Turmeric: The super skincare spice (and it doesn’t always turn you yellow!)

There is a reason turmeric is a core ingredient in beauty rituals and medicinal regimes all the way from Japan and Indonesia to Sri Lanka and India. Multiple reasons, actually: this yellow-colored spice is a potent anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, antibacterial, antioxidant and detoxifier. It keeps skin soft and smooth, makes it glow, tackles acne and helps bust hyper-pigmentation. Turmeric paste is also prescribed in Indian medicine for various skincare issues, like puffiness, wrinkles and eczema.

Besides this, it is used for cuts and burns due to its antiseptic effect and ability to promote healing. In addition, turmeric boosts liver detoxification, so that pesticides and other environmental chemicals are safely removed from the body. And it can help to decrease muscle soreness after an intense workout. In fact, turmeric is currently even being investigated for possible benefits in Alzheimer’s, cancer and arthritis.

turmeric skincareSurprise: Turmeric doesn’t always stain your skin!

Many of us balk at putting turmeric on our skin for fear of looking like a character out of The Simpsons. I resisted it for quite some time as well – right until I attended an Indian wedding, where the bride was covered from head-to-toe in a mixture of turmeric, gram flour, sandalwood powder and mustard oil. It turned out this is an ancient bridal ritual to deep cleanse the body and impart a radiant glow. A similar tradition is held sacred in the palaces of Indonesia, where brides-to-be rub a mixture of turmeric and gram flour on their bodies on the morning of their wedding to give their skin a golden glow.

Which led me to think: brides wouldn’t risk turning yellow hours before their wedding, would they? Turns out, turmeric has got an unfair reputation. Pure, organic turmeric doesn’t leave a permanent yellow stain; rather, it’s the artificial dyes added to the supermarket stuff that stains skin with the unflattering hue.

If you want to be extra careful, look for kasturi turmeric (curcuma aromatica), which is intrinsically non-staining and is superb at clearing acne, inhibiting facial hair growth and brightening the complexion. However, it is not edible and should only be used externally.

Even if you can’t find kasturi turmeric, don’t worry. Just make sure there is a fair amount of milk in your beauty ritual – this cancels out the staining. And absolute worse case situation, mix some water with sugar and scrub your face with the solution. This will leave your skin super-clean and stain-free!

Now, with that sorted, it’s time to remember that this potent ingredient is even cropping up in leading skincare products like Ole Henriksen Visual Truth Eye Creme and DDF Anti-Ageing Restorative Advanced Firming Cream. So, it’s definitely worth a try in the natural form! Just note: whole turmeric (which you grind into a paste with a little water) trumps powder; and organic powder trumps the non-organic version in potency.

Turmeric as a deep cleanser

Mix chickpea (or rice) flour with turmeric powder in equal proportions. Add just enough raw milk or plain yogurt to make a paste. Apply evenly to the face and leave on for about 10-15 minutes; wash off with warm water.

Turmeric for acne

Mix one tablespoon of turmeric with a few drops of milk. Apply on skin for 15-20 minutes and then wash off with plain water. This will both reduce active acne and lighten the scars.

Turmeric as a skin brightener

Mix 2 tablespoons of sandalwood powder, a pinch of turmeric powder and a few drops of lemon juice. Add enough milk to make a paste. Apply this mask on your face and neck; wash off with warm water once dry.

Turmeric as a face mask for oily skin

Add 1½ tablespoons sandalwood powder and a pinch of ground turmeric to 3 tablespoons of orange juice and apply the paste to your face. Leave on for about 10-15 minutes, then rinse with lukewarm water.

Turmeric as a wrinkle buster

Mix turmeric powder and rice powder with equal amounts of raw milk and tomato juice to make a paste. Apply this paste to face and neck for 30 minutes, then rinse with lukewarm water.

Turmeric for facial hair

Mix kasturi turmeric with chickpea flour. Leave on for 10-15 minutes, then wash off in light circular motions.

Turmeric as a body hair remover

Make a paste of turmeric and sugar and apply it all over the skin. Leave on for a couple of hours and then scrub gently. A regular application of this paste discourages hair growth altogether.

Turmeric as scalp saviour

Add 1 tablespoon of turmeric to a cup of jojoba, olive or coconut oil. Massage this mixture into your scalp and leave on for 15 minutes, then shampoo as usual. This is a great deterrent for dandruff and improves the scalp’s overall condition.

turmeric skincare 3Turmeric as ‘longevity tea’

Dr. Andrew Weil notes that people in Okinawa, the Japanese island nation with the world’s longest average life span, drink turmeric tea daily. To make your own, boil 4 cups of water, add 1 teaspoon of ground turmeric, allow to simmer for 10 minutes, strain and add ginger and/or honey to taste.

