lighten your hair naturally

after my post about dying your hair darker with walnuts went live on AE, i’ve had lots of questions about how to lighten hair naturally.

lightening hair is always more involved, because it involves removing color from the hair (instead of depositing color for “darker” shades). by removing color, you’re typically using harsher chemicals and are being harder on your hair. your hair can become more brittle and dry by going lighter.

with that in mind, we need to make sure our hair’s getting a little extra TLC -

  • keep your hair conditioned
  • scritch and preen to use your natural scalp oils to moisturize the length of your hair (video coming soon!)
  • look into using leave-in conditioners
  • if your hair becomes brittle, give it a dose of protein with an egg yolk mask or gelatin mask

since we’re steering clear of the toxic stuff, here are some tried n’ true ways to naturally lighten your hair (over time, of course. ’tis the price we pay for being crunchy)!

quick note: these methods work best on hair colors that are not very dark (dark browns/black), and these are more than likely not going to have “dye-like” effects. the shades you’ll get will be more of the sun-kissed variety.

lighten hair naturally

  • honey -
    on already wet hair, slather as much raw honey as needed to cover you hair from root to tip. really work it in. cover your hair and let it sit for a couple hours to overnight. then rinse with cool water.  (yes, the honey HAS to be raw. don’t try that teddy bear crap lol)
  • chamomile -
    make a very, very strong batch of chamomile tea and use it as a rinse on dry hair. catch what runs out and re-rinse a few times. let your hair air dry, preferably in the sunshine. rinse well with water. there should be no immediate need to condition from this method.
  • cinnamon -
    when mixed into a paste (either with your favorite all-natural conditioner or with raw honey), cinnamon acts as a lightening agent on hair.  mix a couple tablespoons into your conditioner or honey to form a thick paste and apply it to damp hair. let it sit for a couple hours, preferably drying in sunshine.
  • lemons -
    juice a lemon or two, and mix it with 1/4 amount of water (ex: if you have 1 cup of lemon juice, mix it with a 1/4 cup of water). put the mix into a spray bottle and spray away on dry hair. let your hair dry in the sunshine. rinse with water only after and condition.
  • sunshine -
    with spring and summer fast approaching, be sure to let your locks soak up the rays! sunshine has a natural bleaching effect on hair.

i’ve seen some posts on using rhubarb root, but that just stains hair a yellowy color. it doesn’t actually lighten hair. that might be disastrous for some hair shades.

here’s a couple mixes you can try:

  • lemon juice & chamomile tea:
    make a strong pot of chamomile tea and add the juice of lemons (for every 2 cups of tea, use the juice from 1 lemon). on dry hair, either spray or rinse the mix throughout your hair. let it sit for a couple hours, preferably letting it dry in the sun.
  • cinnamon, honey, & lemon:
    for every tablespoon of raw honey needed to cover your hair, add 1 tablespoon distilled water (low mineral content), 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. mix well. apply this to damp hair and let it sit for a couple hours to overnight (wrap hair in saran wrap and then a t-shirt). if you’re not leaving it in overnight, let your hair dry in the sun.

hope you love your new sun-kissed locks!!

please keep in mind it’ll take several tries to see lightening (especially depending on your current hair color), but it’ll get there!

& don’t forget to share your hair lightening stories below!

Happy Spring!

hippie stamp Sig

rinse-only (water-only) method… update 5

hey crunchies! it’s been months since i’ve last updated you on my ROM journey, and i’ve gotten a few emails and comments asking how it’s going. i figured i should do a little update, and this will hopefully be the LAST update on my ROM journey! (that’s good news! lol)

if you’re new to ROM and/or the AE blog, i’ll give you a quick run-down:

the ROM (rinse-only method) is only washing your hair with water, and using your natural scalp oils to “condition” your hair. it’s a very tough transition for a lot of people at first (myself included) to get away from using anything but water to keep your hair clean. it took me about 4 months! and i think my arm muscles improved from all the scritching/preening i had to do to move the oils form my scalp to the ends of my hair.

but going water-only has proven (for me personally) to be the best option for my hair. even after the dye abuse my hair went through, it’s grown out to be soft and shiny and strong. long story short, me love da ROM.

water-only washing for hair

what i’ve been doing:

  • ditched the dry shampoo completely
  • use a shower head filter
  • scritch and preen about every 3 days (just being honest :( ), and then again very thoroughly before WO washes
  • use my bbb once a week to week and a half (…again, just bein honest)
  • gently comb and separate my hair into 4 sections before i hop in the shower, then preen under the running water
  • let my hair air dry (shower at night)
  • no oils and no conditioners of any kind
  • spray rose water into my hair just for scent (i’ve considered using the yummy smelling versions of alcohol-free witch hazel, too. we’ll see! has anyone tried??)

how it’s been:

it’s actually gotten much, much, much better than it used to be. i can now say strongly that i’m strictly water-only. and daggone it feels good!

