How To Safely Use Lemon Juice To Treat Acne Breakouts

Lemon juice, rich in vitamin C and natural astringents, is emerging as a popular natural remedy for acne. Typically applied as a topical treatment, it harnesses its natural properties to combat flare-ups. While mindful use is recommended due to its acidity, this article provides tips on how to effectively and safely use lemon juice to enhance your skincare routine and treat acne.

In this article, we’ll explore the best practices for applying lemon juice to acne-prone skin, its skin-enhancing benefits, oil controlling capabilities, and antibacterial properties. We’ll also review its tightening effect on pores, antioxidant content, its role as a natural exfoliant, and the possible adverse reactions it can cause.

How to Apply Lemon Juice to Acne Prone Skin

It’s essential to apply lemon juice correctly during an acne breakout to maximize its benefits and minimize irritation. Follow the steps below for best practice:

  1. Cleanse your face: Begin by gently washing your face with a mild cleanser to remove any dirt, oil, or makeup. Pat your skin dry with a clean towel.
  2. Dilute the lemon juice: Pure lemon juice can be harsh on the skin, so it is advised to dilute it with water. Mix equal parts of fresh lemon juice and water in a small bowl.
  3. Perform a patch test: Before applying the mixture to your entire face, perform a patch test to ensure your skin does not react negatively to the lemon juice. Apply a small amount of the mixture to the skin you want to treat and wait for 24 hours to see if any irritation occurs.
  4. Apply the lemon juice mixture: Use a clean cotton ball or a Q-tip to apply the diluted lemon juice mixture onto the affected areas of your skin. Apply the diluted lemon juice mixture only as a spot treatment and not on the entire face. Avoid areas with open wounds or broken skin.
  5. Allow it to sit: Let the lemon juice sit on your skin for 10-15 minutes. You may experience a mild tingling sensation, but if it becomes painful or causes severe discomfort, remove the lemon juice immediately with cold water.
  6. Rinse and moisturize: After the allotted time, rinse your face thoroughly with cold water, pat dry, and apply a gentle, oil-free moisturizer to keep your skin hydrated.

For best results, repeat this process 2-3 times a week.

Skin Benefits of Lemon Juice

Lemon juice is known for its antibacterial, astringent, and exfoliating properties, which can help treat acne breakouts and scarring. Its antibacterial properties assist in fighting the bacteria that cause acne, while the astringent property helps to shrink pores and control excess oil production.

Furthermore, the exfoliating nature of lemon juice removes dead skin cells on the surface, promoting the growth of new, healthy skin. These desirable benefits have led to more products promoting lemon as part of a healthy skincare routine

1. Lemon Juice Removes Sebaceous Oil

The citric acid present in lemon juice has the ability to remove excess sebum oil from the skin and cleanse pores. This helps to reduce inflammation and prevent acne breakouts. Citrus acid also possesses mild exfoliating properties, gently removing the top layer of dead skin cells and further reducing the chances of clogged pores and acne formation. 

2. Lemon Juice is Antibacterial

Lemon juice is known for its antibacterial properties, which can be attributed to its high concentration of citric acid. This acidic nature allows lemon juice to break down the cell walls of acne-causing bacteria, such as Propionibacterium acnes, effectively killing them. By reducing the presence of these bacteria on the skin, lemon juice helps to prevent and treat acne breakouts.

3. Lemon Juice is Astringent

An astringent is a substance that can shrink or constrict body tissues, particularly the skin. Lemon juice is considered astringent due to its high citric acid content. This natural acid has a drying and tightening effect on the skin, which is what makes it astringent.

Citric acid in lemon juice not only acts as an astringent but also possesses mild antibacterial properties. This may help in reducing the presence of acne-causing bacteria and ultimately aid in the management of acne breakouts.

4. Lemon Juice Contains Skin-Friendly Antioxidants

Lemon juice is a natural source of antioxidants, primarily Vitamin C and flavonoids. These compounds offer significant benefits to the skin and promote overall skin health. Also known as ascorbic acid, Vitamin C plays a crucial role in skin health as a result of its anti-inflammatory and anti-aging properties. This essential nutrient helps neutralize free radicals (unstable atoms) that cause damage to skin cells, eventually leading to premature aging. Moreover, Vitamin C is a vital component of collagen synthesis, which is the primary protein that provides structure and elasticity to the skin. This promotes younger looking skin.

Flavonoids are a group of plant-based antioxidants that possess anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and anticancer properties. They aid in keeping the skin safe from harmful environmental factors like ultraviolet (UV) radiation, pollutants, and irritants. Protecting the skin from these stressors can help prevent further exacerbation of acne breakouts and contribute to a healthier and more radiant complexion. 

These skin-friendly antioxidants can help in reducing inflammation associated with acne, minimize acne scars, and promote faster healing of blemishes.

