The Weird but Totally Mind-Blowing Skin Care Powers of Turmeric

It's been under our noses all along.

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(Image credit: Getty Images)

Recently, I had one of those where have you been all my life moments. Not with a guy, but with a spice tucked away in my kitchen cabinet that apparently has magical powers for skin.

Turmeric, or "haldi," is a deep orange root from India, where it's one of the country's most widely used spices in food and on faces. Fun Fact: At Indian weddings, a turmeric paste is ritually applied to the bride from head-to-toe for a radiant glow. 

But what is it about turmeric that makes it so amazing for your skin? Simply put, it's an anti-oxidant as well as anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory.

For those with sensitive skin conditions like rosacea or eczema, its anti-inflammatory properties are a godsend to help soothe flare-ups. If you suffer from acne, it contains curcumin, which works to fight the bacteria that plays a critical role in its formation. As if that's not enough, turmeric might be, basically, the fountain of youth.

"As an antioxidant, it helps fight off free radicals, which add signs to skin aging." explains Rachel Nazarian, M.D., at Schweiger Dermatology Group. "Studies have also shown that ingestion of turmeric helps protect against the aging effects of sun-damage UV radiation and the formation of wrinkles and dark spots."

Since giving turmeric a shot is a no-brainer at this point, the real question is how best to do it. Our vote goes to some authentic curry takeout, but Nazarian has plenty of other ideas.

"Turmeric root can be boiled and made into a tea or the spice itself can be sprinkled onto teas, rice dishes, eggs, and vegetables," says Nazarian. "It adds a great warm color and has a subtle depth of flavor that enhances most food. Additionally, turmeric supplements can be taken, but then you'd miss out on the great flavor."

As far as skincare you can buy off the shelves, Nazarian recommends a turmeric mask, as well as a cleanser that contains the root. Below, find her must-have picks, plus our favorite tea and herbal drops:

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1. Juara Turmeric Antioxidant Radiance Mask, $35; birchbox.com (opens in new tab).

2. Dr. Andrew Well for Origins Mega-Mushroom Skin Relief Face Cleanser, $30; sephora.com (opens in new tab).

3. Numi Organic Turmeric Tea, $7.99; iherb.com (opens in new tab).

4. Health Ranger's Organic Turmeric Gold Liquid Extract, $29.95; naturalnewsstore.com.

You should also check out:

Why "Apothecary Beauty" Is the Next Big Thing

The Marie Claire Guide to Face Oils

The 8 Worst Things You Can Do to Your Skin

Lauren is the former beauty editor at Marie Claire. She love to while away the hours at coffee shops, hunt for vintage clothes, and bask in the rough-and-tumble beauty of NYC. She firmly believes that solitude can be a luxury if you’ve got the right soundtrack—that being the Rolling Stones, of course.