How to remove a tattoo with lemon juice?

In this brief guide, we will answer ‘how to remove a tattoo with lemon juice?’ Also, we will look into the effectiveness of lemons for tattoo removal and other best possible methods to remove a tattoo.

How to remove a tattoo with lemon juice?

You can not efficiently remove a tattoo with lemon juice. You should not apply lemon juice on the skin due to the risk of developing photodermatitis (7). 

However, you may lighten or fade out the tattoo using lemon juice. However, it is necessary to totally avoid the exposure to sunlight after applying lemon juice on the skin and to ensure its complete removal before the sunlight exposure. Simply apply freshly squeezed lemon juice to your tattoo 2 to 3 times a day. Within a few weeks, you may observe a quite noticeable difference in the appearance of your tattoo.

Is using lemon juice safe to use for removing tattoos?

Lemon juice is not safe to use for removing tattoos, because lemon juice should not be applied on the skin. Lemons and limes and other fruits contain photo-toxic compounds called furocoumarins. When exposed to UVA radiation, these chemical compounds cause reactions in the skin which damage cell membranes, resulting in cell death, edema, blistering, and injury to the epidermis (7).

When skin applied with lemon juice is exposed to direct sun this may lead to hyperpigmentation, wrinkles, lesions and inflammations. Besides cutaneous hyperpigmentation, phyto-phototoxic dermatitis can happen when skin is exposed to sunlight after contact with lemon juice. It is a strong phototoxic reaction to ultraviolet A (UV-A) radiation exposure after cutaneous contact with citrus fruit leading to skin injury (4).

What makes lemon juice an effective tattoo fader?

Lemon juice is an effective tattoo fader because lemons are known as natural bleaching and lightening agents for the skin. The vitamin C in lemons gently exfoliates and nourishes the skin and also triggers the growth of healthy new skin cells.  The bleaching property naturally gets rid of the unwanted ink within skin layers. 

The antioxidant effect of vitamin C can be highlighted through a reduction of melanin intermediates in the oxidation process in melanogenesis, the production of skin pigmentation. As a result, melanin production will be inhibited, resulting in the local lightening of the skin. Hesperidin is considered as a major flavonoid compound in lemon which exerts antioxidant activity by scavenging the formed free radicals (2).

Using salt with lemon juice can give a better result as the salt works as a physical exfoliant that gently removes the dead skin cells and exposes the lemon juice to the tattoo ink in the skin cells.

This is a cheap and natural method of getting rid of tattoos that have been around as long as the actual tattoo themselves.

 Other remedies to remove a tattoo

Surgical excision, dermabrasion, and chemical destruction have historically been applied to remove tattoos (1). There are many other possible ways you can use to get rid of a tattoo. Some of them are;

Laser tattoo removals

One of the best, most effective but pricey options that are currently available. In this, the skin is exposed to lasers that break down the pigments of tattoos until they leave the flesh.

To achieve optimal cosmetic outcome of treatment, lasers emitting high energies and short pulses are required to adequately destroy tattoo ink (1). Picosecond lasers are considered to be the best and optimal tattoo removing procedure, it works most efficiently but it also costs the most. Laser tattoo removal is based on the concept of selective photothermolysis. This theory, paved the way for laser-based destruction of specific substances in the skin (such as melanin, pigment, water, and oxyhemoglobin) while leaving surrounding tissue intact (1).

However, you may need more than a few laser sessions to achieve your desired results. You may also have to deal with a lot of pain, the smell of burning flesh, swelling, blisters, bleeding or some severe scarring afterwards.

Sandpaper and grinding stones

Sandpaper (5) and grinding stones is another old and effective method to disappear or fade your tattoo. This works by detaching the skin cells linked with the ink of the tattoo and blends them thoroughly.

You may combine aloe vera gel with grinding stones or sandpaper to make a thick paste. This paste is to be rubbed gently on your tattoos. This fades out your tattoo within a few weeks, but be careful while using this as the sandpaper and grinding stone if not used properly can lead to irritated and damaged skin.  

Honey, aloe vera, yogurt and salt

This homemade concoction is a great remedy to get rid of the tattoo. Simply mix the aloe vera gel with honey salt and yogurt. Massage the tattooed skin with this mix on cleaned skin. Over time and after several applications you will notice a significant difference.

Honey, aloe vera and yogurt are all naturally soothing ingredients. They do wonders on your skin leaving behind soft, smooth and supple skin. While the salt, when rubbed into the skin, may lead to more damage than any good. It is reported that the aloe species has a great potential of skin lightening activity due to the presence of aloesin as a responsible bioactive compound isolated from the leaves of this plant (2). 

Your skin consists of two layers; a dermis or inner skin and an epidermis or outer skin. When you get a tattoo procedure, the ink travels through the epidermis and gets deposited into the dermis. When you rub salt onto your skin, you are essentially rubbing the epidermis of your skin. To get to the tattoo you need the salt to pass through into the dermis.

This is quite difficult and even if you do end up rubbing the epidermis away, you have some seriously nasty consequences to deal with afterwards. You may end up with red irritated skin, severe rashes, pigmentation, wrinkling and possibly permanent scarring. 

Green Tea

Camellia sinensis or commonly known as green tea is widely used in cosmetic products especially for skin lightening purposes. The leaf extract of green tea contains polyphenolic compounds including epigallocatechin-3-gallate which is a main bioactive compound in green tea extract, which is also shown to have skin lightening properties by exhibiting various mechanisms of action in melanin biosynthesis pathway, antioxidant [25] as well as anti-inflammatory activities (2).

Home-made removal creams

Tattoo removals creams are a more convenient option as they are also quite easily available in markets but can be a bit costly. Most skin bleaching products contain one of the two active ingredients; hydroquinone and mercury. Hydroquinone has acute and chronic side effects in humans. The FDA & WHO Standards allows a maximum of two percent of hydroquinone in skin care products. The European Bureau of Standards banned some hydroquinone containing skin-lightening creams (3). 

You can make one at home using fresh aloe vera gel and mixing a tablespoon of Paederia tomentosa juice (fresh leaves juice will work the best) and two capsules of vitamin E.  Mix it well, massage it into the skin and wash away afterwards with lukewarm water.


In this brief guide, we answered ‘how to remove a tattoo with lemon juice?’ Also, we looked into the effectiveness of lemons for tattoo removal and other best possible methods to remove a tattoo.

Hopefully, you found this guide helpful. In case of any other queries or comments, please do let us know.

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Gross, Kenneth G. Dermatology: Removing Tattoos. Western J Med, 1987, 147, 456.


Hanif, Nadzira, et al. Plant-based skin lightening agents: A review. J. Phytopharm 2020, 9, 54-60.


Mustafa, Abdalla M. Abdalla, and Mohamed El Mukhtar A. Aziz. Determination of Hydroquinone in Skin Lightening Creams Sold in Sudan by Using High Performance Liquid Chromatography. J Middle East North Afr Sci, 2016, 10, 1-5.


Matthews, Marc R., et al. Lemons in the Arizona Sunshine: The Effects of Furocoumarins Leading to Phytophotodermatitis and Burn-like Injuries. Wounds: a Compendium of Clinical Research and Practice, 2017, 29, E118-E124.


Bernstein EF. Laser tattoo removal. Semin Plast Surg, 2007, 21, 175-192.


Hankinson, Andrew, Benjamin Lloyd, and Richard Alweis. Lime-induced phytophotodermatitis. J commun hospital intern med perspect, 2014. 4, 25090.