Medically reviewed by Minimalist Health Specialist -  Written by Viddhi Patel (Journalist)  on 20th Oct 2020

Here's how the age-old spice turmeric, can spice up your skincare routine

turmeric for your skincare routine

Turmeric is the golden spice we have been familiar with since we were two, and our skin started bruising. Well, the beauty industry has found the application of turmeric ideal for skin replenishment. Therefore, the age-old spice is now a popular cosmetic ingredient.

For over 4000 years, Vedic culture in India has treasured turmeric as a herbal and complementary medicine. The plant has also been a favorite spice and medicine that mothers use to heal and administer to coughing children. And many of us have perceived turmeric to have healing properties and cosmetic powers.

Turmeric, a spice, a medicine, & a beauty ingredient used by us, has enjoyed the limelight for so many years.  

We all are quite familiar with turmeric, but what makes it so revered? 

The answer is curcumin.  

Turmeric for skin

It's been only one century that we have learned about its active component's chemistry, curcumin. About 6000 articles over the past two decades discuss the molecular basis for the antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and anti-cancer activities assigned to this nutraceutical.

According to research called 'Potential of Curcumin in Skin Disorders,'

Numerous studies have examined curcumin's antimicrobial and other properties, both individually and combined with traditional treatments.  

What is Curcumin?

The Curcuma longa plant's ground root is dried, and turmeric comes into the form which contains curcumin. Curcumin, found in turmeric, is a bioactive component that has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

Curcumin is a lipophilic and a polyphenolic antioxidant pigment, also the reason for the turmeric rich yellow color.

Turmeric is revered for all the right reasons as it contains numerous health benefits.

Historically, turmeric was used for cutaneous and gastrointestinal inflammation in herbalism as a traditional medicinal remedy. It was also used for weight control and poor digestion.

Applied topically or consumed orally, it doesn't fail to disappoint in whatever form it is brought into use. The turmeric properties that lead our skin to a healthier path and replenishment have never been a secret.  

Evidence of curcumin's wonders! 

Turmeric for skin and body, in general, has been noted to be abundantly beneficial. And these claims aren't just plain boastful but have a myriad of research supporting the pride of turmeric.

Curcumin has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer properties.

According to research conducted in 1999, curcumin inhibits monocytes and alveolar macrophages' production, reducing inflammatory cytokine. The result broadly talks about the anti-inflammatory effects of turmeric.

Examinations insist that there is a significant possibility of curcumin representing a low-cost, well-tolerated, effective agent in treating skin illnesses. There is a promising field for future applicative research of curcumin with other drugs and formulations.

Curcumin and clinical application 

Furthermore, in the effects of curcumin in skin treatment, curcumin also boosts skin hydration.

Acne, alopecia, atopic dermatitis, facial photoaging, oral lichen planus, pruritus, psoriasis, radiodermatitis, and vitiligo are significantly improved in severity with the treatment of turmeric.

A myriad of skin products and brands boasts turmeric to have all sorts of skin benefits. A study has also concluded that regular use of turmeric-infused cream can significantly reduce hyperpigmentation.

The clinical application is limited due to low bioavailability, rapid degradation, and the bright yellow jarring color on topical application.  

Curcumin and skin therapy 

Early evidence supports the therapeutic abilities of turmeric on the skin. However, these claims and mechanisms' efficacy is yet to be supported by further research, and reliable data is limited.

Some evidence confirms that the skin's inflammatory, proliferative, and infectious disorders can be modulated through curcumin, Although the evidence is not hard enough to be an established statement.

A research study conducted in 2016 on a mini-pig model states that curcumin can improve epithelial cell survival and recover skin and therefore be used to treat radiation burns.

According to the research, Potential of Curcumin in Skin Disorders, Turmeric calms skin and reduces acne infused redness by modulating pathways restoring a healthier and even appearance.

Conclusively, turmeric offsets environmental damage and, to a certain extent, thwart the effects of UVB light on the skin.  

Benefits of Turmeric for skin -

Turmeric application has research backing its ability to reduce inflammation and speed healing, which is beneficial for medical and cosmetic purposes. You can use it in fine form or as an essential oil. It is a potent antioxidant and a mild spice that can be effective in replenishing skin. 

Natural glow  

If there is a glow that you have long needed and the one that is not from highlighters, then using turmeric for skin can help you with that.

A natural luster can be achieved through turmeric as the spice contains antioxidants and anti-inflammatory components. Turmeric effectively revives the skin unfolding your naturally bright skin.  

Soothes skin 

The environment does unpleasant things to our soft, supple skin.
Usage of turmeric leads to skin hydration restoring the natural smoothness of the skin.

