When it comes to looking radiant, we can learn a thing or two from Indian brides, who’ve known for centuries how to use turmeric on the face for glowing skin. Before a traditional Indian wedding comes the haldi ceremony, where a paste made using haldi, or turmeric, is applied to the face and body of both the bride and groom in their respective homes. Turmeric is the highlighted ingredient as it symbolizes prosperity and fertility in Indian culture, and also because the spice leaves the couple with fair, glowing skin.

What Your Skin Has Been Waiting For

There may be something more to this than ritual. As research and studies show, turmeric may in fact be a skin enhancer that may be an effective treatment for a variety of skin conditions. Below are some of the possible uses of turmeric (other than for delicious curry).

Turmeric for acne. If you’re prone to breakouts and have tried everything, then turmeric might be just the thing you’re looking for. Turmeric has curcurmin, the chemical responsible for giving turmeric its rich yellow color. Curcumin was found to inhibit the bacteria that causes acne in vitro. The results show the potential of using curcumin as an alternative treatment for acne. 

Turmeric for oily skin. Turmeric in its familiar form—a rich yellow powder—is made of the rhizomes of the turmeric plant, boiled, dried, and then ground. One study demonstrated that “the extract obtained from the rhizomes of turmeric plant can be used in skin preparations to regulate excessive sebum secretion in persons suffering from acne and related problems.” In other words, turmeric was shown to sop up excess oil.

Turmeric for healing wounds. Some studies into the healing properties of curcumin indicate that the chemical can reduce inflammation and oxidation, and enhance tissue formation, collagen deposition, and tissue remodeling. This means that curcumin may help heal skin wounds. Interested in tapping into turmeric’s possible healing effects? Make sure to consult with a doctor before attempting to medicate using turmeric in any form, whether oral or topical.

Turmeric for psoriasis. Psoriasis is a common inflammatory disease marked by red, itchy, scaly skin, and normally manifests on elbows, knees, and the scalp, and sometimes on other parts of the body such as one’s legs or torso. In its list of natural remedies for psoriasis, the U.S. National Psoriasis Foundation includes turmeric, stating that it is frequently being studied for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

The foundation cites a 2012 review by the International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular biology, which highlights the properties of turmeric that enable it to minimize the symptoms of psoriasis. The foundation also recommends how to take turmeric but suggests consulting with an expert to determine the proper dosage.

Turmeric for other skin problems. Several studies have looked into the effects of topical and ingested turmeric or curcumin on skin conditions including acne, alopecia, atopic dermatitis, facial photoaging, oral lichen planus, pruritus, psoriasis, radiodermatitis, and vitiligo.

Results show that there was significant improvement in the treatment groups that were given turmeric or curcumin. Further studies need to be conducted, but the existing studies seem to indicate that turmeric is a promising treatment for various skin conditions.

Spice Up Your Skincare

There are many versions of turmeric face masks, some mixed with aloe vera, some mixed with rice flour, and others mixed with milk or yogurt. The traditional haldi paste used by Indian brides is made up of turmeric powder, rose water, and sandalwood.

When experimenting with turmeric, keep in mind that it’s a spice with a peppery flavor that lends itself to East Asian cooking. As such, if you use too much of it, you may experience a stinging or burning sensation on your skin. It’s best to go easy on the spice when making your own turmeric face mask, and test on a small patch of skin first before using it on your face. If you have especially sensitive skin, consult with your doctor before trying anything new.