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How To Use Apple Cider Vinegar To Lighten Dyed Hair

Have you ever dyed your hair a certain color, liked your new look for a couple of weeks, and then realized that you want something lighter?

And then have you ever had second thoughts about dyeing your hair again because of the damage it was going to cause? Welcome to the club.

I’m here to be the bearer of good news and tell you that it’s possible to lighten previously dyed hair so that you can get that brighter color you want.

Instead of bleaching and coloring your hair with scary, dehydrating chemicals again, you can go for the organic route and do it with apple cider vinegar.

Yes, you can use apple cider vinegar to lighten dyed hair.

There are a lot of reasons why you should try out ACV to lighten your hair.

First, it’s less damaging than bleach and dyes.

It’s also cheaper and is likely sitting in your cupboard right now.

apple cider vinegar to lighten dyed hair

In this post, I’ll be taking you through how to use this powerhouse kitchen ingredient to lighten and transform your shade.


ACV Is A Terrific Organic Alternative To Using More Bleach

When you want to lighten your already-dyed hair, you’ll likely need to use bleach and toner all over again to achieve the new shade you want.

Not only is this a hassle and super expensive if done at a high-end salon, but it also deals a lot of damage to your hair, which is still recuperating from the first coloring job you had done.

See, bleach is made with a harsh oxidative agent that forces your hair cuticles open to let your natural pigments out.

This ends up lightening your shade very fast, but it’s insanely damaging even to healthy, virgin hair.


Side Effects Of Bleaching

When bleach opens your hair cuticles, it also breaks down the fatty acids and proteins in your hair – the very things that give your strands their structure, strength, and bounce.

So after bleaching your locks, you’ll likely have dull, rough, and dehydrated hair.

Bleaching also increases the porosity of your hair.

In the process of opening your cuticles, it leaves gaps and holes in your hair fiber behind.

These “pores” in your hair leave your cuticles wide open, making your strands more prone to splitting and breaking later on.


Organic Alternatives

Luckily, there are many different alternative ways to lighten your hair.

Using organic ingredients instead of the scary bleach allows you to lighten your locks safely without leaving your hair basically lifeless.

There are lots of organic juices and botanicals people use to lighten the hair at home.

Some sweat by lemon juice, others prefer the soothing power of chamomile tea.

Chamomile tea

Although these are effective as well, my favorite is apple cider vinegar.

It does the job just as well, but with additional benefits to improve your overall hair health.


What Makes ACV An Effective Lightener?

But what makes apple cider vinegar an effective hair lightener in the first place?

The answer to that is simple: Its chemical composition.

Apple cider vinegar is rich in many vitamins and minerals, one of which is vitamin C.

Vitamin C is known to be acidic (which is why crushed vitamin C pills are another popular DIY ingredient to lighten the hair with).

The acidity helps lighten the hair color gradually.

Aside from vitamin C, apple cider vinegar contains a high amount of acetic acid.

This chemical takes up around 6% of the composition of ACV.

While many consider this a weaker type of acid, its acidic properties are still strong enough to change the color of your hair a bit.

Worried about putting apple cider vinegar in your hair? Don’t be.

apple cider vinegar to lighten dyed hair

The notion isn’t as outlandish as pouring pure white vinegar in your locks because ACV is actually known to be a terrific hair purifier and shine booster.

It also has a pH level that’s almost identical to that of the scalp, which helps to keep your hair healthy overall.


How To Use Apple Cider Vinegar To Lighten Dyed Hair

Ready to bring your hair up a shade or two with apple cider vinegar?

The good news is that it’s very easy to do it as long as you’re careful with the ingredients and know what to do to maximize ACV’s lightening effects.

Here are the steps to do it properly:


Mix The Ingredients

Gather all the materials you need from your kitchen.

Get your apple cider vinegar, some distilled water, and an empty spray bottle.

Mix equal parts ACV and distilled water in your spray bottle and give it a shake.

You can also add other acidic ingredients like a few tablespoons of chamomile tea or lemon juice to enhance the lightening properties.

You can also add in a few drops of your favorite essential oil to mask the ACV smell.


Section Your Hair

Wear a towel around your shoulders to make sure that the ACV concoction doesn’t spill all over your skin.

Always remember that apple cider vinegar is acidic.

So even if it’s fairly gentle on the hair and skin, it can still cause irritation if you’re not careful enough.

Section your hair into manageable parts for when you spray it with ACV.

They can be big parts, but it’s easier to work with several hair sections instead of just drenching your mane with apple cider vinegar.


Spritz The Mixture

Spritz some of the ACV mixture into each section of hair, making sure that every lock is saturated from root to tip.

Comb through your hair to get rid of all the tangles.

ACV makes detangling easier, so this shouldn’t be a problem.

Just make sure to be very careful and gentle with combing, as hair is more likely to shed when sopping wet.


Sit Under The Sun 

Go outdoors and sit under the sun for about 30 minutes to a full hour.

The UV rays of the sun help activate the ACV’s lightening properties, making it work faster on your hair.

Read a good book or scroll through Instagram while waiting for the ACV to work its magic

Make sure you slather a lot of SPF on your face and body before doing out in the hot sun.

