Skin is the largest organ of the body and taking care of the skin should be an essential part of one’s healthcare routine. The skin needs the right balance of nutrients to carry out its essential function of acting as a barrier that protects the rest of the body from the environment. It is important to feed the skin well from the inside to help keep it looking, working and feeling good. One of the popular and extensively used natural skin care ingredient is the humble turmeric.
Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is the commonest spice found in every Indian kitchen’s spice box. The plant is native to Indian sub-continent. The rhizomes are used fresh or boiled in water and dried, after which they are ground into a deep yellow-orange coloured powder – turmeric. It is one of the most important and widely used spice in all Indian dishes. Turmeric also happens to be one of the most studied herbs in Ayurveda science. It is power packed spice containing many essential nutrients like iron and manganese. It is available as a ground spice or in supplements and dermatology products.
Turmeric has many functions apart from a flavouring agent in food. It has multiple benefits on
the skin and overall health. Since ancient years, people around the globe have linked turmeric to healing properties and cosmetic benefits. Its benefits for skin range from medicinal to cosmetic. It is used in both natural and conventional alternative skin care products. Turmeric gets it health benefits primarily from curcumin – the bioactive compound in turmeric. Curcumin has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Studies have suggested that curcumin has protective effects against skin damaging chemicals and environmental pollutants
The top 8 benefits of turmeric are :
- Wound healing
- Fighting off acne
- Dark circle reduction
- Protection against sun damage and aging
- Skin lightening
- Reduction in appearance of stretch marks
- Combat dryness
- Anti-inflammatory properties : Curcuminoids, the active compound in turmeric is known to have anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties, which works wonders on many skin diseases like eczema, rosacea, and psoriasis. Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease in which inflammation causes skin cells to build upon each other creating scaly patches that are prone to cracking.
- Wound healing : Curcumin found in turmeric helps in speeding up the process of wound healing by reducing inflammation and oxidation. It also lowers the response of the body to cutaneous wounds which heals the wounds quickly. Turmeric boosts collagen production, causing injury to heal faster with minimum scarring
- Fighting off acne : Turmeric has natural antiseptic function, which is why it is an excellent remedy for acne and any resulting scars. The anti-inflammatory quality can act on pores and soothe the skin. A recent study showed that curcumin combined with lauric acid found in coconut oil is an effective way to combat acne causing bacteria. It is good for oily skin because it helps to regulate the production of sebum – an oily substance produced by the sebaceous glands.
- Reduces dark circles : It is known to stimulate circulation which can help to reduce puffiness and under eye darkness caused by poor blood circulation. It is rich in antioxidants, and this may prevent the onset of hyperpigmentation and scars
- Protection against sun damage and aging: Recent research showed that moisturizing creams containing turmeric had the ability to improve the appearance of fine lines and dark spots caused by sun damage. UV rays are the skin’s worst enemy that cause sunburns, skin cancer, fine lines and hyperpigmentation. Turmeric also helps in preventing loss of skin elasticity due to prolonged UV exposure. As turmeric is known to contain curcuminoid pigments which help the body in synthesizing antioxidants, which protect the skin cells from free radical damage and can slow down the signs of aging like dark spots, fine lines and wrinkles
- Skin lightening : Evidence has showed that because of the powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory property, it helps in healing and bringing out the natural health of the skin. It helps to treat uneven skin tone. When mixed with a natural bleaching substance like lime juice, turmeric makes an effective skin whitener. Turmeric is also great for removing sun tan that may make the skin look dull. These characteristics provide shine and luster to the skin, along with natural glow
- Reduce appearance of stretch marks : Turmeric is an antioxidant and can penetrate to improve the function of skin membrane cells, which will help to prevent and treat stretch marks. It slows the aging process and makes the skin supple with more elasticity. Turmeric blocks the enzyme elastase, which hampers the skin’s ability to produce elastin – a substance which gives the skin its suppleness
- Combat dryness : Turmeric can hydrate and revitalize skin which helps to alleviate symptoms of dryness. It naturally triggers the process of shedding off dead skin cells to reveal healthy and soft skin, protecting the skin cells from further damage
Turmeric preparations can be directly applied to fresh wounds, rashes and bruises. Medicinal turmeric comes in a range of forms including – capsules and tablets, ointments, fluid extract, tincture and essential oils. Turmeric has shown promising results on an array of skin conditions like acne, alopecia, atopic dermatitis, pruritis, psoriasis and vitiligo.
Turmeric is generally safe when used either orally or topically. Hyper supplementation (more than 4000mg / day) can cause some gastrointestinal side effects such as abdominal discomfort and cramps. Therefore, natural consumption of turmeric is beneficial rather than supplementation.
There are no known adverse effects of turmeric when used in skin care except that it leaves a stain after application, but that generally wears off after a wash. If one is looking for a natural home remedy for something like face mask to reduce inflammation or irritation, then masks containing turmeric should be considered. It can be used in combination with honey, coconut oil, milk, yogurts and lemon as face masks and skin care. To make sure one is not allergic to turmeric before using it as a topical application, it is advisable to patch test any turmeric based skin treatment by applying a small portion and waiting for the response.
By far, turmeric has multiple benefits and it is easily available and accessible in practically every household. It is an inexpensive, age-old, tried and tested home remedy for a variety of skin and health issues because of its anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal and anticancer properties.