Fans say dabbing a little lemon juice on a pimple will dry it up instantly, and rubbing your face with a slice of lemon will lighten your skin. Lemons cost less than a dollar, while vitamin C serums cost big (and big) dollars. Sounds like the perfect replacement, right?
Nature is powerful, and substances that are okay to eat or drink may not always be safe to apply directly to the skin.
You’ll see plenty of Instagram posts, Pinterest posts, and DIY recipes on blogs advising the use of lemon juice for everything from wrinkles to blackheads to sun spots and more. And vitamin C is a popular ingredient in skin care products thanks to its powerful antioxidant properties. Be careful when trying home remedies from the internet.
Read on to find out why you might want to save lemons for your water.
First, why do people put lemon on their skin?
Well, lemon juice contains some properties that seem to be great for your skin, including alpha hydroxy acid — which can remove dull skin cells and create new ones, and acts as an exfoliant of sorts. Lemons can also:
- Help reduce the formation of blackheads by breaking down the buildup of dead skin cells
- Help treat acne by reducing inflammation and oil production
- Help reduce discoloration and scarring
But (the BIG but), there’s a difference between the lemon juice in your favorite skincare products and rubbing a slice over your T-zone.
It’s just lemon juice. What’s the worst that could happen?
Nice that you asked. The most common reaction to using lemon juice is skin irritation. It could be mild, but it could also be severe for people with sensitive skin. Because lemon juice is highly acidic at a pH of 2, it can permanently damage your skin. It can alter the natural pH of your acid mantle, potentially causing skin irritation, hyperpigmentation, and sun sensitivity. That’s not even the worst of it. You could end up after an overzealous chemical peel like Samantha from Sex and the City.
Here are the two scariest complications:
Just because something is natural doesn’t mean it’s harmless. Mix citrus juice with sunlight, and you get margarita burn — officially known as phytophotodermatitis. It’s called Margarita Burn because you can get it by drinking margaritas (or beer with lime wedges) on the beach. Therefore, read the label on your vitamin C serum. It will probably always remind you that SPF is a must after use!
Diluting lemon juice can reduce your risk, but it can still cause major problems. Homemade toner made from lemon juice, alcohol and glycerin hospitalized a woman – a 22-year-old from Melbourne, Australia. She conjured up the beauty product to treat freckles and dark spots on her face but ended up with chemical leukoderma.
This condition, caused by repeated exposure to certain chemical compounds — including those in lemon juice — left her with uneven white patches that can be permanent. Oops!
How Do You Use Lemon Juice Safely?
OK, so you still want to try it? These are some options dermatologists suggest you could try –
- Always do a patch test on the sides of your neck or elbows.
- Always dilute lemon juice with rosewater or honey before applying it to your face (try these combinations too).
- SPF is a must after applying any form of vitamin C
- If you choose lemon juice, dermatologists recommend using fresh lemon juice because the concentration of vitamin C in lemons reduces overtime.
Also read: 8 summer staples to keep in your bag for when you’re on the go
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