Full disclosure. I’m already in major summer mode. Pathetically, my current consumption of lemons has been relegated to drinking spicy vodka lemonades and chowing down on my BFF’s homemade baked lemon and feta dip with an offensive amount of pita. While this has been insanely beneficial to my happiness level, it probably isn’t the best way of getting the optimal health benefits of lemon.
The fact is that lemons, and other citrus fruits are extremely important in providing positive effects on one’s mind, body and immune system.
A Squeeze A Day“Just the thought of squeezing lemon into your morning water can help set your intentions for a healthier day which is a health benefit alone,” says Laura Burak, MS, RD, CDN and owner of Laura Burak Nutrition. “Lemon is a great source of vitamin C and citrus fiber which are both beneficial to your immune system and cardiac health. One of the best ways to automatically improve your health is to drink water first thing in the morning, before coffee or food. An easy way to spice up your water is to add a squeeze of lemon as a way to hydrate after sleeping all night.” Burak is a huge proponent of cooking at home, especially if you are looking to lose weight or reduce your sodium and sugar intake. “Lemon is one of the best natural ways to add flavor to foods in recipes without added sugar and salt,” she explains. “Finish your grilled meats, fish and veggies with fresh lemon juice or use it for salad dressings as the acid to balance out the oil and spices. It just tastes delicious and refreshing in any dish.” Burak’s GetNaked® approach to nutrition encourages her clients to ditch strict diets and health fads in favor of adapting healthy, reasonable habits that are sustainable and provide results.
Best of Zest
When it comes to the face, body and hair, lemons can be an integral part of one’s beauty routine. Samantha Busgith, DNP, FNP-BC with a specialty in dermatology gave me an education in all things lemon, “Lemons are rich in citric acid, ascorbic acid (vitamin C), and polyphenols which have been found to have a variety of health benefits.” She adds, “Because these components are found in lemon juice, lemons are considered to have anti-inflammatory properties, astringent properties, antioxidant properties, and antimicrobial properties. For those with oily, acne-prone skin or an oily scalp, some products that contain lemon peel or juice can be effective in improving circulation, reducing pore and follicle size and packing the skin with plenty of anti-oxidants.”
While lemons definitely have their place in one’s regimen, they are not an end all be all. Double board certified celebrity dermatologist Dr. Karan Lal, has some caveats about going all in on lemon. “People think of lemon and assume vitamin C. That isn’t the case. Lemon extract, oils, and juice have been used for centuries for skin lightening, acne and toning the skin. Lemons are high in vitamin C. Vitamin C is great for dark spots but it can make some types of acne worse and can also irritate the skin.” He adds, “Lemon juice and lemon oil could actually cause phytophotodermatitis. This is when the sun reacts with chemicals in the lemon extract on the skin and causes blistering and even persistent dark spots. Do NOT use lemon based products and go out in the sun right after!” This is something to think about, especially now that summer has arrived.
Love Thy Lemons
Besides chugging lemon water by the gallon, moderation is definitely the key to getting the most beauty benefits out of our favorite citrus fruit. When our scalp gets super dry from product buildup and daily wear and tear, we love Allpa Botanicals Lemon Hair Oil $37. This amazing cold-pressed organic oil is super hydrating and restorative. Put it on damp hair and style as usual or leave it on as a mask and rinse it out. Lano’s Lemonaid Lip Treatment $15.95 is also a current fave. It contains lemon oil which naturally exfoliates the lips and leaves them babysoft. The subtle lemon scent is also addicting! The Lemon Purifying Face Wash by The Body Shop $18 is also a must-have. It is not over drying, leaves no residue and helps keep blemishes at bay. We’ve also loved The Body Shop since day one and consider it one of the OG’s of the bath and body movement. Exfoliation is essential, especially in the summer, and you can’t go wrong with So Refreshed Lemon Zest Body Scrub $26.99. This all-natural lemon and salt scrub is great at unclogging pores and preventing whiteheads, blackheads and other blemishes. The farmer’s market packaging is also totally divine. When it comes to perfume, I love a lemon-infused scent. It energizes me and instantly lifts my mood. I’m obsessed with Sugar Eau Lemon Parfum by Fresh $95. Besides the adorable packaging and chic bottle, this fresh scent combines bright notes of lemon and yuzu with a sweet but subtle dose of caramel. Mmmmmm…….
MEET THE EXPERT
Dr. Karan Lal is a Double Board Certified adult and pediatric dermatologist who also treats celebrity clients. Lal is a skincare contributor to multiple magazines including Elle, Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, and Vogue. He is all about affordable skincare and diversity in skincare. He practices in Scottsdale Arizona at Affiliated Dermatology.
Laura Burak MS, RD is the Founder of GetNaked® Nutrition and Author of Slimdown with Smoothies. She is a registered dietitian, a foodie, a wannabe chef, a yogi and a mama in the Long Island suburbs outside NYC.
Samantha Busgith is a DNP, FNP-BC who has worked in the specialty of dermatology for over 15 years. Busgith earned her degree at Columbia University and now practices medical and cosmetic dermatology in Manhattan and Long Island.