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Quick Tips: Lemon Juice and Freckles

Freckles are harmless brown dots no bigger than the head of a pin. You may have just a few or you may find your face, arms, chest and upper back are covered -- or maybe somewhere in between. If you have a large quantity of freckles, chances are you've wanted to get rid of them at some point in your life. And lemon juice may help!

Freckles are caused by the skin pigment melanin, which not only gives your skin its color but your hair and eyes as well. If you're born with a lot of melanin you'll have a naturally dark skin tone, dark eye color and dark hair color, just like people with very little melanin will have light skin tones, light eye color and light hair color.

Melanin also determines how we tan. In your skin there are cells called melanocytes, and these skin cells produce melanin when you're exposed to the sun's ultraviolet rays, creating a natural protective barrier on the outermost layer of your skin. Sun exposure without sun protection will make freckles darker, and it may also increase their numbers. Not all freckled faces are alike -- whether or not you develop freckles is determined by your amount of sun exposure but it's also in part due to your genetics. Your chances increase if other people in your family have freckles.

If you are unhappily freckled consider borrowing a kitchen trick that keeps fruits such as apples from browning after you slice them: Apply lemon juice.

Lemon juice is a fruit acid, citric acid, and it may temporarily lighten your skin color, just like any skin care product promising to whiten, brighten and lighten your complexion. On a weekly basis apply fresh lemon juice to your freckled areas and leave it to treat your skin for up to 10 minutes before thoroughly rinsing; mix a pinch of sugar with the lemon juice to add exfoliation benefits to your DIY treatment [source: Johnson]. Just like a bleaching or fading cream lemon juice is only effective if you use it regularly -- the effects are gradual and you may not start to notice any difference until you've used it for a few months.

Just don't forget a daily applications of sunscreen, which is critical when using any depigmentation treatment. Lemon juice will make your skin more sensitive to ultraviolet rays, and you know what that means: more freckles.