I love a turmeric latte and some turmeric sprinkled in a cozy rice dish recipe. However, the ingredient is valuable for much more than just its taste. Celebrity aesthetician and holistic expert Tammy Fender notes that turmeric has long been used in Ayurvedic practices. Turmeric is packed with antioxidants, helps reduce inflammation, boosts memory and more. When applied topically it performs other magical wonders for the skin. The plant is a spice that belongs to the ginger family and is native to India and Southeast Asia, note cosmetic chemists Victoria Fu and Gloria Lu.
The benefits of turmeric in skin care
Turmeric is rich in curcuminoids, according to Fu and Lu. Curcuminoids have anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant and even brightening properties, they explain. The anti-inflammatory properties are a big win. “Inflammation is at the root of all skin issues, so incorporating potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory ingredients into our products is a top priority,” says founder of True Botanicals, Hillary Peterson. Formulator and CEO of Elina Organics, Elina Fedotova notes turmeric is beneficial for inflammatory conditions like acne, rosacea and eczema. “Curcumin works by inhibiting the activity of enzymes and molecules that cause inflammation,” says Fedotova. “Turmeric’s anti-inflammatory properties can help prevent the breakdown of collagen and elastin in the skin, which are responsible for keeping the skin firm and elastic. By reducing inflammation, turmeric can help prevent premature aging and the development of fine lines and wrinkles.”
Turmeric is a potent antioxidant, which comes in handy when protecting skin from damage caused by free radicals, says Fedotova. “Because of its powerful antioxidant activity, it helps to reduce oxidative stress after damaging UV exposure from the sun,” she explains. “Additionally, curcumin has been shown to stimulate the body’s own antioxidant enzymes, which can further enhance its antioxidant effects.” Peterson notes that turmeric is beloved for restoring radiance to a dull complexion. Fedotova explains that due to the antioxidants “turmeric has natural skin-brightening properties that can help reduce the appearance of dark spots, hyperpigmentation and uneven skin tone. It can also give the skin a healthy glow.”
Additionally, “turmeric has anti-bacterial properties that can help fight acne-causing bacteria on the skin,” says Fedotova. Turmeric is a core ingredient in the Herbal Poultice Compress Massage at Fender’s spa. It helps relax tired muscles and give skin a luminous glow. “Turmeric contains bioactive phytocompounds that both soothe the skin and support rejuvenation,” explains Fender.
Expert-recommended skin-care products with turmeric
“The trouble with any plant extract is ingredient sourcing. It’s so hard to know whether you’re getting a source that’s actually rich in these active compounds that will provide long-term skin benefits or simply…plant water,” point out Fu and Lu. “We like turmeric products that either come with some sort of clinical testing or have other well-known actives,” they say. They recommend Cocokind Turmeric Illuminating Solution ($24) or Clarins Double Serum ($132). Fedotova suggests the wide selection of products from Elina Organics that feature turmeric, including Healing Formula ($40) and Restoring Dew Elixir ($68).
Some products editors love that feature turmeric include Herbivore NOVA 15% Vitamin C + Turmeric Brightening Serum ($65), Eminence Organic Skin Care Turmeric Energizing Treatment ($89) and KORA Organics Turmeric Glow Foaming Cleanser ($42). “My favorite product that includes turmeric is the True Botanicals Ginger Turmeric Cleansing Balm ($48) that gently and effectively cleanses, while bathing the skin in glow-inducing ingredients like turmeric, ginger root and cucumber seed oil,” says Peterson. “After use, skin feels hydrated, bright and glowy!”