Something Else Sundays: Honey Hair Lightening

I'm gonna put honey in that!

I’m gonna put honey in that!

Occasionally, I seem to go through phases where I am very, very interested in natural or alternative beauty methods.  Not because of any noble aspirations to be more green or to avoid harmful chemicals (though those things are good things and I should focus on them more); I’m just cheap and curious.

A lot of the things I try don’t work out well, but sometimes they do. I’ve been co-washing my hair for nearly two years. I’ve been washing my face with oil (most of the time) for about a year. Both of those things sounded like, well, total bullshit to me until I tried them, so I’m pretty open to trying other “crunchy” beauty stuff. Even if it sounds implausible. 

One of the things that has sparked my interest lately is method of lightening hair with honey. Normally, I think my hair looks best when it’s the darkest brown possible without being black. Lately, though, my grays have been multiplying like bunnies and it’s too much work (and too damaging) to keep my roots covered. So I’ve been looking for something that would hopefully blend the grays better without causing too much damage. I did some googling and I kept coming across honey.

Oh, "darkest brown" dyed hair, I miss you!

Oh, “darkest brown” dyed hair, I miss you!

Apparently the science behind it is that honey produces a natural, very low-level peroxide when combined with water. I absolutely do not have the chemistry know-how to confirm this; could be a bunch of woo, I dunno. From everything I read, honey definitely does moisturize and increase shine so I decided it couldn’t hurt to try it and see if it would lighten, too.

So I needed a recipe; I didn’t want to go rubbing sticky, gooey honey in my hair all willy-nilly. I found a very informative (and very, very, very long) thread about honey treatments at The Long Hair Community that discussed different recipes and results, and I decided what I wanted to try.

I did my first treatment in July of this year, and it seemed to work a bit. I think. My husband says it looked lighter. It seemed a little lighter to me. But I didn’t take any before-and-after pictures, and I can’t confirm that the lighter appearance wasn’t due to the increased shine or possibly product build-up removal (I can’t quit you, silicones) or even just noticing natural summer sun lightening. So I decided to do it again, this time with pictures.

Here’s what I used:


All of that stuff should be able to be found at any grocery store. I pretty much just eyeballed it, but this is the recipe:

4 parts cooled, brewed chamomile tea

1 part honey

Roughly 2 tablespoons of cinnamon (if you have sensitive skin you might want to leave that out or use an alternate spice. It can sting.)

1 tablespoon of coconut oil (that can be omitted or replaced. Check the thread linked above, but I think any carrier oil would do)

Mix that all together. I used a wire whisk to break up the chunks of coconut oil because it is solid at room temperature.

Look disgusting, smells wonderful!

Look disgusting, smells wonderful!

Then put that on your hair! You can use a brush or a spray bottle; I didn’t have either of those so I just dunked my head in the bowl and splashed the mixture around. ::shrug:: Then I covered it with a shower cap, threw a towel over my shoulders (it’s drippy) and let it sit for an hour. Then I rinsed it out with cool water and washed with conditioner. If your hair feels crunchy, now would be the time to break out the shampoo.

Did it work? Again, I can’t say for sure. It did something.

I am a terrible photographer and I should have turned off flash. Before on left, after on right

I am a terrible photographer and I should have turned off flash. Before on left, after on right

My hair is definitely shinier, and it feels a bit thicker. Seems to be less frizzy, too. It’s hard to tell from the pictures, but my hair looks a bit less monochromatic than it did before. I’ve also noticed, even after the first time I did this, that my ends are not clashing so severely with my roots. I’ve always been pretty lazy about proper root dyeing and I usually just covered all of my hair when I colored. The bottom of my hair should, by all rights, be covered with layers and layers of permanent and semi-permanent brown dye. I last dyed my hair during the second week of June. But it doesn’t look like it.

Roots and ends (2 days later without flash...)

Roots and ends (2 days later without flash…)

Could be natural fading. But I think the honey has helped.

That wraps up the honey experiment. Anyone else tried it? Do you have any favorite non-mainstream beauty tips?


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