Why Using Lemon Juice On Your Face May Be a Bad Idea
A lot of people probably already know how I feel about using lemon juice on your skin, but that information is scattered about my blog posts, Instagram posts and YouTube videos so I thought it would be nice to compile the information into one handy-dandy notebook - er .. blog post.
Any time I take to Pinterest to see what's new and trending in the beauty industry, particularly for face masks and acne, my feed is covered in ideas of using lemon in these masks. Lemon is the it item to be using for skin care nowadays.
I mean, why wouldn't we use lemon juice?
It is loaded with vitamin C, which is an antioxidant I rave about for skin care.
It also has citric acid which can help to exfoliate the skin.
How do we know how strong the citric acid is? How do we know how much vitamin C is in this lemon?
The chemical composition of a lemon can depend on a multitude of factors such as where it was grown in the world, the time of year you're buying it, how long it’s been sitting around the grocery store, the type of lemon, whether the lemon was refrigerated or left at room temperature, if it's going bad, etc.
All of these variables shouldn't just be left up to chance - why? Because:
Lemon can irritate the skin. It tends to burn and sting when you put it on the skin, and even though this burning can sometimes be a sign of damaged skin, if pure lemon juice is being used it's more likely the culprit. This can result in dry, red and sensitive skin after using it.
It can also damage the skin; lemon is highly acidic, and the optimal pH of the skin is only slightly acidic. This can compromise the skin's moisture barrier, which can lead to things like dermatitis, dry skin that is difficult to treat, more acne, etc.
It can also cause sun sensitivity, which can result in blisters and painful sores.
But, lemon is in many of the products I use, at least as an ingredient. For example, one of my favourite masks, the Pumpkin Enzyme Masque by Banish, has lemon peel extract in it. Why use this, and not real lemon? Why spend money when I can just get a lemon from my garden or from the store?
Well, because I'm not a chemist. I may love science and chemistry but I am humble enough to know when something is out of my area of expertise. I know that lemon is too acidic for my skin, and I don't have the time or the energy to make my own products with the proper pH, so it's just easier to buy the products I want from people who do.
So at the end of the day, lemon oil and other citrus oils aren't necessarily something you need to avoid. Lemon isn't a bad guy, it's just something that needs to be handled appropriately and added to products appropriately. Processing can take out or neutralize these irritating and potentially damaging factors, and when you buy products that contain these ingredients, they are usually processed or diluted adequately to avoid these possibilities of damaging the skin.
My concern lies in the people who think applying lemon juice + baking soda to their skin; applying lemon juice + honey to their skin; applying lemon juice + water to their skin - is a good idea. These people I have come across will argue with me until they're blue in the face that it works, that it cleared their skin (and it probably did, depriving your skin of sebum can do wonders for acne, but it's also horrible for your skin's health). Some people don't want to learn things, they only want to persist in delusions. I've said it before, if you're one of those people, this isn't the right place for you.
If you really feel like you need to use lemon or lemon juice in a face mask or skin care product - 1-2 drops (DROPS) is sufficient. And it needs to be in a properly formulated product, with the right pH for your skin.