Recently, I’ve been hearing a lot of talk about turmeric. The multitasking spice is an amazingly powerful antioxidant and has been a staple in Indian kitchens for hundreds of years. Add half a teaspoon to your food when cooking and you’re adding a whopping 3,500 ORAC points. Although some cosmetic formulators have been on to this ingredient for a while, it is just now starting to trend in the beauty industry and for good reason: The bright yellow spice is not only an important antioxidant, but it is also an anti-inflammatory, soother of irritations and a skin brightener.
Curcumin is thought to be the primary pharmacological agent in turmeric. Medicinally speaking, curcuma longa is believed to have many health benefits for the human body. Recent research points to this ingredient as an effective preventative treatment for Alzheimer’s, colon cancer, ovarian cancer, arthritis and diabetes. However, oral supplements are considered to be ineffective due to the poor bioavailability of curcumin.
In cosmetics, this ingredient is mostly used as an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, fragrance additive and dye. 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 potent drugs such as hydrocortisone. Its cosmetic purposes run the gamut from lightening skin to removing superfluous hair to curing eczema, psoriasis and acne. Below you will find a taste of turmeric’s skin benefits.
A skin lightener and brightener
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. Scientists largely regard it as a potentially safe and effective skin lightening agent. Turmeric is shown to help to fade and prevent dark spots by inhibiting melanogenesis and to stop the synthesis of melanin pigment.
A wrinkle reducer
In studies cited at the World Congress of Dermatology, 186 women aged 40 to 65 were split into three groups. The first group used a regimen consisting of a basic cleanser and one daytime moisturizer containing 0.5 percent turmeric and 6% niacinamide; the second used 0.5 percent turmeric, 6 percent niacinamide, and SPF 15; the third were subjected to a control. Over the course of 4 weeks, 72 percent of the women using the turmeric and niacinamide noticed a measurable improvement in the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
An anti-inflammatory agent
While most research citing anti-carcinogenic, anti-cancer and antioxidant properties involve oral ingestion of the ingredient, studies have proven the topical application of turmeric to effectively reduce inflammation and work as an anti-microbial. Curcumin reduces inflammation by lowering levels of two inflammatory enzymes (called COX-2 and LOX) in the body. There is also clinical evidence that topically applied curcumin is a chemopreventative for skin. It has also been demonstrated to work synergistically with bromelain, another natural anti-inflammatory.
For the treatment of skin disorders
According to a recent study, “topical administration of curcumin can directly deliver it to the affected tissue making it useful in treating skin-related disorders.” For those with skin conditions like rosacea or eczema, its anti-inflammatory properties can help soothe flare-ups. If you suffer from acne, curcumin has been shown to fight the bacteria that leads to its formation. Turmeric is also said to reduce oil secretion by sebaceous glands.
Where to find anti-aging turmeric
You won’t get very far looking for turmeric on the ingredients list of a beauty product. You will find it in various unpronounceable guises, including tetrahydrodiferuloylmethane and tetrahydrocurcumin, which is part of the tetrahydrocurcuminoids family. Please don’t be put off by these tongue twisters; turmeric is going to spice up your skincare regimen no end.
Try: Your Best Face Defend ($130 in the shop), Your Best Face Control ($160 in the shop), Your Best Face Prep ($80 in the shop), LIFTLAB Purify + Clarify ($65 in the shop), Sonage High Impact Vitamin C Serum ($32)