While we don’t recommend raiding your spice cabinet to concoct your own skincare products, it is true that many of the ingredients stored in your pantry can also be beneficial when used topically. Turmeric—that sweet-yet-bitter spice usually reserved for Indian-inspired curries and golden milk lattes—is one such ingredient. Indeed, turmeric has been used in herbal cosmetics since ancient times and remains a popular and impactful ingredient for skin problems today.
Here, we’ll introduce you to turmeric as a skincare ingredient and give you a few tips on using it in your routine. You’ll learn a little bit about its history, what makes this brightly-hued ingredient so special, and discover the most notable turmeric benefits for skin. Read on to learn how to use turmeric for glowing, healthy-looking skin.
What Is Turmeric?
Turmeric, sometimes referred to as ‘Indian saffron,’ is a golden yellow spice derived from the Curcuma longa plant native to Southeast Asia. Like its cousin ginger, turmeric is obtained by drying and grinding the plant’s roots into a fine powder. Research indicates that turmeric skincare has been used in Ayurvedic tradition for at least 4,000 years. Turmeric’s widespread use throughout South Asia can likely be attributed to its impressive nutrient profile: It’s rich in an abundance of skin-friendly substances, such as antioxidants, fatty acids, and vitamins (including vitamin C). Its most notable compound, however, is a substance unique to turmeric called curcumin. It’s curcumin that is responsible for the vast majority of turmeric’s skin benefits.
Turmeric Benefit #1: Turmeric May Help Promote Improve Skin Tone
Studies show that skincare products formulated with turmeric and curcumin can help improve the appearance of skin tone irregularities, like blotchiness, redness, and unevenness. Some evidence even suggests that using turmeric topically can help improve the appearance of dark spots and discolorations.
Turmeric & Cranberry Energizing Radiance Mask
To harness the power of turmeric, we recommend adding Turmeric & Cranberry Energizing Radiance Mask to your weekly skincare routine. This buttery exfoliating mask, which contains turmeric, cranberry seeds, and kaolin clay, instantly energizes skin to leave it looking revitalized. With regular use, the powerful face mask visibly reduces dullness and leaves your skin feeling softer and smoother. It’s suitable for all skin types and can be used up to three times per week to promote brighter, more radiant-looking skin.
Kiehl’s Expert Tip: For a truly relaxing face mask ritual, give yourself an all-out at-home facial. Learn how in our article How To Use a Face Mask To Pamper Your Skin.
Turmeric Benefit #2: It Helps Protect The Skin Against Oxidative Stress
Turmeric is rich in antioxidant compounds, including polyphenols, flavonoids, and turmeric-specific antioxidants called curcuminoids that can help protect the skin from free radicals. Free radicals, also known as ‘reactive oxygen species,’ develop after you’re exposed to an environmental aggressor (such as UV radiation or air pollution) or indulge in unhealthy habits, like smoking. If left to accumulate on the skin, free radicals can build up and result in visible changes known collectively as oxidative stress. When used topically, antioxidants help neutralize free radicals, thereby limiting the amount of damage they can do to your skin.
Daily Reviving Concentrate
In addition to incorporating turmeric into your skincare routine, using a daily antioxidant serum can help further protect your skin from stress and promote a healthy appearance. We recommend Daily Reviving Concentrate, an ultra-lightweight face oil made with sunflower oil and ginger root essential oil. It helps defend against damaging environmental stressors and correct the visible signs of fatigue for glowing skin. Though it is an oil, this unique formula is non-comedogenic, so it won’t clog your pores, and can be used by all skin types—even acne-prone skin.
Kiehl’s Expert Tip: Learn more about using non-comedogenic oils in your skincare routine from our article Why You Should Try Non-Comedogenic Face Oils.
Turmeric Benefit #3: Compounds In Turmeric Can Help Reduce Visible Signs of Aging
Research suggests that curcumin, the main antioxidant compound found in turmeric, can help reduce some visible signs of skin aging when used topically. It’s particularly useful in addressing skin texture concerns, like fine lines and wrinkles, and can help the skin retain moisture, which may help to counteract age-related dryness.
While it’s true that turmeric skincare can help protect the skin from some visible signs of aging, the best way to keep your skin strong and healthy-looking is to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen as the last step in your skincare routine every day. We recommend Super Fluid Daily UV Defense 50+, which contains antioxidant vitamin E and offers broad-spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays. The lightweight, fast-absorbing formula can be used daily to help protect your skin from damaging (and potentially dangerous) ultraviolet radiation.
Kiehl’s Expert Tip: Adding an SPF-infused facial moisturizer to your skincare routine can also help keep your skin protected from the sun’s damaging rays. Find our favorites in How To Find The Best Moisturizer With SPF.