Can You Use Lemon to Brighten Your Skin?

We Asked an Expert

One of many beauty DIY beauty treatments swirling Pinterest boards is applying lemon juice to your face with a cotton ball before bedtime to lighten hyperpigmentation darkened by the sun. We wish we could say that there was an all-natural (and easy) way to reduce sunspots. Unfortunately, after consulting with a doctor, the lemon “trick” doesn’t sound like such a bright idea after all. 

As Dr. Diaz, a plastic surgeon in Beverly Hills, shared, “Although lemon juice contains ingredients that can theoretically lighten skin, the risks of using it do not outweigh the benefits.” What’s worse, it can cause more damage than good. Diaz continued, “Lemon juice contains citric acid and a chemical known as psoralen. Both of these are known to be irritating to skin. They can make the skin extra sensitive to light, causing superficial burns and blisters when the skin becomes exposed to the sun.” That sounds terrifying and pretty painful, but there is hope.

Dr. Diaz suggests asking your dermatologist about “medical-grade skincare containing ingredients like vitamin C, ferulic acid, retinol, or hydroquinone,” to improve superficial pigmentations. Of course, we can always go straight to chemical peels and lasers, but they aren’t risk-free, either. Since this is our face we’re talking about here, we feel it's better to be super safe than sorry.                                            

There are some over the counter remedies we standby like, SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic ($166).  Or, if you're in the LA area you can contact Dr. Diaz to schedule a consultation for Honor MD, the line he developed with his wife. Warning: These products are strong and not for anyone who plans to be sun-bound soon.                                                                             


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