- Turmeric could potentially treat acne, but there is no conclusive evidence of its ability to yet.
- Curcumin, turmeric’s main component, is responsible for its skin-disease fighting abilities.
- Turmeric can be used topically or as a supplement.
Can Turmeric Treat Acne?
Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a plant belonging to the ginger family. It has long been used as an at-home, natural remedy for acne and other skin conditions. Turmeric is not a solidly established acne treatment. However, there’s some evidence that its active component, curcumin, may have some effectiveness.
Turmeric for acne scars
Turmeric is not effective for pitted or raised scars, as those typically require in-office medical treatments like microdermabrasion, micro-needling, and peels, or minor surgeries to get rid off.
How Turmeric Works to Treat Acne
Turmeric has antioxidant, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties that make it useful for managing many medical conditions. However, the scientific community has not yet concluded whether those properties are responsible for its potential effectiveness for treating acne.
Further, there seem to be other external factors that influence how turmeric’s ability to treat acne.
When applied to the skin in products formulated with lauric or myristic acid as the ‘delivery vehicle’, curcumin in turmeric is effective for treating acne. Delivery vehicles are substances that allow active ingredients to reach as deep into the skin’s layers as possible.
There’s evidence that curcumin’s antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties interfere with the activities of propionibacterium acnes (the main bacteria involved in inflammatory acne), and staphylococcus epidermidis, (another acne-causing bacteria).
The effectiveness of curcumin for acne seems to be significantly affected by the composition of the ‘delivery vehicle.’ That is, the smaller the molecules, the better it penetrates into the skin and can work against the bacteria.
A small study suggests that combining the use of turmeric orally and topically is most effective for treating acne.
How to Use Turmeric for Acne
You can use turmeric for pimples in many different ways. It is easy to get access to and exists in many forms. You can find turmeric as a powder, paste, tea, or supplement.
Note: If you have never applied turmeric to your skin before, it’s advisable that you run a patch test first. There’s a chance that you are allergic to the yellow spice, or your skin may be hypersensitive to it.
Turmeric face mask for acne
Although scientific studies examining the efficacy of topical application of turmeric for acne are lacking, its main component curcumin is known to have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that, in topical formulation, may be useful in fighting acne.
- Turmeric powder
- Honey (optional)
- Yogurt (optional)
- In a bowl, mix turmeric powder with water to form a slightly thick paste
- Cleanse your face
- Spread the turmeric paste on your skin
- Leave for 10 minutes to half an hour
- Rinse the turmeric mask off thoroughly
- Complete your skin care routine
You can also mix the turmeric with other ingredients like honey or yogurt instead of water. A turmeric face mask for acne breakouts can be used a few times a week.
Turmeric can cause significant staining. So you can expect your nails, sink or bathtub, clothes, and dishes to stain a yellow color once turmeric touches them.
Mix turmeric with warm water, a tablespoon of lemon juice, and a dash of black pepper. Drinking turmeric on its own is unlikely to provide many benefits as curcumin has poor bioavailability. This means that only a very small proportion of curcumin enters your system’s circulation, and it’s consequently not able to have any significant, active effect. When combined with black pepper, however, curcumin’s bioavailability increases by 2000%.
Drinking turmeric tea
You can find turmeric tea in grocery stores, natural food stores, and even online. Prepare the tea as you would regular tea. You can add honey or other sweetness to improve the taste if needed.
Take turmeric as a supplement.
You can purchase curcumin or turmeric supplements. They are safe but you should still consult your dermatologist before starting them. To know the right dosage follow the instructions on the packaging or the recommendation your dermatologist gives you, if any.
To increase its effectiveness, you should check for turmeric supplements that also include black pepper in the ingredient list. To enhance its potential effectiveness, you should add black pepper to the tea too.
Cooking with turmeric
The easiest way to use turmeric orally is to cook with it. It is a popular spice that can be added to many dishes. Turmeric’s effectiveness for acne when it has been exposed to heat, as is done when cooking, has not been investigated. Notwithstanding, adding turmeric to your diets may offer health benefits.
Turmeric and its curcumin compound are safe and do not have any major side effects. Some people may develop contact dermatitis from using turmeric topically.
- Tea tree oil: Tea tree oil is arguably the most well studied and most effective all-natural remedy for acne—considered even to be just as effective as some over the counter (OTC) acne medication. It’s proven effectiveness makes it a better choice for treating acne than turmeric. It’s also safe and easy to use.
- Benzoyl peroxide: This is an OTC acne medication that works against acne-causing bacteria. Unlike turmeric, benzoyl peroxide’s effectiveness in treating acne has been firmly established. Benzoyl, peroxide, can, however, be very drying to the skin.
- Niacinamide: Niacinamide is an OTC acne medication that, like turmeric, can be used both topically and orally. It’s very effective for treating acne and acne scars. Niacinamide is very well tolerated, and most people who use it do not experience any side effects.
While it’s acne-fighting abilities have not been validated, using turmeric for acne is safe, and it can be tried as an at-home remedy for acne. You can opt to combine both the oral and topical use of turmeric as that may yield the best results.
- Hollinger, J. C., Angra, K., & Halder, R. M. (2018). Are Natural Ingredients Effective in the Management of Hyperpigmentation? A Systematic Review. The Journal of clinical and aesthetic dermatology, 11(2), 28–37. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5843359/
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- Hewlings, S. J., & Kalman, D. S. (2017). Curcumin: A Review of Its’ Effects on Human Health. Foods (Basel, Switzerland), 6(10), 92. doi:10.3390/foods6100092
- Panahi Y, Fazlolahzadeh O, Atkin SL, Majeed M, Butler AE, Johnston TP, Sahebkar A. Evidence of curcumin and curcumin analogue effects in skin diseases: A narrative review. J Cell Physiol. 2019 Feb;234(2):1165-1178. doi:10.1002/jcp.27096
- National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. (2016) Turmeric. nccih.nih.gov/health/turmeric/ataglance.htm#hed3
- K.A. Hammer. Treatment of acne with tea tree oil (melaleuca) products: A review of efficacy, tolerability and potential modes of action. International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents, Volume 45, Issue 2, 2015,
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