Mind & Body

Everything you need to know about the benefits of turmeric

Why has humble turmeric become the beauty industry’s new obsession? SUZANNE SCOTT discovers the benefits of turmeric and the little-known merits of this miracle spice

Supermodel Gisele Bündchen swears by the anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric

What is turmeric used for?

Scientists have only recently dubbed turmeric a “super nutraceutical” – a nutrient and a pharmaceutical – yet its incredible benefits have been extolled for centuries. In North Africa, India and the Middle East, its anti-inflammatory qualities are used to treat the symptoms of colitis, arthritis, cardiovascular disease and even cancer. It was only a matter of time before the beauty industry took note.

What are the benefits of turmeric on your skin?

Applied topically, turmeric controls sebum production, helping to mattify oily faces and controlling breakouts. But don’t be tempted to be your own chemist – turmeric is highly pigmented, and a jaundice effect is not what you’re going for. Instead, look for cleverly formulated products, such as May Lindstrom’s The Clean Dirt Cleansing Clay and Tata Harper’s Purifying Mask, that will deliver all the advantages without the stains.

“Turmeric also brings a glow to skin due to its strong antibacterial, antiseptic and sebum-balancing properties,” says Roberta Weiss, Senior Vice-President of Innovation at Kiehl’s. “Curcumin, the powerful antioxidant and the active molecule in turmeric, has been studied for its ability to inhibit the enzyme tyrosinase, which creates dark spots and hyper-pigmentation. In doing that, skin tone and brightness are improved.”

And what are the health benefits of turmeric?

Turmeric is now considered a ‘magic’ anti-inflammatory bullet for the body. Aside from curcumin – found by the University of Maryland to lower the levels of two enzymes in the body that cause inflammation – it’s packed with over two dozen anti-inflammatory compounds. A brightly colored relative of ginger, it is a staple in curries, the taste is warming and earthy rather than spicy, and while you can’t avoid the bright orange hue, you won’t notice the taste. Try adding a pinch to juices, soups, stews and omelettes or blend in with some warm almond milk or coconut for ‘golden milk’ – using fresh rather than dried turmeric will give more of an antioxidant punch and cooking with it allows for easier absorption, as research has also shown that turmeric dissolves in fats.

Alternatively, look for a curcumin supplement, one that is polymer coated or contains some form of oil – Life Extension’s Super Bio-Curcumin from Victoria Health contains an impressive 95% curcuminoids.



The people featured in this story are not associated with NET-A-PORTER and do not endorse it or the products shown.