Using Lemon Juice to Cure or Reduce Acne

Millions of people who have acne around the world can attest to the healing properties of lemon juice, both applied directly to the skin and drunk as a beverage without sugar. Undiluted lemon juice, however, can be irritating to sensitive skin.

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  • Lemon juice used on the skin can fight inflammation and inflammation.
  • The effects of lemon juice are sometimes nearly immediate, especially when the basic problem is oily, clogged pores.
  • Lemon juice works by killing acne bacteria.
  • Lemon juice also works by stopping signals to the immune system to cause inflammation.
  • The effects of lemon juice are intensified by exposure to the UV-A rays of the sun.
  • People who have dark brown or black skin should use lemon juice, and all other skin treatments, with caution.

What People Who Have Acne Say About Lemon Juice

There are some acne sufferers who tried everything else and found their skin care solution in lemon juice. Here are some typical testimonies. A man in his mid-20′s writes:

“For the last six years I have been battling moderate to severe acne. It had reached the point that I was 24 years old, just graduated from college, and dreading not just job interviews but even going outside the house.

I tried everything I could buy over the counter. I used scrubbing cleansers, vitamin E, vitamin C, exfoliants, humectants, moisturizers, antiseptics, and even deep ocean sea water that cost $120 an ounce.

Then I heard about lemon juice. I was afraid to try it because eating fruit makes me itchy, but I found out that it’s OK when I put lemon juice on my skin. I start with a skin cleanser, and then I lay a warm moist cloth on my face to open up my pores. Then I squeeze two lemons onto second warm, clean, moist cloth, and let it stay on my face for 5 or 10 minutes.

I can’t believe the difference! It took about three months for my pimples to go away, but now I have nearly acne-free skin!”

Another testimonial might go on the lines of this from a 30-year-old woman:

“I tried every treatment I could think of. I used Oxy, ProActiv, Neutrogena, facial waters, and even green tea and honey. Nothing got rid of my pimples, and I started getting these nasty little knots just below the surface of my skin.

Then I decided to try lemon juice. Twice a day I wash my face with Dr. Bronner’s skin cleanser. Then I squeeze two lemons into a clean bowl. I dip a cotton ball into the lemon juice and blot fresh lemon juice all over my face. I wait 15 to 30 minutes, and then rinse my face with warm water.

Lemon juice started to work right away, and the results were amazing! All those knots in my skin started to come to the surface, and most of them would come loose with just a gentle nudge. (The writer is referring to exceptionally large whiteheads.)  I knew lemon juice was drawing out the zits, but I had no idea what was underneath the surface.

My face looked totally different after about a week. I’ve been using lemon juice with great results for six months now—and it only costs me about $5 a week.”

Lemon juice is easy, it’s organic, it’s highly unlikely to cause any side effects, and it works—both inside and out. Here’s why.

What Lemon Juice Does on Your Skin

Lemon juice, as we all know, is acidic. Sometimes the whole problem in acne care is that the skin is not acidic enough for all the other treatments we do to work.

Although it’s popular to talk about alkalizing the interior of the body for health (actually it’s only your urine that needs to be alkaline, the rest of your body is in a very right range of pH balance anyway), the surface of the skin is actually healthier when it is acidic, with a pH between 4 and 5. That’s about the pH of lemon juice.

Lowering the pH of the skin makes it a lot less comfortable for bacteria. The skin needs some bacteria as part of its natural “clean up crew.” Acne bacteria in small numbers perform a useful function by consuming excess sebum. But lowering skin pH makes the pores a lot less hospitable to the bacteria, without causing them to send out the chemicals that trigger an immune reaction that result in inflammation and redness on the skin. Korean scientists studying Korean citrus fruits have confirmed that applying lemon juice to the skin causes acne bacteria to send out less of the chemical messenger that tricks the human immune system into destroying skin cells (and giving the bacteria an escape route to the surface) by releasing a compound called interleukin-8, or IL-8.

Japanese scientists have discovered that a compound called nobiletin, which is also present in oranges, stops excess production of sebum, at least in lab animals. Bitter orange, blood orange, and sweet orange juices (that is, juices from sweet oranges such as those consumed in most the world outside Asia, not orange juice with sugar in it), can also be useful on oily skin.

Lemon Juice Can Sting

Many users note that lemon juice stings when it is applied to “active blemishes,” that is, when it is applied to pimples. Normally, anything that causes stinging of the skin is not a good thing if you have acne. Lemon juice, however, causes a stinging that also slows down inflammatory processes, so that the net effect on the skin is good.

Are There People Who Should Not Use Lemon Juice?

