The Top 6 Benefits of Turmeric For Skin, Plus How to Use

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    Turmeric is an ancient ingredient that has been used in everything from cooking to beauty regimens. We also know it can do wonders for skin health.

    Turmeric has been used for over 6000 years. Humans have been using it as a spice, a pigment, and even as medicine. In recent years, we have also discovered the positive effects it has on our skin health. Turmeric has been shown to have anti-aging properties, healing properties, and can even help with detoxification. Sounds promising? Read on to learn about how the spice can be beneficial to your skin and the best ways to use it.

    What is turmeric?

    Turmeric is a yellow powder that is created by grinding up the root of the Curcuma longa plant. It is a common cooking spice that is used in many African, Middle Eastern, and Indian dishes and has been used in traditional medicine for centuries. This mighty powder is also known as Curcumin and is in the same plant family as ginger.

    Turmeric as an antioxidant

    Turmeric contains high levels of antioxidants, especially turmeric varieties from Bangladesh. Antioxidants can help curb the effects of free radicals, which are unstable atoms that exist in the environment and our bodies that can damage cells over time. Using turmeric in your skincare routine can help reduce the effect that free radicals have on your skin, especially when it comes to aging. Turmeric has been shown to help restore elasticity, reduce wrinkles, and improve the overall health of your skin.

    Turmeric and hyperpigmentation

    Hyperpigmentation is a condition where melanin production has increased, causing dark spots. People with darker skin tones are more susceptible to hyperpigmentation. Hyperpigmentation can also cause an uneven distribution of melanin across larger areas. This increase in melanin can be caused by an increase in the enzyme tyrosinase. Unfortunately, research has not shown turmeric to be a great solution for hyperpigmentation. Acids like salicylic acid, mandelic acid, and ascorbic acid (vitamin C) can be much more helpful with hyperpigmentation. However, it’s important to consult with your dermatologist or licensed esthetician before adding any of these products to your skincare routine.

    Turmeric and acne

    There is still a lot of ongoing research on the relationship between acne and turmeric. Studies suggest that turmeric has a chemical makeup that inhibits the growth of Propionibacterium acnes. This is one of the main bacteria that contributes to acne. Since turmeric has been shown to help combat this bacteria, there is a lot of promise that further research may prove that it is a gentler alternative to the treatments that already exist.

    Turmeric and dark circles

    Dark circles under the eyes often come with aging, though people across all age groups can have them. Dark circles can also occur if you are dehydrated or are not getting enough sleep. If you have tried getting more sleep and drinking more water to no avail, the cause of your dark circles may go back to your skin health. Dark circles are far more prominent if the skin under your eyes is losing elasticity or becoming thin. The veins become more pronounced, leading to dark circles. Turmeric is known for helping reduce the amount of gelatinase in the skin. This enzyme is one of the main culprits that contribute to collagen breakdown in the skin.

    Turmeric and environmental damage

    One of turmeric's greatest powers is its ability to protect your skin from UV-B rays. UV-B rays cause sunburns, loss of elasticity in the skin, and wrinkles. This kind of damage over a long period of time can take a serious toll on your skin and make your skin dry, damaged, and looking much older than it actually is. While research is still being done on this topic, turmeric has been shown to help reverse some of the damage caused by UV-B rays. Using sunscreen and turmeric can help maintain healthy circulation, which in turn may help restore skin elasticity and smoothness.

    Turmeric and wound healing time

    Studies have shown that turmeric's properties as an antioxidant means that it can decrease wound healing time. One study was done looking at the effects turmeric had on cesarean scars. The results were pretty astounding. It showed that participants who used a turmeric cream on their scar showed decreased redness, swelling, and drainage of the scar as compared to people who did not receive the treatment. The reason for turmeric healing properties may be due to its ability to help increase circulation to a targeted area.

    How to use turmeric as part of your skincare routine

    When using turmeric in your skin care routine, you have a few options. You can use skincare products that have turmeric in them, you can use the root of the Curcuma longa plant, or you can just use the spice powder. A turmeric face mask is a popular choice. You can also apply the spice and rub it directly into the skin. It is recommended that you wash your face with warm water before using turmeric since it can be used in the same way that a serum is used.

    Can turmeric be applied every day?

    Yes, turmeric is safe to use every day as long as you don’t have a sensitivity to it. While turmeric is safe for daily use for most people, there are some people who are sensitive to it, especially in its raw form. Any time you are adding something to your skincare routine, you should patch test it on your wrist. Dab a small amount on the inside of your wrist and watch for any negative reactions over the course of a day or two.

    Can I use raw turmeric on my face?

    You can use raw turmeric on your face, though you should proceed with caution. Turmeric can stain skin if left on too long, and you may have sensitivities to it. Make sure to do a spot check on any product you are using for known allergens. You should also be very careful with turmeric and fabric, since turmeric is known to stain clothing. When using turmeric in your skin care routine, consider adding it to your moisturizer first, which will make the powder easier to apply to your face.


    Are there risks to using turmeric?

    Other than the small risk of allergies or sensitivities to it, turmeric is not known to have any negative side effects. If you are planning on adding it to your skin care routine, consult your dermatologist first. This is good practice when adding anything new to your routine.

    Key takeaways

    Turmeric is a natural ingredient that can help combat the environmental damages to our skin and even helps speed up healing time. It is known to have amazing antioxidant properties as well as detoxifying properties. It’s an easy addition to any skin care routine and has been shown to have pretty dramatic positive effects on people's complexion. Just be careful when applying it to your skin as it can leave a yellow stain behind.

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    Dr. Carla Montrond Correia ND, CNS
    Medical Content Manager
    Dr. Montrond-Correia is a licensed naturopathic physician and a certified nutrition specialist (CNS). She holds degrees from University of Bridgeport, Georgetown University, and University of Saint Joseph, and supplemented her education with internships in the health and wellness space. She's focused on research, herbal medicine, nutrigenomics, and integrative and functional medicine. She makes time for exercise, artistic activities, and enjoying delicious food.
    Our Editorial Staff
    Freelance Contributor
    The Care/of Editorial Team is made up of writers, experts, and health enthusiasts, all dedicated to giving you the information you need today. Our team is here to answer your biggest wellness questions, read the studies for you, and introduce you to your new favorite product, staying up to date on the latest research, trends, and science. Each article is written by one of our experts, reviewed both for editorial standards by an editor and medical standards by one of our naturopathic doctors, and updated regularly as new information becomes available.