I've heard friends tout the benefits of lemon as a lightening ingredient for DIY facial masks, but have also read that it can be too harsh and not necessarily deliver skin healthy benefits. Thoughts?
"Two considerations for best results with lemon as DIY mask ingredient are making sure that it’s properly diluted (much like apple cider vinegar, undiluted lemon juice can actually burn the skin), and also making sure you use an spf after working with lemon, since citrus fruits tend to be photosensitizing ingredients.
That said, even when used properly the potent citric acid which lends lemons much of their brightening power can still act as a mild skin irritant for some and is better left out of recipes or or swapped for a gentler ingredient alternative. Those who find lemon irritating may also find their skin is more sensitive to the natural glycolic acid that stars in raw honey or sugar based DIY treatments.
So what can you try putting on your face instead when you want a little homegrown glow? Ingredients that brighten because they’re naturally rich in gentler, more hydrating enzymes and acids like Lactic, Malic, and Tartaric.
You can find a greater balance of sensitive skin loving acids in ingredients like papaya, blueberries, banana, watermelon and grapes. Longtime DIY darling yogurt makes a perfectly powerful brightening and refining mask on its own because it’s so rich in lactic acid, and can always be used as a safe and soothing base for a mask made with other brightening ingredients.
It’s also important to know that keeping your skin calm and well hydrated is a high priority if you want to see results in a routine that’s targeting dark spots or uneven skin tone.
This means when you want to see a lighter, brighter, more even complexion,mask recipes that help soothe, hydrate and combat inflammation in the skin can also turn out to be hero treatments. Reach for soothing ingredients like aloe vera and oats for even better results from a DIY lightening mask.
Make sure your cleanser is not stripping your skin and keeps skin well hydrated and calm. One Love Organics Vitamin B Active Moisture Cleansing oil is perfect for removing makeup and spf at night with a brightening boost, the papaya and pumpkin in this helps to even out skin tone while refining pores. Pai Camelia & Rose Gentle Hydrating Cleanser is ideal morning and evening for sensitive skin types working on even tone.
After cleansing use a serum with botanical brighteners (natural Vitamin C, Bearberry, Mulberry, Daisy, Licorice Root to name a few) but also anti-inflammatory ingredients. Kahina Giving Beauty Brightening Serum, Tata Harper Concentrated Brightening Serum, One Love Organics Vitamin C Serum, and UMA Absolute Anti-Aging Oil are all great options here. Sensitive skin often does best to skip synthetic vitamin C serums.
Use enzymes for gentle, regular exfoliation. Kypris Glow Philtre Mask, African Botanics Buchu Botanical Enzyme Polish or add Wild Care Soft Focus Mask to yogurt. Skip the super-gritty scrubs (they often exasperate discoloration). Love AHAs? Lactic Acid or Mandelic Acid are two of the best options for lightening with sensitive or dry skin.
Marie Veronique Probiotic Exfoliation Mask is a well balanced option for even sensitive skin to use once weekly as part of a lightening routine. SPF is critical, every day, rain or shine. It's not about preventing sunburn, it's about preventing the chain reaction that happens deep in your skin when it's exposed to UVA (A for Aging) rays, which are out rain or shine and move through cloud cover, office windows and all. These rays stimulate Melanocytes in your skin to create pigmentation in an effort to protect your cells from additional damage. If you're working on even skin tone, daily SPF is a must for any other treatment to actually show results." - Jeni Sykes, CAP Esthetician.