Is this myth or fact? The Beau­ty­Brains gets to the bot­tom of it:

Leah­Sier­ra says…There’s a video on Youtube by Andrea’s Choice. She used hon­ey to light­en up her hair. I haven’t tried but you can watch the video.

The Left Brain responds:
Thanks, Leah, for the link to this video. In it, Andrea explains how mix­ing hon­ey (either raw or reg­u­lar) with either olive oil and banana or with just your reg­u­lar con­di­tion­er can light­en hair. She claims the hon­ey con­tains per­ox­ide that can bleach hair over time. But does this real­ly work?

Hair lightening science

It’s true that hon­ey con­tains per­ox­ide. More accu­rate­ly it con­tains an enzyme, glu­cose oxi­dase, that can pro­duce per­ox­ide.  But keep in mind that per­ox­ide is only an effec­tive bleach­ing agent at the right con­cen­tra­tion and at the right pH.

Concentration: how much peroxide is in honey?

How much per­ox­ide do you need to light­en hair?  To ful­ly bleach hair it takes a solu­tion of per­ox­ide at a con­cen­tra­tion of 6%;  3% can be used over time to grad­u­al­ly light­en hair. Glu­cose oxi­dase in hon­ey can react to release per­ox­ide under the right con­di­tions.  (It’s also impor­tant to note that only raw hon­ey con­tains this active enzyme.)  When hon­ey is dilut­ed with water, the enzyme can pro­duce about 1 mil­imole of per­ox­ide per liter which is about 1000 times less than the 3% solu­tion required to bleach hair. This is far too lit­tle to have a sig­nif­i­cant effect on your hair.

Okay,  but just for the sake of argu­ment let’s say that you used a LOT of hon­ey on your hair. Would it work then? Only if the pH was right.

The pH required for bleaching hair

Per­ox­ide solu­tions must be “acti­vat­ed” by increas­ing the pH because per­ox­ide is not very reac­tive at pH below 4.  Typ­i­cal­ly, per­ox­ide is mixed with ammo­nia because it has a very high pH. The pH of hon­ey is between 3.2 and 4.5 which is far below the range required for effec­tive hair bleach­ing.

What about Andrea’s tip about mix­ing hon­ey with con­di­tion­er?  Would that make it work bet­ter? Well, the pH of con­di­tion­er is in the 4–5 range (con­di­tion­ers work bet­ter on the acid side because it pro­to­nates or increas­es the pos­i­tive charge of the good­ies that stick to your hair.  So even mixed with con­di­tion­er the pH is still to low be effec­tive.

The Beauty Brains bottom line

IF you use the right kind of hon­ey and IF the enzyme is still active and IF you dilute it prop­er­ly and IF get it to the right pH and IF you get it on your hair before it’s used up by reac­tion with the rest of the organ­ic stuff in the mix­ture. then you’ll STILL have only about 1/1000 of the amount you need to light­en your hair. I guess just because Win­nie the Pooh was blonde doesn’t mean that hon­ey can light­en your hair.

Ladies, have you had suc­cess using hon­ey to light­en your hair? Or did it not make a notice­able dif­fer­ence?

Black Girl With Long Hair

Leila Noel­lis­te, founder of Black Girl with Long Hair (April 2008). Social media, pop cul­ture and black beau­ty enthu­si­ast. bell hooks’ hair twin…

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17 Comments on "Can Honey Really Lighten Natural Hair?"

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[…] out the nat­u­ral high­lights in your hair with­out dam­ag­ing it. Hon­ey con­tains a small amount of per­ox­ide, which although small, is the rea­son for its nat­u­ral light­en­ing […]

Amy

Wait, do we have to use RAW Hon­ey? I only have Processed Hon­ey from the No name brand

Veena

Hi, hon­ey light­ens the hair.So light­en means Black hair will become white colour or brown colour. Please reply.

Franky

It will become brown­er. It could also become gold/blond.

