The Most Unexpected Natural Beauty Ingredient

Long before I bought my first jar of Manic Panic from Hot Topic, I dreamed of navy blue hair as bright as Veronica Lodge from the Archie comics. Unfortunately, the blue dyes I frequented usually failed to stand out against natural black hair color, even when I layered it on thick. Nothing could make me truly blue. Most dark-haired folks are familiar with this dyeing pain, knowing that a color lighter than their natural locks would require some bleaching to truly get to your dream shade. This is when even the most sane of us start wondering how to lighten dark hair with hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide may be nature's chlorine-based bleach alternative, but it doesn't come without its own set of risks when using H202 in the name of beauty.

Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) is known as the world's natural sanitizer for its safe and effective ability to clean and disinfect. Any goth worth her cross necklace has used hydrogen peroxide for their at home piercings, body mods, and tats, but it's not just for wounds and clearing the occasional clogged drain. Hydrogen peroxide can also be a pretty bomb ingredient for your natural beauty needs.

No, seriously! H2O2 is made of only water and oxygen — I mean, could you be MORE natural? It actually fights toxins before they start causing damage, which is why I assume parents insist on pouring it on skinned knees despite the screaming protests of their children. A high antiseptic is exactly the type of product you want on your side when you suffer from moderate to severe acne. Although hydrogen peroxide is totally safe, make sure you have a skin condition that warrants it, because H2O2 can cause some seriously annoying dry patches and irritation if you overdo it.

Hydrogen peroxide is not going to be great for everyone OR everything. With powerful bleaching properties, it's tempting to reach for that friendly brown bottle and start bleaching arm hair or those semi-perm acne scars that aren't lightening fast enough. Stop it. Consider all the facts. Hydrogen peroxide kills. That's mostly why we love it: While it's stripping away your natural hair color, everything else is coming all with it — but that includes the good and the bad. Hydrogen peroxide will definitely take care of any free radicals or germs in your hair, but not without taking your hair's natural oils with them. This isn't something you can do every other week — stick to every six weeks or more, and definitely do some deep conditioning treatments after you dye.

Now that we've agreed to proceed with knowledge and caution, here are a few incredibly cheap ways you can use hydrogen peroxide in your beauty routine.

1. Natural Hair Bleach

When you say you're getting your hair bleached in a salon, chances are your colorist is using a hydrogen peroxide-based bleach. My sincere recommendation, especially for those with drier hair, is to avoid putting hydrogen peroxide in your strands. Even natural over-the-counter hair dyes containing hydrogen peroxide often lead to dry locks, but if you aren't planning on becoming a hair lightening addict, a mix of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide should lift the color of your strands in the comfort of your own hair. This is a popular home remedy I've watched many effortlessly master, but you may still want to leave bleaching to the experts — even if the expert is just a box of a semi-perm dye from Whole Foods.

2. Acne Spot Treatment

Like I said, hydrogen peroxide kills and that's exactly what I want any spot treatment for acne to do. Murder that pimple, get it out of my life, and take that annoying scar with you too! Apply the hydrogen peroxide directly on the blemish and wait for the bubbling to subside (I'd recommend diluting it a bit as well, and this definitely isn't for sensitive skin). This will kill the bacteria causing the pimple while also drying it out, though it works best on relentless cysts and severe pimples rather than a tiny, random zit. Use this treatment twice daily for only a couple of days, max, to avoid excessive dryness. And whatever you do, don't rub this powerful cleaning agent all over your face; make sure to only focus on infected areas to avoid irritation.

3. Mouthwash

It definitely doesn't taste minty fresh on its own, but according to WebMD, hydrogen peroxide makes for a hella effective mouthwash, as long as you dilute it first. I'm always looking for a safe alternative to regular OTC mouthwash without harmful additives, so I used hydrogen peroxide with clove-infused water. Not gonna lie, I was pretty pleased with the clean, fresh breath it gave me.

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