When life gives you lemons… make a relaxing bath and homemade facial. The acid in lemon juice has great benefits for your skin, hair and nails. Why spend hundreds of dollars on unnatural products and pills to strengthen your nails, clear your skin or highlight your hair when there's a pristine bottle of lemon juice sitting in the fridge? While a day at the spa is a luxury, and often an investment, you can still treat yourself in between visits with an "at-home" spa.
Our list of ways to incorporate lemon juice into your beauty regime includes some teenage favorites like hair highlights and zit removal, alongside some more crafty projects like homemade hairspray. Every option is cost-effective and worth a try before you roam the aisles of the drugstore in search of the same solutions. Your face, hair and your wallet will thank you.
Add Highlights to Any Hair Color
Lots of women, and let's face it, men too, want their hair to have a natural, sun-kissed glow in the summer months. Blond highlights will magically appear if you rinse your hair with a mixture of 1/4 cup lemon juice and 3/4 cup water. For extra lightening, sit in the sun until your hair dries.
Make sure to test the highlights on a small patch of hair at the back of or close to your neck, before dousing yourself in lemon juice. The last thing you need is to spend the summer at the salon trying to fix bright orange highlights.
Why do the products we use sparingly only come in gallon-sized containers? While some girls can't walk out the front door without shellacking their head in hairspray, most of us reserve the spritzing for special occasions to hold up-dos in place. Here's a recipe for a simple, inexpensive hairspray.
In a saucepan, boil 2 cups water. Add 2 lemons, peeled and finely chopped. Simmer over low heat until lemons are soft. After the mixture cools, pour it through a strainer and then into a labeled spray bottle. Add 1 tablespoon of 100-proof vodka; shake well. Dilute with a little water if the spray is too sticky.
Dandruff can be an embarrassing and obvious problem. It is a common chronic scalp condition that results in the skin itching and flaking off, in your hair and sometimes on your clothes. Mild cases can be controlled, but not eliminated, with gentle cleansers and specially formulated shampoos. However, more serious cases need a more serious solution.
Rub 1 tablespoon lemon juice into dry hair, down to the scalp. Shampoo and rinse as usual. Then, rinse hair again using a solution of 2 cups water and 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Repeat every other day for 1 week. Your black shirts will thank you.
Strengthen Brittle Nails
Long nails have long been a sign of feminine beauty. Throughout much of history, they were also a sign of wealth. Rich women did not have to worry about laboring and could spend their idle time growing their nails as a sign of how little they had to do. Even today with our busy schedules, modern women value long nails.
However, nails can become weak and brittle if they spend too much time in water, as a result of the aging process or because of poor nutrition. To strengthen them and increase growth, soak your fingernails in lemon juice for 10 minutes, then rinse well with warm water. Do this once a week. Bonus: you'll get rid of any yellowish tinge on your fingernails.
Relaxing Lemon Bath
Taking a bath is a great way to relax after a long day at work. Go the extra mile to make the experience a little more elegant than the everyday shower. Light candles, put on your favorite Pandora station and forget the troubles of the world.
Give a fresh fragrance to your bath by floating lemon peels on the surface. This simple addition can add a little extra opulence to an ordinary bath. Just make sure that the soap you're using is either unscented or complements the lemons' aroma.
Toning Facial Cleanser
Skin needs to be pampered and rejuvenated between trips to the spa. That's why so many women are willing to spend lots of cash on skin care products that promise we'll look young. But why not raid the fridge first and make this facial to tone and soften your skin?
Beat 1 large egg white; stir in the juice of half a lemon (about 1 1/2 tablespoons). Apply to face and neck. After 20 minutes, rinse, pat dry, then apply some witch hazel with a cotton ball.
A blackhead is a bump or plug on the skin, usually yellow or black in color. It is a type of acne caused by excessive oils from glands, not from poor hygiene. The black hue is caused by light reflecting into the pore and not from a black substance inside. While they are gross to read about, they are even grosser sitting on your nose, mocking you.
Instead of obsessively staring into a mirror and squeezing those bumps, apply lemon juice to them using a cotton ball or a cotton swab. Leave the juice on overnight. In the morning, rinse your face with cool water. Repeat every night for 1 week.
On-the-spot Zit Removal
Pimples, zits, acne… Whatever you want to call those day-ruining bumps on your face they are a horrible fact of life. Not only awkward teenagers have to deal with zits; alas, they may follow you into middle age. Zits have ruined first impressions on blind dates and at annual sales meetings.
If you wake up with a red bump that only Rudolph could top, try this treatment to dry up pimples quickly. Apply lemon juice several times a day using a cotton swab. The acid in the juice is a natural skin lightener, so the blemish will get less red with each application.
Diminish Discolored Skin Spots
Age spots, also called liver spots or solar lentigines, are flat spots on the face, shoulders or arms and usually black, gray or brown in color. They are most common in adults over 40 who have spent time out in the sun. While they may look like the beginning signs of skin cancer, true age spots are harmless, though cosmetically displeasing.
If you're bothered by freckles or age spots, dissolve a pinch of sugar in 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Apply the mixture to each spot with a cotton ball or a facial tissue. Repeat every few days until the spots have lightened to your liking and given your skin a more even tone.
Reduce Damage from the Sun
Freckles and sun spots can be a sign of too much sun exposure. The sun's UVA rays can penetrate deep enough into the skin to permanently damage collagen, a protein that holds skin together to make it smooth and firm. This causes permanent wrinkles, since collagen can't rebuild itself.
Here's another trick to lighten the effects of age and the sun: Mix 3 tablespoons lime juice, 3 tablespoons lemon juice, 4 tablespoons plain yogurt, and 2 tablespoons honey. Once or twice a week, gently rub the mixture into each spot with your fingertips. Store in a covered container in your refrigerator.
Adapted from "Lemon Juice: Lighten Your Hair and Solve Household Problems," © 2009 Publications International, Ltd.
When was the last time you cleaned out your cosmetics? HowStuffWorks talked to an LA-based makeup artist for advice on how often we need to toss it.