Lemon drizzle cake, lemon sherbets, and even a slice in your G&T, lemons get a great rap! But aside from their delicious, tangy taste, are they any good as a natural ingredient for skincare and haircare? We've looked into whether this citrus fruit is worth trying or not...
So, what’re are the benefits of using lemon?
Lemon includes a lot of vitamin C in the form of ascorbic acid. Vitamin C is effective in evening our skin's pigmentation and can help increase our natural collagen levels, too. It also works as an antioxidant, helping your skin protect itself from free radicals and other external stressors.
Citiric aicd is an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA). They’re great as chemical exfoliants, helping your skin appear smoother and your pores de-clogged - without the need for harsh synthetics.
Niacin is an anti-inflammatory that works to alleviate dry skin, and reduce any redness or irritation on the skin's surface. If you suffer from acne scars or rosacea, lemon juice can help elevate some symptoms.
So, why can’t you use use any old lemon on your skin?
When you use lemon directly on your skin, there is no way for you to know how much ascorbic acid, citric acid or niacin will be in the juice itself. It can depend on lemon variety, ripeness and dilution.
These ingredients, among some other chemicals in lemons, are 100% safe to eat, but can be harmful when used on the skin in large quantities.
Here are some things that can happen when you use lemon directly on your skin;
Citrus fruits usually contain chemicals called furanocoumarins and psoralens. These are only harmful on your skin in sunlight, and when they come in contact with UV ray they can turn into really nasty skin blisters!
These chemicals can be removed from lemons through processing, so when you buy skincare products with lemon in, chances are they’re free from these chemicals. But when you use lemons straight from the store, there’s no way to separate them at home.
While vitamin C is great at evening out skin tone, using lemon on your face can actually cause pigmentation issues. There have been reports of lemon leaving patches where the pigment had faded and other patches where it hadn’t.
It’s not clear what causes this to happen, but it could be to do with the low pH of lemon which is often used in skin peels. When you get a face peel, the product is then carefully taken off the skin and neutralised, rather than being left on the skin.
So, in conclusion, lemons aren't as safe as you first thought!
It’s easy to think that if an ingredient is natural, it’s safe, but that’s certainly not the case for lemon. If you still want to use lemon on your skin, here are our top tips:
Don’t leave the juice on your face for too long, and dilute it first!
When you do use rinse-off recipes, make sure to wear sunscreen next time you go in the sun!
Stop immediately if you notice a reaction!