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Popularly known as the Indian saffron, this delicious spice with a vibrant orange-yellow color has been part of the Vedic culture in India for ages. It's been used as a culinary spice (along with other herbs, curry usually contains turmeric), as an object of ritual significance, as well as for healing ayurvedic preparations. Today, the world of beauty is recognizing all the skin-loving benefits of turmeric, and it's often found in many skincare products.
In this article, we'll dive deeper into all the benefits of turmeric for the skin and share some tips on how you can use it.
Benefits of Turmeric for the Skin
The main active component found in turmeric, Curcuma longa, is called curcumin, which exhibits anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antimicrobial properties. Traditionally, brides in India have been using turmeric peels and face masks before their weddings to get that healthy skin glow.
Here are some of the most skin-loving benefits of turmeric:
#1: It's Anti-Aging.
Skin aging is a complex process that occurs after prolonged exposure to UV radiation, pollution, tobacco smoke, as well as a variety of internal factors, like stress and disease. All of these factors trigger inflammatory reactions inside the human body, increasing the level of pro-inflammatory proteins, cytokines, and depleting the antioxidant defense system. In the long run, this leads to prolonged oxidative stress, chronic inflammation, and skin aging, the so-called inflammaging.
According to research, thanks to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, curcumin, the main component of turmeric, has a protecting and anti-aging effect on the skin when applied topically. More specifically, a 2007 clinical study showed that Tricutan, a topical cream containing herbal extracts (turmeric, Gotu Kola and rosemary), significantly improved the signs of photoaging in 28 women, increasing skin elasticity and firmness.
#2: It's Hydrating and Moisturizing.
In a 2019 study, the effects of turmeric hot water extract on the skin's epidermis, the outermost layer of the skin, were analyzed. After an eight-week trial, it was found that thanks to the anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric, it regulated skin functions, resulting in increased production of hyaluronic acid, or hyaluronan, in the skin.
Hyaluronan is an essential part of the extracellular matrix inside the skin, necessary for the normal functioning of the dermis and the epidermis. It's responsible for nutrient exchange, skin hydration, as well as protection against free radical damage and oxidative stress.
#3: It's Healing.
Thanks to the potent antioxidant, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin, turmeric has proven effective in treating various inflammatory skin disorders, such as psoriasis, eczema, atopic dermatitis, iatrogenic dermatitis, and acne [source].
In addition, research suggests that topical application of curcumin can speed up the wound healing process by increasing collagen and hydroxyproline synthesis and helping the growth of collagen fibers.
#4: It's Skin Lightening.
Skin exposure to UV radiation, combined with free radicals-induced oxidative stress, often leads to increased proliferation of melanocytes (the cells that produce melanin pigments) and melanin synthesis, resulting in hyperpigmentation.
Research suggests that the antioxidant activity of both kojic acid and curcumin inhibit the action of specific melanogenesis-related proteins, reducing hyperpigmentation and improving overall skin health. Therefore, a plant-derived polyphenol, curcumin, is an effective skin-lightening agent [source].
#5: It Controls Sebum Production.
According to a 2012 study, topical application of a cream containing turmeric extract significantly improved excessive sebum production in 13 participants after the 4th week of the trial.
The study showed that this is due to various steroids and fatty acids (stigmasterol, β-sitosterol, linoleic acid, palmitic acid, myristic acid, and stearic acid) present in turmeric extract that regulate oil production in the skin. Therefore, turmeric-based skincare can be greatly beneficial for people suffering from acne and seborrheic dermatitis.
How to Use Turmeric for Skincare
Given the benefits of this ingredient, we see the need to include turmeric into your skincare routine and harvest all of its healing properties. Of course, you can always opt to purchase skincare with turmeric in them.
On the other hand, if you're a fan of DIY-ing your own skincare, making face masks that contain turmeric can be your next fun at-home project. With regular use of such masks, radiant and glowing skin is guaranteed.
The basic recipe for a turmeric face mask consists of turmeric powder, milk, and raw honey. Mix 2 tablespoons of turmeric powder, 2 tablespoons of raw honey, and one tablespoon of milk, and stir all the ingredients well to get a smooth paste. Apply to cleansed and dry skin and leave on for about 20 minutes. Then wash off and continue with the following steps in your skincare routine.
Of course, you can tailor this recipe to your own skin needs and add other ingredients into this mix, targeting specific skin concerns. Here are some ideas:
- For acne-prone skin, add three to four drops of tea tree oil into the mix;
- If you have dry skin, you can add one teaspoon of some natural face oil to this mask, like olive oil, avocado oil, almond oil, and even jojoba oil. They will help soften the skin, restore its moisture, and relieve tightness, flakiness, and itchiness;
- For targeting hyperpigmentation and dark spots, you can add one teaspoon of lemon juice into the mix. Lemon juice contains ascorbic acid that has skin bleaching properties and lightens skin by reducing the production of melanin;
- For extra exfoliating effect, you can add one tablespoon of yogurt (or even use yogurt instead of the milk in the original recipe);
- If you have extremely oily skin, you can add one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar. Apple cider vinegar also acts as a mild exfoliant and cleanser, removing sebum plugs and cleaning your pores;
- To get a more potent anti-aging face mask, you can mix in a few drops of rose water, one teaspoon of rosehip oil, and one teaspoon of aloe vera gel.
Bear in mind that turmeric has that intense yellow pigment that can stain the skin. Therefore, it's best not to use your DIY turmeric face mask as a leave-on product overnight. Also, if you have an exceptionally fair skin tone, don't leave the mask on your face for longer than 4 to 10 minutes.
With so many skin benefits, the golden turmeric face masks really sound promising. Targeting anything from oily skin to hyperpigmentation, turmeric should, if it isn't already, become a staple in your skincare routine. Whether you make your own turmeric skincare concoctions or buy turmeric-infused skincare products, it's up to you – just try not to miss out on this unique ingredient!
Does turmeric lighten the skin?
Turmeric has skin-whitening properties thanks to the antioxidant curcumin it contains. Curcumin regulates melanin activity in the skin and can lighten the skin and reduce hyperpigmentaton.
Can we apply turmeric on face every day?
Turmeric can potentially stain your skin because of its strong yellow pigment. Therefore, it would be best to avoid applying DIY face masks with turmeric every day, but rather once a week or so. Be particularly mindful if you have an extremely fair skin tone and don't leave the mask on for longer than 5 minutes.
How can I use turmeric for glowing skin?
Mix turmeric powder with some honey and milk. Blend the ingredients well to get an even and smooth paste. Then apply it to the cleansed face and leave it on for several minutes. After rinsing, continue with your toner and moisturizer.
Is turmeric good for pimples?
Curcumin in turmeric is an antioxidant that exhibits anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. Therefore, turmeric is an excellent home remedy for various inflammatory skin disorders, including acne.