When it comes to DIY Face masks, lemon is notorious for possessing a dual nature. You’ll either get amazing results or the worst ones.
Needless to say, one of my close friends ended up on the wrong side of the stick.
A while back, when she was looking for a home remedy for acne scars, one of her social acquaintances—after her own dramatic recovery from a facial disaster— recommended her this DIY lemon face mask.
The recipe was quite simple. Crush a few mint leaves in half a lemon juice, apply it on the face for 15 minutes and rinse it with plain water.
She decided to try out this homemade lemon mask expecting the same results. But after just two days of application, signs of redness and mild acne appeared on her skin.
She stopped applying afterward but the damaged had already been done.
Her mild acne went wild and her skin deteriorated to such an extent she had to consult a dermatologist for acne treatment.
“I don’t know what happened. I never had that kind of severe reaction to anything before.” She said.
What Went Wrong?
Lemon comes with its own set of side effects. If applied raw form it can cause irritation and burning sensation.
In my friend’s case—acne breakout. And the irony is Lemon with astringent properties is actually known for reducing acne breakout.
So, why did it worsen instead?
I, personally, believe her naturally sensitive and dry skin played a primary role, but with home remedies and DIY face masks, it’s often difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of the reaction.
One thing is for sure, though. With only two ingredients on the mix, anyone can pretty much guess “who” caused more harm.
So, what to do when every other anti-aging and skin brightening DIY skincare has lemon in it?
I recommend you to either find an alternative source of Vitamin C or at the least research the side effects of lemon to avoid a severe reaction.
To make it easy for you, I mentioned four reasons why lemon might be unsuitable for some people.
1. Not Every Skin Type Is Suitable For Lemon And Diy Face Masks
In the wake of Korean beauty skincare, I am sure everyone would be well aware of the term “sebum control” by now.
It’s an oil secretion that keeps the skin surface moist and healthy. It’s also one of the primary components that determine your skin type.
Too much of it, and you have oily skin with clogged pores, too low and you have a dry skin vulnerable to bacterial infection—Hence the sebum controls products.
The citric acid in lemon does the same function of sebum control, only in the extreme. Because unlike manufactured skincare products, DIY face masks don’t enjoy the same perks of product testing.
Therefore, the concentrated citric acid in lemon, if not diluted properly, could strip away the sebum harshly leaving your skin raw and sensitive—as it mostly happens in homemade remedies.
While oily skin type might leave with minimum damage but for dry skin, the results could be disastrous.
My friend had a Dry and sensitive skin to begin with, and lemon might have removed whatever little protection sebum was providing to her skin.
2. Lemon Can Change The PH level of Skin Causing An Acne Breakout
Whenever someone says a particular product suits their skin, it’s because the said product must have a PH level similar to the skin PH.
Our skin has a natural defense mechanism in the form of the acidic mantle. It’s a thin layer on the skin surface, created by Sebum and sweat to regulate the skin PH level.
If it’s higher or lower, the acid mantle would thin out disrupting the PH level. As a result, your skin becomes vulnerable to acne breakout.
Lemon has a PH level of 2.2 to 2.3 while the skin has a PH level from 4.5 to 5.5. That’s double the acidity level.
Imagine how much imbalance a DIY lemon face mask with this level of PH difference could bring to your skin’s PH level.
3. Lemon May Cause A Chemical Reaction On Different Skin Tones
Lemon not only affects differently on various skin “types”, but it also reacts differently on different skin “tones” as well.
People with dark skin tone are blessed with an abundance of melanin—a color pigment—in their skin to protect it from UV rays radiating.
Surprisingly enough, the same melanin could also turn on them if they rub direct lemon on their face and take a stroll outside.
The ascorbic acid in lemon accelerates the production of melanin risking hyper pigmentation.
As for the fair skin tone, spending time outside with lemon mask on the face might cause chemical reaction to UV rays developing blisters on your skin.
In a nutshell, Sunlight and lemon never mix together—and it’s not even limited to the skin.
Are you familiar with the old school “Apply lemon on hair and stand under the sun” trick to create highlights? The lemon actually damages the hair creating a bleached look in reaction.
4. Different Proportion Of Lemon Juice May Have Adverse Effects
When it comes to conventional products, every ingredient is tested and balanced. Same can’t be said to DIY skincare.
If a recipe says to add half a lemon juice, we obviously follows it the same regardless of the lemon size and type—hence the various results.
No fruit is created equal—and nor is their PH level. A native lemon to India would be different from the one in the USA.
Furthermore, how, where, and when they are cultivated affects their chemical composition as well. Even within the family tree, they have different levels. For instance, the lime’s PH level is 2.4, while lemon has 2.2.
The vague measurement in DIY face masks is one of the reasons we sometimes have an allergic reaction to natural ingredients—even though we shouldn’t have.
So, please be careful with the proportions when creating a lemon mask. If you are unsure, dilute the lemon with another ingredient to avoid harsh effects.
In a Nutshell
Diy skincare is unpredictable and works mostly on a hit and miss theory. Experimenting with mild ingredients is well and good but when it comes to a dangerous ingredient, precaution is better than cure—I can’t stress that enough.
Perform a patch test before trying out any new organic product or DIY face mask. And when in doubt, go for ones with less acidity like Orange peel.
Did you find it informative? We would love to hear your thoughts!