Updated December 8, 2012
Some of the links in the current Honey thread may no longer work because they have been changed. However, the information in them can be viewed in the thread. Later in the thread, which is vast, there are more pictures of honey lightening results with the new recipes and method to prepare and use them I created, posted to view. I do not take credit for application techniques or hair coverings used. Those vary and are about ease of application and helping to keep the hair wet during the treatment, which I have explained is very important. The hair does not have to be covered during a honey lightening treatment but it does need to be kept wet with the treatment, for the entire time it is on the hair. Covering the hair can be the best way to achieve that. Innovations in those areas and more by other LHC members, I recognized and credited and there is a post I wrote about them alone, to assist others looking for ideas. The links in this blog post are all working now.
Update February 16, 2013
The peroxide value of spices can be found here, with that of cardamom being the highest of those listed, except for black pepper, which is more of an irritant and is not recommended because of that, for honey lightening recipes.
One of the most often asked about topics is red tones and honey lightening. Here is the thread post on what can cause red tones to appear in hair colour, when any kind of lightening is done. It is not included in the information below. The updated source link in the post text, which has been changed is here. It is about the amount and type of natural, or added pigment in hair, as well as other factors, that can affect hair lightening and colouring results. None of the ingredients in the recipes below have been reported to add a red tone to hair, even ground cinnamon, which has been mistakenly thought to do so by some people. Following a honey lightening treatment with cassia, often incorrectly referred to as neutral henna, or an apple cider vinegar rinse can add a red tone to hair colour. Both have been reported to do so, unrelated to honey lightening.
________________________________________________________Honey lightening can be an alternative to lightening hair colour (virgin and colour-treated, all shades from black on up), with conventional peroxide and bleach. It has not been reported to damage hair, even after multiple treatments over extended periods of time. Honey slowly releases peroxide on dilution with a liquid that contains water. It has been reported to lighten hair colour on The Long Hair Community Boards, before the Honey threads were started, to figure out how it worked and why it worked for some people and not others.
The following recipes and method I designed are based on my having analyzed accredited research I read. Patch test any ingredient not previously used on the scalp or skin.
1. The new dilution is 4 times the amount of water to honey, calculated by weight. It is now the recommended dilution to be used for honey lightening. The minimum amount of honey to be used is 10 grams. 10 grams of honey would need 40 grams of distilled water. 2 tablespoons (1/8 cup or 1.5 oz) honey needs 6 oz distilled water or 3/4 cup US (1/2 cup Metric), or 12 tablespoons distilled water. You can convert to ml, oz, tablespoons or cups. Here is a link on honey conversions. Another way to use the new dilution is to just use tablespoons, 1 tablespoon of honey to 6 tablespoons distilled water, 2 to 12 etc. It works out to be the same as calculating by weight.
According to reports posted in the latest Honey thread, better results have been achieved with the new dilution in 1 hour, than with repeated treatments using other dilution ratios. Different honeys produce different levels of peroxide. Here is the Successful Honeys List. If one cannot be found, try a dark coloured honey blend (raw or pasteurized, both have been reported to work equally well). Dark coloured blends were reported in research, to have higher peroxide levels than lighter coloured blends. A dark coloured, single source honey, does not necessarily have a high peroxide value - it depends on the plant source.
2. Distilled water is recommended to be used for honey lightening in place of tap water. It is a better choice, for getting the best results from a honey lightening recipe because of its pH (7) and hydrogen peroxide can decompose in contact with certain minerals. Some tap waters are the exception and have been reported to be fine for honey lightening. More information on distilled water can be found in here.
3. Honey lightening boosters are ingredients that add extra peroxide to the recipes. These are ground cardamom, ground cinnamon, coconut oil and extra virgin olive oil. Spices may be irritating, so follow the "less is more" approach with the new dilution. Start with 1 tablespoon after patch testing; suggested maximum 2 tablespoons. Mix spices into a recipe, after the honey is added, for a smoother liquid. Oils can be difficult to wash out of the hair; suggested amount 1 tablespoon. None of the peroxide containing ingredients in the honey lightening recipes, including the honey and ground cinnamon, has been reported to add colour to the hair. Here is more information on cinnamon and cardamom. Here is information on coumarin.
