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lemon: the unsung hero

February 15, 2011

Dried Lemon in my Green Tea

If I were trapped on a desert island, I would hope that there were some lemon trees there. Heck, add a coconut tree and I could stay pretty and hydrated and make some really yummy smoothies and desserts, too. (desserts in my desert!)

Lemons are by far one of the most common and inexpensive ways to improve the health of your body, inside and outside. Although I’ll be focusing on the outside part, you should know that lemon water is a great way to reduce your body’s acidity. So, when you drink coffee or alcohol, indulge in too much chocolate or eat a steak, always make sure you have a big glass of fresh water with a slice or two of lemon to increase the alkalinity in your body. Reducing acid in your body will help with all kinds of ailments, from sore joints to premature again, constipation, IBS, fatigue, weight gain, etc.

Note: In a pinch, you can also use that fakey lemon in a lemon-shaped bottle, but this juice is NOT the same thing…so try to get real lemons as often as possible.

Anyhow, lemons are one of those things that the big (evil) cosmetics companies don’t want you to know about. Why? Because lemons do all the things that expensive products do, only better. Better because there are no artificial preservatives,  dyes, perfume, emulsifiers, silicones…and the organic (truly, 100% organic) version will only run you a few pennies more.

Tip: If you have very sensitive skin and experience intense burning when using gentle chemical peels, or if you’re allergic to citrus, this is clearly not for you. Stop reading this post because you’ll be disappointed by what you’re missing out on. Also, lemons may increase photo-sensitivity, so WEAR YOUR SUNSCREEN (you’re supposed to anyhow) or avoid the sun after using a lemon treatment. Ok, read on.

How to Use:

Sensitive skin: Squeeze a little fresh lemon in a  bowl, dilute with distilled water (about twice as much water as lemon) and use a cotton ball to swab on. Leave on for a few minutes then rinse.

Dry Skin: Make a little mix of lemon, water and honey. For very dry skin, use lemon, olive (or jojoba or grape-seed) oil and honey. Use as a mask and rinse.

The Rest of Us: If your skin doesn’t seem to mind the minor irritation, leave pure lemon juice on for as long as you can, like overnight.

Here’s what a regular ol’ lemon can offer you, my friend.

  • Vitamin C. Long been a buzzword in the beauty industry, Vitamin C helps the skin synthesize the production of collagen and acts as a potent antioxidant. Lemons are loaded with Vitamin C, and therefore makes for very good arsenal against prematurely aging skin. Vitamin C is said to reduce fine lines
  • Citric Acid (not the same thing as Ascorbic Acid=Vitamin C) is an Alpha Hydroxy Acid. Yup, the same AHA that expensive creams (full of garbage) boast about having, is naturally derived from lemons. Citric Acid AHA’s tighten and brighten your skin, giving you a glow and a mini-facelift. Citric Acid also helps lighten the skin a little, which is great for acne scars and age spots.
  • Sloughs off dead skin! Here are the AHAs at work. Removing dead skin also helps your other cosmetics to work better, because they aren’t sitting on top of a bunch of dead cells.
  • Fights Acne! Lemons have powerful astringent properties, and effectively dries up pimples and lightens scarring. Great for those of us with olive skin. Lemon juice also reduces black heads, which I think we all can appreciate.
  • Evens skin tone! Lemons have long been used as a skin lightener, but it’s so gentle that more effectively, it evens out skin tone.
  • Smells great! Ok, this is minor, but at least lemons do it naturally, and not with a bunch of scary synthetic perfumes (see post below).
  • One lemon lasts about a week! That’s what, about 30 cents? Doesn’t get much thriftier than that.