How to Lighten Your Hair Naturally and Safely With Honey

Yes, you can lighten your hair with honey. This is a homemade natural hair highlight treatment that works. See Ktani’s research here.

honey hair highlighter susiej

You will need patience and perseverance, depending upon how “light” you want to go. This natural home hair lightener for brunettes, and natural hair highlighter for blondes is safe, and can be an organic hair highlighter depending on which honey you choose.

lighten hair with honey susiej

Here is a list of successful honeys to be used for naturally lightening your hair. What you will be doing is activating the natural peroxide that occurs in honey. This peroxide does not damage your hair, and honey is a humectant, which means it attracts and retains moisture on hair and skin — so not only does it lighten, but it deeply conditions your hair.

OK, so let’s get to it. How to really lighten your hair with honey naturally at home

UPDATE: Here’s a new wash and go method, click here.

  • Time: What you need are two hours. Prep time is only 15-20 minutes, though. The rest of the time, you’ll just be waiting on the honey – so you’re free for most of those two hours to do whatever you need to do – at home, preferably. Swim caps look a bit suspicious at the grocery store.


  • Shower cap
  • Towel
  • Raw honey.
  • Distilled Water: This is a must-have. There a minerals in tap water and even spring water will interfere with the minerals and peroxide in the honey. Buy a jug of distilled water.
  • Ground Cardamom: This is simply a spice, similar to cinnamon, that also holds a large amount of peroxide. Cinnamon does too— but cinnamon will burn your skin and your scalp. Seriously – stay away and use cardamom. Cardamom has more peroxide than cinnamon, and has no adverse effects on your skin.
  • A flip top cap: This mixture clogs a sprayer, and as much as you wish you could, you can’t spray this into your hair. You need to “pour” it slowly into your hair. Ironically, the cap of a hydrogen peroxide bottle fits on top of the little green glass Pellegrini bottles. I like to use glass so I can see if everything is mixed well. You can use a rinsed-out shampoo bottle, but it will be harder to see to ensure everything is mixed.
  • A swim cap. A shower cap will be too loose, and the honey will drip away. You could, I suppose use plastic wrap if you are quite gifted at wrapping your wet hair in plastic.
  • A towel to catch the drips.
  • Optional: Pure extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil. Olive oil has a higher peroxide value than coconut oil. Suggested recipe amounts for the oils are 1 tablespoon or less in total, per treatment. This is an additional lightening booster, but I find it quite difficult to wash all of the oil out of my hair.

Honey dilution Measurements For Lightening:

The ratio to keep in mind is 4 times the amount of water to honey, calculated by weight.

  • 10 grams of honey = 40 grams of distilled water
  • 20 grams of honey = 80 grams of distilled water

No scale?
Remember 1 tablespoon of honey to 6 tablespoons of distilled water

  • 2 tablespoons honey = 12 tablespoons (3/4 cup) distilled water
  • 4 tablespoons honey = 24 tablespoons (1 ½ cups) distilled water

How to mix the honey:

  • At room temperature, measure and mix the honey and water in your bottle.
  • Then, you add your boosters – the cardamom and the oil if using. I usually add a tablespoon of cardamom. You can’t overdo it or underdo it.
  • Seal the cap, and shake to ensure all the honey is saturated with the water – this will make it less “thick” and pourable. (The cold weather has made the honey quite thick and solid… but still, don’t be tempted to heat the honey. This can destroy the enzymes. In the summer months, you won’t have this problem. Just shake the honey and water together to break it up.)
  • Let the honey water mixture sit for 1 hour at room temperature. Do not heat this in the microwave – just let it sit, to allow the honey to produce peroxide.

Treating Your Hair With Honey:

  • After one hour, take your bottle, shower cap and towel to the sink, or shower, begin to pour the mixture into your DRY hair. Start with your roots, and use the ends of your hair to catch the drips. Do this slowly, so that your hair has a chance to absorb the mixture. If you’re very messy, put a bowl in the bottom of the sink to catch the drips so that you can re-apply this natural hair highlighter mixture.
  • Once your bottle is empty, and your hair is completely wet, pull that shower cap over your hair, tucking the ends of your hair under the cap.
  • Your hair must stay wet with the honey mixture for 1 hour to let the natural ingredients begin to lighten your hair.
  • Grab your towel and wrap it around your head, over the shower cap, turban style, to catch the drips.
  • For an extra lightening boost to brunette and blond hair, and if you have the time – you could, at this point, start another honey mixture to let it sit for the hour while this first mixture sit on your hair. Then, in an hour, you can reapply a second batch. It’s impossible to damage you hair with this treatment by doing it too much.
  • In one hour, the honey has done its work. You can now reapply, or pull of that shower cap, and step into the shower and wash the honey out of your hair. Once the water from the shower hits your hair, the honey just dissolves right out.

