Turmeric Benefits for Skin
Like its cousin ginger, turmeric is a rhizome or a root. Turmeric powder is one of the most widely used spices in Indian and South Asian cuisine, highly valued for its distinctive flavor and vibrant yellow color. But, in addition to spicing up your curries and staining your Tupperware, turmeric also has plenty of health benefits to offer. It would be no exaggeration to say that every Indian recognizes turmeric benefits for skin care, as the spice has been used in skin care and other remedies for thousands of years.
In recent decades, there has been wider recognition of the healing potential of turmeric as researchers have linked its active ingredient – curcumin with a whole range of health benefits. Of course, our focus is on the benefits of turmeric for skin care, so we’re going to explore just how effective it is and how it can benefit your skin.
Turmeric for Skin
Reduce Acne Scars
No matter your age, acne isn’t easy to live with. Turmeric could make your life a bit easier and this is one of the biggest reasons for the popularity of turmeric skin care products. Curcumin has powerful anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, both of which can help fight acne. After all, acne involves widespread skin inflammation and is often caused by bacteria such as Propionibacterium acnes. Studies suggest that curcumin may be an effective antidote to this type of acne, especially when combined with lauric acid (1), which is found in cow’s milk, coconut milk and coconut oil.
If you’re using turmeric essential oil, make sure to dilute it with a carrier oil as essential oils are concentrated and can be extremely harsh on sensitive skin. In this case, coconut oil would work perfectly.
Psoriasis is one of the most common skin disorders that is regarded as an autoimmune condition. It causes the skin cells to be produced at an accelerated rate, building up in layers to form bumpy red patches and itchy scaly skin. This can also result in cracks and bleeding of the skin, making it painful. Turmeric can help to relieve psoriasis symptoms because of its powerful anti-inflammatory enzymes. In fact, studies have found that curcumin doesn’t just suppress inflammation, but also reduces levels of phosphorylase kinase (PK) activity, an enzyme associated with higher psoriatic activity (2). Aside from topical turmeric treatments, turmeric or curcumin supplementation can also provide relief within 12 weeks of daily supplementation.
If you’ve lived all your life in India, it’s impossible for you to have gone without seeing turmeric powder plastered over wounds, whether it’s on adults, kids, or even on neighborhood cats and dogs! Today, many may write off this traditional use of turmeric as nothing more than wishful thinking, but there’s science behind this old-fashioned remedy to heal wounds. There is plenty of evidence showing that curcumin lowers levels of proinflammatory cytokines and promotes quicker wound healing (3). Because of its amicrobial effects, turmeric can also lower the risk of wounds getting infected.
While some amount of exposure to sunlight is essential for your health, prolonged exposure to direct sunlight, especially during peak hours is known to pose a serious threat. UV radiation from sunlight can not only cause sunburn, but it is also the primary cause of skin aging and can increase the risk of hyperpigmentation and skin cancer. This is where the effects of turmeric on skin are somewhat remarkable, as its antioxidant compounds can protect against sun damage, even inhibiting the enzyme elastase, which otherwise impairs the skin’s ability to produce elastin (4). Less elastin means faster aging of skin and more wrinkles.
Improves Skin Complexion
In much of India, it isn’t uncommon for women to use turmeric powder for beauty and skin care, even as a skin lightening treatment. While you should be happy with your natural skin color and no one should tell you otherwise, you can preserve and accentuate a youthful glow with turmeric formulations. Aside from the fact that turmeric has nourishing and healing effects that will reduce skin blemishes, some research suggests that tropical treatment with turmeric essential oil can actually lighten skin complexion and give it a natural glow (5). As is the rule when using essential oils, make sure to always dilute it with a carrier oil.
Turmeric to slow hair growth
While everyone wants a full crop of hair on their head, no one really wants to sport underarm or back hair, especially not women. If you have a problem like histruism or simply would like to reduce hair growth on your underarms and body, turmeric may once again have a role to play. This isn’t one of the turmeric benefits for skin that is highly effective and it certainly won’t be a substitute for waxing, shaving, or laser hair removal. However, studies show that the application of turmeric essential oil (diluted) on areas like the underarms can reduce or slow hair growth (5).
With all of these turmeric benefits for skin supported by evidence it should be clear that turmeric is one of the cheapest and best natural treatments you can turn to for skin care. However, when using turmeric for skin, keep in mind that the efficacy can vary depending on the method of consumption. Curcumin in turmeric has poor bioavailability, which means that adding it to your diet won’t always do much good as your body won’t easily absorb it. Absorption can be improved by combining it with pepper. Of course, the simplest and most effective way to boost curcumin intake would be by consuming a turmeric supplement with high bioavailability.
You should also be warned that if you’re using turmeric powder as a topical application, instead of getting glowing skin, you could land up with bright yellow or orange skin. While that may appeal to the MAGA fans, if you’re not keen on yellow or orange skin, don’t leave it on your skin for too long and wash off with an exfoliator.