Chachamusicgirl

I have start­ed using hon­ey on my hair every­day. I mix it with con­di­tion­er on my sham­poo day (I sham­poo my hair every oth­er day of course) and use it by itself on wet hair on sec­ond day hair. I want to see how light it will get. Aside from that, it makes your hair super soft and defined even though it stinks like dog vom­it.

Amanda White

WoW!!I must try this, I have brown­ish hair tho, how long it takes to show the result ?

Roodlye
mine was a freak acci­dent, I wasn’t try to light­en my hair and Im not sure which of my mix­ture did the trick, I usu­al­ly mix shea but­ter, aussie moist, olive oil and hon­ey for my deep con­di­tion­ing, and I do this reli­gious­ly every week or 2, since my hair is almost alway tuck in I nev­er notice, but on day I had a TO and i notice my ends where near­ly blond and my hair was a light brown from my nat­u­ral jet black, I dont mind it, i think it looks very pret­ty in the sun but I… Read more »
Marcia

BGLH should do a fea­ture on Andrea from Andrea’s Choice! She has amaz­ing hair!

Chachamusicgirl

Isn’t she biracial/mixed? Some bira­cial peo­ple dis­like when Black Peo­ple try to claim them. But that aside, Brit­tany Grey is anoth­er one with real­ly nice hair but she is also mixed/biracial.

JazzDiva
Just curi­ous Chachmu­sic­girl, no controversy…What makes you think she’s “biracial/mixed”? I hope it’s not because she’s fair skin, or long hair is it??? Please, please, please say it ain’t so!!!! You do know they are myr­i­ads of peo­ple with brown, not fair, skin and thick hair whom actu­al­ly have one bio­log­i­cal par­ent that is Cau­casian. —>Mar­io van Pee­bles, Boris Kod­joe, Ed Bradley, Oba­ma, Eartha Kitt, Gian­car­lo Espos­i­to, Fred­er­ick Dou­glass, Lenny Krav­itz, Célia & Hélène Faus­sart =Les Nubians, Tia & Tam­era Mow­ery, 3 of Hei­di Klum’s chil­dren, LaLa Brown(singer), Melyssa Ford, Bob Mar­ley, Halle, Jazs­min Lewis(actress), Bar­bara Beck­er… Just as there… Read more »
Reagan

I don’t know of that was it at all. Andrea has men­tioned before that her moth­er is Hun­gar­i­an I believe and she has even had her mom on one of her videos. She may just be stat­ing facts and not mak­ing assump­tions

lolo

I use hon­ey to high­light my daugh­ters hair. we put two table­spoons of hon­ey and 3 or 4 of water. It made her hair lighter than she want­ed, but no ques­tion that hon­ey can light­en hair.

Damola Aluko

Hey, I’ve been using processed hon­ey on my hair and it has worked well for me so…

Shades

I think sit­ting in the sun or using direct heat is what makes the col­or change notice­able. The same applies when using lemon juice.
I could be wrong though.

Cree

It worked for me. I used it every time I washed my hair and it has become lighter. It’s only notice­able in the sun though. I stopped doing it awhile ago and my hair was very dark. I used raw hon­ey, but I heard organ­ic raw hon­ey works best.

silkynaps
I didn’t real­ize hon­ey could light­en hair until I acci­den­tal­ly light­ened mine in ONE appli­ca­tion. I’d heard of the con­di­tion­ing prop­er­ties of hon­ey, so I decid­ed to give it a try. I combed Neu­tro­ge­na Triple Mois­ture mask through my hair, did the same with hon­ey, added a bag­gy, went to work out, sat in the sauna, show­ered, and went to bed. The fol­low­ing morn­ing, I rinsed my hair and it was clear­ly 2–3 shades lighter. I’m nat­u­ral­ly cop­per-ish from head to toe. I had no inten­tion of mak­ing my hair lighter (dark skin + light hair = hook­er hair). My fine hair… Read more »
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