I am tempted to let the honey sit overnight, but have not yet done so. The experts say, an hour is all you need – but I’m still curious to try it.

lighten hair with honey susiej0

What can you expect when you start using honey to lighten your hair?

I never intended to post this story. I researched the information, and just tried it out, and I did not take before and after pictures. I am posting now, because so many people have stopped me to ask me about my hair color, and encouraged me to do this post.

  • After 1 treatment, your hair will be slightly lighter, but remarkably soft and lush, and very shiny.
  • After 3 treatments of this natural home hair lightener, you will see some clear definite signs of lightening – it will be subtle. It will be nothing as dramatic as walking out of a salon with a fresh weave of color – yet, this will be prettier and more natural looking.
  • You realize that you can’t “overdo it” because honey can’t hurt your hair – so you give it another treatment – your fourth one this week! And you can hardly believe your eyes. This is so much better than using those chemical coloring that leave your hair dry and brittle.
  • At this point, you will probably be committed to naturally lightening your hair with honey. You know that if you can just work this regimen into your bi-weekly routine, you will no longer need to be dependent upon your hair dresser to help you get rid of that “line” of demarcation that occurs at least every 6 weeks from chemical colorings.
  • You get a bit frustrated, because no matter what you do, you still cannot get your roots to be as light as the ends, which have already had this treatment four times now. So, you head to your hair dresser, because you are tired of the extra work. You just want to sit in a chair, and have him color your whole head, all at once – and you could care less about that dramatic line that will show up in 6 weeks. Let’s just do this. Instead – he says, “You know that ombre look is really popular right now – and you have it! … Your hair has never looked so good.” He sends you home with a new trim, yet without color.
  • You relax a bit, because this is so subtle, that you realize if you skip a month or two, you’ll be fine — there is no tell-tale line that you must hurry up and cover. The honey will be waiting for you as soon as you get to it.
  • Then, you run to the kitchen to do one more treatment.
  • You secretly wonder, if you could just bring the honey to your hairdresser and let him do it for you…

What are the benefits to using honey to lighten hair?

As I sit with a shower cap on my head, using a towel to catch the drips, I start to wonder if this whole thing is worth the trouble – and you will too. That’s when I let my mind jump back to the facts: not only am I lightening my hair with natural ingredients, but I am deeply moisturizing and conditioning my hair at the same time with honey.  The vitamins present in honey are B6, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid and certain amino acids. The minerals found in honey include calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and zinc.

How does honey lighten hair?

  • Peroxide. But not hydrogen peroxide, which is found in a brown bottle, and will make your hair turn orange and weeks later will eventually cause it to break off. Stay away from that, please.
  • There is natural peroxide in honey that is activated with water. It is safe to use for hair – repeatedly.

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68 comments to “How to Lighten Your Hair Naturally and Safely With Honey”
  1. Hi, thanks for posting this. I found another website but the instructions were confusing and wordy so I got some of the directions wrong. Glad I read your site before attempting it. I will try tomorrow! Also, can I apply the 2nd honey application before rinsing or should I rinse first?

  2. Sierra, hope your honey treatment went well. Yes, it would probably be a good idea to rinse out the first honey treatment before applying the second honey treatment – this wil give the second treatement of honey clear access to the hair shaft, without the honey from the previous treatment preventing the honey from penetrating. Hope it went well! Isn’t it great how soft the honey makes your hair too?

  3. Great article! You really covered it thoroughly.

    I want to mention, for those without swim caps, I’ve been dampening a microfiber head towel (from Dollar store) which is almost like a terrycloth swim cap… or simply a long roll of paper towels into the remaining mixture, wrap on my head, before the plastic wrap or shower cap. This works just as well and keeps the hair moistened with a bit of the honey mixture the entire time.

  4. hi,
    Thanks for the article. 🙂 just want to ask.
    Is the hair need to be dry or wet? You said it should be dry, but on my research I have read it should have been wet, does it really matter if the hair is dry or wet? I have doing this treatment first in dry hair, and I’m thinking to add the cardamom in the recipe. (I’m scared of cinnamon coz I have read that it gives you a tingling and burning feeling, and that’s what I’m scared of)
    And one more, is it okay if I mixed/add conditioner to the recipe or maybe substitute it to the olive oil? Can’t afford to buy some olive oil right now. -_-
    nyways thanks and I hope you answer. 🙂

  5. Remember, you are mixing the honey with water. If your hair is too wet, the honey will just drip off your hair and it will be too wet to contain. If your hair is dry, it’s easier to get your hair to absorb the water.

