Turmeric description

Turmeric is a spice made from the dried, ground root of the _Curcuma longa_ plant. It contains curcumin, a lipophilic, polyphenolic antioxidant pigment that gives turmeric its golden-yellow colour. In addition to being a food seasoning, turmeric has numerous health benefits whether consumed orally vis foods and supplements or applied topically. Ongoing research has shown turmeric and the curcumin it contains play a safe and compelling role in promoting healthier, normalized skin. On skin, in vivo research has shown that turmeric and its derivatives interrupt signaling in surface cells that trigger signs of irritation. Turmeric helps calm skin and may even play a role in reducing the look of blemish-related redness by modulating pathways to restore a healthier, more even appearance. Research has conclusively shown that turmeric is a potent antioxidant, largely due to its curcumin content (although turmeric also contains other antioxidants). Applying turmeric to skin can help offset signs of environmental damage and, to some extent, thwart the skin-damaging effects from UVB light. As with many antioxidants, turmeric requires protection from air and light, as routine exposure causes it to break down and limits its availability to skin. Beyond being an antioxidant, some research has shown the curcumin portion of turmeric boosts skin’s hyaluronic acid content, meaning turmeric can also be considered hydrating.

Turmeric references

  • Nutrients, September 2019, ePublication
  • Journal of Cellular Physiology, February 2019, pages 1,165-1,178
  • Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, September 2017, pages 2,889-2,895
  • British Journal of Pharmacology, June 2017, pages 1,325-1,348
  • Phytotherapy Research, August 2016, pages 1,243-1,264

Peer-reviewed, substantiated scientific research is used to assess ingredients in this dictionary. Regulations regarding constraints, permitted concentration levels and availability vary by country and region.

Ingredient ratings


Proven and supported by independent studies. Outstanding active ingredient for most skin types or concerns.


Necessary to improve a formula's texture, stability, or penetration.


Generally non-irritating but may have aesthetic, stability, or other issues that limit its usefulness.


There is a likelihood of irritation. Risk increases when combined with other problematic ingredients.


May cause irritation, inflammation, dryness, etc. May offer benefit in some capability but overall, proven to do more harm than good.


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Not rated

We have not yet rated this ingredient because we have not had a chance to review the research on it.