It seems the lemon is the red-headed step child of the natural hair community. We discuss the benefits of many natural oils, nuts, and fruits, but not much seems to be said about the lemon other than it can naturally lighten your hair.
The lemon was actually known, before modern times, as an essential ingredient for maintaining hair. There are several ways you can incorporate the benefits of the lemon into your hair care regimen.
You can eat (or drink) it
Lemons have the ability to eliminate toxins from the body–and also from the hair. Hair can hold toxins from the environment that may cause damage to the strands. Regular consumption of lemons can aid in eliminating these toxins and promote hair growth.
As a stripping rinse
Soaking your hair in lemon juice can directly remove build-up from products that lay heavily on the hair and make it limp. It’s also a wonderful tool in removing excess oil without stripping away too much of the oils your hair naturally produces. Some people use it in addition to apple cider vinegar to increase the nutritional value to the hair.
Because lemons have antibacterial and antifungal properties, massaging lemon juice onto the scalp is effective at eliminating dandruff and fighting scalp infections.
Caution: because lemons are quite acidic, be sure to dilute it before using it on your hair. A ratio of one to two tablespoons of lemon juice to one cup of water should provide the benefits here. Be sure not to scratch and break the skin of your scalp during application, as it may cause irritation. Also, be careful not to let the juice drip into your eyes (it burns!).
Lemon juice has bleaching properties so you’ll want to spread out it’s use–say, every two to three weeks (unless of course you’re trying to bleach your hair 😉 ).
As a strengthening additive in a deep conditioner
This is my personal favorite use. Lemons are chuck full of vitamin C, which is one of the most effective nutrients for hair growth and strengthening follicles. But since vitamin C is water-soluble, the human body won’t store or accumulate it. Therefore, daily intake is essential. Adding lemon juice to a deep conditioning treatment provides a way to get all the goodness of vitamin C straight onto your hair.
If you suffer from particularly dry hair like I do, a mixture of honey, coconut oil and lemon juice should do the trick (If your hair is damaged, replace the coconut oil with half an avocado and 2 tbsp of olive oil):
1 tbsp lemon juice (if using lemon juice from a bottle, dilute 1tsp with 2 tsp of water, since bottled lemon juice is generally more concentrated–and therefore more acidic–than lemon juice straight from a lemon)
3 tbsp honey
6 tbsp coconut oil
Whisk the lemon juice, honey and olive oil together thoroughly (if using the avocado mask option, use a hand blender to create a smooth paste–making sure there are no clumps of avocado bits). Section off hair and apply the mixture from the roots to the ends, taking some time to massage the scalp. Cover with a shower cap and leave on hair for at least 30 minutes. If you have low porosity hair, like me, you may want to wrap a towel around your shower cap or sit under a dryer for the heat to open up your hair’s cuticles. Heat allows for maximum absorption with low porosity hair.
Note: if you don’t like actually mixing your own products, adding 1 tbsp of lemon juice to 1/2 cup of any deep conditioner you purchase should provide the same benefits.
I hope this allows you to enjoy the hair benefits of lemon juice. As my friends and I like to joke: If life hands you lemons, make a lemon deep conditioner. 😀 #naturalhairjokes
Peace, Love and Live Life Full,