    No, you don’t want to add any conditioners to the honey — it can interfere with the peroxide as its working. It’s a very short amount of time for the peroxide in the honey to work, so just let it do its thing. The honey will nourish your hair and make it soft anyway — no need for a conditioner.

  6. Hi,
    okay. 🙂 gonna do this again by next day. ^^ will cardamom powder will work?, coz cardamom and cinnamon powder was only available in the grocery.
    Thanks for the answers and suggestions by the way. ^^

  7. Hi,
    I can’t find cardamom powder in the grocery, only the cinnamon, but I’m scared to use it, so I bought turmeric instead, will it still work?? May hair is kinda dark brown or brunette.

  8. Turmeric will definitely stain your hair an orange color. I’m not sure that it has peroxide in it… You don’t have to add the cinnamon or the cardamom powder. The honey has peroxide. However, if they do have cardamom pods, you can grind them in a coffee grinder.

  9. Okay so maybe I’m just gonna stick for a honey alone with distilled water. How many shades does the honey lighten? My hair is brunette or dark brown…

  10. Honey is a very subtle lightening. You may want to try repeated treatments to get a large amount of lightening… as you can’t hurt your hair with the treatments.

  11. SusieJ, thank you for writing this post! It was very helpful. What would you suggest for maintenance? I’ve read about putting honey in shampoo or conditioner. I’ve also read that putting Vitamin C in shampoo does the trick.

  12. Will it make my hair orange? I have dark brown hair and i read almost everywhere that it might turn orange. Please respond soon! Looking forward to making this mixture

  13. Hi I was just wondering if I could add these ingredients to the honey mixture, since I already use my own all natural hair mask once a week for my hair?… Or will it affect the bleaching process?

    1 whole egg
    1 tablespoon of plain Greek yoghurt
    1 tablespoon of olive oil
    1 teaspoon of shea butter

  14. My goodness, Susie, your writing style is so very easy. Do you work at it to achieve it, or does that come naturally to you? Kudos to you for so much info making it so easy for us! I am an old Island girl, now with some grey hair and am weaning myself off of henna, wishing to lighten my hair so that I can blend more easily with the grey roots. Sure I could use 2 lemons, 1T olive oil and 2T water in the sunshine, but this method is more even and so much easier for this old gal who can’t get outside at all the right times. I remember that me mum threw blonde dye into her grey hair when she was grey and it was So Cool and Amazing. I’m hoping for the same effect, but naturally. I’ll be doing at least 3 treatments this weekend and will post the results.

    RIRI regarding egg, yogurt or shea butter, I believe that these interfere with the natural peroxide, but olive oil does not. Perhaps you could add these to your hair after you’ve treated/lightened it?

    Annie, I sure hope your hair doesn’t turn orange either. I’ve been using henna that has changed my hair to medium brown. I’m expect that my hair will not turn orange either. But I’ll post as soon as I do a few treatments, in case you’re still waiting for info… Also, I’ve not slept with honey in my hair. Please post if you have. I’d love to know the results.

  15. Your hair sounds awesome, and honey will be perfect. I love how the hair seems to have a luminosity about it once it’s highlighted with honey.

    Just curious is your mother’s hair ever turned that beautiful white/blue that I think is so lovely on older women. I hope I achieve that someday.

    Yes! I have slept with honey on my hair. The test results/scientist say the peroxide in the honey is no longer active after an hour– but maybe it is? Anyway, honey is very nourishing, so I see it as an added long-term moisturizing treatment.

    Jeannie, regarding the gray hair — have you heard about catnip? It “stains” the hair a golden yellow as it conditions the hair as well. I was thinking of writing a post on that, but haven’t. I think the ratio is about 1 teaspoon of dried catnip, leaves and flowers, with a cup of water. Let steep for four hours, and put on dry hair, the same method as the honey.

    I have never done the catnip stain– but what I do is make the same catnip tea mixture and put it in a spray bottle that I keep in the fridge. It’s a wonderful de-tangler, and is supposed to help with split ends. This is a stain and not a highlighter…But I’ve read that it’s quite effective in covering gray.

  16. And yes, Jeanie,.. you can add those other ingredients after you use the honey, but you may not need them. And the addition of EVOO has been quite dramatic — but it is hard to get it all out of your hair. I end up using lots of baking soda.

  17. Hi suzie, this is really useful for me, but just one question – can i use deionised water (i.e. ironing water) instead of distilled water? would mean so much if you could reply

  18. Hi suzie, this is really useful for me, but just one question – can i use deionised water (i.e. ironing water) instead of distilled water?

