some DIY treatments to try.

Salt water spray

Salt spray is a super simple and affordable way to gradually lighten your locks. We also love that it serves serious mermaid vibes .

Here’s how to lighten your hair with salt spray.

  1. Dissolve 2 tablespoons of table salt into 1 cup of warm water.
  2. Pour into a spray bottle.
  3. Spray the solution all over your hair.
  4. Sit in the sun for at least 15 minutes.
  5. Rinse well and condition.

PSA: Salt can strip moisture from your hair. That’s why it’s important to use a deep moisturizer after each treatment to avoid dry, dull, or damaged hair.

Lemon juice
For strong and hydrated hair

Learn more

When life gives you lemons, use them on your hair! Lemons contain lots of citric acid. This makes them a great natural bleaching agent. Some peeps think UV rays can accelerate the lightening process.

Here’s how to lighten your hair with lemons.

  1. Mix one part fresh lemon juice with two parts warm water.
  2. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle.
  3. Spritz into damp hair.
  4. Sit under the sun for up to 2 hours (don’t forget sunscreen!)
  5. Rinse thoroughly and follow up with a conditioner.

Psst. Don’t use straight up lemon juice on your hair. It’s hella acidic and can cause frizziness and dryness. Def dilute it with water every time you use it.

Chamomile tea

Chamomile tea isn’t just a soothing, delicious drink. Some studies suggest it’s also a fab hair lightener.

ishonest No.232 - Pigmentation & Blemishes

No.232 - Pigmentation & Blemishes

Here’s how to lighten your hair with chamomile tea.

  1. Steep 4 or 5 chamomile tea bags in 2 cups of boiling water.
  2. Let the tea cool.
  3. Pour into a spray bottle.
  4. Spray the solution into your hair starting at the roots.
  5. Sit in the sun for up to 2 hours (don’t forget sunscreen!)
  6. Rinse and follow up with a conditioner.

BTW: Some folks with darker hair have found success with chamomile tea as a bleaching agent. Just keep in mind, it prob won’t turn you into Goldie Locks.

How to avoid sun bleaching your hair

You can still enjoy fun in the sun without bleaching your hair. Here’s how you can avoid your own #BlondeMoment.

  • Cover up. Hats and umbrellas are great for protecting your skin from sun damage. But they can also block out the sun’s bleaching effects on your hair. You can also wear a swim cap when swimming outdoors.
  • Rinse it out. Rinse your hair with fresh water ASAP after swimming in salt water.
  • Use a UV hair protector. Could you lather your locks with sunscreen? Sure. But you’re much better off with a UV protector. These sprays are designed to prevent UV rays from wiping out your hair’s natural pigment.


The sun can be a great way to naturally bleach your hair. But it’s uber important to have realistic expectations. Your results aren’t going to keep up with what you’d expect at the salon. Also, the treatment usually doesn’t work as well on darker hair.

You can use DIY hair treatments like salt water spray, lemon juice, and chamomile tea to enhance results. Just remember to follow up with a conditioner to prevent hair damage.

Read more on: hair

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