Does Cinnamon Really Lighten Hair? The Short Answer is YES!

I am always searching for natural (and more safe) alternatives to coloring my hair, so when I came across a claim on the web that Cinnamon can lighten hair, I was intrigued and had to see for myself. Considering myself to be a bit of a “kitchen chemist”, I rarely follow recipes and ended up coming up with my own recipe based off of the many variations that I found on the Internet. This is my own recipe that I came up with:


1/2 c Conditioner (any will do)

1/2 c Extra Virgin Olive Oil

3-4 Tbsp organic cinnamon (I suppose non-organic would be fine too)

Juice from one lemon

Mix above ingredients in a glass or plastic bowl until smooth. It should like similar to this:

Apply mixture to damp (not soaking wet) freshly washed hair in small sections until all of your hair is coated. I just used my fingers. Here is a pic with the mixture applied in my hair

Note: The cinnamon will start to “heat” up but it wasn’t anything that was unbearable and it only lasted for about 15 minutes. I covered my hair with a plastic cap and slept with the mixture overnight (approx 8 hours). In the morning, I washed with a clarifying shampoo (twice because the cinnamon was VERY hard to get out) and then followed up with a 15 minute deep condition.


In a nutshell, it WORKS! My hair is at least 2 shades lighter, and it even boosted my naturally red highlights. As an added bonus my hair felt so incredibly soft, and smelled delicious! The results are pretty amazing! See for yourself 🙂


About my hair:

Type – 4A/ Coily pattern

Strands – Fine

Porosity – High

****Remember that everyone will have different results!!!****

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  1. AMAZING!!!!!! A must try for myself thanks

  2. I want to try this. I think I will tonight

  3. Hey Steph!

    This sounds really easy and the results look great. I wonder if it will lighten hair that has been lightened by henna. I’m gonna try it and report back.

    • Stephanie Marie says:

      Hey girl! I’m not sure but a lot of people asked in the Natural Hair Group I’m in on Facebook. Can’t wait to see your results!

  4. Latonia Meadows says:

    I think I may try this too. Does it work on hair that has already been colored with permanent hair color?

  5. This is def a must try! Thanks!

  6. Constance says:

    What about the gray?

    • Stephanie Marie says:

      I don’t have any grey but I read that it does not fully cover grey but will slightly tint it. Give it a try and let me know! 🙂

  7. Hi I am doing a research in hair products and natural methods. I read your blog and this post is absolutely amazing. Would you mind if I use your photos? I will give you credit. Thanks. 🙂

  8. Thanks for the recipe and tips for naturally lightening your hair. I wish I had found your site few days ago…before I used the Shea Moisture Bright Auburn which I do not like and will need to fix with a black henna…lol. Once all the color grows out of my hair I will definitely try this!

    • Stephanie Marie says:

      What brand of henna do you use, Tonya? I’m thinking of going darker now. I’ve heard mixed results with the SM dyes *sigh*…I had high hopes.

  9. wow it’s amazing !! so nice,i will try it. But how many times did you do it to have this result?? sorry for my english x(

    Thank you !

    • Stephanie Marie says:

      Thank you…these results were after one application. I was pretty shocked myself. I did try it again about 2 months later but the results were the same, not lighter. Most of the people that I know that tried it reported that it worked for them but the change was more subtle than mine. Good luck! XO

  10. Will this damage my hair at all?

    • Hi Katy. I didn’t experience any damage at all, and since the ingredients are all natural, I think this can be considered a “safe” treatment. The only thing that I will point out again is that some may experience a “tingling” sensation on the scalp from the cinnamon and lemon. Also, if the recipe is altered in any way, you may have very different results.

  11. this is such a great recipe im gonna use it on the ends of my hair cos I want to lighten it before I dip dye it red

  12. Awesome! Thank you for the post & recipe. I added your recipe to my blog post on coloring hair naturally! (:

  13. I’ve got very dark brown hair, but I don’t want to dye it so this method should be good!

  14. Hello my name is Sasha. I just did the mixture and put it in my hair. I have left over could I store the rest I dnt like to waist if I dnt have to also could I use a heat cap to help it out over top of the shower cap. I just started going natural and so all these ingredients are wonderfull I use to dye my hair a lot.

    • Stephanie Marie says:

      I wouldn’t recommend saving the mixture unless you freeze it. Even then I am not sure how potent the ingredients would still be. I haven’t use a heat cap but know of others who tried it and they had great results!

