We often encounter lemons as window dressing for appetizers and drinks, but we know that the fruit does more than just make a great garnish. We add it as an ingredient to our entrees, mix it into our salads, use it in tea, and drink it as a juice. But because it is rich in vitamin C and citric acid, lemons don’t just work its magic when we eat or drink it, it can work well when we use it on our skin, too.
Lemon juice can be used to treat skin conditions like acne for several reasons. Because the fruit itself is acidic, Healthline says lemons have astringent qualities. As a result, its juice can help to decrease inflammation and oil, particularly if you are prone to having greasier skin. Lemon juice is also a type of alpha hydroxy acid, which can be used to break down dead skin cells, plus it has antimicrobial properties, which is useful in keeping acne bacteria in check.
Lemon juice offers risks and rewards to those who use it on their skin
Lemons have a function for those of us without acne, too. “Vitamin C is a great antioxidant for neutralizing free radicals and boosting collagen production,” dermatologist Marina Peredo tells Women’s Health, making lemons a good skin brightener. The citrus fruit doesn’t just lighten the skin on your face though, because the fruit can also brighten your elbows and knees.
But Healthline also warns that lemons can be a risky part of any home-based routine, because using the fruit can offer more risks than rewards. Since it is acidic, lemons can irritate your skin, which can appear as dryness, redness, and peeling. Lemons and other citrus fruit can also cause phytophotodermatitis, a condition that can be triggered when you expose yourself to UV light after you have anything citrusy on your skin. That combination causes an inflammation which makes your skin swell, become reddish, and possibly blister.
If you do opt for lemon juice as part of your skincare routine, experts suggest starting small, with once per day applications, and say to never go out in the sun with it on your skin.
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