Can You Dye Your Hair Blonde Without Bleach?

October 28, 2021
Sarah Ferguson
By: Sarah Ferguson | by L'Oréal

Sun-kissed highlights truly never go out of style. To get the look you want and fast, your best bet is visiting a professional colorist. But maybe you don’t have the time or funds to visit the salon or maybe your hair just can’t handle potential damage from bleach-based color right now. Can you lighten your hair or dye it blonde without using bleach or spending day after day in the sun? We asked Matrix artistic director Nick Stenson to find out. 

Can You Lighten Hair Without Bleach at Home? 

The answer is yes and no. It really depends on your natural hair color and texture. Stenson says that the classic DIY solution of applying lemon juice in your hair before going outside can work, especially if you already have light, fine hair. However, if you have dark hair, you likely won’t get the golden blonde results you’re looking for. “It’s not a predictable process and can result in golden tones in lighter hair and brassy tones in dark hair,” he says.  Because lemon juice is so acidic, this method can also be damaging on hair. 

Can You Lighten Hair Without Bleach at the Salon?

If you feel comfortable heading to the salon, there are ways your colorist can lighten your hair without bleach, but again, it really depends on your hair color. One method that Stenson recommends is using a professional color eraser. “It’s a great alternative to bleaching and offers a subtle process of lightening and brightening over multiple appointments,” he says.  “It’s important to communicate to the stylist your expectations to make sure this is the best choice for your goal.”

How to Keep Hair Healthy if You Do Lighten Your Hair With Bleach

If you’re not into the lemon juice idea and your stylist doesn’t recommend a color eraser for your hair, you can go the bleach route without majorly damaging your hair. First, always leave bleaching products to the pros. This is because “bleach has the ability to weaken and stress the hair and scalp if used improperly,” says Stenson. After getting your hair dyed, keep hair nourished and vibrant with regular deep conditioning treatments. We like using the Garnier Fructis Strengthening Treat 1 Minute Hair Mask or the Color & Co Color Gloss Conditioner Cool Down.

color and co gloss conditioner cool down
Photo: Courtesy of L'Oreal

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