Because the skin tends to produce more melanin—the natural pigment that gives skin and hair its color—in the knees, elbows, and knuckles, these areas sometimes appear a bit darker than other parts of the body. While darker toe joints are not a bad thing, some people want to lighten them up before breaking out their favorite summer sandals. Here are some natural home remedies that help moisturize, exfoliate, and lighten your toes.

Things You'll Need

Hydrate your feet daily with natural moisturizers like extra-virgin olive oil, vitamin E oil, coconut oil, or cocoa butter. Massage the moisturizer into your feet each night before bed, focusing on the toe joints to help prevent and minimize darkened skin.

Cara Hart, director of Corbu Spa & Salon in Cambridge, Massachusetts, tells Shape Magazine that potatoes are a “powerhouse” for evening out skin tone. Slice a cool potato into discs. Place the fleshy side of the slice to the knuckle of your toe, rapidly buffing each joint for about one minute. Perform this technique twice weekly, before the following step: foot exfoliation.

Exfoliate your feet twice weekly to slough away dead skin, which may be thicker and darker than fresh skin. Create a scrub from household ingredients like brown sugar and olive oil or sea salt and almond oil. Soak your feet in hot water for about 10 minutes, then work the scrub into your soles and toe knuckles with a pumice stone, massaging the feet for about two minutes. Rinse your feet and pat them dry with a towel.

Rub a few drops of pure lemon juice, which contains potentially skin-lightening citric acid, into each toe joint after you exfoliate. Let the juice penetrate the skin for a few minutes, then rinse your toes with cold water and apply the moisturizer of your choice.


  • To prevent discolored toe joints, protect your feet from too much sun exposure. Before going barefoot or sporting open-toed shoes, lather up with sunscreen rated SPF 30 or higher.
  • As an alternative to lemon juice, a pulp of papaya and carrot or a paste of turmeric powder and heavy cream may also do the trick.