5. Lemon Juice is Exfoliating

Lemon juice contains alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs), which work as a natural exfoliant. These AHAs help to remove dead skin cells, unclog pores, and improve the overall texture of the skin. By promoting the reproduction of cells, lemon juice aids in the shedding of the outermost layer of the skin, revealing a smoother, brighter complexion.

Lemon Juice Side Effects

Lemon juice is commonly used as a home remedy for acne breakouts, but it is important to be aware of the potential side effects it may have on your skin. Below are some of the potential side effects to keep in mind:

  • Sun sensitivity: Applying lemon juice to the skin can make it more sensitive to sunlight, increasing the risk of sunburn and photoaging. Wear sunscreen and limit sun exposure when using lemon juice on your face.
  • Dry skin: Lemon juice contains citric acid, which has exfoliating properties but can also be drying to the skin. This could potentially worsen existing skin conditions like eczema or cause flaking and tightness.
  • Irritation and redness: The acidity of lemon juice may cause irritation, burning, or redness on sensitive skin or open wounds.
  • Uneven skin tone: Using lemon juice can lead to hyperpigmentation or lightening of the skin, resulting in an uneven skin tone, especially for persons with darker skin tones.
  • Allergic reactions: Some individuals may be allergic to citrus fruits or specific compounds in lemon juice, which could cause hives, itching, or swelling when applied to the skin.

It is advisable to patch test a small area of skin before using lemon juice as a remedy for acne. Apply a small amount of any lemon juice mixture to the skin you’re treating and wait 24 hours to see if any irritation occurs. Consult with a dermatologist if you have any concerns about your skin’s reaction to lemon juice.

Diluting lemon juice with water or other natural ingredients, such as honey or aloe vera, is also a recommended approach to reduce potential side effects for those with sensitive skin.

Ingredients to Avoid When Using Lemon Juice On Skin

When using lemon juice on the skin as a treatment for acne breakouts, it is important to avoid combining it with any drying or oil-removing ingredients. These types of ingredients can cause excessive dehydration and harm the skin barrier. In turn, this can worsen acne and lead to further skin irritation.

Ingredients to avoid when using lemon juice on the skin include:

  • Alcohol-based products: Toners, astringents, and other skincare products that contain alcohol can strip the skin of its natural oils and cause excessive dryness. Avoid using these alongside lemon juice.
  • Harsh exfoliants: Abrasive scrubs, chemical exfoliants (like glycolic acid or salicylic acid), and other harsh exfoliating methods should not be used in conjunction with lemon juice. These can further irritate and dry out the skin.
  • Oil-reducing cleansers: Foaming cleansers and other oil-reducing products can be overly-drying and counterproductive when combined with lemon juice.

By being mindful of these ingredients, you can minimize the risk of harming your skin and maximize the potential benefits of using lemon juice as an acne treatment.

Is Lemon Juice Safe for Fungal Acne?

No, lemon juice is not considered safe for treating fungal acne. Its high acidity can cause irritation, redness, and dryness to the affected area. Moreover, lemon juice is not an antifungal agent, so it won’t effectively eliminate the root cause of fungal acne. Use topical antifungal treatments to address this particular skin condition safely and effectively.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Lemon or Lime Juice Better For Acne?

There’s not much significant difference between lemon and lime juice for treating acne breakouts. Both fruits contain citric acid, which holds antibacterial and astringent properties that may help to combat acne-causing bacteria and reduce excess oil production. However, the concentration of citric acid in lemons is slightly higher than in limes, which might make lemon juice more potent for acne treatment. Lemon juice also has a higher vitamin C content, which is beneficial for skin health, reducing inflammation and promoting skin health. 
Ultimately, the choice between lemon and lime juice for acne treatment depends on individual skin tolerance and preference, as both have similar properties that can aid in acne management.

Is it Better to Drink Lemon Juice or Apply It Topically for Acne?

Topical application of lemon juice is more directly effective for acne, as it exfoliates, unclogs pores, and has antimicrobial properties targeting acne-causing bacteria. While drinking lemon juice supports overall health and skin immunity, its impact on acne is less immediate and significant compared to topical use.

Does Lemon Juice Help Fade Acne Scars?

Yes, lemon juice can help fade the appearance of scars from acne. Lemon juice’s natural acidity acts as a gentle exfoliant, helping to remove dead skin cells and promote new cell growth. This process can gradually diminish the visibility of acne scars by revealing fresher, more evenly toned skin underneath.

Originally Published: November 13, 2023

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Analyzed by Ashley Wilson

Hi, I’m Ashley Wilson, a part-time personal trainer, yoga instructor, and mother of three. My journey with hormonal acne started during pregnancy, which led me to natural remedies discussed on GoodGlow like utilizing a low-inflammation diet, dramatically improving my health and skin. After successfully clearing my acne during my first pregnancy I to share my insights on managing acne naturally and maintaining overall wellness on GoodGlow. I’ve adopted a lifestyle focused on nutrition, yoga, resistance training, and meditation, helping me juggle my busy life with kids and work. I’m always eager to connect and share skincare tips, so feel free to reach out!

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