8 Ways to Use Lemon Juice for Hair and Skin

Lemons in blue bowls on a wood table.

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If you look at the ingredients in the beauty products at your local drug store, you'll likely find a list of chemicals you can't pronounce. For those who are ready 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 properties that make them a great ingredient in many organic beauty recipes. From using lemon juice in hair to creating a lemon sugar scrub, this humble citrus fruit can be a game-changer for your daily routine.

Can Lemon Juice Lighten Hair?

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

Flatlay of lemon juice squeezed in a bowl beside a brush on a green and white cloth.

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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

Lemon, rolled oats and honey with a wood dipper.

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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 works particularly well on oily skin, without the harsh chemicals of 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

Slice cucumber and lemon on a marble counter.

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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

Lemon and salt exfoliator in a glass jar on a wood table.

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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

Lemon being squeezed into a glass of water outside.

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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

shallow bowl of golden liquid sugar and metal applicator on teal background

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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, 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

lemon slices, honey, sugar, aloe plant stems, and other natural cosmetic ingredients laid out on white table

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Lemon juice can make powerful face masks. Its antioxidants can improve complexion by removing dark spots and discoloration, and its astringent properties can decrease oil production.

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.

One caveat: Lemon juice's high acidity level can cause skin irritation. Use lemon only in small quantities and not too frequently. Always complete a patch test before applying it to your face.

8. Eliminate Blackheads

lemon sugar scrub in small white bowl surrounded by lemon slices and cotton pads

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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
  1. Klimek-Szczykutowicz, Marta et al. “Citrus limon (Lemon) Phenomenon-A Review of the Chemistry, Pharmacological Properties, Applications in the Modern Pharmaceutical, Food, and Cosmetics Industries, and Biotechnological Studies.” Plants (Basel, Switzerland), vol. 9, iss. 1, 2020, pp. 119., doi:10.3390/plants9010119