Some skin lightening treatments take weeks or months to make a significant difference. However, popular plant remedies can make your blemishes appear lighter and brighter in just a few days. These methods lighten your skin by reducing the amount of melanin present and by encouraging new cells to replace duller, old cells on the skin's surface. Professional facial cosmetic procedures can also lighten the appearance of your skin in three days.
How to Make Your Skin Lighter
If you have blemishes or age spots that you wish to lighten, these home remedies may help to make your skin lighter.
Allow extra time to complete your morning remedy if you work, go to school, or have other morning commitments. You will also need extra time to devote to your evening routine before bedtime.
Morning Lemon Juice Facial Scrub
Start day one with the following Lemon Juice Facial Scrub to exfoliate old cells from the surface of your skin and encourage new cells to come to the surface. The vitamin C from the lemons penetrates to deeper layers.
- Squeeze the juice of half a lemon in a small bowl.
- Add and mix in one tablespoon of salt or brown sugar.
- Mix in one tablespoon coconut oil.
- Cleanse your face or other treatment area and pat dry.
- Apply the mixture to your face for two to three minutes, ensuring that you avoid the eye area.
- Leave the scrub on your face for 20 to 30 minutes to allow the vitamin C time to penetrate the skin to the deeper cells which make melanin.
- Wash off with warm water and pat your skin dry.
To avoid irritation, exfoliate your face only once during this three-day treatment. However, you can use this scrub daily on other hyperpigmented areas of your body.
Morning Lemon Juice Toner
After finishing your facial scrub, apply this toner to your skin. Be sure to avoid your eye area.
- Cut a lemon in half and squeeze the juice of one half into a small bowl.
- Use a cotton ball or cotton pad to spread the juice on your face or pigmented spot.
- Leave on for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Rinse off and pat dry.
As an alternative, you can gently rub the cut side of half a lemon into your skin. If you have dry skin, you can mix in a tablespoon of honey or two tablespoons of milk or yogurt and use as directed above.
Morning Aloe Vera-Lemon Juice Moisturizer
This skin lightening moisturizer combines the effects of vitamin C in lemon juice with aloesin in aloe vera on melanin content in the treated skin. After your facial scrub and skin toner treatment, apply this moisturizer.
- Scoop half a tablespoon of gel out of a fresh aloe vera leaf and use a spoon or fork to soften it in a small mixing bowl.
- Squeeze the juice of half a lemon into the bowl and mix with the aloe vera.
- Add half a teaspoon of sweet almond oil and mix well. Add only a drop or two of this oil if your skin tends to be oily.
- Gently massage a light layer of this mixture into your skin as an all-day, leave-on moisturizer.
- After 15 minutes, if your skin feels too oily or sticky, lightly blot your face with a cold, damp washcloth or cotton pad.
- Finish off with a sun protectant of at least 30 SPF and you are ready for the day. If you wear make-up, do not apply foundation to your skin.
If you cannot get an aloe vera leaf, you can use bottled 100% aloe vera gel.
Reapply the aloe vera-lemon juice moisturizer twice during the day for best results. Make an extra portion of the toner and moisturizer in the morning or night before, and bring it with you in small cosmetic jars if you are leaving home for the day. Follow these steps:
- Wash your face with a mild cleanser and pat dry.
- Gently wipe the cleanser residue off with a Lemon Juice Toner-soaked cotton ball or pad and let dry.
- Massage in a light layer of the Aloe vera-Lemon Juice moisturizer and reapply sunscreen.
Evening Licorice Powder-Tomato Mask
Thoroughly cleanse your face of the day's products with a mild skin cleanser to prep the skin. Licorice powder is used in Asia as a skin lightening agent, and, like lemon juice, tomatoes are loaded with vitamin C. Some lab studies have shown that the licorice substance glabridin interferes with melanin production.
- Make and apply the mask as follows:
- Crush a ripe medium tomato with a fork to form a paste.
- Add two tablespoons of licorice powder and blend well.
- Stir in the juice of one-half lemon and mix into a soft paste.
If you have dry skin, use a tablespoon of honey or four tablespoons of milk instead of lemon juice.
Apply the paste in a thick layer to your skin with a medium cosmetic brush or your fingers.
Let dry for 20 to 30 minutes.
Gently scrub off the paste with a damp washcloth, then wash off your skin with warm water.
Alternative: Turmeric Paste Mask
Another option in place of the tomato-based mask is this one which is made with turmeric. Tumeric is easy to find in your local supermarket. The root is popular in Chinese and Indian cultures for cooking and treating pain, and women use it for skin lightening.
Turmeric contains curcumin, a compound with antioxidant properties and affects substances that regulate melanin production.
- Pour two teaspoons of lemon juice in a small bowl and mix in half a teaspoon of turmeric powder.
- Crush half a cucumber in a separate bowl and mix two teaspoons of the cucumber juice into the turmeric mixture to form a paste.
- Apply, let dry, and remove as you would with the licorice-tomato mask.
Evening Toner and Moisturizer
After the Licorice Powder-Tomato Paste or Turmeric Mask treatment:
- Apply the morning lemon juice toner to your face with a cotton ball or pad and leave it on for 20 to 30 minutes.
