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Sun-In Hair Lightener Is Back: What To Know Before You Try It

Want to try sun-in hair lightener? Here’s everything you need to know about hair lightening spray, including how to apply it and how to prevent damage.

If there’s any season that can make you feel like a teenager again, it’s definitely summer. Days spent lounging at the beach, hanging out with friends—it feels like high school all over again. The only thing missing is a spritz of hair lightener to give your hair that natural-looking glow all summer long.

It turns out, you’re not the only person feeling a little nostalgic for that youthful glow. If you’ve been wondering how to lighten hair naturally (read: without stopping by the salon), the beauty industry has finally answered your prayers. The hair lightener you knew and loved in high school is back. Continue reading to find out everything you need to know about this product—including how to apply hair lightener and what professional colorists want you to know before using it. 

Good hair day by @hairbyamybee.

What does a lightener do to your hair?

Every hair lightener has its own unique formula, but in essence, hair lighteners use natural ingredients like citrus and chamomile that react to sunlight to lighten your strands gradually. The final effect is an all-over sun-kissed look that mimics the way the sun naturally lightens your strands—only better.

Can you lighten your hair without bleach?

Yes! Although it’s important to note that you likely won’t get similar results. While hair lightener can help to make your hair appear lighter, it won’t lift the pigment from your strands the way that bleach does. If you’re looking for a more dramatic color transformation, best to make an appointment with your colorist.

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Is hair lightener the same as bleach?

Each formula is different, so when in doubt refer to the packaging, but most hair lighteners are not formulated with bleach, nor will they produce the same results as salon bleach.

Is lightening spray bad for your hair?

While it's easy to spritz hair lighteners throughout your mane before a beach day without a second thought, it’s also essential to take note of the potential harmful effects these formulas can have on your mane. According to Rachel Bodt, Matrix brand ambassador, certain hair lightening sprays can expose your hair to serious damage and brassiness.

“If they have peroxide in them, they could be opening your hair cuticle and lifting it,” Body explains. “Without a color agent mixed in, the hair is likely just being opened and exposed to damage. Also, all underlying pigment is warm, so you could just wind up with orange or yellow hair.”

That’s why, when it comes to lightening your hair, Bodt recommend always leaving it to a professional colorist. A seasoned pro can safely lift your color, create a gorgeous blonde shade, and keep your hue as low-maintenance as possible for the summer. They’ll also send you home with essential post-bleach care products, such as Matrix Unbreak My Blonde. This three-part system consists of a shampoo, conditioner, and leave-in treatment, all of which are formulated with citric acid to reinforce weakened bonds and revive your hair after chemical damage. 

“You can also use color-depositing conditioners that have pigment in them so they can control any unwanted tones or add cool tones back to the hair,” Bodt says. “Matrix’s Total Results Brass Off and So Silver Conditioners are perfect for this.”

Good hair day by @sabbyxstyles.

Does lightening spray work on dark hair?

If you have dark brown hair, hair lightening spray likely won’t be able to lift your color. To achieve the best results, book an appointment at the salon if you want to lighten your hair to a blonde shade. 

How To Apply Hair Lightening Spray

Still interested in trying a hair lightening spray? Here’s how to apply it. Hair lightening spray can be applied to damp or dry hair. Simply spritz the spray on the part of your hair that you wish to lighten. For an ombré effect, concentrate most of the spray on the bottom half of your hair. For a highlighted effect, spray small sections of hair individually. For an all-over lightened look, lightly saturate your entire head of hair.

If you don’t have time to make it to the beach but still want to enjoy the glowy effects of hair lightening spray, simply use your blow dry to heat activate the spray for an equally gorgeous final result.

What is the best product to lighten hair?

In search of a hair lightener to throw in your beach bag? Below are four formulas to choose from.

Interested in more expert hair tips? Use our salon locator to book an appointment at a salon near you.

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