  15. wow, youre results were great! i have quite dark black hair and have heard lemon can turn black hair orangey, do you think that will happen with this method? i really want to try this but am worried it might go orange, i just want a dark brown, what do you think? thanks! 🙂

    • Stephanie Marie says:

      Thanks, Zara! If you are concerned about the side effects of the lemon juice, you can use honey instead or a combination (1/2 lemon juice + 1/2 honey). Honey is also a safe, natural lightener. Good luck!

  16. wow, love it!!! 🙂 just wondering how long it lasts, is it something that you have to keep doing to maintain or is it permanent? 😀

    • Stephanie Marie says:

      Thanks! The results are not permanent. I would recommend doing the treatment every 60-90 days to keep the color fresh.

  17. I have dark brown hair and I’ve been wanting to dye it blonde but it cost too much :/ would this recipe get my hair color at least near the color blonde???

  18. Cool! I’m allergic to olive oil-based products, but since it’s actual olive oil, I maybe won’t have a bad reaction. Is there an alternative oil to use just in case?

  19. Wow! I have been looking for a natural hair lightener for a few hours now. You are the only blogger I found who actually posted the results! I’m amazed, what a great change! Thanks for sharing, I will try this tonight!

    Have you ever thought of adding honey to this recipe? I heard honey works slower but apparently does wonders for your hair health. I have mousy brown hair and I can’t wait to try this tonight!

    • Stephanie Marie says:

      Hi! I have not tried honey but it can definitely be used in the recipe in place of the olive oil. Would love to know your results!

  20. So glad I found this! I’ve always had the same hair color, dark brown, and I get bored just looking at it. But I don’t want to completely destroy my hair, so I’ve been searching for less aggressive methods forever and yours seems to work amazingly well! Thank you for posting your recipe and the results. I’ll try this in a few months when it gets warmer so I can pretend I’m running around on the beach all day. 😉

  21. Hi! I love light hair and my hair is medium brown with blonde highlights and tips (natural). I’m doing this everyday for a week to lighten up my hair to a very light strawberry brown and then I will use lemon juice and honey for a few weeks to lighten it to strawberry blonde. My hair is responsive to hair treatments, so it should work well. I’ll write back results in a few weeks.

  22. The two photos are taken in totally different lights. One the lighter one wih a flash. I dont see any difference !

  23. I applied this mixture to dry hair and am waiting on the results of it. Will it work the same on dry hair as it does on damp?

    • Stephanie Marie says:

      How did it turn out for you on dry hair? I’ve never tried it that way. Typically the hair follicles are expanded when the hair is wet so the color will hold better.

  24. but, then does it show rot, or does it just fade out?

  25. I’m trying this out right now! I have ombre dye in right now, but it’s not very bold. I didn’t have lemon, and I’m hoping this goes well:3

    • Stephanie Marie says:

      I’ve never tried it without lemon since that is one of the main active ingredients. How did it turn out??

  26. Hi!
    I just wanted to ask of its okay If i added honey? And did it feel a little itchy for u too? Because its really itchy for me :/ idk if its because i added honey..Please answer asap.
    thank you 🙂

    • Stephanie Marie says:

      It does tingle a bit as mentioned in the post but nothing that was unbearable or uncomfortable for me. There could be other factors to cause more itchiness such as having an irritated scalp prior to applying the mixture, or if you hair was previously chemically treated.

  27. Hello! Thanks again for posting this. I wanted to know after you did this treatment, how did you get your hair to go back to a “black” color? Thank you!

    • Stephanie Marie says:

      Hi Sylvia. This treatment will naturally fade over time. My natural hair is dark brown and it was back to normal after about 4 weeks. That may vary depending on what you use to wash your hair with and how frequently.

  28. Hi! I have dark brown hair, and I am curious what will happen if you put lots of cinnamon. Will it make the highlight process faster?

    • Stephanie Marie says:

      Hello! Cinnamon alone won’t make the process faster. It’s a combination of all the ingredients that activate the process. Added more cinnamon may cause irritation and itchiness.

  29. i want to try this but i my hair routine consists of wetting and conditioning everyday, shampooing once a week. do you think the color will fade based off of my routine?

    • Stephanie Marie says:

      I shampoo once a week and condition twice a week and was able to get about 4 weeks of color, although it was not as vibrant at the end of the 4 weeks. Good luck. 🙂

  30. Excellent post! I am so glad you mentioned (in detail) your hair type! Having high porous hair myself, I am eager to try this method! 🙂

  31. Lol forgot the lemon… what happens ?

    • Stephanie Marie says:

      Uh oh! Lemon is the actual “lightening agent” so you most likely will just end up with really soft, great smelling hair, but no change in color. It happens 🙁

  32. I have the mixture in now. I will leave it in over night and wash it out in the morning! Hopefully it lightens my dark black hair some…but not to an orange color!

