Written by Divinity Nutra, Updated on February 25, 2023
Throughout history, the Curcuma longa plant served as a powerful healing herb in Ayurvedic medicine. Our ancestors long believed turmeric, extracted from the plant’s roots, was the foundation for its medicinal properties.
Turmeric has a wide variety of applications and health benefits derived from its curcuminoid content. It may be the most well-studied antioxidant in modern science. But, is turmeric good for skin? Can turmeric benefit skin conditions such as acne scars, eczema, psoriasis, and wrinkles?
Turmeric Benefits for Skin Care
Researchers have demonstrated numerous potential for turmeric, a spice best known for its ability to treat arthritis pain and a wide variety of other ailments. In recent years, studies have confirmed that curcumin can also help stabilize diabetes, lower cholesterol, and even reduce hypertension.
Now, studies suggest that turmeric for skin care is a real possibility. Trials have emerged, pointing to various topical solutions, as having the potential to treat a variety of skin conditions. Therefore, turmeric masks, powders, pastes, and even oral supplements may lead to healthier skin.
Before we get into the studies, let’s discuss the skin and these conditions in a bit more detail.
Types of Skin Conditions
Our skin is the exterior protective layer of our body. It keeps us safe from dangerous microbes, helps regulate body temperature, and permits various sensations (heat, cold, touch, etc.).
There are three layers of the skin. They are:
- Epidermis: This layer is the outermost part of our skin, creating a waterproof barrier, and generating our pigmentation (skin tone).
- Dermis: The dermis is the layer directly beneath the epidermis, and contains hair follicles, connective tissue (collagen and elastin), and sweat glands.
- Hypodermis: This deeper subcutaneous tissue is comprised of loose connective tissue and fat, and helps conserve heat and protect internal organs.
Understanding the skin layers is critical for treating various skin conditions. When considering adding turmeric into your skin care regimen, here are the most frequent usage scenarios:
- Acne: The most common skin disorder affecting 85-90% of the population. Hair follicles become plugged with dead skin cells and oil (clogged pores), causing an outbreak of pimples or blackheads. Chronic acne can lead to scarring. Acne often stems from obesity, hormonal fluctuations, or anxiety and depression.
- Eczema: Heightened skin inflammation, also known as atopic dermatitis, that causes an uncomfortable, itchy rash. Often stems from an overactive immune system’s inflammatory response.
- Psoriasis: An autoimmune disease (highly proliferative and inflammatory) characterized by the rapid multiplying of skin cells leading to bumpy red patches with white scales. If left unmanaged, it may worsen and lead to Crohn’s disease, cardiovascular disease, COPD, lymphoma, metabolic syndrome, and other severe conditions.
- Wrinkles & Anti-aging: A simple byproduct of aging. Wrinkles originate in the dermis and hypodermis layers of the skin from the breakdown of collagen and elastin fibers.
While there are many other inflammatory skin conditions, and even some that are exacerbated by thyroid problems, these are the ones that turmeric is most apt to handle.
Why Turmeric Curcumin?
We know that turmeric can reduce inflammation and improve antioxidant capacity in the body to help the immune system. These properties make curcumin excellent for overall health.
The thought is, since various skin problems develop with excessive inflammation, turmeric may be able to help. Also, it’s well-known that free radicals can damage the skin and contribute to acne breakouts. Thus, curcumin’s antioxidant activity may further benefit healthy skin.
Now, let’s cover the research and science surrounding turmeric’s ability to enhance your skin. More specifically, we’ll analyze the available studies surrounding acne, eczema, psoriasis, and wrinkles.
Turmeric for Acne Scars & Pimples
Does turmeric help with acne scars? It seems that it can. The first study we’ll look at examined the ability of topical curcumin to heal damaged tissue in a group of wounded rats. Researchers sought to uncover turmeric’s role in changing collagen characteristics and antioxidant activity while restoring skin integrity.
While reviewing the data, researchers noted increased DNA, total protein, and type 3 collagen in the damaged area. Curcumin had successfully amplified collagen synthesis and cellular proliferation at the excision site during the healing process.
Wounds treated with curcumin healed much faster due to its antioxidant properties and ability to improve collagen synthesis. This result gives hope that topical turmeric, in the form of facial masks or pastes, may diminish the appearance of acne scars and prevent further breakouts.
Additional studies have confirmed a similar story—curcumin treatment can significantly reduce wound healing time through several mechanisms of action.
- Shields the skin by reducing free radical damage
- Reduces the body’s inflammatory response
- Improves collagen deposition
- Increases fibroblast (cells that synthesize connective tissue) and vascular density
- Induces growth factor-beta, angiogenesis, and accumulation of extracellular matrix, all vital processes in tissue repair
These mechanisms indicate that turmeric may benefit the healing of acne scars while contributing to overall healthier skin. Curcumin may also reduce the frequency of pimples, blackheads, and other unwanted forms of acne.
Turmeric for Eczema & Psoriasis
Is turmeric good for eczema and psoriasis? Further research examined topical turmeric on the management of plaque psoriasis. The study contained 40 human subjects, both male and female, between 18 and 60 years of age.
The trial was a placebo-controlled, double-blind 9-week pilot study with topical turmeric microemulgel applied twice daily for the duration of the study. Following the treatment period, all of the psoriasis patients who used turmeric experienced moderate improvements in their symptoms.
