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The Benefits of Turmeric for Your Skin, According to Dermatologists

Say goodbye to dark spots and skin rashes and hello to a bright, glowing complexion.

turmeric, honey, coconut milk face mask homemade ingredients beauty products on a light background, top view beauty, skin care concept
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Is the secret to radiant skin sitting in your spice cabinet? One of the buzziest skincare ingredients right now is turmeric, a golden yellow spice that doesn’t just taste good, it can also deliver some major skin benefits, according to dermatologists. Applying turmeric to your face can help calm skin rashes, lighten dark spots and hyperpigmentation, treat acne and brighten skin tone, just to name a few of its benefits.

To answer all your questions about turmeric — including what exactly it is, how to use it and if there are any side effects — we spoke to four experts.

The Experts

    Read on to find out how you can use turmeric to achieve your brightest, healthiest skin yet.

    What exactly is turmeric?

    Turmeric is a root plant related to ginger that’s commonly used as a spice around the world, especially in South Asia. You may recognize it by its bright yellow color, which comes as a result of the active ingredient curcumin, “a potent anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, anti-neoplastic and antioxidant [that] combats free-radicals and free-radical damage,” says Dr. Patel.

    Turmeric has been used for centuries as an anti-inflammatory and preventative health supplement, and traditionally has been used to heal wounds and treat pain. It’s also a common ingredient in Ayurvedic skincare. “It is often applied on the skin of brides and grooms a few days before their wedding day to enhance their complexions and give the skin a glow,” says Dr. Bhanot. “For cosmetic purposes, it is used as an ingredient in Ayurvedic oils.”

    What are the main benefits of turmeric for skin?

    This spice can do a little bit of everything, but its main benefit is delivering glowing, radiant skin. “It has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antioxidant properties that show promising benefits in treating acne, atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, and even pigmentation when either ingested and/or applied topically,” says Wizemann. Here, in more detail, are the specific ways turmeric can benefit skin:

    1. Calms inflammation: Turmeric provides "anti-inflammatory benefits and protection from environmental damage,” says Dr. Sethi. Because inflammation is the root cause of many skin problems, minimizing it can in turn help improve skin issues like acne, rashes and redness.
    2. Treats acne: When ingested and/or applied topically, turmeric and its active ingredient curcumin have been shown to improve acne lesions, says Wizemann. Dr. Patel adds that you can make a paste with turmeric, water and lemon (vitamin C) and leave it on overnight to spot treat pimples.
    3. Soothes skin rashes: Along with combatting skin issues like dermatitis and psoriasis, “turmeric has also been used to heal scars, skin rashes, burns and other uncomfortable skin conditions,” says Dr. Sethi. “It is believed that turmeric aids in skin renewal, though is not solely responsible for it.”
    4. Lightens dark spots: While not an immediate fix, “topical turmeric helps with discoloration or hyperpigmentation if used over a long time,” says Dr. Patel.
    5. Brightens skin: Perhaps one of turmeric’s most talked about benefits is its ability to illuminate skin. “Turmeric has been used to reduce excess production of melanin which can brighten skin tone,” says Dr. Sethi.

      Which skin types is turmeric best for?

      Turmeric can be used on all skin types, but it's particularly great for dull, itchy and/or sensitive skin,” says Dr. Bhanot. But note that “it is possible to have a turmeric allergy and it is important to patch test to a small area before applying it to a larger area,” adds Dr. Patel. You can patch test behind your ear, and “if there is no redness or itching, then you can go ahead and use turmeric in your skincare,” notes Dr. Bhanot.

      What are the best ways to use turmeric in skincare at home?

      “Though turmeric is most commonly used in a paste or thick mask form, it can certainly be used as an oil, as long as the ingredient combination does not cause turmeric to become unstable,” notes Dr. Sethi. She recommends searching for products that also include soothing ingredients that replenish and calm the skin, like aloe vera and rosehip oil.

      You can easily find turmeric-laced skincare products to buy, but you can also make a DIY treatment it if you want to save some money. According to Dr. Patel, DIY turmeric masks “would be the best way to use turmeric topically.” Here's how to make one that best suits your skin type, according to Dr. Bhanot:

      • Oily skin: Mix together 1/4 Tsp of turmeric, 2 Tsp of cornstarch, 1 Tsp of honey and six drops of The Ayurveda Experience Kesardi Oil. Apply directly to clean, dry skin, leave for 10 minutes and remove with water.
      • Normal/dry skin: Mix 1/2 Tsp of turmeric, 2 Tsp of aloe vera, 1 Tsp of The Ayurveda Experience Yauvari Moisturizer and 1 Tsp of honey. Leave it on your clean, dry skin for 10 minutes before removing with water.
      • Sensitive skin: For more sensitive skin types, mix 2 Tsp of turmeric, six drops of iYURA Turmerisa Oil, 2 Tsp of coconut water, 2 Tsp of aloe vera and 1 Tsp of honey. Apply directly to clean, dry skin and after 10 minutes, remove the mask with water.

        If you prefer to buy, here are a few of our beauty experts' favorite products with turmeric in the ingredient list that are formulated achieve that glowing, even skin tone:

        Are there any side effects to using turmeric in skincare?

        As long as you’re not allergic, Dr. Bhanot says that there are no side effects to using turmeric. “There can be some yellow staining of the skin if used in a DIY mask fashion,” warns Dr. Patel, but skincare products on the market have been designed to minimize that staining.

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