So turmeric is in beauty products now. Here’s what it does

Imagery: Dr. Roebucks // @drroebucks

Words: Sarah Tarca // @tarca


Remember when turmeric was just that weird, stainy, yellow spice that you didn’t quite know what to do with? Yep, well that’s definitely a thing of the past. Between our golden lattes and our tea obsession, this is one spice that’s, well, spicing up our lives. And, where all good wellness trends go beauty follows – as the acai face-masks and kale nail polish prove – which is why we’ve now seen turmeric creep stealthily into our beauty cupboard.

As a spice, you’re no doubt well aware of its many awesome benefits: in Ayurvedic medicine it’s been used to help with digestion, joints, circulation and boosting immunity and liver function. On the beauty front, it basically works the same magic (except, you know, on your face), using its anti-inflammatory properties to heal, soothe and calm the skin as well as aid in circulation. And, as a bonus, it’s also a powerhouse antioxidant, which makes it a solid all-rounder in the ingredients stakes.

Zoe Roebuck Co-Founder and Chief Innovation Officer at Dr Roebuck’s skincare is just one of the people to jump on the turmeric train, including it as an active ingredient in their face mask. She says, “Curcumin (the active in turmeric) has been known over the centuries as the anti-inflammatory ingredient. However, in 2013 I read a study that showed its benefits across numerous diseases caused from inflammation (including cancer and arthritis). And I thought, if an anti-inflammatory can have such an impact on these medical conditions, then it could have an impact on the skin too.”


It makes sense with the skin being the largest organ , that topically applied it would absorb the same goodness that taking it orally would. The “goodness” we’re talking about looks like everything you want for your best skin: sebum balancing, antioxidant, antiseptic, brightening and detoxifying, which sounds pretty perfect and all… but how does it actually work? “Curcumin has been shown to turn around free radicals, which results in the destruction of skin cells,” Zoe explains. “It's also been proven to stimulate the mesenchymal cells and to help troubled cells survive. Overall, it’s a powerful anti-inflammatory, so it calms the skin, helps regenerate collagen and helps repair the dermis.” And, unlike some natural ingredients, turmeric has actually been well researched with a slew of studies supporting its positive impact. Like, for example, it’s effects on inhibiting the enzyme tyrosinase, which contributes to hyper-pigmentation, so by using it, it acts as a natural suppressor and also brightens the skin. So, in a nutshell: natural, effective, and Ayurvedic. I mean, where do we sign?


Emma Vidgen