There is one group of people who should not use lemon juice to treat acne. Lemon juice is not beneficial for acne on dark brown or black skin. The reason not to use lemon juice on dark skin is that dark skin contains many melanocytes, cells that make pigment. Lemon juice stimulates melanocytes to make antioxidants that protect the skin. When they make these protective antioxidants, they also make extra skin pigments. It is possible that lemon juice, like nearly any other “stinging” skin treatment, can cause long-term or permanent darkening of already-dark skin.

Any darkening of the skin caused by lemon juice will be more severe when the skin is exposed to the sun. Lemon juice compounds are especially active in the melanocytes when they are activated by the UV-A rays of sunlight. Dark skin will not burn, but it will darken even more when exposed to sunlight after lemon juice treatment.

Lemon juice does not work for everyone. If you would like to try a more traditional acne treatment with a money-back guarantee, consider Exposed Skin Care.

Related acne articles:

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  2. Grapefruit: A Secret Cure For Acne? Every few years grapefruit is either praised as a miracle diet food or panned as the source of plant chemicals that interact with medications. The...
  3. Could a Colon Cleanse Really Cure Acne? Can a colon cleanse clear up acne? Unless you somehow managed to get acne in your colon, the answer is no, but colon health actually...
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{ 53 comments… read them below or add one }

Alice January 31, 2012 at 12:15 pm

it works really well! it works


RobertRister February 5, 2012 at 3:08 pm

Glad to hear it!!


Laura September 25, 2012 at 8:56 pm

I use this product lemon juice it really work on black skin I am very dark skin person, peoples asked me what do I use on my skin They tell me now my skin is beautiful and most of my blackheads are gone. I feel pretty.


Myia September 22, 2013 at 1:38 am

Im brown skin ,,,but i was just wondering if it has left you with any light patches on your face and how many times a day or week did u use the lemon juice? Any special techniques you use ?


lemon juice October 24, 2012 at 4:49 am

I have mild acne and I have tried lemon juice for acne. For me it worked wonders. First, I don’t have sensitive skin. It’s tough. The lemon juice didn’t bother me. Second, I applied it at night and left it on my face until my morning shower. Sometimes it felt sticky on the pillow.

In one case it literally cleared up a zit overnight. The zit had just formed due to stress and was relatively small. I applied the juice directly to it one night and by morning it was gone.


Regan February 3, 2013 at 12:52 pm

I have a frightening face because of pimples right now.
I am glad to hear about this at the right time and it’s the first thing I’ll embark on as from today.
I hope it works and use it to encourage others.


Steve Maaliao May 15, 2013 at 3:24 pm

I am asian ang have moderate brown skin. And I’ve been using lemon juice for a long time about two years now, and it has been working to reduce my acne. I would say it works with brown or dark skin individuals. : )


Jordyn June 20, 2013 at 6:04 am

I’ve had acne ever since middle school and have tried so many different things from benzyl peroxide to using some type of alcohol from neutrogena. It’s only gotten worse and has even started appearing on the very side of my face which had never happened before. My mom likes using natural things so she suggested Lemon juice to me. She basically cuts a lemon in half and has me put it directly onto my face. I don’t rub it into my skin but just put it all over.. For me some ‘fresh’ zits will sting, but it actually itches for me. The itching only goes on for a minute or two and then it’s fine. I leave it on for a while and then wash my face. I can see it helped a bit, it’s also helping with acne scars! I’m gonna try to keep using this method, hopefully it works! Fingers crossed!


amu July 18, 2013 at 5:17 pm

I just wanted to know dat if der is any side effct of aaplying lemon juice dirctly on skin?


jean July 20, 2013 at 3:59 pm

I start using lemon today i hope its work for me . Because i try different kind of pimples treatment.. even going to derma doctor but im still satisfied for the reasult.. i glad to heard all the positive comments.. and start rigth away in my face lemon.. i let you know after 1 week or more the result..


Shamiema July 23, 2013 at 12:38 am

I am using organic lemon juice and even with my first attempt it has worked wonders for me!I can feel and see a difference.I’m hoping it takes away the appearance of my dark spots and mild acne and even after it does,I will definately continue using this product.I strongly recommend it to any viewer battling with the same problem,however,I’m not too sure about dark skin-toned persons as I am very fair…(Hoping the lemon juice has the same effect on everyone else)


Please Answer July 23, 2013 at 4:58 am

Has your skin color changed from when you hadn’t used it?


Taha July 29, 2013 at 7:14 pm

You should only note that most acne is found on dark skinned people so yea…


no name March 3, 2014 at 7:16 pm

not, ive seen so many white kids with terrible acne. anyone can get it


sue September 21, 2013 at 4:16 am

I am a dark skin person who have very sensitive skin since and bad acne. Since I started to use the lemon juice. I have been seen some results. The proactive did not work for me but the lemon juice did. I feel better with my face for the pass one week now. No more fear about what people are going to say to me when I’m on the road


agnes October 5, 2013 at 9:26 pm

Have used lemon juice but it rather worsen my pimple by coming out all my face. Please what should I do?


