Can Honey Really Lighten Natural Hair?

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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?

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Black Girl With Long Hair

Black Girl With Long Hair

Leila, founding editor of Black Girl with Long Hair (April 2008), social media and black beauty enthusiast. When I'm not here, I'm blogging at my new mommy site, babyandblog.com

 

15 thoughts on “Can Honey Really Lighten Natural Hair?

  1. 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 is naturally prone to oxidation, so I don’t use direct heat and cover my hair in the sun. Perhaps, the heat from workout/sauna activated the lightening properties of honey. Needless to say, I try to avoid honey in all of my hair products, but if that’s a look you’re going for, maybe give my accident a try.

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  2. 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.

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  3. 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.

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  4. 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.

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    • 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.

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      • 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 are myriads of people who are fair skin, and/or light colored eyes, and maybe/maybe not looser curled (my Politically Correct way of saying “nice/good”) hair, whom have two biological parents and some cases four biological grandparents that are of African; A-American; black British, black, [whatever your preference] descent.
        Vanessa Williams, Terrence Howard, Raven Symone, Rhianna, Lionel Richie, Aaliyah, Tisha Campbell,Cory Booker (Mayor of Newark), Harold Ford, Sr., Harold Ford, Jr.(Prominent Politicians), Tom Joyner, Camille Cosby, Erinn Cosby and NOW George Zimmerman…LOL ; )too far???

        Just like there are myriads of ppl who are the shade of car tires yet have straight or loosely curled NATURAL hair and some even have blue eyes and I don’t mean glaucoma or W.syndrome (WS) either…LOL

        LESSON: WE”RE ALL bi-racial and mixed…well just about. ;) All Love


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        • 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

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  5. 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 stop the honey, something abt bleach ends make me thing damage LOL
    it’s just natural paranoia though

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  6. 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.

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