Can You Use Lemon Juice For Acne Treatment?

If you look around online you’ll find many ‘do it yourself’ recommendations for using lemon juice to treat acne.

In fact, it’s one of the most searched for natural treatments for acne on the internet.

The advise you’ll read is often fullsome in its praise for this simple fruit.

All you have to do is go to your fruit bowl, slice open a lemon, squeeze the juice onto your face, and your acne will start to disappear overnight.

But is that the full story? Can you use lemon juice for acne?

The answer is complicated.

Lemon juice undoubtedly helps some people to clear up their acne spots. There’s so much anecdotal evidence that it’s impossible to ignore. And it could help you as well.

But the story doesn’t end there…

It doesn’t work for everyone. There are things you need to know about before you consider using lemon juice on your face.

In this article we’ll look at the ways in which it helps your acne, the drawbacks of using it, and the ways in which you can add lemon juice to your skin care routine if you decide that you want to try it.

Is Lemon Juice Good For Acne?

lemon juice for acne

Let’s start by looking at the positives of using lemon juice:

The Pros

Lemon juice has two main ingredients that have a benefit when used to clear up acne:

Citric Acid

Lemon juice contains citric acid, an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) which has a strong antibacterial action which kills acne causing bacteria.

Alpha hydroxy acids also cause skin exfoliation which clears dead skin cells from the surface, and have been shown in studies to be effective at reducing acne (1).

Applying AHAs to the skin is known to give fast results, and it's likely to be a significant part of the reason for lemon juice's ability to treat acne.

But, it's also a reason why lemon juice should be handled with care, as we'll see shortly.

Vitamin C

Lemons are a natural source of vitamin C, and scientific studies have shown that this is a highly effective natural treatment for acne.

There are two ways in which vitamin C can prevent outbreaks.

Firstly, studies have shown that it acts as an antibacterial that kills the acne causing bacteria Propionibacterium acnes (2).

In one study, a 1% solution of the vitamin C derivative sodium ascorbyl phosphate was shown to have a strong antimicrobial effect on P. acnes (3).

Secondly, vitamin C acts an antioxidant that protects the skin from ultraviolet radiation emitted by the sun.

This ultraviolet radiation causes the formation of free radicals in the skin which oxidize sebum in the pores. Oxidized sebum is thought to be one of the factors in the formation of acne.

A study on 20 volunteers showed that vitamin C significantly reduces sebum oxidation in the presence of UV light by up to 40% (3).

This all sounds good for lemon juice so far, but it's worth bearing in mind that a lot less vitamin C is found in lemon juice than was used for these tests.

It's unclear to what extent the vitamin C found in lemon juice actually benefits the skin.


The Cons

Unfortunately, lemon juice is not the perfect treatment for acne. It also has a number of drawbacks:

Skin Irritation

Lemon juice is very acidic, and this can cause skin irritation for some people.

In fact, if left on for too long some people find that it causes minor burns on their skin.

For this reason you need to be careful about how often you use lemon juice on your face. Regular use increases the chance of experiencing irritation, so it can be a good idea to limit its use to 2-3 times per week.

Because it affects the skin barrier it can be very drying, and especially if you are someone with dry or sensitive skin it might not be a good idea for you.


When using lemon juice on your skin you need to be very careful about exposure to UV light.

Lemon juice contains a substance called psoralen. This reacts with ultraviolet radiation leading to damage to skin cells and to DNA. It can leave a painful, inflamed rash on your skin, which can also result in hyperpigmentation.

This is known as phytophotodermatitis, also referred to by dermatologists as 'lime disease' (4).

If you choose to use lemon juice to treat your acne it should be done at night so that you can avoid the sun's harmful rays.

Also, because the acid in lemon juice exfoliates the cells from the surface of your skin you need to be careful when going outside during daylight hours in the days after using it. A sunscreen should be considered essential after any exfoliation treatment on your skin.


How to Use Lemon Juice for Acne

Some people recommend rubbing lemon on your face for acne and pimples, but this is too harsh a method for your skin.

Lemon juice can be combined with other home remedies for acne to help avoid the skin irritation and burning, while still receiving its benefits.

Here are some recipes for you to consider:


Lemon And Honey Face Mask For Acne

Honey is known to be an effective antibacterial against a range of bacteria (5). It also has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

Directions For Use:

1. Get a jar of raw organic honey and a fresh lemon.

2. Put 1 tablespoon of honey into a bowl.

3. Cut the lemon into halves.

4. Squeeze the juice of 1/2 a lemon into the bowl.

5. Mix together thoroughly.

6. Use your fingers to apply the mixture to your skin.

7. Leave it for 10-15 minutes and then wash it off.

8. Use 2-3 times per week.


Neem And Lemon For Acne

The antibacterial properties of neem make it useful for acne treatment.