Sandra Scott October 5, 2014 at 9:45 pm

Like one of the comments said, it will draw out the bacteria as with most treatments, this will happen. I was freaking out because it happened to me. I was told by an aesthetician to us it to get rid of acne and to lighten my acne scars. I am a caramel colored person with a lot of yellow in my skin. I’ve been using the lemon and cutting it into slices. I squeeze the lemon and rub it on my face, then use a moisturizer after it dries. It does itch for a minute and will sting open acne, but it has made my skin look so much better and even an undereye circle scar is gone (it was not long, but it bothered me) I am 53 and suffered with acne since I was a teen. When Im stressed, I break out. I recommend giving this a try. It also exfoliates which can make some hard scars much softer.


miche May 17, 2014 at 2:33 am

ive been trying lemon with sugar ! All u need to have is cotton balls , lemon , lemon squezzers and sugar , its been 3 days since ive been trying this method , i had acne for 4 years now and i tried every product u can think of , proactive , clean and clear , neutrogena , etc i can give u more then 50 products i have spend so much money for something that didnt work for me , since ive been using this method , i saw a hudge difference in my skin , i usually wear make-up to cover up the dark spots and acne , but every time i was the make – up off , and use the lemon nd sugar i saw my skin was whiter , smoother , a softer , and the pigment of my skin was getting better the marks are going away slowly as i use this method , i usually use this method when im going to bed because my pores are breathing and the antioxidents are helping my skin be cleared , i will be posting further notice on how my skin turns out


Some girl August 6, 2014 at 1:49 am

Does it work on Hispanic tan people and does it have side affects


juvie June 26, 2014 at 2:30 pm

Just found out about this on TV there is no harm in trying because i’ve battling with my acne since High School and now I am already working I still have it. I’ve been trying different product but nothing happens. Hope this one works now. I’m on my 3rd day of using it. I know it takes time but I really do hooe it works coz its natural and it doesn’t cost that much.


Rita July 7, 2014 at 6:05 am

I have pretty dark skin, a dark brown but not black. I use the lemon juice and it does wonders for me. The site says I shouldn’t use but I haven’t had any problems.


Mond August 13, 2014 at 5:07 pm

Does the lemon juice gives you a sting. On me, it does. I just started using it like 3 days now and on great thinking if I should stop right away as I have a brown skin also. Asian color. Hope you’d respond. Thanks!


Ossie August 8, 2014 at 12:54 am

Lemon juice Is !AMAZING! I’ve been battling with acne since I was 16 and I was fighting a losing battel nothing I tried worked so I gave up now I’m 19 and since I started using lemon my acne has cleared up allot everyone I know has to me my face looks better I wish I’d know about lemon juice years ago


Mond August 13, 2014 at 5:04 pm

I just started using lemon juice on my face and it gives me sting. Then upon research, I found this. I’m not that dark but I’m not also fair. It’s like brown. I wonder if I should stop using it already because my purpose of using it is to have a pretty skin and that would be discarded if it’s not suitable for my skin color. :(


I hate spots August 28, 2014 at 3:44 am

Ive been reading alot about lemon juice so i decided to try it about 2 days ago. Unfortunately i didnt have fresh lemons so i used bottled lime juice (please tell me thats safe on the skin) anyway, in like 20mins, a brown spot i had next to my lip became 40% lighter and i was really pleased at the results.
But the next day when i awoke the spot had returned to its original darker colour that it was before i used the lime juice. I kept promising myself to by fresh lemons but i havent been able to as yet.
But i was wondering if the reason for my spot returning to the original color was either because of the bottled lime juice or my skin color (i am asian-indian, im a light tan)
And i do live in a very sunny humid country, but the weird thing is, i havent been out into the sun since i first used the lime juice


zain ishtiaq August 29, 2014 at 4:26 pm

how many times we use lemon luice a week


Malika Ibraimo October 5, 2014 at 3:12 pm

For those of you who have been using fresh lemon juice, i’d like to know how often you apply it.
I started using it today, and i’m not sure how many times a day/week i should apply it.


bakiiem December 5, 2014 at 9:32 am

Maybe 2-3 times depending on ur skin type if it dries easily u shld use it less


Sandra Scott October 5, 2014 at 9:50 pm

Also, I don’t rinse off. I wash my face in the morning and use it like a toner (as I was told), then before I go to bed, I do the same.


Natasha Jain October 13, 2014 at 7:31 pm

Is it beneficial for oily skin? so many small acne on my face from which I want to get rid of asap…


bakiiem December 5, 2014 at 9:35 am

Yes it helps oily skin when i put it on my oily skin and washed off next day they were less oily c:


Syed October 21, 2014 at 3:23 am

I have brown skin and lemon juice works for me just fine. I know other people with brown skin and it works for them as well.


