5 Sour Truths About Using Sweet Lemons in Your Skincare Routine


Many people have found that applying lemon on the problems areas of your skin could help solve your acne, pigmentation, scar and other skin issues on your face. In fact, many skincare experts will recommend the use of this sour yellow fruit on the problem areas of your face. If you have a tight budget and are looking for affordable DIY skincare recipes online, lemon will surely be on top of the list.

Lemons Were Made For Skincare


Lemon also has citric acid that gently exfoliates your skin and makes it look smoother and plumper. It also contains niacin or vitamin B3, a known anti-inflammatory that helps with pigmentation and solves dry skin problems.

In other words, lemon is good for your skin, or is it? Despite the essential skin care ingredients, which your face needs, here are five reasons why you need to take it easy on this sour yellow fruit.

1. Lemon Juice Is Highly Acidic

home remediesWhen it comes to home remedies for pigmented skin, lemon will always be a key ingredient. Tons of articles dedicated to skin care will tell you that lemon is one of the best solutions to lighten brown spots and even the tone of your skin.

However, keep this in mind: lemon is a citrus fruit. This means it has lots of vitamin C, which makes it highly acidic. It also has low pH levels, with a pH level of just two, making it extremely irritating to the skin.

Once you mess with your skin’s pH level, it could lead to some ugly effects, such as damaging the production of new skin cells, to drying and irritating your skin.

If you are not convinced, the human body has an average pH level of 4.45 to 5.56, which is a bit far from lemon’s pH level of two. Although many people will attest to the lightening effects of lemon, there are no studies to definitively prove lemons actually lighten dark spots on your skin. However, one thing is for sure: it is a potent skin irritant.

2. Lemon Could Cause A Condition You Won’t Like

Photo by Katykidk / CC BY-SA

Don’t you find it disturbing that an ingredient you think would solve all of your skin problems could lead to something worse? Yes, it’s still about lemon.

Unfortunately, lemon can cause a phototoxic reaction that could lead to a condition called phytophotodermatitis, or PPD. This happens when you apply lemon juice to your skin and expose it to sunlight. Lemon contains limonene, a type of chemical with a volatile fragrance that is responsible for PPD.

When you have PPD, you will notice a red rash and brown discolorations on your body. It could also worsen your existing hyper-pigmentation issues. It may not show up instantly, but the effects will show eventually. This is rather ironic,since most people turn to lemon juice to lighten dark spots and any discoloration on their skin.

3. You Never Know How Much Active Ingredients Are Inside A Lemon

Have you seen lemons, apples or any other fruits and vegetables that are all the same exact size? Most, if not all of the time, you find yourself standing in the grocery and trying to figure out if lemons and other fruits come in same size and shape.

AppleHence, it is safe to say that lemon, just like its cousins in the fruit family, contain different chemicals, depending on its shape and size.

In fact, the amount of ingredients in a lemon will depend on various factors, such as where and when they planted and cultivated it, how long it was hanging around the grocery store, whether or not they refrigerated it, and how they processed the lemon.

In other words, even if the experts say that one lemon contains a specific amount of ingredients, the question is,does the lemon you have in your kitchen have the same amount in it? So, the better question is, which lemon should you use on your skin?

4. Lemon Contains Chemicals That Are Not Good For Your Skin

You already know that lemon is an antioxidant and contains various vitamins and ingredients that are good for the skin. Apparently, lemon is not a saint and it has its bad side, too.

Good newsLemon contains limonene, a chemical that causes discoloration on your skin, also known as PPD.

Aside from this ingredient, this sour yellow fruit that is supposed to make your life prettier has psoralens and furanocoumarins, types of chemicals that irritates your skin and causes phototoxic reactions,once you expose your lemon-filled skin to the sun.

Worse yet, some women claime they got blistering sunburns from using lemon on their faces.

In other words, not all lemons are the same and created equal. The good news is, processing could remove these harmful ingredients. If you are thinking of making DIY remedies, do you have a machine that could separate these harmful ingredients from the good ones? We didn’t think so.

5. Lemon Can Be Too Effective

TruthAdmit it, just like most of us, you probably think lemon is one of the most harmless things on this planet.

There are websites dedicated to the benefits of lemons, and even the so-called experts will advise you to use them in case you are looking for a homemade skin care remedy.

The truth is lemons could be too effective. Although they could help in your discoloration and acne issues, too much of this fruit could be bad for your skin, too. It has a strong fragrance that could ruin your collagen and skin cell production.

As scary as it may sound, the Australasian Journal of Dermatology published a report about a 61-year old woman with multiple hypopigmented macules and patches on her face and neck after using a lemon toner. Based on the report, lemon’s niacin and ascorbic acid suppressesmelanosome transfer and reduces melanin production, which could lead to depigmentation.

Tips On How To Make Lemon Work for You

If you’re confused right now, remember this: lemon is not evil. In fact, it could still be an effective homemade skincare remedy,as long as you take note of these tips:

1. Oral, Not Topical

lemon to teaLemon is a natural antioxidant, which means it could protect against the bad guys. Still, keep in mind that it is highly acidic. This means when applied on your face, lemon juice could lead to further discoloration.

Hence, it is advisable that you use it orally, not topically. This is to minimize any irritation and inflammation, which could lead to skin discoloration.

The better idea is reserve the lemon juice for baking and adding some jazz to your favorite salads, desserts and beverages. Add lemon to tea or water, or you can even make fresh lemonade out of it.

2. Take It Easy On Your Skin

Oral, not topical application is recommended. Does this mean you should avoid apply lemon juice on your face ever? That depends on how you plan to use it.

lemon juiceTopical application of lemon juice could still be an effective remedy to heal and prevent chapped lips. Some say it works best with sunburns, too. Just make sure that when you apply lemon juice on your skin, lightly soak a hand towel or cotton with lemon and dab the affected area of your skin.

3. Say No To Leaving Lemon On

Lemon is highly acid with strong fragrance that could have phototoxic effects on your skin. When you use lemon, you want its magic to work underneath your skin to make sure that it will work.

Apparently, giving lemon ample time to sink into your skin could lead to unwanted side effects. If you can, simply rub your face with cotton or cloth lightly soaked in lemon, leave it on for a few seconds then rinse before going out to meet Mr. Sun.

The point is, you are able to minimize the negative effects instead of allowing your face to smell like lemon and ruin it eventually.

4. Combine Lemon With Other Ingredients

lemon juice and honeyTo minimize its side effects and make it work for you, try combining lemon with other safe ingredients. For instance, a dry scalp may call for lemon, olive oil and water. Blackheads will need equal parts of lemon juice and honey in order to get the full benefits.

The point is, don’t soak your skin with lemon alone, unless you rinse it immediately. Be nice to your face.

5. Watch Out For Any Reactions

Every person’s reaction to various things is different. If your face did not react after applying lemon on it, then that’s good news. Still, this does not mean you shouldn’t be careful. Take it easy when using lemon.

On the other hand, if you notice any redness, irritation, itchiness or inflammation on your skin, stop using lemon instantly. Give your face a rest and look for other equally effective ingredients and products to get rid of any discoloration on your skin.

work bestDo a skin patch test by applying a small amount to one area of your face, instead of the whole thing. Wait a few minutes to see if irritation occurs, and if it doesn’t, go ahead and try it on your entire face.

Keep in mind that all of those factors mentioned above only happen in extreme cases. Lemon does work, thanks to its antioxidant and vitamins content. However, the key here is to take it easy when using lemon on your skin. The last things you need are brown spots all over your skin from an ingredient you thought would work best for you.

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