Science and technology have helped develop some of the most revolutionary beauty innovations in the past 30 years, from Botox to microcurrents to the importance of wearing sunscreen(goodbye, foil screens!) — but one of the biggest breakthroughs in beauty this year has been used for thousands of years. We just didn’t have any clinical studies to demonstrate its propertiesuntil now. Turmeric is a member of the ginger family, but it doesn’t have the zesty zing of its flavorful cousin. It does, however, pack a punch with its health benefits and its earthy orange color, which can stain your skin and clothing. Unlike many beauty breakthroughs though, you can actually DIY turmeric treatments on your own, in addition to using products containing turmeric on the shelves.
“Turmeric has really strong antioxidant properties and can reduce inflammation due to its active agent, curcumin,” Manhattan-based dermatologist Sejal Shah, MD, tells Yahoo Beauty. “There are a lot of conditions it can help improve because so many ailments have a condition of inflammation.” Shah comes from an Indian family and recalls watching her mother drink a mixture called “turmeric milk” every morning: “Plain turmeric is difficult to drink or eat; it’s really the constellation of spices that make it good. My mom does half milk, half water, puts turmeric in it, and boils the mixture.” As part of the Indian wedding ceremony, there is traditionally an event called turmeric ceremony, in which a paste made of the spice is applied to the groom and bride’s bodies. “It’s applied to beautify the skin,” Shah explains. “It has skin-brightening properties. It has anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and possibly antioxidant properties. People also say it can regulate oil production.” In May 2015, Quantico star Priyanka Chopra told Into the Gloss that she sometimes mixes turmeric powder with cream or yogurt to make a scrub. “You’d be amazed at what it can take off your skin,” she said. Shah notes that the powder itself isn’t an exfoliator. “I know people say it’s like an exfoliating agent, but in Indian culture, it’s mixed with chickpea powder, which actually exfoliates,” she explains. “It’s not irritating by itself, which is why it’s good for all skin types.” Shah likes making a mask out of turmeric powder, milk, honey and a bit of almond oil. Shah notes that many of the claims about turmeric still need to be studied further, but so far the studies have demonstrated efficacy.
Heather Scholten, co-founder of spice company Spiceologist explains that turmeric is gentle for both ingestion and topical application — which is rare for many spices (remember the skin burning controversy from the French beauty blogger who made a mask out of cinnamon?). “When ingested, turmeric has been used to heal stomach and liver ailments. Those who consume turmeric on a regular basis report a reduction in arthritis pain, heartburn, sensitive stomachs, headaches, colds, and menstrual cramps,” she says. Not surprisingly, Hum Nutrition’s Turn Back Time Supplements ($40) contain turmeric for its healing properties.
Even luxury beauty products contain turmeric. The Peter Thomas Roth 24K Gold Pure Luxury Cleansing Butter uses turmeric for its soothing properties. (Photo: Peter Thomas Roth)
So, if you’re looking for beauty treatments with turmeric, there are currently a few available on the market. The Peter Thomas Roth 24K Gold Pure Luxury Cleansing Butter ($55) contains kasturi turmeric for its anti-inflammatory purposes, which makes the rich cleanser ideal for winter dryness. It comes with a konjac sponge for gentle scrubbing, but if you want even more turmeric in your cleansing routine, the Daily Concepts Turmeric Konjac Sponge ($18) is infused with the spice. (The Origins Dr. Andrew Weil For Origins Mega-Mushroom Skin Relief Face Mask ($38) is highly rated for its soothing properties, especially if you’re prone to redness and breaking out. And Brooklyn-based S.W. Basics’ Oil Serum ($29) contains turmeric oil for the most extreme needs for hydration. But the OG turmeric beauty product — and possibly the most effective and cheapest one — is Vicco Turmeric Skin Cream ($7), an ayurvedic medicine that Shah recommends for a few of her patients on top of Western treatments and medications. Vicco was founded in 1952 with production facilities in Dombivli, Nagpur, and Goa, and it contains sandalwood oil, which is an astringent. Refinery29 writer Kelsey Miller credits the cream for deep cleaning her skin.
But if you’d rather DIY your turmeric beauty treatments, here are three face mask recipes from Scholten to compliment your morning turmeric milk drink:
Turmeric Wrinkle Reducer and Radiant Skin Mask
Turmeric powder may be used to brighten skin tone, but it’s main ingredient — curcumin — works to suppress excess melanin production caused by sunlight. This turmeric face mask will make any dull skin super radiant!
- ¼ teaspoon of turmeric powder
- 1 teaspoon of yogurt
Mix turmeric and yogurt into a smooth paste. Apply it on a cleansed face and leave it for 10 to 15 minutes. Rinse the mask.
Turmeric Face Pack for Acne Breakouts and Blackheads
Turmeric made into a paste and applied to acne-prone areas can destroy the bacteria that cause inflammation and remove excessive oil from the skin. Turmeric possesses antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which are both beneficial in treating acne.
- ¼ teaspoon of turmeric powder
- 1 tablespoon of honey
- ½ teaspoon of lemon juice
Mix ingredients in a bowl. Cleanse the face before applying this pack. On clean skin, apply this pack evenly. Allow it to rest on the skin for 15 minutes and then wash off. Rinse off and pat dry with a clean towel.
Turmeric and Gram Flour Mask for Oily Skin
Turmeric is beneficial for oily skin as it regulates the production of sebum, an oily substance produced by the sebaceous glands.
- 1 tablespoon of gram flour
- ½ teaspoon of turmeric powder
Mix turmeric powder and gram flour. Add a little water to the mixture for preparing a paste. Make sure that the consistency of the paste is not drippy. Apply to skin.