  19. Hi. I just had a horrible dye job done. I had highlights about 6 months ago and they really got light over the summer, so i went in to have them toned back closer to my natural color. Well she turned my naturally medium brown hair in to extremely dark brown, even black hair. I hate it but I’m terrified to do this. I made the mixture with honey, distilled water, and a tiny bit of olive oil, but I just really do not want another hair mess up. I have my school pictures in 2 days!

  20. This is brilliant I used organic honey and cinnamon on my hair because I don’t like using shampoos as they have a lot of toxins I’m glad to know that honey lightens the hair

  21. Hey nice post. I just wanted to ask that can i use simple water i mean which we use for drinking?? And my hair are black so if i apply this will they turn in brownish type color or orange? I love brown hair thats y im asking 🙂 looking forward for ur reply :] thnks

  22. I hope you don’t mind me noticing, but you have an authors picture to the right hand side of this article. I’m incredibly intrigued by honey lightening (I have awkward dark blonde/light brown hair I’m trying to grow out).
    I was just wondering if the picture posted on the side of the article is the highlight colour you achieved by honey lightening?

  23. Hi, thank you for this blog. I was wondering if you could tell me, why wait an hour before applying the mixture? Since you said it has a short window of time to react, I was thinking maybe to apply it right away and leave it for two hours? Thank you!

  24. Hi! Just wonder if it might work with chamomile tea insteda of just water and sit in sun with if for an hour or so, thinking to try that, but try the same amout of water, houney and cardamom 🙂

  25. Interestingly enough, I learned through some research on the Internet, that Chamomile tea does not bleach your hair, but rather “stains” your hair with a nice golden tone… So yes, it would work, but it would be a temporary color. But great questions, and thanks for asking!

  26. Because it takes that long for the peroxide to activate in the water. And during that time, the peroxide is activated by the precise ratio of honey to water. Thanks for asking..

  27. Thank you 🙂 Since I have understood that heat should not be added I can understand it is not a good idea to sit in the sun with the honey as it will dry and add heat.
    I could try it with the chamomile though, I have sprayed a little when in the sun, can not say I have seen much results yet, but it might help “bring out” the highlights already there..

    I am making the mix now and wonder if it is okay to (after an hour) use a sieve or something to get of the pieces of cardamom out?.. Or maybe it will affect the peroxide…

  28. Yes… you can use a sieve to get out the cardamon bits — but I just leave them in and wash them out when the processing time is done. Unlike cinnamon, the cardamom doesn’t burn. Good luck

  29. Hi, I love this site and your honey lightening blog, I’m trying it out right now!

    I have read numerous websites regarding honey lightening and it’s all similar reading, however no one really addresses the question of should the honey mix be put on clean dry hair, or just dry hair regardless of whether it has oil, styling products etc on it?

    I have curly hair and wash it twice a week using the reverse washing method, so I condition hair first, then shampoo followed up by styling products etc.

    I know honey is a natural conditioner anyway and it’s great to use it as my pre-wash conditioner, but if I use it as a lightener too I could do without having to wash my hair, let it dry, apply the honey mix, then wash again etc. It’s too much for my sensitive hair, and too time consuming.

    Any advice from anyone with experience of this would be great. To wash or not to wash first, that is the question!

    Many thanks!

  30. Vanessa, I have been doing the honey lightening with distilled water on and off for a year, and it has turned my dark blonde straight hair medium blonde. From my experience, you can use it on unwashed dirty hair.
    Good luck!

  31. Hello! Thank you for posting all of this information!!

    Prior to trying the honey treatment, I had dyed my hair with 100% henna and it deepened my hair to a pretty red but started contrasting a bit too much with my natural roots. I am naturally a reddish-brown so while it wasn’t too bad, I didn’t like it. I also have balayage highlights in my hair done over the henna (for those who want to do this, you can only attain good results if you used 100% henna – that means no indigo, no metallic salts) which helped soften the color but I still wanted my lighter hair back.

    I went to my hairdresser and asked her to blend my natural roots into my hennaed hair but we had a miscommunication and my roots ended up matching the color I’ve been trying to grow out instead of having a gradation.

    I got a bit obsessive over fixing the problem and have done upwards of 15 honey treatments. This lifted a lot of the dark dye at my roots and has been lightening the rest of my hair as well! Now I have a more natural transition between my hennaed hair and my roots!! I feel like I am slowly getting my hair back to the lighter color I remember. I will still probably have to add more highlights as my hair grows to break up the color difference but I’m excited to grow my natural hair color out again as the base color! 🙂

  32. Hi Susiej,
    I am on my second night of applying this natural treatment and I am so happy of how it is bringing out the natural highlights in my hair. Thank you for sharing.

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