How to use lemon on face: Dermatologist Guide

“Doctor, how to use lemon on the face? Is it good or bad? What are the side effects?”

These are the questions, that I come across in my dermatological consultations, regarding the use of lemon on the face. I have seen both excellent results and worst rashes with the use of lemon on the face.

As a dermatologist, I do not recommend rubbing lemon on your face or to keep it overnight. Instead, try the home remedies listed in this article for reducing pimples, skin whitening and degreasing oily skin. However, make sure you take care of following key watch-outs to avoid side effect of using lemon on the face:

  • Always do a patch test by applying lemon on a small part of the facial skin.
  • Always dilute lemon juice with plain or rose water., if your skin is sensitive.
  • Never expose the skin to the bright sun after applying lemon on it.
  • Always use fresh lemon juice because the concentration of vitamin C in lemon reduces with time.

Watch this video to know more about the side effect of lemon on skin:

How to use lemon for skin?

Lemon for pimples

Why? Lemon juice works on the acne-prone by reducing oil secretions and pimple-causing bacteria.

How? Make acne spot treatment by mixing following ingredients:

  • 1/2 spoon of multani mitti/fullers earth,
  • 1/4 spoon turmeric
  • 1/2 spoon of honey
  • a pinch of cinnamon(optional)
  • a drop of lemon water to make a thick paste.

Apply on red or pus-filled pimples, cover with a band-aid and leave it overnight. This helps to clear acne in 3-7 days. or else you can try this more effective Neem and tea-tree oil home remedy that cures pimples overnight

You can also put a few drops of lemon to any kind of face pack or try this anti-acne face pack.

Related Article: Pimples: 3 months Challenge

Lemon for pigmentation

Why? Lemon reduces pigmentation in the form of dark patches/spots, tanning or melasma with the help of Vitamin C and citric acid.

How? Make this Skin lightening face pack using lemon along with other potent skin whitening ingredients like papaya, aloe vera, cucumber and licorice.

Related Article: Skincare Routine for Pigmentation: By Dermatologist

Lemon for oily skin

Lemon has a unique ability to remove excess oils from your skin. Make Toner by mixing  1 ml of lemon juice with 50 ml of rose water. Store in the refrigerator and consume within a week. You can use this toner as a part of your CTM routine shown below:

Related article: Oily skin care-dermatologist guide

Lemon for dandruff

Are you fed up with changing anti-dandruff shampoos? Try these steps to get rid of your dandruff naturally:

  • Put 5-10 drops of fresh lemon juice in 2 tablespoons of aloe vera gel in oily hair or coconut oil in dry hair.
  • Massage it into your scalp.
  • Leave it overnight and wash your hair the next morning thoroughly to remove all the traces of oil.

Related article: Best anti-dandruff shampoo

Lemon for freckles

Lemon juice can be used to fade freckles, the tiny dark spots, commonly seen on the face of people with fair skin. The method is as follows:

  • Put fresh lemon juice exactly on the freckle with the help of a toothpick at night.
  • Watch how your skin reacts over the next 48 hours.
  • Wash immediately, if you notice intolerable burning, redness, or rash, and do not repeat.
  • If you tolerate it well, repeat the above procedure once or twice a week.

Lemon for dark elbow and knees

Have you ever seen your grandma rubbing lemon on their hand and feet? Yes, contrary to the delicate skin of your face, you can directly rub the lemon on elbows, knee, hands or feet. Rinse off after 5-10 minutes and pat dry. Repeat once or twice a week.

Lemon for ageing skin

Why? The anti-ageing action of applying lemon juice on the skin is attributed to the antioxidant action of vitamin C and exfoliating action of the citric acid. Vitamin C is a potent anti-ageing ingredient and my research revealed that L-ascorbic acid, the form of vitamin C present in the lemon is the most potent form. Studies show that ascorbic acid present in these Vitamin C serums can reduce the signs of skin ageing in 3 months.

On the other hand, oral intake of lemon provides vitamin C that strengthens the walls of vessels and prevents senile purpura. It also reduces the risk of heart diseases and degenerative bone diseases by providing flavonoids.

How? You can make a super anti-ageing drink by adding a few drops of lemon juice and a half teaspoon of honey to a cup of green tea. It will keep both your skin and heart young!

Related article: Anti-aging skincare Routine: by Dermatologist

Is rubbing lemon on the face good or bad?

Well rubbing lemon on face is a bad idea if your skin is dry, sensitive, red or irritated. I still remember, a girl walking into my clinic with a fiery red face. She had rubbed lemon directly on her pimples last night. Do you know what went wrong in her case? Her skin was already dry and sensitive because of anti-acne medication. Moreover, she did not wash the lemon despite redness or irritation hopping her skin will be clear next morning. Unfortunately, she ended up in a bad irritant reaction needing steroids.

Therefore, always do a patch test by applying lemon on a small part of the facial skin. Rinse off immediately if burning, redness or rash. If everything is fine for 5 minutes or so, then apply lemon juice on your full face. Please do this patch test before every use, because your skin might be more sensitive on certain days.

Can I apply lemon juice on my face overnight?

Well, I am not a big fan of leaving lemon overnight, however, you may try it if your skin is robust enough to tolerate it.

What are the side effects of using lemon on the face?

1. Sensitivity reactions:

Lemon might irritate your skin because lemon (pH 2-3) is much more acidic than your skin (pH = 4.5). The acidic pH of lemon disturbs normal flora of the skin. Therefore, always dilute lemon to match its pH to that of your skin, especially in the rosacea-prone skin.

I could not believe that lemon had such an acidic pH. Therefore, I checked the pH of lemon, water (control) and apple cider vinegar (for comparison). Any guesses, what the pH paper showed? Watch this video to see the results.

2. Phototoxic reaction:

Never expose the skin to the bright sun after applying lemon on it. Do you know why? You might end up literally burning your skin. Bergamot oil present in lemon might react with UVA rays of the sun leading to a photo-toxic reaction.

This reaction can manifest as redness, burning or even blisters. This might leave dark patches on subsiding.

3. Fragrance allergy:

Lemon has fragrance like citronellol, geraniol, eugenol, coumarin, limonene, citral, etc. They can cause of skin, nasal or lung allergies. Avoid lemon if you are prone to fragrance allergies.

How to use lemon peel powder for the face?

Lemon peel powder can be used for following:

  • skin whitening in pigmented or tanned skin
  • cleansing and de-greasing the oily skin’
  • reducing pimples in acne-prone skin.

I use lemon peel powder for making the following homemade products that can be stored for 1-3 months without refrigeration:

Lemon peel powder is available online at:

*Above are affiliate links.


“Regime finder tool” is formulated under the guidance of Dr Surbhi, MD. If you have acne, hair fall, ageing skin, open pores, pigmentation, dandruff, grey hair, dark circles, eczema etc. then click below to get tips, regime, products, home remedies and diet for your skin or hair problem.

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