The Best Way to Lighten Dark Knees & Elbows

Knees and elbows don't have it easy. They withstand frequent bending, stooping, leaning and kneeling. They take the brunt of friction caused by rough jeans and scratchy sweaters. To make matters worse, the skin around the knees and elbows contains few oil glands to provide lubrication. With all this abuse, it's no surprise that these areas grow a thick, rough, protective layer of skin with a dark, grimy appearance. Although there is no overnight miracle treatment, it's entirely possible to smooth and lighten these areas of the skin.

A woman is washing her legs in the shower. (Image: Jirawat Jerdjamrat/iStock/Getty Images)

Step 1

Make a simple skin lightening scrub by mixing sea salt and lemon juice to make a paste. For a milder scrub, combine lemon juice with sugar or dry milk powder.

Step 2

Exfoliate your knees and elbows with fresh lightening scrub every time you take a bath or shower. Use a loofah, washcloth or mesh puff and gentle, circular motions to rub the mixture into the dry skin. Scrub for two or three minutes, then rinse with lukewarm water. Avoid hot or cold water, which dries the skin.

Step 3

Pat your knees and elbows dry with a soft towel. Apply a thick moisturizing cream such as a product containing cocoa butter or shea butter while your skin is still warm from the shower.

Step 4

Rub a generous coat of petroleum jelly or heavy moisturizing cream into your knees and elbows before bed. Cut the toes off a pair of stretchy cotton socks, then cover the moisturized areas with the toe-less socks.

Step 5

Massage a few drops of warm olive oil into your knees and elbows any time the skin feels dry or rough.

Things You'll Need

  • Sea salt

  • Lemon juice

  • Sugar (optional)

  • Dry milk powder (optional)

  • Loofah, washcloth or mesh puff

  • Soft towel

  • Moisturizing cream

  • Petroleum jelly

  • Cotton socks

  • Olive oil


If your knees and elbows are extremely dry, soften the skin in the shower, then scrub them gently with a pumice stone, using a gentle moisturizer but no lemon.

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