Can You Use Lemon Essential Oil For Acne Treatment?

Everybody knows lemons as the acidic and bitter fruit that’s high in vitamin C and other essential nutrients, making it great for your health when added to your diet.

But, it also produces an essential oil that can be used for a range of household and health purposes.

In this article, we’ll take a look at the benefits of using lemon essential oil for acne treatment, its drawbacks, and how you can use it as part of a skin care routine.

What Is Lemon Essential Oil?

Lemon essential oil is produced by cold-pressing or steam distillation of the peel of the fruit. This is the part that contains most of the phytonutrients that are soluble in fat.

Because it can be made from the unwanted left-overs after the fruit is juiced, it’s produced in large quantities and is relatively cheap to buy.

It can be used as a natural disinfectant, added to laundry to give it a pleasant citrus scent, and adds the lemon flavor we all know so well when added to food and drink.

Lemon has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for over a thousand years for a number of health conditions including:

  • Digestion
  • Coughs
  • Nausea
  • Oral Health
  • Abdominal colic pain

It can also be used as a natural remedy to clear skin conditions.


Can You Use Lemon Essential Oil For Acne?

No studies have been performed to measure the effects of using lemon essential oil to treat acne patients.

But it has been used in laboratory tests that examine its activity against the acne bacteria P. acnes.

Let’s take a look at the evidence:


Lemon essential oil has antibacterial properties due to the phenolic compounds like limonene that it contains.

In one study that looked at the ability of a number of essential oils to kill the acne bacteria, lemon oil was shown to have a significant effect (1).


Lemon essential oil contains a high percentage of limonene which is a proven antioxidant.

Studies have demonstrated that applying the oil to the skin of volunteers reduces lipid peroxidation caused after exposure to ultraviolet light (2). It offers more antioxidant protection than vitamin E.

One of the most important stages in the formation of acne is thought to be oxidative damage to sebum in the skin's pores after UV exposure (3).

By protecting the skin against free radical damage caused by sun exposure lemon essential oil could help to prevent acne infections from developing. But this hasn't been specifically studied.

You should be aware that there can be problems associated with sun exposure after using lemon essential oil. See 'Side Effects And Precautions' below.


How To Use Lemon Essential Oil For Acne

Lemon essential oil should be diluted before use by using an appropriate carrier. Aim for approximately a 2% solution when using for the first time. Here are some recipes:


Lemon Essential Oil And Water

lemon essential oil for acne

Directions For Use:

1. Get a bottle of lemon essential oil.

2. Get a measuring cylinder and measure out 100 ml of water.

3. Pour the water into a bottle with a spray top.

4. Measure 2 ml of the oil and add it to the bottle and attach the lid.

5. Shake the bottle before use.

6. Use it every day.


Lemon Essential Oil And Witch Hazel For Acne

Witch hazel has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that make it a good complement to essential oils (4).

Directions For Use:

1. Get a bottle of lemon essential oil and a bottle of the best witch hazel brand.

2. Get a bowl and add 100 ml of witch hazel using a measuring cylinder.

3. Add 2 ml of essential oil and mix together.

4. Apply to your face using a cotton ball or a brush.

5. Repeat each day.


Lemon Essential Oil And Avocado Oil For Acne

Avocado oil is a good carrier oil to use with essential oils for the purpose of treating acne breakouts and pimples. It’s a light oil that is rapidly absorbed by the skin and has anti-inflammatory properties of its own.

This is good for people with oily skin as it’s less likely to block your skin pores.

Directions For Use:

1. Get a bottle of organic cold pressed avocado oil and a bottle of lemon essential oil.

2. Measure out 5 teaspoons of avocado oil into a bowl.

3. Mix in 2 drops of the lemon oil.

4. Wash with warm water, and then use a brush or your fingertips, gently spread the oil mixture over your skin.

5. For best results use daily.


Side Effects And Precautions

  • It's best to use a steam-distilled lemon essential oil, or cold-pressed oil that has undergone hydrodistillation, as unlike the normal cold-pressed version they don't contain furanocoumarins. These are phototoxic compounds that are also found in lemon juice that react when exposed to UV light, causing inflammation and burning of the skin (5).
  • If you use a cold-pressed oil, try to avoid direct sunlight for the next 24 hours and wear a sunscreen after using it and for the following days.
  • Dilution of cold pressed essential oil to 2% or less significantly reduces the risk of a phototoxic reaction (6).
  • Before using diluted lemon essential oil for the first time on your face, try a small amount on your wrist to check for any skin reaction. This is particularly important if you have sensitive skin.


Final Thoughts

Lemon essential oil has proven activity against P. acnes and has been demonstrated in studies to protect the skin against oxidative damage caused by sun exposure.

Both of these things make it potentially useful in the treatment of acne, but no studies exist that specifically measure its effects on acne patients.

It also comes with a catch. Failure to dilute the cold-pressed oil appropriately can leave you vulnerable to phytotoxic damage on your skin.

Many other essential oils and natural treatments exist that don’t come with this risk, some of which have proven more effective in acne treatment.

Do you have any experience of using lemon essential oil for acne? Did it help you?

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