The antibacterial properties that curcumin possesses can repair condition-riddled skin.

Eczema and rosacea can be soothed through turmeric. The redness and blemishes can be effectively relieved by turmeric.  

Heals wounds  

Our mothers have used this ready medicine for knee bruises and elbow scratches. And they have succeeded in calming us and our wounds.

Curcumin in turmeric acts on tissues and collagen and helps wounds heal, reducing the burning sensation by decreasing oxidation.

The response of your body to cutaneous wounds is significantly decreased through turmeric.

Curcumin helps form healthy tissues and collagen to heal the wound faster and reduce the scar. The heat, flames, and pain due to white blood cells running towards damages to cure them are hard to bear, and turmeric helps calm the area.

The recent literature backs up the mother's DIY ointment's effectiveness made with turmeric and curcumin's wound healing properties. Curcumin notably enhances granulation tissue formation, collagen deposition, tissue remodeling, and wound contraction.

A study provides a rationale for the topical application of CICM (curcumin incorporated collagen matrix) as a feasible and productive approach to support dermal wound healing.  

Cures psoriasis  

This chronic illness of skin has irritated patients for so long, but it may soon come to an end as there is rising research in the field that suggests using turmeric as a cure for psoriasis.

Inflammation causes skin cells to keep growing on top of each other; the cells form patches on the skin like scales, bound to tear and bleed.

The research conducted on the mouse model says, curcumin," with high efficacy and safety, has a great potential to treat psoriasis."

The autoimmune disease is calmed by curcumin, significantly helping to reduce cell production and fight the patches.

Early studies claim that curcumin, topical or oral effectiveness, improves the skin health and conditions of plaque psoriasis.

Another research aimed at examining turmeric to cure scalp psoriasis and the results were positive. The clinical effects of turmeric tonic on scalp psoriasis were satisfactory overall. Curcumin is considered as a treatment for scalp psoriasis. 

Reduces Acne    

Acne has been a hurdle in the way of our beauty for a long time, especially for teens, and it is hard to get rid of it. Turmeric is said to have a remedy for that too.
The natural antiseptic in curcumin combats bacteria and reduces its multiplication.

Acne scars can also be significantly treated through turmeric. The antibiotics usually used are less effective now due to our bodies being immune to it.

Turmeric also calms rashes and scarring.  

Dermatological implications  

Although not factually, studies suggest that shortly turmeric will turn out to be a low-cost replacement to reduce all kinds of skin diseases like eczema, alopecia, etc.  

Evens out dark circles  

The bags under your eyes can be brightened through the application of turmeric and curcumin.

Turmeric is proven to be anti-inflammatory and helps increase the blood circulation that helps cure the under-eye darkness.  

Sun damage  

The UV rays are our sworn enemies and are unkind to your soft skin. Research suggests that the skin lines and damage the rays do to the skin can be cured. Skin sunburns, hyperpigmentation, and wrinkles can be prevented through turmeric.

Rat skin damaged by the sun was improved in a lab study. The research thus indicates the effects of turmeric on human skin soon.

Your skin's elasticity is limited and dries up in the sun. The suppleness gets affected. Turmeric blocks enzyme elastase, helping the skin produce elastin, which helps give skin structure and smoothness.  

Aging 

Aging is something we all dread, but we know it's inevitable!

The anti-aging properties of turmeric fight inflammation and help soften skin, restoring the youth's effect on the skin.  

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Hydrates skin  

Turmeric protects the skin from damage by hydrating skin and fighting dryness, helping the body eliminate dead skin cells. The antimicrobial properties also help induce hydration.  

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The other side of turmeric you should know about 

While all these benefits are tempting, some hurdles make turmeric a less preferred alternative in a myriad of topical skin treatments- low solubility, instability at higher pH, and a yellow stain.

Medicinal turmeric products often are combined with bromelain to increase the absorption and anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin. Ointments, tincture, oil, capsules, and tablets are forms of medicinal turmeric.

Dr. Dray says 

Turmeric has low micro-availability and hence is combined with black pepper and other spices in Indian foods.

She also goes on to explain that turmeric has low solubility in water and aqueous solvents, hydrophobicity. So it is hard to prepare an optimal solution for cutaneous delivery effectively.  

Important: 

Do a recce on your skin before applying on the face. Allergies can lead to itching, burning, or irritation.

Avoid using it topically if you are allergic to it. A patch test with a product containing turmeric can help you get familiar.  

Lastly:  

The benefits of turmeric for skin may seem overwhelming, but these are proven to a certain extent.

Conclusively, turmeric can be a great addition to your healthy skin routine as the properties that curcumin possesses are very beneficial.