How To Lighten Your Hair Without Bleach, Because Anything Is Possible With A Little Sun & Lemon Juice

One of the fun benefits of summer (besides warm weather, grilling and spending all your time outside), is that the sun can naturally lighten your hair. Any blonde who's spent time outside knows the sun will bleach it, creating natural-looking (and free!) highlights. Of course, it's not realistic to spend every day outdoors, so I'm going to teach you how to lighten your hair without bleach.

I'll never forget the Sun-In disaster of 2006, when I wanted to add some natural-looking highlights to my light brown hair before a friend's Bat Mitzvah. When the day I planned to do it turned out to be cloudy, I used a hairdryer to activate the Sun-In instead. Two words: big mistake. Two hours later, I had orangey blonde hair that took three years to finally grow out.

Although Sun-In can work for true blondes, I now stick to natural lightening methods with results that are a little more subtle than my orange hair. These methods are the easiest ways to lighten your hair, and you probably already have all the ingredients in your pantry. The result will be subtle, natural highlights and slightly lighter hair. If you want to truly go blonde, make sure you see a professional.

Here are 6 natural ways to lighten your hair this summer.

1. Lemon Juice

Spray Bottle, $5, Amazon

No round-up would be complete without the classic summer staple. Lemon juice is one of the easiest and most common ways to lighten hair. It's important to note that lemon is heat activated, so use this method when you know you'll be spending a day outside. The heat of the sun opens hair cuticles and the lemon juice lifts color, which allows the sun to bleach your strands. Squeeze fresh lemon juice and add it to a spray bottle along with a teaspoon of oil to keep your hair from drying out. Spray and enjoy lighter locks!

2. Baking Soda

Arm & Hammer Baking Soda, $7, Amazon

This pantry staple is used as a cleanser by people who swear by the no-poo method, but it can also naturally lighten hair. Combine baking soda with a little water to make a paste and massage it into your scalp and all over your hair. As an added bonus, baking soda naturally strips hair-product buildup at the same time.

3. Honey

YS Organic Honey, $18, Amazon

While honey + hair seems like it'd be a recipe for a sticky mess, this sweetener is commonly used to soften hair. It can also create subtly lighter locks. There's two methods to use here. You can combine honey with water, apply it to hair, twist it into a bun, and let it soak for an hour or so. You can also combine honey with your hair conditioner and really maximize its softening benefits. Your hair will be shinier and lighter. TRUST.

4. Chamomile

Tazo Chamomile Tea, $6, Amazon

This herbal tea is good for you and can lighten hair. Brew some strong chamomile tea (about 5 bags to a few cups of boiling water), and let it cool completely. You can add it to a spray bottle and spritz on your hair when you're going to be outside, or add it to your conditioner for a more subtle look.

5. Apple Cider Vinegar

Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar, $10, Amazon

Again, apple cider vinegar is a pantry staple that's also used to cleanse hair. It can also clean out chemical buildup and is better-smelling than most other vinegars. Mix 1/4 cup ACV and 1 cup water and use it to rinse your hair after shampooing and conditioning. For best results, leave it on for at least 20 minutes before rinsing with fresh water.

6. Cinnamon

Simply Organic Cinnamon, $3, Amazon

Cinnamon has surprising hair-lightening properties and is definitely one of the best-smelling options on this list. Mix about three tablespoons of cinnamon into a palmful of conditioner and apply it to damp hair. Twist your hair into a bun and leave it on for a few hours before rinsing, or put on a shower cap and leave it on overnight.

Images: liz west; William Warby; kim; Andreas Levers; heartdr2011; Artizone; trophygeek/Flickr