When it comes to natural skincare, there are few oils around that are more versatile than lemon.
Using lemon oil for skin treatments enables you to rejuvenate, brighten and protect the epidermis, adding tone and texture that can also visibly reduce the signs of ageing.
To give you a better understanding of how to use lemon essential oil for skin care, we examine the benefits, offer some application suggestions and answer all the relevant questions you need to know.
Lemon essential oil benefits for skin
From reversing the signs of ageing to offering pain relief, lemon essential has a lot to offer your skin, such as:
1. Brightening up dull looking skin
The exfoliating properties of lemon essential oil can work wonders for your skin. The citrus naturally removes dead skin cells, and it may even be able to lighten dark spots, scars or hyperpigmentation that may have appeared over time. Research has found that in addition to the high levels of vitamin C found in lemon oil, it also contains lutein and carotene, which have been shown to lighten skin.
2. Helping to reverse the signs of ageing
When applied to your skin, lemon essential oil can help to reduce wrinkles and other signs of ageing, whilst minimising the harmful effects of oxidation on your skin. Our skin needs protection from UV rays and the many pollutants around us, which can have a very damaging effect on our skin. Using a natural oxidant such as lemon oil can not only help to reverse the ageing process but also work as a preventative measure.
3. Acting as a natural remedy for acne
When bacteria are trapped in our pores, acne and spot breakouts are more likely to occur. It works as an astringent, removing dead skin cells that can clog up pores which leads to duller looking skin. Combined with its antibacterial properties that can control and kill bacterial growth and its ability to naturally accelerate healing, using lemon oil for acne could allow you to enjoy clearer looking skin.
4. Combating fungal skin overgrowths
The powerful antifungal properties contained in lemon essential oil could prove to be very effective at treating certain types of skin overgrowths. A 2017 review of studies highlighted that when it is applied topically to treat the fungi responsible for causing thrush, athlete’s foot and yeast infections, it can help to manage the condition.
5. Speeding up the wound healing process
The antimicrobial properties contained in lemon essential oil could also go a long way to promoting faster wound healing. One animal trial found that tissue infected with mange (a disease caused by mites) was healed faster after lemon essential oil had been used. You can test this by simply diluting some lemon oil and using it to cleanse the area of a small cut or scrape.
6. Refining your skin’s texture
Skin can become pitted and rough and start to lose elasticity as we get older, due to hormonal changes, environmental damage, sun exposure and the use of too many artificial products. Whilst lemon oil isn’t a magic cure that will fully restore the youthful vitality of our skin, it can refine and improve it. Anti-inflammatory compounds and antioxidant properties do most of the work, and it may also support collagen production, which helps to create a fuller look with fewer lines and wrinkles.
7. Offering natural pain relief
Lemon essential oil can act as a natural analgesic, which allows it to offer a certain level of pain relief by releasing endorphins that prevent certain signals from reaching your brain. A 2014 mice study concluded that lemon oil aromatherapy was able to change the way their brains responded to painful stimuli, although more research is needed to determine how much this would affect humans.
Is lemon peel oil good for skin?
Whilst many people use the essential oil that has been extracted from the body of the fruit, you can also purchase lemon oil that has been extracted from the rind.
However, because it is largely composed of limonene (which is also used as a cleaning solvent ingredient) and a compound called furanocoumarin, it can be phototoxic. When it is exposed to air, it could start to irritate your skin or increase your sensitivity.
Pure or cold pressed lemon oil extracts are the best type to look out for, as these retain most of the vitamins and nutrients and should also not feel as raw on your skin.
How to use lemon oil for skin
There are lots of different ways you can use lemon oil for skin. Here are some of the most common, along with step-by-step instructions on how to get the most from each method:
1. Reducing acne and acne scars
- Mix 1 drop of lemon essential oil with a small amount of non-comedogenic oil.
- Add to a cotton ball before applying to your skin.
- Leave it on your skin for 2-5 minutes.
- Use your normal cleanser to remove it from your face.
This approach can be added to your nightly routine, although you may want to try it a few times a week at first to ensure that the oil is not too strong for your skin.
2. Lemon oil as a facial cleanser
- Add 1 drop of lemon oil to the palm of your hand.
- Mix with a small amount of soap or whatever facial cleanser you use.
Lemon oil can be quite strong and it may dry out the skin, so start out by trying this once a day to see how it works for you.
3. Bath relaxation therapy
- Add 5-10 drops of lemon essential oil to cup of carrier oil.
- Mix together and then blend in with your bath water.
The carrier oil should be enough to ensure you do not experience any skin irritation, although if you do notice any kind of irritation, stop using the oil to see if it makes a difference.
What other benefits can lemon essential oil offer?
Lemon essential oil isn’t just great for your skin – it also has a lot to offer the rest of your body. Some of the other benefits lemon oil can offer include:
1. Easing morning sickness symptoms
Pregnant people often experience nausea and vomiting in the first few months and lemon essential oil could help to reduce some of these symptoms. 100 pregnant women took part in a 2014 aromatherapy study and researchers found that inhalation helped to reduce nausea and vomiting levels.
2. Reducing depression and anxiety symptoms
Inhaling or smelling lemon can have a quick impact on your emotional and mental state. A 2006 mice study found that during various stress testing experiments, the oil proved to be calming and mood-improving. Another small study in 2016 found that anxiety levels amongst people who had undergone orthopaedic surgery was reduced after interacting with lemon essential oil.
3. Helping you soothe a sore throat
The calming properties of lemon essential oil can not only help you relax mentally but the citrusy scent can also open the muscles in your throat. Lemon juice contains vitamin C and antioxidant properties that are known to be helpful in improving your breathing.
What are the risks of using lemon essential oil for skin?
Most people find that lemon essential oil is perfectly fine to use on their skin and do not experience any negative reactions. However, there are some risks to be aware of that could affect how you use it.
Like all essential oils, lemon oil is highly concentrated, so even when it has been diluted it can still cause irritation or an allergic reaction. The best way to pre-empt this is to complete a patch test before applying the oil to large areas of skin.
To do this, mix a small amount of lemon oil with a carrier oil and rub it into the inside of your elbow. Cover with a plaster and leave for 24 hours. If you experience any kind of skin irritation, it shows that you are sensitive to the oil and will need to find an alternative.
Keep lemon oil away from your eyes, as like other citrus fruits, it can cause irritation and evening burning in some instances.
Citrus oils are also known to increase the sensitivity of your skin to the sun. This can reveal itself in a few ways, be it through a rash, redness or even blistering. If you have been out in the sun for a while, allow your skin to adjust to its new environment before applying lemon oil, as this could act as a trigger.
Lemon essential oil remains a hugely popular choice for anyone who wants to use an oil that smells and feels natural and invigorating. You can use it as an antioxidant, antiseptic and antibacterial agent, whilst it helps to combat free radicals and is a great stress reliever. One benefit we didn’t mention is that when combined with white vinegar it also makes for a fantastic homemade cleaner, so not only can it benefit your mind and body, but it can also leave your home looking and smelling as fresh as a daisy.