  33. When you put on a plastic wrap over noght is it requieed for the best results?

    • Stephanie Marie says:

      You don’t have to keep the mixture on overnight but at least for a couple hours. I left it on and just happened to get really awesome results. You may not have the same experience. Good luck!

  34. Hello !
    I found your way in coloring the hair and its on my head now in 7 hrs i will see the result and inform u

  35. Will this affect my hair if i put the whole thing?

  36. How long does the color last?

  37. I forgot to wet my hair first. Will it make a large difference??? Thanks you xxx

  38. Jalynn Greiner says:

    I want to try this but i don’t want as strong as a color change. Any suggestions?

  39. Can I ombre my hair with this method?

  40. when did you first notice results???

  41. so you have to leave the treatment in over night. What is the least amount of time you can leave in it and still get results.

  42. Would love to try this but was wondering how it would effect my black hair, My hair is naturally a mousy brown and i have about an inch of growth, was thinking of using this method to naturally lighten up my dyed black hair and then going over it with a dark brown hair dye once its lightened, I want more of a dark brown hair color now. Please let me know if this is something you think would be okay. I dont want to ruin my hair if i dont have to. Thank You.

  43. Hi Stephanie, I just applied the mixture in my hair , waiting til tomorrow to see the results. I wanted to ask, can I use red henna before this? The main reason to try this out is cuz I want the red henna to be more noticeable in my dark brown hair. Thanks for the post!

  44. Sorry, after *

  45. Trying this now. It’s itchy as hell but I hope it’s worth it 🙂

  46. DID NOT WORK! Left it on for 11 hours and my hair had ZERO change. It smelled good but that was it. I have straight asian hair with no dyes and i was hoping to make it a little brown but I guess I’ll stick to black.

  47. Did this last night and it honestly didnt do anything regarding colour. It did make my hair a lot softer, but I dont think Softness is worth 45 minutes of washing cinnamon out of my hair xP Maybe it’s because I have Henna in my hair, or maybe it’s because the lemon cancelled out the lightening agents in the honey, either way, nada. However I would definetly recommend that everyone tries this once because everyone will have different results, and if it doesnt work, you’ll have soft af hair!

    • I should clarify that this won’t work over henna or permanent color. It works best on natural, untreated hair. I do think it’s definitely worth it even just for the softening and moisturizing elements though. Thanks for your feedback! 🙂

  48. Hi there from Sydney, Australia. This is so off topic but I would just like to say good on you for replying so frequently to the comments you’ve received on this post. It’s rare that we find someone who takes the time to follow up once they’ve put something on the web. Your responses have been so helpful! Excellent work, you should give yourself a pat on the back 🙂
    Hope you’re having a wonderful day and I can’t wait to try this treatment on my hair!!! 😀

  49. Haeley Freeman says:

    so I’m trying it right now, and my head feels like it’s on fire, but it’s starting to feel better! Thank you so much I hope it turns out good!

  50. So I’m doing it now.. You left out one fine detail. …it burns..

  51. Hi i would like to know the exact measure i dont understand what the c means

  52. Thank you

  53. Natural Bliss says:

    I added honey and steeped chamomile water. Just waking up after leaving it in all night. Looking at the sides and don’t really see a change but even a shade lighter will do as I plan to follow this up with a blond rinse. I had no burning at all. I just did a strip at the nape of my neck. I will post results if any. No matter what I will not go back to chemicals. Henna will be next.

  54. Natural Bliss says:

    Ok so my husband says there was no change but I feel like I see a slight difference (may just be because the strip I treated is way softer and shinier than the rest of my hair). Guess I’ll stay dark and lovely

  55. Hi! I’m so excited to try this. My hair is dark chocolate brown and I want to lighten it only one or two,shades browner. But one question, I’ve heard lemon juice works best for those wanting to go much lighter- towards a blonde colour. Would the lemon juice make my hair much lighter than 2 shades? I’m just a bit worried with that.

  56. Hi!

    I just wanted to ask. My hair is a dark chocolate brown and I want to lighten it about 2 shades lighter- into a nice milk chocolate. I’ve heard lemon (or lemon juice) works best for those wanting to go to a blonde-ish colour. If I use the lemon, would my hair go much lighter than expected?

    Thankyou so much!


  1. […] Cinnamon and honey and olive oil really do work! […]

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