When shopping for spices, one ingredient that you must never forget is turmeric.
Bright orange-yellow in color, this popular Indian spice has a light, complementary taste and smell. When added to milk and curry, it imparts a nice golden color.
Apart from adding color and taste to your dishes, turmeric is good for your health. It can help improve cardiovascular health, boost digestive health, ease joint pain, increase blood circulation, prevent blood clots, delay the onset of Type 2 diabetes and improve your memory, to name a few.
Turmeric is also especially good for your skin. In fact, it has been used as a skin care ingredient for centuries.
You can use it to tackle a range of skin troubles, from an uneven skin tone to acne and from cracked feet to eczema scars. The skin benefits of turmeric basically come from its active compound curcumin and its antibacterial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antiseptic properties.
Here are the top 10 skin benefits of turmeric that you must know.
1. Cures Acne
Whether you are worried about acne breakouts or the resulting scars, turmeric is the right solution for all acne-related problems.
Its antibacterial nature inhibits the growth of acne-causing bacteria. A 2013 study published in the journal Chemical and Pharmaceutical Bulletin reports that curcumin in turmeric exhibits antimicrobial activity that inhibits P. acnes bacteria that cause acne (1).
Plus, it has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that are beneficial for reducing acne symptoms.
Turmeric also has natural oil-controlling properties, which help reduce acne breakouts.
- Mix equal amounts of turmeric and honey, then apply it directly on the acne-affected area. Leave it on overnight. The next morning, rinse it off with cool water. Do it once daily.
- Alternatively, mix ½ a teaspoon of turmeric with 2 teaspoons of sandalwood powder and some milk to form a paste. Apply it all over your face and leave it to dry. Wash it off with lukewarm water. Do this 2 or 3 times a week.
2. Controls Oily Skin
Having oily skin can be a nightmare. Excess oil on the outer skin layer often leads to whiteheads, blackheads, blind pimples and other skin irritations. To solve the problem of oily skin, turmeric is very beneficial.
Turmeric has natural oil-controlling properties that can help control the excess oil (sebum) secretion. The fatty acids and phytosterols in turmeric help reduce excess skin oils.
A 2013 study published in the Tropical Journal of Pharmaceutical Research found that the extract obtained from the rhizomes of the turmeric plant can be used in skin preparations to regulate excessive sebum secretion in people suffering from acne and related problems (2).
- Mix ½ a teaspoon of turmeric powder and 1 teaspoon each of yogurt and fresh lemon juice to form a paste. Apply an even layer of the paste on your face. Allow it to sit for 30 minutes, then rinse it off with warm water. Use this mask twice a week.
- Alternatively, mix ½ a teaspoon of turmeric powder with 1 tablespoon of gram flour. Add a little rose water to form a paste. Apply it on your face and allow it to dry on its own. Then rinse it off using lukewarm water. Use this mask 2 or 3 times a week.
3. Protects Against Sun Damage
Exposure to harmful ultraviolet (UV) sunrays can cause serious damage to the skin. Sun damage can make your skin look dark and dull.
Due to its skin-lightening and anti-aging properties, turmeric helps keep your skin protected from sun damage.
In a 2009 study published in Phytomedicine, researchers analyzed the effects of a turmeric extract on chronic UVB irradiation-induced skin damage in melanin-possessing hairless mice. They found that turmeric extract protected the skin from UV rays, prevented the formation of wrinkles, helped retain skin elasticity and reduced the appearance of dark spots (3).
- Mix ½ a teaspoon each of turmeric powder, lemon juice, and raw milk. Apply it all over the affected area and wait until it dries. Wash it off with cold water. Do this once daily.
- Alternatively, mix equal amounts of turmeric powder and sandalwood powder. Add some rose water to make a thick paste. Apply the paste on the affected areas and leave it on for 30 minutes. Wash it off using cold water. Do this twice a week.
4. Heals Wounds
The anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties of turmeric work together to heal wounds. Its antiseptic nature also reduces the risk of infections.
The curcumin in turmeric improves wound healing by modulating collagen and decreasing reactive oxygen species. It also minimizes scarring.
A 2014 study published in Life Sciences reports that curcumin helps reduce the body’s natural response to cutaneous wounds, such as inflammation and oxidation (4). The wound-healing properties of curcumin also enhance granulation tissue formation, collagen deposition, tissue remodeling, and wound contraction.
Another study published in the West Indian Medical Journal in 2015 analyzed the impact of turmeric cream on healing wounds from a cesarean section and found it promoted faster healing and even helped reduce complications from the wounds (5).
- To promote wound healing, mix ½ a tablespoon of turmeric in enough coconut oil to form a paste. Apply it on the wound 2 or 3 times a day to reduce pain and prevent infection.
- You can also mix 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder in a glass of hot milk, and drink it daily for a few days before going to bed.
5. Delays Signs of Skin Aging
Turmeric is rich in antioxidants that help protect your skin against free-radical damage. This, in turn, slows down the signs of aging like dark spots, fine lines, and wrinkles.
