Does lemon juice lighten your skin?

Updated July 19, 2017

Lemon juice has long been thought to produce lightening effects when applied directly to the skin. The truth is hard to determine, as the results vary from person to person. Lemon juice, however, has many properties that can help produce healthy changes in your skin.

Skin Discoloration

Discolouration of the skin refers to any change in pigmentation on your skin, including freckles, dark spots and age spots. The skin becomes discoloured due to sun exposure, which produces more of the pigment melanin to help protect you from the sun. When melanin accumulates on the top layer of the skin, more freckles and dark spots form. Other factors such as age, birth control and pregnancy may change your pigmentation as well.

Properties of Lemon Juice

Lemon juice is highly astringent when applied to the skin, allowing for the skin to tighten and constrict, and like other astringents, can be used on people with oily skin and acne. Lemon juice also is an exfoliant, helping to shed dead skin. Lemons are considered part of a healthy diet as they are a source of vitamin C.

Precautions With Lemon Juice

Just as it is effective in certain areas of skin care, lemon juice can also dry out the skin. When applying lemon juice it is best to combine moisturising agents to combat the drying effects lemon juice can have on the skin. Lemon juice can also make skin more sensitive to sunlight, so sun protection is critical.


Though lemon juice does act as a bleaching agent, its effects are usually not as powerful or consistent as one might hope. Its exfoliating properties help to brush off the dead, discoloured skin but because the juice can not penetrate the skin deep enough to affect a change in melanin production, the results of lemon juice lightening can be very slight. However, this varies from person to person.

Other Remedies

Many natural remedies for lightening the skin include combinations of lemon with honey or vegetable oils. Hydroquinon, a skin-bleaching agent, is also used for lightening the skin, as well as kojic acid, which inhibits pigment formation, and alpha-hydroxy acids, which help to rid the skin of old skin cells that usually are darker than your natural pigmentation. Methods to prevent discolouration include regular use of sunscreen and retinol, a source of Vitamin A that may help prevent ageing.

Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Gerri Blanc began her professional writing career in 2007 and has collaborated in the research and writing of the book "The Fairy Shrimp Chronicles," published in 2009. Blanc holds a Bachelor of Arts in literature and culture from the University of California, Merced.