This Not That: DIY Skin Brightening Treatments for Your Body

this not that diy skin brightening treatments feat image

Are you frustrated with your skin’s dull tone? Dull skin results partially from dead skin cells, which build up over time. Milk and lemons supposedly brighten skin, so I tested them out to see which one worked better, focusing on dull skin around the elbows particularly.

These remedies are geared towards problem areas like elbows and knees, and may cause irritation to softer skin on the face. Please exercise extra caution if using these remedies on your face; test them first on the back of your hand.

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milk for skin brightening

The first skin brightening remedy simply calls for milk.


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  1. Pour 1/8 cup milk into a microwaveable bowl.
  2. Microwave the milk for 30 seconds.
  3. Using a washcloth, massage the milk into your skin. Continue the process until you have used all of the milk.


  • This remedy is easy to prepare and does not require several ingredients. Plus, milk is an item that most people have on hand, so you can try out this remedy right now.
  • The lactic acid in milk works to lighten the skin naturally.
  • Milk hydrates the skin; the amino acids in milk help skin retain water.


  • Milk brightens and freshens up the skin after one use, but if you are aiming to lighten your skin, the milk remedy requires about three weeks of daily application to work completely. After those initial three weeks, milk needs to be applied twice a week.
  • Although the milk brightened my skin after one use, a close examination revealed lingering dead skin cells in the creases of my elbows. The milk brightened, but did not exfoliate.
  • Some studies have found a link between milk and acne, deriving from the hormones in milk, and while evidence is inconclusive, you may want to think twice about putting milk on your face if you are prone to acne.

lemon and salt for skin brightening treatment

The second skin brightening remedy calls for a lemon and salt.

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  1. Squeeze out the juice of one lemon into a bowl, and add ½ tablespoon of salt, mixing to incorporate.
  2. Scrub the salt mixture into your skin.
  3. Rinse and dry with a washcloth.


  • Citric acid in lemons works to exfoliate skin, and my skin felt much smoother after the lemon and salt remedy.
  • Lemons contain the antioxidant vitamin C, which diminishes signs of aging, such as age spots and wrinkles.
  • Lemon acts as an astringent to cleanse skin, and may also help treat acne.


  • Beware of applying lemon to your skin before spending time in the sun. Lemon juice can make the skin more susceptible to sunburn. If you try the lemon remedy, test it out at night before you go to bed.
  • Lemons are incredibly acidic, rating at 2 on the pH scale, and may cause irritation when they are applied directly to the skin.
  • Lemons can exacerbate dry skin, so if you have dry skin and use this remedy, be sure to follow it up with a moisturizing lotion.

Verdict: The lemon and salt remedy was tempting, because the salt exfoliated my skin better than the milk, but my skin did not react negatively to the lemon. Since everyone’s skin is different, and lemon poses more health concerns, milk wins this match-up. Milk gently brightened my skin, and next time, after I heat the milk, I’ll stir in a tablespoon of sugar to assist in exfoliation.

For more This Not That, check out our features here.

How do you moisturize and brighten your skin?

All images via Thinkstock



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