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Spice, Spice, Baby: The Health and Beauty Benefits of Turmeric

skin care with turmeric

We all know that turmeric—the main spice used to make curry—is seriously delish. But did you know that it actually has some pretty cool health and beauty benefits? This golden-hued herb has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine (a system of healing medicine that has been around for more than 5,000 years), says Dr. Sharyn Laughlin, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and medical director of Laserderm in Ottawa, Ontario. Indian brides have even reportedly been using DIY turmeric masks for years to achieve glowing skin, notes Dr. Laughlin.

Health Benefits of Turmeric

Turmeric contains curcumin, a type of polyphenol (a potent antioxidant) that has anti-inflammatory properties, says Samantha Cassetty, RD, a New York City–based nutritionist. Dr. Laughlin points out that doctors are now studying its use in relation to everything from gastrointestinal disorders to cancer to depression. “The polyphenol compounds within turmeric seem to exhibit efficacy in multiple pathways related to things like improving the cellular death of cancerous cells and inhibiting their migration,” she says.

A study published in the journal Foods explains that curcumin’s anti-inflammatory properties aids in reducing symptoms associated with conditions including arthritis and anxiety. The study also notes that due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nature, curcumin can also boost the mood and brain function of healthy people.

Skin Care Benefits of Turmeric

“In terms of topical use, we are starting to understand that turmeric has beneficial properties relating to its use as an anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and antioxidant,” says Dr. Laughlin. “It’s emerging as an innovative ingredient for improving wound healing and the benefits extend to other skin conditions like acne and eczema,” she adds.

Various studies back this up. A 2016 review found that turmeric—when taken internally or applied topically—may help improve skin issues ranging from acne to psoriasis to sun damage. Another study suggests that curcumin in facial cream could help prevent the production of melanin, the pigment responsible for dark spots.

How to Use Turmeric (and Precautions to Note)

When it comes to adding spices like turmeric to your diet, Cassetty recommends using them liberally and often to help reap the antioxidant benefits. Sprinkling some into coffee or your baked goods are easy ways to hop on the turmeric train, she adds.

But before you do, there are a few precautions to note. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Medicine, turmeric is considered safe when ingested or applied topically, but taking high doses of it may cause stomach troubles. Plus, the Center recommends consulting with your doctor before adding any herbal supplements to your routine, as supplements can sometimes interact with medications. Additionally, applying turmeric directly to your face could get messy really fast.

Best Products With Turmeric 

Not a DIY-er? Spice up your beauty routine with these turmeric-infused products instead!

  1. 1. Eminence Organic Skin Care Bright Skin Targeted Dark Spot Treatment
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    1. Eminence Organic Skin Care Bright Skin Targeted Dark Spot Treatment

    If you’re looking for a way to fade dark spots and make your skin brighter, turn your attention to this dark spot treatment. Turmeric and licorice root help lighten hyperpigmentation, punarnava curbs melanin (a.k.a. pigment) synthesis to even skin and GigaWhite™ blocks melanin production. In addition to your face, you can even use this dark spot corrector on your hands and chest.

    Buy now with free delivery
  2. 2. Lancer Skincare Omega Hydrating Oil
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    2. Lancer Skincare Omega Hydrating Oil

    Facial oils sometimes get a bad rap, but not all of them are greasy. In fact, this one is quite the opposite. It contains turmeric for antioxidant protection and added brightness, fermented olive and argan oils to reduce the look of fine lines, chlorophyllin-copper complex to make pores look smaller and grape seed oil to moisturize sans grease. It’s the perfect pick for when you want to pump up the glow, whether you have dry or oily skin.

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  3. 3. Sunday Riley C.E.O. Glow Vitamin C Turmeric Face Oil
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    3. Sunday Riley C.E.O. Glow Vitamin C Turmeric Face Oil

    This particular product utilizes turmeric to alleviate redness and sensitivity (often associated with inflammation), vitamin C to brighten skin and provide antioxidant protection and lime pearl extract and white willow bark to gently exfoliate.

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  4. 4. Epionce MelanoLyte Pigment Perfecting Serum
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    4. Epionce MelanoLyte Pigment Perfecting Serum

    One of the most common skin care problems is hyperpigmentation, i.e. dark spots and discoloration. Many products targeted to treat this issue contain hydroquinone, a skin-brightening agent known to have some serious side effects. Luckily this dark spot–correcting serum is much gentler. It relies on ingredients like turmeric root extract, apple fruit extract and hyaluronic acid to brighten and keep skin feeling smooth without the harsh side effects.

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  5. 5. TULA Skincare Purifying Face Cleanser
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    5. TULA Skincare Purifying Face Cleanser

    Wash your face without stripping your skin of necessary moisture with this gentle gel cleanser. Thanks to the probiotics in the formula, this cleanser is able to calm inflammation and keep moisture in. It also contains anti-inflammatory ingredients like turmeric and blueberry extract for added protection against inflammation.

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  6. 6. Natura Bisse Diamond Lip Booster
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    6. Natura Bisse Diamond Lip Booster

    Skip the pricey and painful experience of getting lip injections and reach for a plumping gloss instead. This gloss not only makes your pout appear fuller, but it also moisturizes your lips and has a bunch of skin care benefits for the delicate skin around this area. Capsicum gives you that temporary plumping effect, turmeric oil defends against oxidative stress that can cause skin damage, omega-5 nourishes for softer lips and vitamin F keeps your skin barrier strong so that irritants can’t get in.

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  7. 7. Naturopathica Turmeric Muscle & Joint Tincture
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    7. Naturopathica Turmeric Muscle & Joint Tincture

    Whether you have a chronic condition that causes pain or you hit it too hard at the gym, sometimes your muscles need extra relief. Soothe aches and pains with this liquid supplement that can be added to water, juice or tea. Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory turmeric eases joint pain; dandelion root, which is chock-full of vitamins and minerals, helps keep muscles healthy; and horsetail is high in silica, an ingredient known to support skeletal strength.

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  8. 8. HUM Nutrition Turn Back Time™
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    8. HUM Nutrition Turn Back Time™

    Obtaining younger-looking skin is possible not just through topical skin care products but supplements as well. When paired with your skin care routine, this supplement aids in smoothing skin and protecting it from UV rays, pollution and all the stressors of life. Turmeric protects against damaging free radical molecules and fights redness, vitamin C spurs collagen production, polypodium luecotomos protects against sun damage and lutein keeps eyes healthy.

    Buy now with free delivery

Beauty Reporter

Christina Heiser

By day, Christina Heiser is a senior editor for L’Oréal Paris. By night, she’s a freelance beauty, health, and wellness writer for a variety of online publications like NBC News Better and What’s Good by The Vitamin Shoppe. Outside of the office, you can find Christina hitting up boutique spin and yoga classes in NYC, cheering on her college basketball team (go Red Storm!), and watching as many Broadway plays as she can possibly fit into her schedule. Her biggest beauty obsession: Hot pink lipstick. Follow her on Twitter.