Lemon Juice, Highlights & Lowlights

Hair lightened with lemons
Photo: Victoria Brassey/Shutterstock
Q: Hey, I am 14 years old and my hair is a light brown/dark blonde shade and it's kind of boring. My mom's not sure if she wants me to do anything to it just yet. She said if you put lemon juice in it, it will create highlights. Is that true?
Otherwise, my friend said I should get lowlights. What is the difference between highlights and lowlights and how do I know which color to use on my hair? Also, would it work as well if a used a store brand instead of going to a hair salon? If so, which brand should I choose?
I know that's a lot of questions, but I have never done anything to my hair before and I am not sure what to do or what works best. Thanks a lot!

A: Lemon juice has long been used to create "sun lightened" hair in many young women (and young men) over the years. The acid in lemon juice swells the cuticle of the hair and helps to disperse small amounts of the pigment in the hair. To be truly effective, you have to use the lemon juice in combination to exposure to sunlight. It is natural, but remember that lemon juice can damage the hair if overused.
I have to applaud your mother for encouraging you to think carefully before you do anything to your hair involving chemical processing. Too often, young women get in a hurry to having their hair colored, highlighted or permed, and end up hating the fact that these processes have to be maintained and subsequently end up becoming a hassle unless you are prepared to do this maintenance.
To answer your question concerning the difference between highlights and lowlights, highlights are created by lightening small clusters of hair strands all over the head to give the impression of more depth to the hair color. Lowlights are also designed to give the impression of additional color depth, but use a color slightly darker than the main color of the hair to create the effect.
I don't, however, recommend trying to use an at-home coloring or high-lighting kit, until you are more comfortable with the idea of what you are doing. You'll want to take the time to review our different articles on hair coloring here at Hairfinder.com.
One thing I can recommend you try before you go for a more dramatic step, is to use one of the new color enhancing shampoos and conditioners available. Select the formula for your hair color and use it regularly for about a week. You should notice added depth to the color you have.
See also:
How to color hair
Ancient hair lightening techniques
The way hair responds to sun exposure
Why does the sun lighten our hair, but darken our skin?