You’ve probably heard that turmeric is great for digestive health. But did you know that it can be beneficial for your skin as well?
Continue reading to discover the many ways in which turmeric may be able to benefit your face, body, and skin.
Uses Of Turmeric, The Wonder Herb: Botanical, Cuisine, Skin Care, And More
What Is Turmeric?
Turmeric is a rhizome, or underground stem, grown throughout India, across Asia, and in Central America.1 Botanically, turmeric is related to the ginger family. Turmeric has a long and storied history of medicinal use, dating back nearly 4,000 years. In Indian and Chinese medicine, it has been used to support both skin and digestive health. But what makes turmeric so special?
It is the bioactive compounds in turmeric that make it medically beneficial for the skin. One is its essential oil. This oil contains three active substances called ar-turmerone, α-turmerone, and β-turmerone.
The more notable compound in turmeric is curcumin.2 Curcumin is the active compound that gives turmeric its bright yellow color. Curcumin has long played a role as a coloring and flavoring agent in food. It has also been found to possess therapeutic properties and support skin health.3
How Is Turmeric Used?
There are more than 100 species of turmeric, many of which are used for medicinal purposes.4 It is also used as a yellow dye, as a component of religious ceremonies, as an essential oil, and as a spice. As an ingredient in curry powder, turmeric is referred to as Golden Goddess and Indian Saffron. In Northern India, it is known as “Haldi.”5
In Ayurvedic medicine, turmeric’s medicinal properties include helping to support healthy digestion, skin cell growth, menstrual cycles, and more.6 Additionally, other cultures take advantage of turmeric’s potential to help aid the body recover from cuts, burns, and bruises.
Potential Turmeric Benefits For Skin And Hair
There are many ways you can add turmeric into your beauty or self care routine for an additional “oomph”. Turmeric may help with the following.
Turmeric offers tremendous benefits for both skin care and hair care. Most famously, it has been used for centuries in India to make skin appear lustrous.7 Indian weddings often include a Haldi ceremony. This is a custom that involves applying turmeric with water to make a paste. The paste is rubbed on the bride and the groom on their wedding morning. According to the custom, the Haldi powder results in the appearance of glowing, lustrous skin for the couple as they go into their wedding.8
More contemporary skin and hair uses of turmeric include using it to support the appearance of a bright, healthy complexion. These benefits occur due to the antioxidant and properties of curcumin.9
As an ingredient in topical creams, turmeric extract can be effective at supporting the elasticity of facial skin while helping to prevent skin from photoaging. It works by helping to block the action of an enzyme that is triggered by UV radiation from the sun.10
Similarly, turmeric may help with reducing the appearance of stretch marks. It can be applied to the skin in the form of a paste made with turmeric powder (or fresh turmeric root), water, lemon juice, or coconut oil.11
One of turmeric’s many uses is to help mitigate the effects of oily skin. Sebum is the oily substance produced by the sebaceous glands in the skin.12 When it overproduces, scarring can result, due to skin blemishes, breakouts, and eruptions.13 Some studies have concluded that using the root in the form of moisturizing w/o (“water-in-oil”) skin creams may be effective at helping to regulate the amount of sebum that is secreted by the skin.14
Several plant-derived compounds act as skin whitening agents. Curcumin has been shown to inhibit the production and expression of melanin in the skin.15 This may result in a lighter appearance of the skin.16
Hair And Scalp
Furthermore, turmeric may be able to help soothe a dry, itchy scalp and support a reduction in dandruff. Try using it in the form of a pre-wash made from turmeric powder and coconut oil or olive oil.
Turmeric Essential Oil
Turmeric essential oil may have some of its own benefits as well.
DIY Turmeric Mask For Dry Skin
Dry skin may be caused by bad weather, too much bathing, or various medical conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. This can be problematic, as dry skin can make you look older and can damage the skin barrier. Microscopic cracks in the skin allow bacteria to enter the body that may lead to skin infections. In addition, oxidative stress caused by free radicals can trigger cellular damage, resulting in dry skin.
Try this DIY solution to help soothe skin and replace some lost moisture: Mix turmeric powder with milk. The curcumin in turmeric acts to neutralize the free radicals, allowing the skin to return to a more moisturized state. The milk contains fats and lactic acid, which helps remove dead skin cells, enabling new cells to grow, and allowing the skin to better absorb moisturizing products.17
Turmeric, So Wonderfully Versatile
You might initially recognize turmeric as an Indian spice used in curry. But it has so many incredible applications that go way beyond culinary uses. For general skin and hair care, turmeric is one of nature’s wonder herbs. Of course, for best results use turmeric in combination with high-quality skin care products and a proper skin care routine.
As with any skin treatment, whatever your skin goals, always consult with your dermatologist before using any new product on your skin.
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