You might love a cold glass of lemonade, a steamy bowl of lemon chicken, or, if you’re a Real Housewives of Orange County fan, you might put nine in a bowl (what’s up Shannon Beador?!) but did you know that there are tons of uses for lemons outside of the kitchen?
Turns out, your skin and hair love lemons, too. Lemons have a wide range of beauty benefits. Here are the best beauty uses for lemons:
1. Clarifying Moisturizer
Lemons have strong antibacterial properties, which makes them perfect for nixing breakout-causing bacteria. To DIY your own version, mix a few drops of coconut water with a few drops of lemon juice. The coconut will hydrate your skin, and lemon will clear and brighten it. Note: If you have sensitive skin, do a patch test on your skin first.
2. Elbow And Knee Lightener
Lemons are packed with vitamin C, a natural brightening ingredient. “If your elbows and knees appear dark, simply rub them with half of a lemon,” says Patrice Coleman, owner of DaBlot Beauty. “It’s like magic!”
3. Blackhead Treatment
It might sound too good to be true, but lemons can also help treat your blackheads. This is because they contain citric acid, a natural form of alpha hydroxy acid (AHA). After cleansing, rub a slice of lemon over your most blackhead-ridden spots (typically your T-zone) to let the AHAs work their pore-clearing magic.
4. Cleansing Wipes
“I like to mix a couple drops of lemon and tea tree essential oil in about six ounces of distilled water. I recommend it as a toner or for use with cotton pads as a cleansing wipe for problematic skin,” says Becky Sturm, founder of Storm Sister Spatique. If you’re not into making one yourself, check out this pre-made version from Clean & Clear.
5. Teeth Whitener
Does at-home whitening leave your teeth sensitive for days? Try this instead: Mix baking soda and lemon juice, and apply it to your teeth with a clean Q-tip. Then, use your toothbrush to scrub your teeth and rinse.
6. Skin Brightener
Lemons are rich in vitamin C and citric acid, so they can help brighten and lighten your skin when used over time. “Vitamin C is a great antioxidant for neutralizing free radicals and boosting collagen production,” says Marina Peredo, MD, a dermatologist. That means it can help lighten dark spots. Try it in this moisturizer from Fresh.
Just remember to wear SPF when using lemon juice on your skin, though, since the citrus fruit can make your skin more sensitive to UV rays.
7. Shine Eliminator
The citric acid inside lemon juice works as a natural astringent. If you’re prone to a greasy complexion, add a few drops of lemon juice to a cotton pad, then wipe it over a freshly washed face to stop oil in its tracks.
8. Lip Exfoliator
Mix a little lemon juice with some brown sugar to create your own lip scrub. The lemon juice’s AHA will work as a chemical exfoliator to loosen up dead skin cells while the sugar will work as a physical exfoliator to slough them off.
One caveat: “Obviously, if you already have severely chapped lips that have any cuts, do not try this,” says Gary Goldfaden, MD, a dermatologist.
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9. Nail Strengthener
Have you been getting too many gel manicures? Make a mixture of your favorite cooking oil (try olive oil) with lemon juice, and soak your nails. This is a good practice if your nails are dry and brittle, but it’s also a great way to help fix nails that have yellowed.
10. Hair Lightener
If your hair is already on the lighter side, score dye-free DIY highlights with lemon juice. Apply it before you expose your hair to sunlight to score a sun-kissed color. For a trendy ombré effect, focus the lemon juice just toward the ends of your hair.
If you notice start to see too much orange poking through, color correct using a blue conditioner, like this one from Joico. Remember, blue is opposite orange on the color wheel, so the two will balance each other out.