If you want to lighten your complexion, there are natural remedies that you can try to brighten your skin a few shades. Since many commercial creams are ineffective or unhealthy to use, turning to natural methods to get fairer skin is a smart choice. A common household ingredient — lemon juice — works especially well to lighten skin tone. Staying out of the sun and using natural facial masks will also keep your skin from getting darker. To learn more about getting fair skin using only natural techniques, see Step 1.
Method 1 of 3: Changing Your Routine
Protect yourself from the sun. Most of the normal darkening and discoloration of your skin is caused by exposure to the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays. If you're extremely concerned about having fairer skin, staying indoors will keep your skin as light as possible. When that's not possible, protect your skin use SPF sunblock with a minimum SPF of 30.
- Most dermatologists agree an SPF 15 is not sufficient anymore. Dangerous UVA and UVB rays are still reaching your skin. You want 98% or more of the sun's rays to be blocked.
- Wear a hat to protect your face when you're outside. Especially in the summer. There are so many fashionable hats these days, you can also be a trend-setter while you are protecting your skin.
- Exfoliate your skin a few times a week. Doing manual exfoliation can really help to lighten the skin, since the process takes off dead skin cells. Keep in mind that exfoliation only helps if your current skin is darker than your normal skin tone, because it reveals fresh skin that is untouched by the sun.
- You can exfoliate your skin manually by using a body scrub or face wash with exfoliating particles. To make your own, just add a teaspoon of ground almonds or oatmeal to your regular cleanser.
- Using a scrub brush or a dry brush is a great way to exfoliate your entire body. For your face, use a special brush with softer bristles so you don't damage the fragile skin there.
- There are also exfoliating machines, such as the Clarisonic, that dig a little deeper to thoroughly remove the top layer of skin.
- Be realistic with your expectations. Skin that is already naturally dark is very hard to lighten more than a shade or two, especially using natural methods. Keeping your skin healthy by protecting it from the sun, exfoliating and using natural lightening methods is your best bet for keeping it on the lighter side in tone. Remember that consistency is the key, and do your facial treatments several times a week.
Method 2 of 3: Natural Lightening Treatments
- Lemon juice rinse
- Make a lemon juice rinse. Lemon juice is a powerful lightener because it contains alpha-hydroxy acids (AHA) that act as a natural exfoliant, taking off the surface layer of the skin to expose the lighter skin underneath. The citric acid in lemon juice also creates a light bleaching effect (just like it does when you put it in your hair). By bathing your skin in a lemon juice rinse, you can lighten your skin a little for a fairer complexion.
- Squeeze the juice from half a lemon and add the same amount of water. You want to dilute it to half strength so it won't irritate your skin or get too sticky.
- Dip a cotton ball in the mixture and apply it to your face, neck, chest, arms, and anywhere else you want your skin to be lighter.
- Let the rinse sit on your skin for 20 minutes, then rinse it off with warm water. Don't go outside, since the lemon juice will cause your skin to be sensitive to sunlight.
- Apply a moisturizer after the treatment, since lemon juice can dry out your skin.
- Repeat three times a week for best results. Don't do it too often or your skin will become irritated.
- Potato rub
- Rub your skin with raw potato. It's believed to have mild lightening properties because it contains a high amount of vitamin C. Other vegetables high in vitamin C, such as tomatoes and cucumbers, may also work if you don't have a potato handy. Vitamin C is often used in over-the-counter skin lightening creams, but you can get better results by just applying the potato directly to your skin. Several times a week, do the following:
- Cut a potato into thick slices.
- Rub the slices over the parts of your skin you want to lighten.
- Let the moisture dry completely, then rinse it away with warm water.
- Make a turmeric paste. Turmeric is an Indian spice that has been used to lighten skin for many centuries. It is believed to inhibit the production of melanin, which gives skin its darker color. While there's no definitive proof that it works, many have been happy with the results they get from using a turmeric paste on the skin to brighten it a few shades. To make and use a turmeric paste, do the following:
- Mix turmeric with enough olive oil to make a paste.
- Apply it to your skin and spread it thinly over the areas you want to lighten.
- Leave it to sit for 20 minutes, then rinse it away with warm water.
- Aloe vera slather
- Use pure aloe vera. This soothing substance is known for helping your skin heal after getting burned, but it also has a compound called anthraquinone that gently lightens the skin by removing the top layer of skin cells. You'll see aloe as an ingredient in a number of different creams and lotions, but for best results, use an aloe vera plant or get a bottle of pure aloe vera.
- Slather the aloe all over your skin.
- Wait 20 minutes for it to dry and get absorbed.
- You can rinse it off, or simply go about your day. Aloe is beneficial for the skin in so many ways that there's really no need to wash it away!
- Coconut water
- Rinse your skin with coconut water. As with many natural remedies, no studies have been conducted to prove that coconut water can lighten the skin. However, individual users have found that using it as a rinse can lighten the skin in addition to making it soft and smooth.
- Get a bottle of 100 percent coconut water, or crack open your own young coconut to extract the water.
- Dip a cotton ball in the water and apply it to your face and other areas you want to lighten.
- Leave it on for 20 minutes, then rinse with warm water.
Method 3 of 3: Exfoliating MasksLemon honey mask
Make a lemon honey mask. When you mix natural skin lighteners with exfoliants, you can create a mask that lightens the skin by both taking off the dark top layer of cells and lightly bleaching the fresh skin underneath. Try a mask made with lemon juice, honey (a natural moisturizer that offsets lemon's drying effects), and a teaspoon of ground oatmeal. Apply it to your face and anywhere else you want, leave it for 20 minutes, then wash it off.
- As you wash off the mask, use the tips of your fingers to make gentle circular motions. The ground oatmeal will scrub the top layer of dead skin from your face, revealing lighter skin underneath.
- If you have dry skin, use cucumber instead of lemon. Apply a mixture of equal amounts of cucumber juice and honey on the face and full body for 15 minutes, then wash it off.
- Oatmeal turmeric mask
- Do an oatmeal turmeric mask. This is a good treatment to try if your skin is on the oily side, since it helps to cleanse the skin as well as lightening it. Mix 2 teaspoons of oatmeal powder, a pinch of turmeric, and a few drops of lemon juice to make a thick paste. Apply to your skin and leave it to dry. Wash off mask with water using gentle circular motions to exfoliate your skin as you go.
- Make a papaya mask. Papaya fruit contains an enzyme called papain that helps exfoliate the skin, making way for new skin cells to emerge. It also contains vitamin C. Choose a green papaya to make your mask, since that's when the papain is most concentrated. To make a papaya mask,
- Peel and slice the papaya.
- Put it in a blender and blend it into a smooth paste.
- Apply it to the skin you want to lighten.
- Leave it in place for 20 minutes.
- Rinse it away with warm water.
- Yogurt or mill mask