This project is for your hair, sure, but you must care for your skin as well by avoiding UV damage.


Overnight Session

If you don’t want to expose your hair and skin to the sun’s UV rays or have no time to do this lightening procedure in the daytime, another option is to do an overnight session instead.

After your hair is drenched in the apple cider vinegar mixture, put a plastic wrap around your head.

This will keep your locks in place so the ACV doesn’t dirty your pillows.

It also traps heat to help activate the ACV’s lightening power.


Wash Your Hair

The next morning or when you’re done sitting outside in the sun, jump in the shower to shampoo your hair.

Make sure to get rid of all the ACV so you don’t end up with smelly locks.

Follow up with a nourishing conditioner just in case the concoction dried your hair out a little.


Note that depending on your hair type and color, you might have to do more than one session to get the lightened shade you were hoping for.

This is especially the case if your hair is a deeper brown and not blonde.

For that, you might have to do two or three sessions with a few days to a week in between.


Will This Work On Dark Hair?

Organic lightening ingredients like ACV will only work if you have fine and light-colored hair.

That means if you have thick, coarse, jet-black hair, it probably won’t work for you.

If you have blonde or light brown-colored locks, you’ll likely have great results from this DIY lightening method.


How To Give Yourself Highlights With ACV

If you don’t want to change the color of your entire mane and just want to use ACV to give yourself highlights, you can do that too.

All you need are a few simple tweaks in the steps mentioned above.


Mix Ingredient In A Bowl

First, put your apple cider vinegar, water, and add-ins combination in a small bowl instead of a spray bottle.

For highlights, you won’t need as many of the ingredients as the previous guide.

Half a cup each of ACV and water will be fine.

Instead of sectioning all your hair and spraying the ACV mixture into every lock, just select which strands you want to lighten.

You can do face-framing highlights by choosing the locks nearest your face.

Or if you want spread-out highlights, select some thin sections all the way around your head.


Use Cotton Balls

Now, take a cotton ball and dip it into your ACV mixture.

Lightly dab that cotton ball onto the strands you selected to be part of your highlights.

Make sure those sections are completely saturated with apple cider vinegar for best results.

To keep the lightening properties of the ACV away from the other sections of hair, you can use hair clips or even strips of foil.

These will help you organize each section of the hair as you work.

The foils in particular can also help trap heat in the hair, allowing the ACV mixture to work harder.


You can choose to do the daytime method of sitting outside in the sun or leave the ACV in to process overnight – whichever you’re more comfortable with.

If you choose to sit under the sun, you don’t have to do a full half-hour.

Fifteen to twenty minutes is fine.

Since you’re not doing your whole head anyway, you don’t have to stay long just to let it process in your hair.

Recommended Post: How To Keep Highlighted Hair Healthy


Additional Benefits Of ACV

If you’re still not convinced that using apple cider vinegar is good for the hair, here are some more benefits you can get out of using it on your hair.


Clarifying Rinse

First, ACV works as a clarifying rinse to get rid of nasty product build-up in your hair that is too stubborn to be washed away by your shampoo.

It does this without stripping your hair of the natural sebum that keeps it hydrated.

This adds a healthy sheen to the hair after you wash your ACV mixture off.


Soothes Dry, Itchy Scalps

ACV can also improve a dry, itchy scalp.

It has antifungal and antibacterial properties that keep your scalp’s pH balanced.

That means it won’t act out and be parched anymore, which fixed problems like dandruff flakes or an itchy head.


Controls Frizz

It’s also terrific at controlling frizz in the hair.

That’s because ACV smoothens the hair and even makes detangling a lot easier.

It also has minerals like calcium, iron, and manganese that help strengthen your locks overall.

So not only do you get lighter hair when you use ACV.

You get healthier, shinier, more balanced, and more frizz-free hair as well!


Warning About Using ACV On Your Hair

Even if apple cider vinegar does so much for the hair, you should always remember that it’s still highly acidic.

If you aren’t careful with how you use it, you could end up harming your skin, especially on your scalp.

The acetic acids found in ACV are caustic, which means they have the potential to irritate and even burn sensitive skin.

That’s why you should never apply pure, undiluted ACV to your hair.

Always mix it with water before you apply it anywhere near your body.

Don’t worry though, even if your skin does get irritated by your ACV mixture, the redness and itching should go away in a few days.

As an added precautionary measure, don’t do the ACV lightening process if you have wounds on your scalp or cuts and nicks on your hairline.

These will sting the second they come into contact with apple cider vinegar.



It’s super easy to use apple cider vinegar to lighten dyed hair or give yourself highlights for added dimension to your new color.

And if you’re careful about spacing out your lightening sessions and protecting your hair and skin, there are no damning effects to using it instead of the typical dyes.

The icing on the cake is the fact that apple cider vinegar has so many terrific benefits for the hair, like cleaning out product build-up and adding a pretty shine to your locks.

It’s like hitting so many birds with one stone.

Grab that bottle of apple cider vinegar sitting in your kitchen cupboard and try lightening your hair quickly.

It’s inexpensive, convenient, and works wonders if you have the right hair color for it!

Related Post: Why Do I Need An ACV Rinse For 4C Natural Hair?

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