And finally… the legendary Turmeric Elixir

Boil a half-inch piece of turmeric with half a glass of milk. Once the milk has turned yellow, remove from heat, let it cool slightly drink thrice a week, at night. You can add a tablespoon of turmeric powder in place of the turmeric piece. This will help you gain strength, protect the body against infections and strengthen bones (thereby reducing the risk of osteoporosis).

Have you ever used turmeric as a beauty ingredient?


    1. Hi Sarah, thanks for the compliments 🙂 And I just saw your site – it’s gorgeous! You have explained the benefits and health potential of turmeric better than I ever could!!!! Is this a passion of yours or a vocation?

  1. I’ve used shop bought stuff in the past, to get rid off any yellow? I used oil based soap. I had the softest skin and a subtle glow. I’ve bought Tai tumeric root which is very different to other kinds I’ve bought. Though I have found that they use a root inhibitor and this can’t possibly be organic. My supplier hasn’t replied.

    1. look every thing has a power when it is used properly ,my suggestion is not to take any turmeric oil. use turmeric as it is ,it works ,believe me ,my sister has soooo much of facial hair n her skin was too dark because of tat , now by using turmeric ,now she looks sooo good without tat hair n darkness

  2. I use Tumeric all the time in my cooking. Never knew though it’s a beauty product too. I’m gonna try it on my face soon. Thanks for sharing.



  3. I thought it was just for cooking. Now that I came across your post and knew it was very a beneficial beauty product, might as well try this tips of yours and see for myself how effective it is. I am really conscious about my skin and as long as I find some good product, natural or not, with a good reviews about it, I make sure to try it as well. Good thing I don’t have a sensitive skin and so far, I don’t feel any allergic reaction to some products I used to try. Thanks for your post anyway. It’s giving me another idea here.

  4. I’m having the hardest finding this type of tumeric. a couple sellers on Amazon have it but the reviews say it’s the cooking time with the dye in it. where on earth can I get this ?

    1. All types of Turmeric are “this kind of turmeric”. You can buy powdered turmeric at most grocery stores. There is no “dye” in Turmeric. Turmeric itself is a natural dye. IT STAINS if you don’t use it carefully. I buy mine at Local Indian Markets. I am lucky enough to live where there are many around, but you really can find it just about anywhere. There are many formulas for making Turmeric Masks that won’t stain skin. You can google it. One that I have used is 1.Turmeric, 2.Ground Oats, 3.Honey, 4.Lemon Juice, and a little bit of 4.grape seed oil or olive oil and make it into a paste. If you don’t make a mask formula that has been proven to not stain your skin, be prepared to have a yellow/orange face for a couple of days<no joke! Keep Turmeric away from the counter and clothing too, it stains and is very difficult to remove, although you can google how to do that too. I have seen benefits on my skin looking brighter and smoother and even small broken capillary improvement as well.

      1. Yes thank you Lynn -Turmeric is naturally yellow an stainy – grate a fresh turmeric root and it can stain anything just like the powder. I know – ive used fresh turmeric root and it stained my nails and hand horribly. There is no artificial dye in turmeric powder. You really shouldn’t go around spreading false information.

    1. Yes you can.

      I have applied it on my body to rid inflammed skin. So far, my skin is recovering quite well.
      Are you suffering from any ailments?


  5. We have to learn about turmeric beauty benefits and services. Every girl need that kind of services to get more knowledge beauticians. That’s really awesome and interesting to get more opportunities and thank you.

  6. Hi,
    Thanks a lot for sharing this amazing write up with readers. i think you want to feel comfortable as possible and you don’t want your skin feeling oily or uncomfortable! Great advice, to take care of your skin from germs, oil and dirt.

  7. I have used Ground Turmeric and my face and hands have slightly gone yellow. Soooooooo – you are wrong about that. 🙁

  8. I really wouldn’t recommend using turmeric on your scalp in any way. Turmeric is used to reduce hair growth, so using it on the scalp is a no-no.

    1. Not necessarily. Ubtan is generally used to reduce hair growth only by way of friction. Gently scrubbing the face with a mixture of turmeric, sandalwood, oil and chickpea can remove peach fuzz because of the massaging motion. The ingredients themselves can’t reduce hair growth. Using ubtan on the scalp with a similar massaging motion as used on the body and face can actually loosen build-up and excess sebum, thus reducing excess oil production and allowing your roots to breath and fortify growth!

  9. Hi! Thank you for this lovely post. I suffer from PCOS, and have hair growing all over my body (and I mean in places normal women won’t have). I have tried turmeric and chickpea flour on my body, but have not been too regular, so not the results I expected (mixed it with milk – and it definitely made my skin supple). Has anyone tried the turmeric and sugar paste remedy? If so, can you provide the ingredients with the measurements? Thanks!

  10. Also note that turmeric was shown to slash oily skin by 24.76% in one study. That occurred after three months of daily topical application. That’s a huge increase and great for acne as well, because of the reduced clogged pores. And you’re right, turmeric will only turn you yellow if you misuse it.

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