My obsession with turmeric has grown over the years — in part because I follow a bunch of health and wellness bloggers who increasingly use this orange Indian spice in everything from roast vegetables to tofu scrambles to morning lattes and cups of tea. But mostly, because it offers some serious benefits like easing indigestion and joint pain, and reducing overall inflammation when consumed.
But lately I've been wondering, could it be equally awesome when applied topically? A slew of new skincare products like masks and cleansers featuring this ancient spice would make you think so, but I wanted to see for myself — without spending unnecessary amounts of money.
These days I’m less of a makeup junkie and more of a skincare connoisseur. My favourite self-pamper products are homemade remedies I can easily whip up with wholesome ingredients I already have in my kitchen. So I decided to test out turmeric's topical perks in a simple DIY mask made along with other skin-soothing ingredients—yogurt and honey—for five consecutive days.
Yogurt has been recognized to offer a slew of skin perks on its own, so I decided to use 1 heaping teaspoon plain Greek yogurt in my mask. According to Dr. Hadley King, dermatologist at SKINNEY Medspa, yogurt “contains lactic acid that provides gentle exfoliation by dissolving dead skin cells. This helps create a healthy glow, prevent acne, diminish fine lines, and decrease discolorations.”
The amount of turmeric and honey you use is really up to you. Because I have fair skin, I was not as liberal with the turmeric, as too much could potentially turn my skin yellow. I opted for ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder. This was enough to test its anti-inflammatory properties, which, King says, have been known to decrease “redness, puffiness, and irritation.”
Finally, I added roughly ½ teaspoon honey to the mixture, rounding out the formula with moisturizing and antibacterial properties to help further nourish skin and prevent acne.
Now that the chemistry portion of the experiment was over, it was time to slather this stuff on my face. Here's how my skin fared. (Important note: If you are allergic to turmeric in recipes, it is advised that you not apply the spice to your skin.)
Easing into the experiment, I decided to keep the turmeric-yogurt-honey mask on for roughly five minutes. The consistency of the yogurt base was smooth going on as I layered the mixture with an old foundation brush, making sure my entire face was covered.
I rinsed off the mask with warm water and patted my skin dry with a wash towel. The first thing I noticed was a significant glow and the smallest hint of a yellow tint. I expected my face to smell unpleasantly strong, but the honey created a pleasantly sweet aroma. There were no signs of irritation aside from a brief hot flash in my cheeks after rinsing which, I can only assume, was my skin adjusting to the turmeric. So far so good.
I decided to leave the mask on for seven minutes, which was enough time for the mixture to dry completely. My skin initially felt just as smooth as it had after I’d rinsed the night before, and, additionally, the mild acne on my cheeks and forehead had reduced. I did catch a few faintly yellow spots hugging my hairline, otherwise my skin remained stain-free.
I participated in two back to back outdoor workouts and, despite applying sunscreen a few times throughout the day, my pale complexion became rosy. According to June Jacobs, the CEO of June Jacobs Skincare, the combination of turmeric, greek yogurt, and honey “synergistically work to heal the skin,” specifically against acne and inflammation.
Well, wasn’t that super convenient?
So, instead of drenching my skin in aloe vera that night, I opted to liberally apply my turmeric mask to ensure every visible sign of redness was coated. I left it on for ten minutes before rinsing off with lukewarm water. The inflammation had gone down in minutes, and my face didn’t feel quite as irritated.
By the time I woke up the next morning, the inflammation had drastically gone down. And while my face still looked a bit flushed, my skin remained soft to the touch instead of feeling dry.
On the last day of the experiment, there was no trace of a sunburn but, instead, a healthy glow in its place. My skin felt super soft, and my acne was, for the most part, clearing up. Success!
While King says it is safe to use a topical turmeric mask like this daily, how often you apply will depend on how much turmeric is mixed into the formula, how much of the product you use, and your skin type. I probably won’t implement this mask into my everyday beauty routine, but it’s definitely going to be a go-to formula for when my skin feels dry or looks dull, or after a sunburn.
This article originally appeared on Rodale's Organic Life