Natural Hair Highlights with Essential Oils & Hydrosols (DIY Recipes)

natural hair highlights with oils and hydrosols

With summer and warm weather on the horizon, I thought I’d cover a fun topic – hair lightening.

This post is dedicated to completely natural hair lightening options with some effective essential oils & hydrosols at the forefront. Now, of course, there are plenty of commercial lightening products out there that you could buy, as well as popular DIY peroxide treatments.

But personally, I like to avoid putting a bunch of chemical unknowns in my hair. Especially when there are much safer – and gentler – options available, that are natural to boot. And as far as peroxide methods go I’m not really into that peroxide blonde look. Also, peroxides can be pretty corrosive and tough on your hair.

Alright, let’s get to the recipes!

orange slices

Here’s an easy recipe for those looking for a quick and easy solution for hair lightening. The acids in the lemon work to lighten up the pigments in your hair.



  • Cut up and squeeze your lemons to get 1/2 cup of lemon juice OR use lemon essential oil (1 drop of Lemon EO = roughly 1 tsp lemon juice).
  • Alternatively, boil your lemons in distilled water.
  • Mix 1/2 cup of juice or lemon essential oil with your 1/2 cup of water/hydrosol.
  • For additional support add some grapefruit (10 drops) and rosemary (5 drops). These oils provide nourishment for your hair.
  • Add your mixture to a glass spray bottle.


Spray it on your hair before sun exposure. The more you use the lighter it’ll be!




  • Pour boiling water over your chamomile flowers (in a non-reactive bowl)
  • Let it steep for awhile. Ideally until the water is at room temp.
  • Strain the flowers out of the water, toss the flowers in your compost
  • Now add your essential oils into the water (also your solubilizer, if you chose to use one.)
  • Mix it up! (using a non-reactive utensil)
  • Add your mixture to a dark light resistant, glass spray bottle.

NOTE: You can skip the dry chamomile step and just use a few drops of chamomile EO if you prefer


  • Spray your mixture on your hair whenever you’re going to be outside in the sun for any amount of time. More sun exposure = more highlights.


This recipe requires no sunlight, just a little cinnamon (no sun needed)


  • 3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • One bottle of conditioner
  • Shower cap (optional)


  • Add roughly  3 tablespoons of ground cinnamon to your favorite conditioner, mixing it in thoroughly
  • Evenly apply the conditioner on your hair
  • Put on a shower cap and leave the cinnamon conditioner on your hair for four or more hours (overnight works well)
  • Repeat this process until you reach the lightening you desire
  • Repeat process occasionally to maintain color

If you want an extra lightening boost to add a tsp of honey to the mix. Honey has a little bit of peroxide in it and will further lighten your hair.

coconut oil

After you’ve had your sun time it’s recommended that you follow up with a treatment that moisturizes and adds nutrients to your hair.

Conditioning Treatment for Dry Hair



  • Mix ingredients well and heat using a double boiler (bain-marie method)
  • Apply all over your scalp while oil is still warm, massaging in well
  • Leave in for 10 minutes or so. Feel free to revisit the sun while the conditioner is in
  • Rinse thoroughly
  • Follow up with a vinegar rinse, leaving just a small amount of conditioner left over in hair

Conditioning Treatment for Sun Damaged or Bleached Hair

The essential oil of carrot seeds in a glass bottle macro


  • 2 tablespoons lecithin base
  • 1 teaspoon jojoba oil or argan oil
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 6 drops evening primrose oil
  • 2 drops carrot seed EO
  • 5 drops eucalyptus EO


  • Mix ingredients well and heat using a double boiler (bain-marie method)
  • Apply all over your scalp while oil is still warm, massaging in well
  • Cover hair using a plastic cap or towel and leave covered for 10 minutes
  • Rinse thoroughly
  • Follow up with a vinegar rinse, leaving just a small amount of conditioner left over in hair

Vinegar rinse for dry or damaged hair

apple cider vinegar



  • Add 1 drop of your sandalwood to 1 teaspoon of cider vinegar
  • Mix together well
  • Add mixture to the cup of boiled water
  • Add entire mixture to another bowl of water that you’ll use as your final rinse
  • Rinse mixture through hair thoroughly

How to prolong the shelf life of your lightening blend:

  • Keep your mixture stored in the fridge, or at minimum a cool, dark place.
  • Use distilled water to prolong the shelf life of your mixture. Its purity helps keep the ingredients stable.
  • Add a tablespoon of alcohol when mixing. This also stabilizes your ingredients.

Precautions to take before you apply your mixtures and hit the beach.

  • Wet your hair before you apply your lightening solution. Take a shower (avoid shampooing) or just soak your hair. This helps your hair from drying out excessively.
  • Avoid washing your hair for a day or more before you lighten it in the sun. Maybe you were wondering why above I said to avoid shampooing. It’s so your hair has time to build up its natural oils. They’ll give your hair some extra resilience out there in the beating sun and will keep it from drying out too quickly.

If you just want a few highlights in your hair

Maybe you’d rather not spray indiscriminately all over your hair. Maybe you just want a few specifically placed highlights. If this is the case grab a cotton ball, dip it in your lightening solution and slide the cotton ball over the parts of your hair that you want to be lightened.

hair highlights diy essential hydrosol

Hopefully, you’ve found a recipe here that works for you.

If you have any questions, comments or recommendations/recipes of your own please make yourself heard in the comments!

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