Turmeric: The oldest trick in the beauty book

What is it?

There's no denying that turmeric has been having a moment in health and wellness circles.  Long-loved as an essential ingredient of spicy dishes, it's now finding its way into the likes of lattes and other food environments in which it's enjoyed not just for its deliciousness, but also the health properties for which it's long been used by cultures in the East. You may be well aware of what turmeric can do for you from the inside out, but it's worth exploring as a skincare ingredient, too.

 Its powder is derived from the root of Curcuma zedoaria, a form of ginger native to Southeast Asia. The active ingredient, curcumin, gives it that yellowy orange hue – and therein lies what makes it a powerful anti-inflammatory.

Want to know a little more science behind it?

Speaking to Russh.com, dermatologist Shyamalar Gunatheesan explains, "Turmeric is a spice, a rhizome of the turmeric plant. It's very natural. It's been used for centuries in Indian and Chinese medicine or used in cooking as a healing agent. Certainly, medically, we know it's an anti-inflammatory agent, especially when ingested through our gut." In fact, Gunatheesan advocates for ingesting turmeric in combination with your skincare routine, and we're all for another good reason to reap its rewards. When it comes to topical application, Gunatheesan says, "Traditionally turmeric rhizome crushed or turmeric powder put a stain on your skin, but it can reduce pigmentation, pimples and spots."

How does it help your skin?

Just as it acts as an anti-inflammatory when added to food and absorbed via the gut, turmeric displays the same anti-inflammatory properties when it's applied topically. Firstly this is good news for the skin barrier that keeps your skin soft by locking in moisture. Secondly and perhaps even more obviously, it can combat inflammation-related complaints that show up in the form of acne and pigmentation. 

Dermatologist Dr Mona Gohara says on InStyle.com, "Anti-inflammatory [properties] can help with acne, eczema, and psoriasis, while antioxidants can help with sun damage, complexion evenness, and ageing." Ok, that's some impressive stuff – but is it going to leave you with stained clothes and skin? Probably not when it comes to your favourite skincare products. "Most use the purified curcumin, as it is colourless," Gohara says. "Kasturi turmeric is also non-staining. Since the beautiful yellow turmeric colour can leave stains on the skin, it is important to find a cosmetically elegant, equally as effective variant. Because of this issue, I caution against DIY turmeric treatments."

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Sources:

https://www.instyle.com/beauty/turmeric-benefits-for-skin

https://www.russh.com/turmeric-in-skincare/

https://www.byrdie.com/the-surprising-skincare-benefits-of-turmeric-2442900

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