When you were a teen, did you sit out by the pool with a trusty bottle of Sun-In and douse your hair in miscellaneous lightening spray chemicals? I’d soak my dirty blonde tresses in that solution and pray to the hair gods that when I got up from my lounge chair my hair would be golden. And although it did kind of work over time, it didn’t perform any miracles.
Thankfully, that lightening hair mist isn’t stuck in the ‘90s anymore; It’s back, grown up, and is going to be all over the beach, pools, and lawns this coming year. It’s also not just for blondes anymore—these sprays all can give golden highlights to any shade of hair for the fraction of the price of a trip to the salon. Take a look at the hair lightening sprays we’re spritzing right now, which will impart a golden glow, no matter the season.
The one to bring to the beach…
This tropical spray is a blend of lemon and pineapple juices, and then mixed with coconut water, so the smell is already taking you on a tropical vacation. The mix is meant to impart natural-looking highlights over a few trips outside. Ouai says blonde hair can expect to be lightened two to four shades, while dark hair gradually lightens to a coppery bronze tone.
One of our Domino editors loves this spray, and uses it on freshly cleansed hair before heading to a day outside (it’s applied to wet hair, so it can be taken to the beach or poolside and used on wet hair, too). She especially loves it for the beachy scent and lightweight feel, noting that it doesn’t have a sticky texture like some beach or lightening sprays have. Ouai especially promotes the fact that you don’t have to be a blonde to utilize the benefits of this spray. They show the results on a few ranges of shades, from dark brown to light blonde.
The beloved one…
381 passionate reviews on Target later…this spray has been heralded for years as a go-to option for quick brightening. The brand says it can lighten by two whole shades after three to five uses, and one user even said it, “Keeps me out of the salon for 6 months at a time.”
The major bonus of this product is that its heat activated by styling tools, so it doesn’t even need sun exposure to get quick results. The citrus and chamomile formula works gently, but don’t be fooled by the natural ingredients—it works. It’s good to be conscious where you spray it, and assure you’re applying it evenly because it brightens precisely where you apply it.
The one to use on the daily…
For those that want to dip their toe into the lightening pool, this is your spray. The French brand says you can expect a light, subtle update with continuous daily use over three weeks. Klorane also claims it can help gradually brighten not only blonde shades, but also light to medium brown.
Another Domino editor loves this for daily use, but does warn that it’s a bit of a heavier weight and stickier than other lightening sprays. But she swears it lightened her light brown hair to golden blonde over the course of last summer. It also ideally works best with their entire lightening range, which includes a shampoo and conditioner to brighten and fight brassiness.
The natural one…
Sun Bum Blonde Hair Lightener, $12.64
That cute packaging seems innocent enough, but be prepared: it’s highly effective. The hydrogen peroxide, pineapple, lemon, and honey blend imparts a gorgeous, subtle brightness on hair. Plus, that delicious blend smells like summer in a bottle.
While it’s most ideal for blondes, almost anyone can use it for a little hair brightening. It’s most effective in direct sunshine, so spritz on damp hair before heading outside.
The vegan one you’ll love…
This spray features chamomile, lemon, and coconut oil, and is meant to boost shine and hydration, while brightening gently over time. The brand says the spray probably works best on blondes and light brunette shades, and you can expect non-brassy tones over a few sessions.
When using a spray like this, which activates over time in the sun, it’s really important to have UV protection. That seems like a no-brainer for lightening sprays, but it’s rarely included. This spray also does double duty as a texture spray, imparting that desirable messy, lived-in look.
The one that doubles as a conditioner…
This drugstore classic is meant to subtly brighten your locks, but also act as a leave-in conditioner. So not only does it save you time in the shower by eliminating the need for a conditioner, but it also can lengthen the amount of time between salon visits for highlights, too. The formula detangles, prevents frizz, promotes shine, and brightens—honestly, what can’t it do?
No matter which sprays you use, make sure you don’t forget your sunscreen—on face, body, and scalp.
This story was originally published in June 2018 and has since been updated with new information.