A 2010 study published in Immunity & Ageing reports that curcumin could be a useful anti-aging substance. Not only does it reduce the risk of many of age-related diseases, it also improves one’s skin condition because of its powerful anti-inflammatory properties (6).
A 2016 study published in Phytotherapy Research reports that turmeric/curcumin products and supplements, both oral and topical, may provide therapeutic benefits for skin health (7).
- Take curcumin supplements regularly to keep your body protected against free-radical damage. Take a supplement only after consulting your doctor.
- If you have wrinkles or fine lines, mix a ¼ tablespoon of organic turmeric powder and 1 tablespoon of plain yogurt and apply it on the affected area. Leave it on for 20 minutes, then rinse it off with water. Use this treatment 2 or 3 times a week.
6. Treats Eczema
Turmeric is also beneficial in the treatment of eczema, an inflammatory skin condition that causes symptoms like dry, red, and itchy skin.
Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, has anti-inflammatory properties that help treat inflammation and itching. Its antimicrobial nature also helps kill any bacteria that might be causing eczema.
Plus, it helps in the regeneration of healthy skin.
- Mix ½ a teaspoon of turmeric powder with enough milk to make a paste. Apply this paste on the affected skin and allow it to dry on its own. Then rinse it off using cool water. Do it twice daily.
- Alternatively, mix 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder and 1½ teaspoons of coconut oil to form a paste. Apply it on the affected area. Leave it on for 15 minutes, then rinse it off with water. Do it 3 or 4 times a day.
7. Aids Psoriasis Treatment
Turmeric is also beneficial for treating psoriasis. The compound curcumin in it has a natural anti-inflammatory action, which can help treat psoriasis symptoms like itchiness, redness, pain, and inflammation.
Curcumin also has the ability to alter gene expression, which in turn helps in fighting this skin condition.
According to a 2015 study published in the Iranian Journal of Pharmaceutical Research, turmeric may be considered as an alternative topical treatment for psoriasis. It may also be helpful when used alongside traditional treatment methods (8).
Another study published in Protoplasma in 2016 reports that medicinal plants such as turmeric may help treat and prevent plaque psoriasis. Turmeric extracts may also lessen high levels of cytokines, which stimulate cell inflammation (9).
- Make a thick paste by adding sufficient water to 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder. Apply it on the affected area, cover it with a gauze and leave it on overnight. The next morning, remove the gauze and rinse your skin with lukewarm water. Do this daily.
- Alternatively, mix 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder in a glass of almond milk. Sweeten it with honey. Drink it twice daily for at least a few weeks.
8. Brightens Skin Complexion
Turmeric contains antioxidant components that help provide a natural glow and luster to the skin. In fact, it helps improve your skin tone by bringing out its natural glow.
It also helps fade dark spots by inhibiting skin pigmentation.
- Put a ¼ teaspoon of turmeric powder and 1 teaspoon each of honey and milk in a bowl.
- Mix thoroughly to form a smooth paste.
- Apply it on your face and neck area.
- Leave it on for 25 minutes, then wash it off.
- Repeat 3 or 4 times a week.
9. Soothes Minor Burns
Turmeric is known for its soothing properties that may help deal with minor burns. The anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin help reduce the pain from minor burns. It may also decrease damage to the skin tissues.
A study published in the Journal of Burn Care & Research in 2011 found that treatment of burn wounds with intravenous curcumin in a rat comb burn model decreased burn wound progression and that these effects were bimodal, suggesting more than one mechanism of action (10).
A 2013 study published in Expert Opinion on Investigational Drugs found curcumin to be a promising investigational drug to treat both burn pain and wounds (11).
- Mix a pinch of turmeric with some milk and apply it on the affected area. Let it dry, then wash it off gently with cool water. Repeat this several times a day.
- To prepare your own burn cream, mix ½ a cup of aloe vera gel, 2 tablespoons of coconut oil and ½ a teaspoon of turmeric in a jar. Put the jar in a cool, dark place for 1 week. Then use it as a homemade lotion on burn wounds.
10. Heals Cracked Heels
Cracked heels not only compel you to keep your feet covered all the time, they also cause a lot of pain. To help treat the cracks on your heels, try turmeric.
Being anti-inflammatory in nature, turmeric helps deal with the pain. Also, its antimicrobial nature plays a key role in preventing any fungal infection from developing.
- Mix ½ a tablespoon of turmeric powder and 1 tablespoon of neem paste. Apply it on the cracks. Leave it on for 30 minutes, then rinse it off using lukewarm water. Do it 1 or 2 times a day.
- Alternatively, mix 1 tablespoon of turmeric powder and a little coconut or olive oil to form a paste. Apply the paste on your cracked heels and put on an old pair of socks. Leave it on overnight. The next morning, wash off the paste with warm water and a mild soap. Do this once daily.
- Always buy good quality turmeric to reap the maximum skin benefits. If possible, buy only organic turmeric.
- Handle turmeric carefully and take necessary precautions, as it can leave a bright yellow stain on everything it touches.
- If there is turmeric stain on your skin, do not panic. It will fade away in a matter of a few days.
- Some people may be allergic to turmeric, so always do a patch test before using it more broadly on your skin.