8 Ways to Use Lemon Juice for Hair and Skin

hand reaches for fresh-squeezed lemon juice next to cut lemon and woven basket of lemons

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

For those who desire to bring natural products into their beauty regimen, look no further than the citrus bowl in your kitchen. Specifically, look to the lemon.

Lemons have a number of qualities that make them a great ingredient in organic beauty recipes. Their juice can decrease oil production in the skin and even has antibacterial properties, not to mention how they can combine with other natural ingredients for added beauty benefits. From using lemon juice in hair to creating a lemon sugar scrub, here's how this humble citrus fruit can be a game-changer for your daily routine.

Can Lemon Juice Lighten Hair?

back of woman in striped tank showing off long shiny brown hair glowing in sun

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

Yes. Lemon juice contains citric acid, which opens up hair cuticles, breaking apart hair's natural pigment. When you add sunlight (which already has a natural lightening effect on hair), you can create legitimate color change. That said, the efficacy of lemon juice as a lightener depends greatly on one's hair color; it is much harder to lift color from dark hair, as it contains more pigment.

The downside to this technique is that lemon juice's acidity can make hair dry, frizzy, and brittle. You can combat this by washing the juice out quickly and finishing the process with a deep condition.

1. Highlight Hair With Lemon Juice

woman in striped top sprays lemon-water on her hair to lighten it

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

If it really is possible to lighten hair with lemon juice, how do you do it? In addition to being cheaper and more natural than chemical-filled hair dyes, it's also easier.

  1. Add lemon juice to a spray bottle and dilute it with water.
  2. Spray the mixture on the areas of hair you want to lighten until damp.
  3. Sit out in the sun for one to two hours. (Don't forget the sunscreen!)
  4. When time is up, wash lemon juice out of hair and use a deep conditioner.

2. Fight Acne

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

Lemon juice has been shown to have antibacterial properties, which may mean it can be used to fight acne. Here's a simple face scrub that can help you cut out the harsh chemicals in most acne washes:


  • 1/4 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats (which serve as an exfoliant)
  • 1/2 tablespoon honey (to soften skin)
  1. Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl.
  2. Massage onto face for 30 seconds.
  3. Rinse with warm water.

3. Rejuvenate With Cucumber and Lemon Toner

diy cucumber and lemon slice toner in glass lidded jar next to hand with homemade scrub

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

Lemons and cucumbers can join together to provide numerous benefits for your face in the form of a toner. With cucumber's antioxidants and lemon's abundance of vitamin C, this natural product is great for hydration, reducing swelling, and calming irritated skin.

  1. In a jar, combine 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, half a cup of cucumber slices, and 3 cups cold water. You can also add some lemon slices if you like.
  2. Apply with a cotton ball or pad after cleansing and before moisturizing.

This cucumber and lemon toner keeps in the fridge for up to a week.

4. Create a Salt and Lemon Scrub

woman in striped top takes off lid of lemon salt scrub in glass container

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

Salt scrubs are excellent for exfoliation. Add lemon and the product can help brighten your skin too. For sensitive skin, replace the salt with sugar to create a lemon sugar scrub, which is less abrasive.

  1. Combine the zest from 1 lemon, 1 cup Kosher salt, and 1/2 cup almond oil. Mix.
  2. Rinse skin with warm water.
  3. Rub scrub it into your skin using circular motions.
  4. Rinse and dry the scrubbed area.

It's best to scoop your lemon scrub with a spoon to prevent oils from your hands from entering the scrub. It keeps for about six months at room temperature.

5. Make Your Hair Shine

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

Regardless of whether you're skipping shampoo or not, lemon juice can reduce the dullness created by hard water (and soap residue), leaving your hair shinier. It can also prevent greasiness, which is beneficial for those with oily scalps.

  1. Combine 2 tablespoons of lemon juice with 1 cup of warm water.
  2. Pour mixture slowly over your hair, avoiding the eyes.
  3. Allow it to sit for at least a minute before rinsing out.

6. Remove Body Hair by Sugaring

person heats brown sugar on stove with lemon to create homemade sugaring wax

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

There are numerous hair removal methods, and sugaring has grown in popularity as a natural option. It's essential to have an acidic ingredient in your sugar wax to prevent the sugar from crystallizing, and lemon juice fits the bill perfectly. Here is a demonstration of a three-ingredient lemon sugar wax:

7. Make a DIY Lemon Face Mask

woman in striped top applies yogurt and lemon mixture to hands

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

Lemon juice can make powerful face masks. Its antioxidants can improve complexion by removing dark spots and discoloration.

It can also be combined with numerous natural ingredients to create face masks with a variety of benefits. For example, a pinch of turmeric can reduce inflammation, and yogurt has calming effects that are helpful after experiencing sunburn.

8. Eliminate Blackheads

sugar, honey, and lemons in a basket are ingredients for removing blackheads

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

Blackheads appear as a result of pores becoming clogged with excess oil and/or dead skin cells. Lemon juice's citric acid can unclog your pores, but it can also be a proactive measure in the fight against blackheads. Lemon juice prevents excess oil production and breaks down the outermost layer of skin cells, which means there's less to clog pores with in the first place.

When using lemon juice to eliminate blackheads, common supporting ingredients include honey for its healing properties and sugar for exfoliation.

View Article Sources
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  2. Mukherjee, Pulok K. et al. "Phytochemical And Therapeutic Potential Of Cucumber". Fitoterapia, vol 84, 2013, pp. 227-236. Elsevier BV, doi:10.1016/j.fitote.2012.10.003

  3. Anandakumar, Senthilkumar et al. "Anti-Inflammatory Effects Of Turmeric (Curcuma Longa L.) Extract On Acute And Chronic Inflammation Models". Journal Of The Korean Society Of Food Science And Nutrition, vol 43, no. 4, 2014, pp. 612-617., doi:https://doi.org/10.3746/jkfn.2014.43.4.612

  4. Otang, W.M., and A.J. Afolayan. "Antimicrobial And Antioxidant Efficacy Of Citrus Limon L. Peel Extracts Used For Skin Diseases By Xhosa Tribe Of Amathole District, Eastern Cape, South Africa". South African Journal Of Botany, vol 102, 2016, pp. 46-49. Elsevier BV, doi:10.1016/j.sajb.2015.08.005