4. No external heat should be used with honey lightening. Do not use a blow dryer or sunlight. None of the recipe ingredients should be heated at any time. Heat (except body heat) can destroy hydrogen peroxide by decomposing it to water and oxygen. The peroxide produced by honey is not stabilized the way conventional peroxide is and is much more delicate because of that. It depends on the degree of heat and the amount of time that it is applied to it. Pasteurization does not destroy the enzyme in honey (glucose oxidase) that generates the peroxide.
5. Store your honey, ground spices and oils away from heat, light and moisture, at room temperature, in a cupboard, preferably. Opened oils can be refrigerated.
6. No ingredients that contain vitamin C, (except ground cardamom, which has the highest peroxide value for a spice and a low vitamin C level), should be used in the recipes. Hydrogen peroxide oxidizes vitamin C and is depleted in doing so. Some honeys naturally contain higher levels of vitamin C. Avoid using Anzer, buckwheat, linden flower, locust flower, mint, or thyme honeys. Most honeys contain very low levels. Here is a list of the Vitamin C content of selected ingredients.
7. Jarrah honey from Australia is known for its very high peroxide value and is a good choice for honey lightening. Information on Jarrah honey and current suppliers can be found here.
8. Conditioner is not recommended to be included in honey lightening recipes. Hair conditioners are too acidic for most honeys and the spices, (it can reduce the optimal pH needed for a honey to produce peroxide), can contain ingredients that interfere with honey lightening and their water content (most conditioners are 70-90% water), if used as part of the new dilution, can effectively reduce the amount of water needed. The same applies to coconut cream and milk (they contain minerals, are acidic and contain Vitamin C, as well as not enough water). You can use conditioner to wash out a honey lightening treatment, instead of using shampoo or just rinse a treatment out. If there is honey residue, shampoo is recommended and has been reported to easily resolve the problem, better than a vinegar rinse or extra water rinsing.
9. The honey lightening recipes can be applied with a tint or blush brush for more control of placement.
10. Mix the honey lightening recipe, at room temperature and let the recipe sit for 1 hour, also at room temperature, to let the honey produce peroxide or use it right away and the honey will produce peroxide while on the hair.The hair should be freshly washed or rinsed first, if there is aloe gel on the hair (aloe gel contains Vitamin C), a Vitamin C containing leave-in treatment, heavy conditioner, a large amount of oil (a large amount of some types of oil will act as a barrier to the water), or styling products on the hair. If there is a lot of residue on the hair, it should be clarified first. If not, a honey lightening treatment can also be applied to wet or dry, unwashed hair. Apply the treatment with a tint, blush or basting brush, spray or squirt bottle. Pin the hair up, cover the hair with plastic and keep the treatment on the hair for about 1 hour. The hair must be kept completely wet with the treatment both before being covered and the time that the treatment is on the hair. Wearing a swim cap is recommended. Also recommended, is to use saran wrap under a lycra swim cap. It does not squeeze out too much water and the treatment does not drip as much with this method. Honey lightening innovations by LHC members.
11. Honey lightening has not been reported to damage hair even with continuous use. What has been reported occasionally is "crunchy" or dry hair. That is a honey residue result and can easily be resolved by shampooing or using a vinegar rinse. Some honeys leave fewer to no discernible residues than others. There is research to support honey lightening not being damaging. The flavonoids mentioned here are all found in honey, the peroxide boosters, ground cinnamon, ground cardamom and extra virgin olive oil. Gallic acid and its esters are found in coconut oil. Gallic acid esters were also found to protect cells from hydrogen peroxide damage. In honey lightening, these natural phytochemicals are in place while the peroxide is being produced. The flavonoids chelate the iron and copper that generate the damaging free radicals when hydrogen peroxide reacts with hair. This research led to using one of the honey lightening recipe ingredients as a pre-treatment before conventional chemical dye and lightening. See Part 1 of this series.
12. This is a Pictures Post of some past and current honey lightening results.