20140331_223316 20140331_223212

my one huge problem with going WO (water-only) was the back of my head. for some reason it was always feeling heavy and greasy and just overall pretty gross. i had to REALLY focus on that area to scritch/preen/brush/wash. on select weekends, i’d stay at home allllll weekend and let it get as greasy as it wanted to. i think it helped out with not producing as much oil as before, but it was still a problem area. and now when i wash, it’s the back of my head and the underside of my hair that’s greasy. not so much the top parts. but no more heavy feeling!

one huge hiccup i had: i visited my best friend in phoenix one weekend, and he has hard water. as soon as i wet my hair in the shower, it felt sticky and heavy. i tried to preen as much as i could, but my hair felt heavy and weird/sticky after my shower. once my hair dried, it just looked weirdly greasy. needless to say, my hair was in a braid and a bun that entire weekend.
but other than that hiccup (i’ve traveled many, many times since, even out of the country) i haven’t had any issues with stickiness or being overly-greasy. i did notice that my scalp gets greasier around that time of month (yea, TMI). thanks, hormones.


my scalp definitely got drier this winter, but i’ve used the honey/witch hazel rinse a couple times and it’s been fine.

i think the biggest difference i’ve noticed in my hair is the way it feels. no matter what day i’m on between washing, it always feels so freakin soft and moisturized. the second biggest difference i’ve noticed is how much faster it dries after washing it. when i used conventional shampoo/conditioner, my hair would literally take hours to dry. we’re talking 3 or 4 hours or more. not exaggerating. now my hair dries in about an hour. it’s been a miracle! haha.  best of all, i don’t ever have that tacky, heavy, weird feeling in the back of my head anymore. my scalp has finally gotten its stuff together!


right now i’m washing every week, usually sundays. some weeks i wash sunday-ish and wednesday-ish.. i really have no set schedule, but that’s what tends to happen. i just kinda go with the flow. it’s usually something like “oh, good morning hair. are you lookin greasy? think we can wait to wash till tomorrow? ok, cool. good chat.”


… kind of.

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soothing dry/itchy scalp rinse

with this winter being one of the hardest in a long time, keeping my hair and skin moisturized has been at the top of my list!
since i only use water to wash my hair, i couldn’t use my beloved coconut oil on my scalp. but i still needed extra moisture! so what is a gal to do?

DIY her own scalp rinse. duh ;)

soothing scalp rinse

this rinse is for anyone battling a flaky, itchy, dry scalp at any point in time, using ANY hair washing method. it doesn’t matter if you’re no-poo, low-poo, clay ‘poo, water-only, etc… this rinse is safe to use!

what’s in this rinse?

  • raw honey – acts as a humectant and draws in moisture
  • undistilled alcohol-free witch hazel – soothes an irritated and itchy scalp and helps combat dryness (if you don’t use alcohol-free, it will dry out your scalp even more. it also needs to be undistilled to ensure the tannins are still present in the liquid)
  • rose water – reduces inflammation and helps combat dryness
  • filtered water
  • aloe* (you can most certainly add this, but to store your mix in the shower, don’t use aloe. otherwise, store it in the fridge!)


  • mix 1 1/4 cups of warm water with 1 tsp raw honey until the honey is mixed well into the water
  • add 1/8 cup alcohol-free witch hazel and 1 tsp rose water
  • mix well and pour into a plastic squeezy bottle so it can be applied directly to your scalp
  • after washing (whatever that may be for you) or wetting your hair, apply it to your scalp in sections, rubbing in for a few seconds in each spot.
  • let it sit for a few minutes (5 to 10) and rinse well in cool water


this mix should be enough to use for 2 or 3 rinses. you may keep the rinse in a bottle in your shower. no need to worry about anything spoiling!

also, be sure to never wash or wet your hair in hot water! this will dry out both your hair and scalp, as well as cause typical heat damage to your strands!

now go give this rinse a try :)

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emu oil

once a reader asked “what on earth is emu oil?” i realized i just kinda dumped this little golden nugget on yall and didn’t really explain it.

i have an obsession with it that was instilled in me at a very young age. my grandparents had an emu farm when i was growing up, so i know this bird pretty well. we ate their HUGE eggs, used their oil/fat for eeeeverything, ate their meat in all different ways (burgers, sausage, jerky, etc.), and of course made things from the feathers and eggs. oh, we were friends with them, too. i swam in the lake with them and ran around the pens with them. i even gathered the eggs they laid, watched the babies hatch, and played with them. i had a pretty enriching childhood i guess. haha.

but i digress.
emu oil is such a freakin miracle oil. i just had to dedicate a whole post to it!

emu oil - you need it!

first, what is an emu?

it’s a big ol flightless bird from australia. really, these birds are BIG. they can get to about 6 feet tall! ours were around 5 1/2 feet tall i’d say. i won’t bother you with other weird details i know, but you should google them in your free time. they’re pretty cool creatures!

this is what they look like as an adult:

as a baby (about the weight of a small cat… only taller):
emu baby

and here’s how big the eggs are:

egg  emu egg yolk

HUGE, right?!

