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, can turmeric benefit skin conditions such as acne scars, eczema, psoriasis, and wrinkles?
Turmeric 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. (1)
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 skin conditions, these are the ones that turmeric is most apt to handle. (2)
Why Turmeric Curcumin?
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.
Turmeric Skin Benefits: Acne Scars, Eczema, Psoriasis & Wrinkles
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.
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. (3)
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. (4)
Psoriasis & Eczema
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. (5)
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 (6)
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 advancing of psoriasis. There was also a substantial reduction in severe psoriatic symptoms.
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. (8)
Wrinkles and Anti-aging
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. (9)
Final Thoughts on Turmeric for Healthier Skin
Are there any turmeric benefits for skin care? The answer is a definite, yes. Turmeric’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties contribute significantly to healthier skin. These results appear while using both topical solutions and oral curcumin supplementation.
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.
If you’re considering adding a turmeric supplement to your skin care regimen, you should always consult with a certified medical professional, first.