It’s a do-it-all ingredient which can be used to address skin concerns from blemishes to premature aging. One of turmeric’s main components, curcumin, is an incredible anti-inflammatory and packed with antioxidants. Naturally, anti-inflammatories are particularly great for cystic acne as they reduce redness and swelling, helping active acne break outs to heal faster. Inflammation can also be responsible for skin concerns like rosacea, which are particularly persistent and can be difficult to treat.
Anyone who has ever sought out high-end skincare will probably know why antioxidants are so prized. With the ability to neutralize the effects of free radicals (the main causes of cell damage) they keep skin healthy and youthful.
Curcumin just so happens to be great at combating hyperpigmentation too. By reducing excessive melanin production, it makes skin less prone to uneven dark patches and scarring. The added bonus is that unlike many skin brightening treatments, turmeric is actually soothing on the skin. And let’s face it, far more affordable than most other brighteners.
Turmeric Moisturizer with Frankincense & Myrrh
In order to prevent the skin from becoming too dry, oils and waxes are secreted by the sebaceous glands. This helps the epidermis retain moisture while keeping the skin soft and supple. Excessively oily skin, usually due to overactive sebaceous glands, can lead to acne, cysts, and other woeful skin conditions.
To measure the effects of turmeric cream on oil production of the skin, a 2012 study found that after four weeks of treatment there was a “significant decrease” in skin oils when turmeric was applied twice daily. Over a period of three months, turmeric cream reduced facial oils by nearly 25%! The researchers noted this beneficial effect was likely because turmeric contains fatty acids and phytosterols, which have been observed in other studies to reduce excess skin oils.
A major cause of premature skin aging, exposure to the sun’s powerful rays can bring about fine and deep lines, discoloration, freckling, reduced skin elasticity, and the appearance of “spider veins” – the dilation of small blood vessels beneath the skin.
Although wearing sunscreen can help protect against sun damage, turmeric was shown to prevent many of the adverse effects of exposure to ultraviolet B radiation. Using hairless mice as test subjects, researchers exposed the rodents to long-term, low-dose UVB rays and applied turmeric extract twice a day. Normally, chronic UVB light would cause skin thickening, wrinkles, changes in skin pigmentation, larger blood vessels, and loss of elasticity, but the mice suffered none of these ill effects.
Why did turmeric work so well? Apparently, radiation increases the expression of matrix metalloproteinase-2 (MMP-2), an enzyme which, when activated, degrades collagen between the outer layer and middle layer of the skin; it is thought that the reason turmeric prevents sun damage is its ability to inhibit an increase in MMP-2.
Scientists believe aging is not a predestined biological mechanism and that genes are not programmed to promote the aging process. Rather, one’s lifespan is controlled by genes that regulate the metabolism, DNA repair, antioxidant systems, and cell death. Aging signals a decline in the efficacy of the system itself; over time, random errors occur in DNA replication which leads to an accumulation of older cells and damaged tissue.
Pinpointing why random errors occur in the first place is the Ponce de Leonian task that could eventually bring about immortality. The current theories on the causes of aging have been associated with chronic inflammation which leads to protein, cell, and organ dysregulation as well as an overabundance of free radicals that attack cells and connective tissues.
Because of its dynamic anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, several studies have suggested curcumin can help counteract the effects of aging and age-related disease. One study observed that insects fed a diet of curcumin had a significantly longer lifespan. Another report, published in Immunity & Ageing, identified turmeric as a safe, beneficial spice that may be a prime ingredient for preventing the process of aging.
Clinical trials, too, have bolstered these findings. Two studies published in the March 2010 edition of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology found that use of moisturizing creams containing turmeric twice daily for eight weeks had the effect of drastically minimizing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles; dark spots and changes in skin pigment were also reduced by nearly 15%.
Curcumin has also been recognized as an impressive anti-cancer treatment, able to selectively kill tumor cells while leaving the normal cells intact – a feat that traditional chemotherapy treatments are unable to accomplish. Moreover, it has been shown to stop pre-cancer from becoming cancer.
The effects of curcumin extract therapy for the treatment of the three types of skin cancer – namely, melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma – has showed a lot of potential.
In a 1998 study, curcumin was able to induce apoptosis – or cell death – in basal cell carcinoma. Additionally, the study noted that curcumin acted as a chemopreventative for skin cancer, effectively preventing cancer cells from forming. Another study examined curcumin’s effects on melanoma and found it to stop the spread of cancer cells to surrounding tissue while inciting melanoma cells to die off. And lastly, a 2011 study on squamous cell carcinoma found that curcumin inhibited the size and progression of tumor growth.
Curcumin has been shown to be quite effective in calming the symptoms of eczema, psoriasis, scleroderma, rosacea, and other skin diseases. Although the underlying causes of these conditions vary, they share inflammation of the skin in common.
Capable of stymying several pro-inflammatory molecules, curcumin treatments have been found to block what is considered to be the “holy grail” of inflammation – NF-?B, a protein complex that is involved in cellular responses to external stimuli like stress, free radicals, ultraviolet radiation, and cytokines. It is also responsible for regulating the immune system’s response to infection. An overactive NF-?B has been linked to inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, cancer, viral infections, and addiction.
Curcumin can not only halt inflammation in its tracks, but it also protects the skin by improving collagen production while vanquishing free radicals. And because it works so effectively for healing wounded skin, many of the manifestations of skin disease – dryness, rashes, scaliness, swelling, and irritation – are repaired since curcumin helps increase connective tissue formation and promotes blood flow.