Whenever I open my jar of Pratima Turmeric Mask ($32), I am reminded of a stain - an indelible stain - on my kitchen work service, legacy of a visiting friend who decided to cook us a curry with turmeric as one her ingredients. The thing about turmeric is that it is bright yellow and it makes everything else bright yellow. Buyer be warned: apply this facial mask and your face will be covered in a bright yellow film, as will your hands and anything they touch and, if you fail to rinse off every trace of the mask with water, your towel will become bright yellow too.

It is worth hazards though. I came across - and couldn't resist - this mask when I was buying Pratima's Neem sunscreen and they both have the Pratima hallmark of a few well-chosen Ayurvedic ingredients.  Turmeric is an important antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, soother of irritations and skin whitener. Curcumin is thought to be the primary pharmacological agent in turmeric. The research is a bit patchy and most of it has been conducted on animals. However, in some studies, curcumin's anti-inflammatory effects have been shown to be comparable to the potent drugs such as hydrocortisone. In a report in Medical News, one company claims that turmeric's skin whitening potency is four times greater than that of the conventional cosmetic whitener, arbutin.

It took me a while to work out what jasat bhasma is (confusingly, it is also called jasad), but it seems to be derived from zinc ore. In ayurvedic medicine, it is used to treat diabetes. More relevant to a face mask may be its ability to treat broken veins and sooth skin disorders. If our bodies are deficient in zinc there is an effect on skin elasticity, our ability to heal wounds, nail and hair strength. Zinc is also critical for cell proliferation. Anantool is also fairly obscure, but took less sleuthing to track down. It comes from a plant called hemidesmus indicus, or Indian sasaparila that is used to treat eczema and there is research that shows it to be an antioxidant that stimulates cell proliferation.

The immediate effects of using this mask are lighter, brighter skin. Happily, it also was hugely helpful in calming a bad reaction I had to some bug spray. I haven't been using it for long enough to see any impact on hyperpigmentation. But I have high hopes. Available from Pratima.


Turmeric, Jasat Bhasma, Anantmool, Organic Ghee, Vitamin E.