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Turmeric for skin: How the superfood spice can help treat acne

We’ve heard a lot of skincare enthusiasts and even stars accredit their skin health to their kitchens. No matter what their skin type is or their skin concerns are, they always find their way to healthy and glowing skin with natural ingredients and remedies. And no, it isn’t just limited to fruits and greens but extends beyond to other items like oats, honey, almonds and even some basic herbs and spices. One such golden spice (as it’s popularly called) that not just elevates the food’s flavours but also boosts health is turmeric.

What is turmeric?

Curcuma longa or turmeric is a native Asian plant, the root of which is dried and powdered to give us the bright yellow-orange spice. It is primarily used to add flavour and colour to curry and other dishes, especially in Indian cuisines. Additionally, it is also predominantly known for its medicinal benefits; especially in Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine.

It contains curcumin, a primary curcuminoid, that’s been lauded for antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antimicrobial properties. Whether consumed or applied topically (in the form of over-the-counter products or as it is), turmeric is known to can help improve the overall health of our skin and our body in multiple ways.

Turmeric powder for skin
Image Credit: Karl Solano/Pexels

Skin benefits of turmeric

For hundreds of years, turmeric has been touted for its healing properties and cosmetic benefits. While a lot of people prefer DIY-ing turmeric-based masks and scrubs to reap the spice’s goodness, many incorporate skincare products infused with it in their daily regime. So, before you decide on how you want to hop on this bandwagon and use turmeric for your skin, let’s go through its benefits.

Owing to curcumin, turmeric’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties aid our skin in the following ways:

1. Skin brightening
As per a study, turmeric lightens hyperpigmentation and lends a glow to the skin. It also lightens marks, scars and age spots, which leads to an even-toned complexion.

2. Acne treatment
Its antiseptic and antibacterial properties help fight acne-causing bacteria. Additionally, it can also reduce acne redness, inflammation and scars. It is known to regulate sebum production and clear dead skin cells from pores as well, which helps in managing oily skin and the consequent acne breakouts.

3. Wound healing
By reducing inflammation and oxidative stress and positively affecting tissue and collagen, turmeric can also help in healing wounds quickly.

4. Treating other dermatologic conditions
Whether consumed orally or applied topically, turmeric has helped in improving other skin issues and conditions like psoriasis, eczema and rosacea to a great extent.

How do you use turmeric for treating acne?

There are two ways to incorporate turmeric for acne into your lifestyle; the first one being oral consumption. You can either include turmeric tea in your diet or a turmeric supplement. However, before taking any supplements, consult your physician.

The topical use of turmeric for acne is also considered a great way to deal with breakouts. You can either include a turmeric-infused product like a face cleanser, mask or scrub in your skincare routine or apply powdered turmeric with water, lemon juice, yoghurt or milk (mixed into a paste-like consistency) directly on the affected areas. You can also DIY a face mask and use it two-three times a week.

However, do consult your dermatologist before indulging in topical application of turmeric, as well, to know what would work the best for your skin type.

Turmeric drink
Image Credit: Ksenia Chernaya/Pexels

Is it effective?

Since the curcumin content in turmeric has antimicrobial properties and can combat acne-causing bacteria such as Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes), a systematic study shows that it may help in treating acne.

Additionally, as per 2019 research, the resistance of P. acnes to some antibiotic treatments led researchers to explore the effects of curcumin on such drug-resistant strains of the bacteria and found that it could fight off those antibiotic-resistant strains.

While there have been other studies as well contributing to the growing amount of evidence proving curcumin’s skin benefits, a lot more research is still required to confirm its efficacy and safety.

Side effects of turmeric

Although turmeric is safe to consume orally, excessive consumption for extended periods can cause gastrointestinal issues like diarrhoea, headaches, rashes and yellow stool.

When considered for topical use, as per a review, curcumin in turmeric is an allergen and can cause contact dermatitis with symptoms like dry and itchy skin, blisters, burning and stinging.

Hence, it is recommended to always do a patch test on your forearm to check for any allergic reactions 24 hours prior to use.

When applied to the skin, turmeric tends to leave a yellow stain or residue behind, which is normal and nothing to worry about.

Conclusion

The curcumin compound in turmeric has been indicated to have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties which may help in treating acne. However, more research is required to completely understand its safety and efficacy and the potential health benefits in its entirety.

If you’re considering using it for your skin or taking turmeric supplements, consult a general practitioner or a dermatologist beforehand.

Here are some turmeric-infused skincare products you can invest in

(Main and Featured Image Courtesy: Lacaosa/Getty Images)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Question: How to make a turmeric mask for acne?

Answer: One of the simplest and most easy-to-make turmeric masks to treat acne includes mixing half a teaspoon of turmeric powder with two to three teaspoons of plain yoghurt and a dash of honey. Mix it well to form a paste, apply on the face, leave on for 15 to 20 minutes and rinse off with water. You can also add half a teaspoon of sandalwood powder to this mix.

Question: How to use turmeric powder for acne?

Answer: You can mix turmeric powder with a few drops of water or cucumber or lemon juice to make a paste and apply it directly to the affected areas.

Question: Which turmeric is best for your face?

Answer: You can use your usual kitchen turmeric powder to make your masks and scrubs for the face.

Question: How to use turmeric for treating acne scars?

Answer: For acne treatment, you can either DIY a turmeric face mask, use it as a spot-treatment paste or use skin care products like cleansers and lotions that are enriched with the goodness of this spice.

Question: Are turmeric and honey good for acne treatment?

Answer: Yes, the combination of turmeric and honey works well for acne treatment as both have antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

Divya Arora
An old-school at heart with a taste for contemporary finery, Divya believes in making the best of both worlds. She's a happy-go-lucky person who spends her time reading, Zentangling, or binge-watching. Hogging food & dozing off often comes naturally to her. Also, chai!
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