(note: it is NOT an ostrich. lol)

what is emu oil?

it’s oil pressed from the fat of emus. pure and simple. nothing added, nothing taken out. it should be an opaque-ish creamy color.
and the best part? it’s hypoallergenic!

what is in emu oil?

it’s chock full of essential fatty acids (such as oleic acid), omega-3, 6, and 9.

what can you use emu oil for?


  • hand/face/body ‘lotion’ (soaks in quickly and non-comedogenic. OCM, anyone?!)
  • lip balm
  • hair and scalp moisturizer
  • dandruff
  • eczema
  • psoriasis
  • wrinkles
  • age spots
  • acne and acne scars
  • inflammation
  • cuts/scrapes/burns
  • body  scars
  • keloids (absolute miracle for this!)
  • diaper rash
  • bug bite relief (even flea bites for your furry kids)
  • razor burn/nicks
  • hemorrhoids
  • toe nail fungus


  • triglycerides provide a balanced source of the essential fatty acids linolenic acid (Omega-3 EFA) and linoleic acid (Omega-6 EFA), which contribute to heart and vascular health
  • helps prevent heart disease by reducing blood clotting
  • improve the body’s operations for people whose diets lack proper balance of fatty acids
  • may lower LDL “bad cholesterol” and reduce the risks of cardiovascular diseases

what brands of emu oil can we trust?

i should really have you guys buy it from my grandparents. we’ll see what they think about that. but until then, here’s who we can trust! please keep in mind those who sell emu oil are most likely small family farmers. their websites won’t look like amazon, but they’re legit.

i secretly hope you guys get as obsessed with this as i am (as much as we already are with coconut oil…lol)

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advice on beginning a “crunchy” life

the crunchy world is FULL of options, ingredients, potions, alternatives, and other weird things. it’s really easy to get overwhelmed!

i remember when i first started. i first learned about all the junk in shampoos and conditioners, and it morphed into an obsession about eliminating as many toxins as i could, whether that be beauty products or food. i felt like an electronic hoarder of information. i soaked up everything i could and created roughly 937 folders to hold all my internet bookmarks. i think i was throwing away more products every day, and making more of my “hippie” concoctions every day for weeks, until my apartment was an official crunchy zone.

there was so much to learn and so much to do to change in my life! and i chose to deep dive into the crunchy world. 

with all this crunchy knowledge everywhere and so many different opinions on natural alternatives, where do you begin?

HOW do you begin?? and how do you begin without breaking the bank?

i tried googling the ever-lovin-life outta this stuff to make sure i wasn’t simply re-writing what others have already said. but for the life of me, i couldn’t find a post or article dedicated to crunchy living tips. so here goes! hopefully this post will help someone, somewhere.

advice for starting your crunchy life

tip 1

    i can’t stress this enough! there are SO many natural alternatives out there that you’ll need to sift through countless ideas to find what works for you. research the available options, research ingredients, research companies, research oils/clays/soaps, etc. don’t ever stop learning! and not just the products or ingredients, but in the crunchy world, pretty much everything has multiple uses. for example, honey. honey can be used in food, tea, hair, on skin, as face wash, etc.
    you’ll get addicted to learning this stuff sooner or later ;)

tip 2

    just because you’re switching over doesn’t mean you have to throw everything away and start completely from scratch (although you most certainly can!!). don’t overwhelm yourself! if you get too overwhelmed, it’ll be ‘easier’ to become more unmotivated to stick with the transition. you’re putting yourself through a lifestyle change. give it time! try to have patience. start with the basics. here are my suggestions for the basics, and of course other people have other basics! save money by not buying eeeeverything all at once.  give yourself time to learn as much as you can about each category of options before you switch.

tip 3

    finding a source of support is so very important. keep in mind you’re making a complete lifestyle change and there ARE like-minded people out there doing the same. we all have frustrations, we all have those “aha!” moments when things work beautifully, and we all have questions! don’t ever ever ever hesitate to reach out. this whole crunchy world is full of people that have “been there, done that” and it’s a tremendous source of crunchy wisdom. learn from others and help others! i think supporting each other in this journey is so important! we’re a cool bunch of people, ya know ;) what other group of strangers will talk openly about their armpits with you just to save you from stinking?
    the motivation, support, and IDEAS you’ll receive from others will be outstanding!

