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Gorgeous highlights courtesy of your kitchen or medicine cabinet sound too good to be true? You’re absolutely right. And, while most of us have a Sun-In trauma guaranteed to help us steer clear of at-home bleaching, it’s still tempting to whip out a few lemons or reach for a bottle of hydrogen peroxide in desperation to add a few natural-looking highlights to our strands. Please, please, please heed our advice—don’t do it! Read on to learn why at-home highlights are a major no-no as well as see what pro-approved lightening techniques we’re dying to try out this summer.

Just Say No

There are a million treatments you can DIY from the comfort of your own home—unfortunately, lightening your locks shouldn’t be one of them. Though ingredients such as lemon juice, hydrogen peroxide or baking soda are effective lightening agents, they can also result in dryness or unsightly brassiness. Do at-home treatments actually work? Yes, though not all results will be the same. If you have natural light blonde locks, you can test-drive a lemon juice spray, the most non-damaging option, at your own risk. Simply mix fresh lemon juice with a teaspoon of coconut oil and spray it onto your strands, then step outside to help the sun activate the brightening properties. But fair warning: There’s no way to determine how blonde—or how brassy—the lemon juice will lighten your hair. Your best bet? Stick to getting highlights from the pros. 

Go Au Naturel (Sort of) 

Just because you’re not actually lightening your hair at home doesn’t mean you can’t achieve a similar effect in the salon. These days, it’s all about natural, barely-there, “sun-kissed” highlights that add brightness and dimension. Think: gorgeous golds, warm honeys and buttery blonde hues. The key is the right color placement. To achieve that “spent-the-weekend-in-the-sun” glow, ask your colorist to add hints of brightness in all of the areas that the sun would naturally hit. Avoid chunky highlights, or shades that are a stark contrast to your base color, typically, only 1-2 shades lighter than your natural hue. 

Haute Highlights

Ready to give the natural route a go—sans citrus? Check out a few highlighted looks that we’re loving at the moment. 


A post shared by Kaia (@kaiagerber) on

Though the jury is still out on whether she actually took a bottle of peroxide to her locks herself as some outlets are reporting, we predict Kaia Gerber’s pale blonde highlights are courtesy of a pro—and we’re obsessed. 



A post shared by Lana Del Rey (@lanadelrey) on

No “Summertime Sadness” here! Lana Del Rey is the epitome of summer goals with her gorgeous gold and champagne highlights. 



A post shared by Salma Hayek Pinault (@salmahayek) on

Think it’s impossible to lighten darker strands? Think again! Salma Hayek proves a subtle hint of caramel can freshen up a darker base, instantly enhancing your natural glow.