Skittles October 27, 2014 at 2:21 am

I just used lemon juice and I have pimples all over my face. This happened two minutes after I applied the lemon juice. Is this normal? And how many times a week should the juice be applied. I am middle Asian with fairly dark tan, and I washed my face before I applied it ( that is just xtra info I case it affects the breakout)


Ella January 2, 2015 at 11:41 am

The acid in the lemon will temporarily imflamme a pimple (visible or not) so there may be areas of redness where your skin was experiencing minor acne or irritation.
one or twice a day should be okay (depending on your skin type e.g oily, dry) for atleast 3 months to see noticeable results.


Stella October 29, 2014 at 3:25 pm

I am a Nigerian. I’m not fair and i’m not that either… I’m kindda brown skinned, maybe chocolate in color. I started using lemon juice 2days ago. I squeeze the lemon on a small plate, then use cotton ball to apply on the pimples and black spots on my face. But i’m not seeing any effect. (well, i started using it just 2 days ago) is it that it’s not good for my skin or something? I’d like to know what type of skin lemon juice is good for. Please get back to me soon.

Thank You.


Ella January 2, 2015 at 11:38 am

the purpose of lemon is that it will normally lighten the skins pigments.
it will take around 3-4 months to see good results!
on top of what was said above it will reduce acne but it will take a while.


mbhaly November 10, 2014 at 2:10 pm

I want to use this method of lemon juice but can i use the one on bottle also?


June November 18, 2014 at 6:18 pm

I have been using for 3 days now and it is great. clearing my face nicely.
I suggest use natural, lemon is inexpensive and works great.


bakiiem December 5, 2014 at 9:30 am

Its better to get the lemon juice from the lemon itself to apply on ur face but if u gonna ise the bottle ones make sure its 100% lemon juice still,its recommended to just slice up a lemon to use on ur skin


manashi November 24, 2014 at 4:42 am

my other parts of body is yellowish…..but arms & face is dark…face is oily n acne prone..what to do…should I use lemon..if yes then how,…


Priyom Mallik November 27, 2014 at 9:53 am

Hi! I am an Indian national, so I have light brown skin. I began using this lemon juice on my skin for three days. at first, it itches and make me feel very irritated and uncomfortable for 5 minutes. then it stops itching. i use half a lemon to my face directly then after 10 minutes i wash off the lemon juice from my face. i have some questions guys, 1) should it work on my light brown skin? 2) for how long and for how many days in a week and how many times a day should i use it? please answer my questions. thank you! :)


Ella January 2, 2015 at 11:36 am

Yep! it should be fine on any skin type/colour…
depending on how oily/dry your skin is, try twice a day (once in morning and once at night) but if there is irritation or excessive dryness then stop and then only use once a day.
lemon juice will normally take at least a couple months to see results :)


Clearin' it up! December 9, 2014 at 4:43 am

To everyone who’s had success with this method….I just started to try using lemon juice from fresh lemons, but the acne is starting to spread down my neck now. Has this happened to anyone? I was also suggested to mix lemon juice with honey and apply it as a mask overnight. Just wondering if anyone has done this as well and if it works. I have sensitive skin so not sure if the honey would help or worsen it. Thanks!! =)


:) December 16, 2014 at 1:53 pm

i’ve been using for 2 weeks now but i cant see any difference. so i gues it’s not working for me


Ella January 2, 2015 at 11:34 am

Lemon juice will take a couple months to work, for some it may be quicker but i suggest you continue for a few more months!


Haley December 18, 2014 at 4:18 pm

Hi! Can I refrigerate the excess lemon juice and use it the next day? Hoping for a response. :)


Ella January 2, 2015 at 11:32 am

Yep! Thats what i do and its fine :)


Jenna December 27, 2014 at 12:35 am

Can i substitute lime juice for lemon? Please reply ASAP


Beth January 3, 2015 at 7:27 pm

I was just curious. Has anyone used lemon juice that you buy from the store that says 100% lemon juice? And if so, did it work?


VOICE OF REASON!!!!!! January 18, 2015 at 8:38 am

Just applied undiluted lemon on my skin am African brown (not Asian o sth).
I did have staining effect on my few acne.i had applied on the whole face n was planning to sleep with it until I saw not advisable for dark skinned.
Then what natural homemade product is advisable for a dark skinned person for acne free smooth glowing skin
Ooh n is aveeno lotion on my brown face an option ? :-)


VOICE OF REASON!!!!!! January 18, 2015 at 8:39 am

On the above


nooo February 13, 2015 at 7:21 pm

how many days will it take to get rid of acne soon wirh lemons


nooo February 13, 2015 at 7:23 pm

i need a healthy remedie to get rid of small growing acnes


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