Directions For Use:

1. Purchase some neem powder and a fresh lemon.

2. Measure 1 tablespoon of neem powder into a bowl.

3. Add enough water to the neem powder to form a paste and stir together.

4. Cut the lemon in half, squeeze a half into the bowl, and mix again.

5. Apply the mixture to your face with your fingers.

6. Leave it on your face for 10-15 minutes and then wash off again.

7. Use 2-3 times per week.


Aloe Vera And Lemon For Acne

Aloe vera is beneficial for acne prone skin as it’s anti-inflammatory, and contains a number of antioxidants and antibacterial agents.

Directions For Use:

1. Get a jar of the best Aloe vera gel for acne and a fresh lemon

2. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze one half into a bowl.

3. Add 2 tablespoons of Aloe vera to the bowl and mix together.

4. Spread the Aloe vera lemon mixture over your acne.

5. Leave on your face for 15-20 minutes and then wash it off again.

6. Use 2-3 times each week.


Lemon And Avocado For Acne


Avocado contains phytosterols that have an anti-inflammatory effect, and antioxidants like vitamin E that help protect the skin.

Directions For Use:

1. Get a fresh, ripe avocado, and a fresh lemon.

2. Cut the avocado in half, remove the pit, and scrape the fruit from one-half into a bowl.

3. Use a fork to mash the avocado until it's a paste.

4. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze one half into the bowl.

5. Mix the avocado and lemon juice together.

6. Use your fingers to apply the mixture to your skin.

7. Leave it on your face for about 15 minutes.

8. Wash your face with warm water.

9. You can use this 2-3 times per week.


Egg White And Lemon Juice Mask For Acne

Egg white helps to soak up excess oil on the skin and can be used to dilute lemon juice before application.

Directions For Use:

1. Get an egg and a lemon.

2. Crack open the egg and pour the white into a bowl, taking care to separate the yolk.

3. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze one half into the bowl of egg white.

4. Whisk together with a whisk or fork.

5. Use a brush or your fingers to apply it to your face.

6. Leave to dry for around 15 minutes.

7. Use warm water to wash it off your face.

8. Use about 2 or 3 times per week.


Turmeric And Lemon Juice For Acne

The curcumin in turmeric gives it antibacterial properties that can kill P. acnes (6).

Directions For Use:

1. Purchase a jar of turmeric powder and a fresh lemon

2. Put a level tablespoon of turmeric in a bowl.

3. Add a small amount of water and mix to make a paste.

4. Slice the lemon in half.

5. Squeeze one half into the bowl and stir together.

6. Massage into your skin using your fingertips.

7. Leave on your face for approximately 10-15 minutes and then wash it off.

8. Use 2-3 times each week.


Lemon And Yogurt For Acne

Yogurt contains probiotic bacteria that are good for the skin (7).

Directions For Use:

1. Get a fresh lemon and a jar of natural organic yogurt.

2. Measure 2 tablespoons of yogurt into a bowl.

3. Slice the lemon in half.

4. Squeeze one half into the bowl.

5. Mix together well using a fork or spoon.

6. Apply the yogurt and lemon juice to your face using a brush or your fingers.

7. Let it stay on your face for about 15-20 minutes.

8. Wash it off again with water.

9. Use 2-3 times each week for best results.


Side Effects And Precautions

  • Because of the risks associated with sun exposure as mentioned above, lemon juice should only be applied to the skin at night. You should also make sure to use a sunscreen during daylight hours.
  • A small number of people might find themselves allergic to some of the substances found in lemon juice, or might find that the irritation caused by the acids is too much for their skin.
  • For this reason it is a good idea to do a quick patch test before using it on your face. Apply a small amount to the back of your wrist and leave it there for 30 minutes to see how your skin reacts.
  • Be careful to avoid applying it to any open wounds, as the acid will sting.
  • Care should also be taken to avoid your eyes. Water can be used to clear away the acid from any wounds or your eyes in the event of an accident.
  • Because the acid dries your skin, applying a moisturizer after use is recommended to keep your skin well hydrated.


How Often Should You Apply Lemon Juice?

Your skin will react differently to other people’s. Some people use it everyday for a short period of time to see fast results, but not everybody will be able to tolerate that level of use. The best advice is to apply it 2-3 times per week and see how your skin reacts.


Who Shouldn’t Use Lemon Juice?

People with dark skin should be careful about using lemon juice.

The melanin that gives your skin its tone is produced by melanocytes. These are present in large numbers in people with black skin and can be activated by the acid in lemon juice to produce more melanin, leading to pigmentation.


Does Lemon Juice Help Acne Overnight?

Because the acid in lemon juice is quite strong, some people do see an improvement in acne spots and pimples overnight. It varies for different people, but you won’t get rid of acne so quickly. You will have to use it regularly for a while to see the best results.


Final Thoughts

As a home remedy, lemon juice can be used to reduce acne. Many people say that it’s worked for them, and scientific explanations can back that up.

But, it’s not without its potential problems.

If you choose to use it, you should proceed with care.

There are other natural acne treatments that aren’t as harsh on your skin, and that don’t have so many drawbacks.

If you have sensitive or dry skin, you should certainly consider a more gentle treatment instead.

Have you tried lemon juice for acne? Let us know your experiences in the comments below.

Related Post

Leave a Comment