Some of the individuals even experienced resolution of their psoriatic lesions. This result is impressive, considering the mean disease duration of the subjects (how long they’ve had a clinical diagnosis of psoriasis) was 11.5 years.
Other trials noted several mechanisms of action possessed by curcumin in eczema and psoriasis treatment.
- Antioxidant properties that reduce oxidative stress in lesions
- Inhibits phosphorylase kinases, an enzyme increased in psoriatic patients
- Inhibits psoriatic proliferation by down-regulating pro-inflammatory cytokines
- Significantly enhances overall skin health
Another study using a mouse model examined curcumin’s therapeutic effects on psoriasis. The trial assessed oral curcumin’s inhibitory action on the inflammatory factors responsible for psoriasis development.
Results indicated that curcumin inhibited 50% of T cells proliferation, a significant contributor to the advancement of psoriasis. There was also a substantial reduction in severe psoriatic symptoms.
Researchers found no adverse side effects in the treated mice, indicating that turmeric may be a safe and effective means to treat inflammatory skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema.
Our last study in this section used a group of 85 human subjects to assess turmeric’s ability to reduce plaque psoriasis symptomology. The patients consumed two tablets, twice per day, each containing 100 mg of curcumin for a total of 400 mg of active curcuminoids.
Much like our previous study, those treated with the turmeric capsules experienced down-regulated T cell-induced inflammation. Thus, curcumin may help suppress one of the major inflammatory mechanisms of psoriasis and eczema.
Turmeric for Wrinkles & Anti-aging
Can turmeric reduce the appearance of wrinkles? With consistent use, it may. One trial assessed the ability of turmeric to prevent chronic ultraviolet B (UVB)-induced skin aging in hairless mice. The study measured skin elasticity, thickness, wrinkling, and pigmentation changes caused by long-term UVB exposure.
The results showed that turmeric administration successfully prevented the skin from thickening and also preserved the skin’s elasticity. Furthermore, researchers noticed that turmeric prevented wrinkle formation in the treated mice.
This conclusion suggests that turmeric may have a visual anti-aging effect on the skin, but we need more human trials to confirm these findings.
How to Use Turmeric for Skin
There are two primary ways to use turmeric for the skin. The first is the topical application of turmeric. There are plenty of sites that will give you a step-by-step tutorial for making a turmeric face mask, but we’re not going to do that here.
The second method (which is the focus of this section) is the oral administration of curcumin in pill or capsule form. Together, oral administration and topical application are an excellent one-two punch for maintaining healthier skin.
Let’s state the obvious point first. Encapsulated turmeric supplements will not leave a mess or orange stains on your skin. Besides this, the powerful antioxidant capacity of curcumin helps to reduce inflammation fast and fight free radical cell damage at its source, which is a significant cause of skin problems.
So you have one method, oral administration, that works at a deeper root level to address skin problems. Then, you have the topical application, which improves skin on a surface level, such as clearing up acne.
Keep in mind that it’s important to pick a supplement that has turmeric and black pepper together. The black pepper extract, also known as BioPerine, boosts absorption in the body by 20 times. A good supplement will also contain a small amount of AstraGin, which improves gut health and increases curcumin uptake by another 92%.
How much turmeric should I take for skin care? For maximum benefits, you’ll need to know how much turmeric per day is a safe and effective amount. Look for a product that contains 150 to 250 mg of curcumin in a 2-capsule serving size. This is the perfect starting range to work with, see how your body handles it, and titrate upwards if needed.
If you’re going to take a second dose, for example, one in the morning and one before bed, just make sure to split them up at least 8 hours from each other for best results.
How long does it take turmeric to clear acne?
For oral administration of curcumin, you’ll begin to notice skin benefits with 4 to 8 weeks of consistent dosing. This gives curcumin enough time to work its way through the body, reducing systemic inflammation, and supporting skin integrity and collagen synthesis.
For a turmeric face mask, most users notice a surface improvement in about 48 hours. This is why it’s important to use a curcumin supplement and topical application together.
Potential Side Effects
What are the negative effects of turmeric? If taking the recommended dosage, it’s unlikely that you’ll experience any major issues. While side effects are possible, they’re generally mild and quite rare. Still, these are a few possible adverse reactions to consider:
- Curcumin lowers blood sugar in most individuals. If you’re a diabetic, use extra caution.
- Turmeric has a mild blood-thinning effect when taken regularly, and may not work well with other anticoagulants.
- Excessive amounts of curcumin can cause headaches, digestive problems, or nausea.
Who should not take turmeric? Do not take turmeric in pill or capsule form while you’re pregnant or nursing. If you have a surgery scheduled, you should also not take turmeric in the lead-up to your operation. Turmeric’s anticoagulant properties may impact your body’s ability to clot properly.
Final Thoughts on Benefits of Turmeric for Skin Care
Are there any turmeric benefits for skin? The answer is a definite, yes. Turmeric’s natural anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties contribute significantly to healthier skin. These results appear while using both topical solutions and oral turmeric capsules.
Turmeric may reduce the appearance of acne scars, limit breakouts, prevent wrinkles and visual signs of aging, and even treat inflammatory skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema.
While there aren’t currently any studies focusing exclusively on eczema, turmeric’s ability to reduce inflammation demonstrates treatment potential at a variety of dosages.
If you’re considering using turmeric for skin, consult with a certified medical professional to make sure it won’t interfere with any medications that you’re currently taking.
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