- Wash off the toner and pat your skin dry.
- Gently massage in the aloe vera-lemon juice moisturizer and leave it on for the night.
Days Two and Three
Skip the Lemon Juice Facial Scrub on the mornings of days two and three of your treatment. Instead, for your morning routine:
- Wash your face with your mild cleanser.
- Apply the licorice powder-tomato paste or turmeric mask and leave it on for 20 to 30 minutes.
- Wash off the mask with warm water and pat your face dry.
- Apply the lemon juice toner and let it sit on your skin for 20 to 30 minutes as you did on the morning of day one.
- Wash off with cool water and pat your face dry.
- Gently massage the aloe vera-lemon juice moisturizer into your skin.
Follow the rest of the plan outlined for day one for your day and evening routines.
To maintain your results, continue with this routine at least two or three times a week to sustain the decreased melanin content in your lightened skin. For best results during and after initial treatment with natural remedies or professional skin procedures, it is also important to stay out of the sun or use a sunscreen of at least 30 SPF to prevent sun damage and recurrent hyperpigmentation.
How to Lighten Skin on the Body
You can spot-lighten blemishes on your face or other places on your body by applying a small amount of any one of the mixtures above. For example, repeat this routine three or four times a day for three days:
- Apply a small amount of the licorice powder-tomato paste or the turmeric paste mask to the area of your blemish.
- Leave on for 20 to 30 minutes and wash off with warm water and pat dry.
- Apply the aloe vera-lemon juice moisturizer mixture to the blemish and leave on.
Similarly, you can lighten large areas of hyperpigmentation other than your face, such as on your armpits, arms, hands, legs, feet, and bottom, with the same mixtures and method.
Armpit Skin Lightener
Another armpit skin lightening option is to use potato slices. Potato contains an enzyme called catecholase, similar to tyrosinase. It inhibits its action in the skin, leading to decreased melanin production.
Wash a potato and cut off a slice.
Rub the slice gently on your skin to apply the juice to the armpit.
Let dry for 20 to 30 minutes.
Rinse with warm or cool water.
You can also grate half of a small to medium potato, including the skin, and use the gratings to massage your skin. This is a good method to treat your darkened underarms.
Skin Lightening: Pros and Cons
There are different reasons why some people may want to lighten their skin. If someone is uncomfortable with dark spots from acne or aging, they might choose to reduce their darkness to achieve a more uniform skin appearance. But there are pros and cons to skin lightening that should be considered.
Pro: Natural Methods May Be Effective
Research shows that vitamins and other antioxidants from certain fruits and vegetables reduce melanin production and its transport to the top layers of the skin. According to published studies, for example, lemons, a popular natural skin lightener, contain the powerful antioxidant vitamin C (ascorbic acid), which has several functions in the skin.
Medical experts explain that vitamin C lightens skin by inhibiting tyrosinase, the first enzyme on the pathway to melanin production. Other plant life also has various chemicals that interfere with melanin production or transport.
Con: Can Cause Irritation
Stop the routine if your skin gets irritated or you develop a rash. Avoid or limit your sun exposure during treatment as natural plant agents such as vitamin C can increase your skin's sensitivity to sun, and can cause phototoxic or photo-allergic reactions. In addition, you want to protect your skin from darkening in the sun.
Pro: Professional Methods Are Available
Over-the-counter skin care products can also lighten your skin. However, it can be weeks or months before you see results, and not all products are safe. Professional methods can provide a safe alternative.
Chemical Peel Skin Lightening
A light chemical peel with professional-strength alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) refreshes and brightens your skin quickly by removing old surface cells. Find a dermatologist or other trained skincare professional to do the procedure. Because this is a non-invasive, superficial peel, the skin should heal in about three days.
A superficial facial laser resurfacing can make your skin look lighter and younger. If only the top layers are treated, your skin will heal in three days. The procedure can also remove acne scars and treat wrinkles and sun damage. See a dermatologist or plastic surgeon for this treatment.
Con: Skin Lightening Can Damage Well-Being
Skincare specialists, including dermatologists, have reported that skin lightening can have profound negative impacts on well-being, including adverse effects on the skin. The prevalence of skin-lightening products can lead women of color to believe that lighter or whiter skin is preferable to the skin they were born with. Some countries have begun to enact policies banning these products and practices.
In a 2021 issue of the International Journal of Women's Dermatology, study authors report that skin whitening or lightening practices in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and the Americas are cause for great concern. They call on skincare professionals to protect patients of diverse skin types and backgrounds by promoting healthy skin and inclusive concepts of beauty.
Should You Lighten Your Skin?
Deciding to lighten your skin is a personal decision that you should make based on your own perception of attractiveness. Pressure from social media, magazines, or celebrities shouldn't play a role in your feelings about your appearance. Beauty comes in many forms and colors. And increasingly, marketing companies are being called out for practicing colorism.
If you have marks that you want to get rid of, speak to a dermatologist about your options. Natural methods may be effective, but they can also irritate your skin.
If you're on the fence about skin whitening, you might want to connect with others who demonstrate a wider range of beauty that includes more than light skin. Use social media, like Instagram or Tik Tok to connect with others who promote and celebrate beauty and dark skin.