tip 4

    you’ll more than likely come across concepts and uses for things you’ve never heard of before. for example, now i only use water to wash my hair and body. only water! if i could meet myself a few years ago, i probably would think i’m off my rocker! concepts like eating clay and brushing your teeth with charcoal will become commonplace. you just gotta keep an open mind and have a little faith in letting your body take care of itself with the help of natural alternatives. and also keep in mind that just because one thing doesn’t work for you, doesn’t mean that nothing will work for you. some people can’t do no-poo, but love clay shampoos. some people can’t use clay shampoos, but love water-only. it just takes time and patience!
    and even after you find something that works, you may find that after some time your routine will need to change. what works for you now won’t necessarily work for you in a few months. that’s not a bad thing; just your body adjusting! and that’s exciting!

tip 5

    at the heart of it all, no one knows your body as well as YOU; your routine will change (what works for you now won’t necessarily work for you in a few months).
    you will learn things about your body as the time goes on. you will understand the concept of “listening to your hair and what it wants.” it sounds crazy, but when you get there, you’ll know. there’s a great feeling that comes with knowing exactly what your body/hair/etc can and can’t deal with or does/doesn’t like. your whole beauty routine will be wholly tailored to fit your every need. and every single person is different… i think that’s the coolest thing in the world! we have tons to learn from each other!

tip 6

    i don’t think it’s possible to be crunchy and not DIY at least ONE thing you use. don’t be afraid to mix things or experiment. that’s actually more than half of the fun of being crunchy! it’s like you get to play mad scientist. and once you get the hang of “easier” DIY products, you’ll move on to more “complex” ones. and then you’ll really amaze yourself at how self-sufficient you are.
    you’ll know exactly what’s in your products. you’ll be able to tailor everything to meet your specific needs (and those of loved ones). and lastly, you’ll save money! this ties into doing research and keeping an open mind. don’t be afraid to make your own toothpaste. don’t be afraid to make your own body wash. if it’s wrong, tweak the recipe. cuz lemme tell ya… it’s a great feeling knowing you’re capable of making your own products!

tip 7

    and also shop around for the best prices and the best quality! you’ll save a ton of money doing this (not to mention the money you’ll already be saving from not buying conventional products). and once you start learning more about all the various uses for things, it’ll be easier to make little batches to test things out and figure out if it works for you or not (when your body tells you it needs a change). when you have bulk ingredients on standby, tweaking recipes is easy! and you could always help out those friends and family members that aren’t too sure about switching yet. i always put together little mixes for my loved ones to try out first. no sense in making someone buy products they won’t use, right? i wanted my mom to try the OCM, so i had her use my argan oil a couple times to see how she liked it. she did, and i made sure to buy her a bottle as soon as i could! i think it all ties right back into being supportive for everyone in the crunchy community :) and if you have someone nearby, you can save even more money by buying in bulk and splitting the cost/product with them. nothing will go to waste and your wallet will thank you!

tip 8

    you’ll more thank likely get greasy. you’ll more than likely stink for a bit. you’ll more than likely be in a total funk for awhile. can’t sugar coat that, babe. but i can honestly tell you that it gets better! the transition period is weird for almost everyone. seriously, have you SEEN my transition pictures? pure grease right there, baby cakes.
    and plus, i don’t think anyone in the crunchy community would flinch at you saying, “hey, my armpits really reek. any ideas to help?”
    we’re all in this weirdness together and people will jump at the opportunity to flaunt what they’ve created to solve that problem for them!

tip 9

    when you’re going through such a big transition and it’s completely foreign to you, it’s easy to let others’ opinions get to you. it’s understandable! think about it… you’re essentially abandoning taking care of your body in the only way you’ve ever known how. it’s really tough!
    i’ve heard it all… “are you crazy?”, “don’t you stink?!”, “you’re disgusting!”, etc… i even had one person leave an entire paragraph on this very blog outlining all the ways i disgusted them. truly! so let me tell you somethin, AE readers: don’t let others’ personal health care choices and/or lack of knowledge discourage you from becoming a healthier you and a more educated consumer! remember WHY you’re doing this. i’m not saying the journey is easy, but it IS worth it!

tip 10

    be proud of yourself. seriously. you’re putting yourself through a complete lifestyle change and you’re going against the socially acceptable norm. the road can get tough! how many people do you think have the drive to completely abandon the only ways they’ve ever known how to care for their bodies after 20/30/40/50 years? YOU, my friend… YOU <3 so pat yourself on the back, and pamper yourself with a coconut oil scrub foot massage and a honey & clay face mask. you deserve it.

what other crunchy advice can YOU offer others? 
how have you dealt with negative comments about your natural lifestyle (if you have had to)?

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