We tend to think of foods and beauty products as two entirely separate categories. They might both offer convenience and healing, but you wouldn’t want to eat your beauty products or rub food all over yourself, right?
Unfortunately, this is just one more habit that we’ve been trained into by product manufacturers. They’d rather have you believe that healing foods can’t double as beauty products—that you need to buy their products. This food-cosmetic divide is reinforced further by the fact that most store-bought beauty products are not exactly edible—in fact, the vast majority are downright toxic.
But here’s the reality: healing foods often make the best beauty products—a fact borne out by turmeric’s powerful hair and skin-supporting properties.
Turmeric for beauty
Turmeric has a long history of usage as a beauty tonic—after all, it’s no coincidence that among the many Sanskrit titles given to it by ancient Ayurvedic practitioners are compliments like “beautiful,” “that which delights the heart,” and “that which enhances complexion.”
Its cosmetic use in ancient times took on an air of sacredness and ceremony, and many of these practices still continue today. It is still used as a face paint in India, in order to brighten and beautify its wearer, while tonifying and bronzing the skin in the process.
As science begins to catch up with ancient practice, the mainstream is rediscovering the many cosmetic benefits offered by this magical little root. Here’s some beauty care uses that you can try out for yourself.
Inflammation control. First and foremost, turmeric is one of the most sophisticated anti-inflammatory agents on the planet. By taking care of inflammation on every level, it targets the root cause of skin conditions, signs of aging, and other cosmetic issues. A healthy body free of inflammation is one that remains radiant and youthful.
Younger, healthier skin. Turmeric makes an excellent facial mask, whether you have naturally oily or dry skin. To help with oily skin, mix turmeric with a natural astringent like sandalwood, and natural source of vitamin C like orange juice. Turmeric helps control the production of sebum (which can lead to overly oily skin), sandalwood for dry and tonify the skin further, and vitamin C will clear blemishes.
Turmeric is also a fantastic anti-aging tonic, thanks to its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and hormone-balancing effects. A tried and true Ayurvedic recipe used to treat wrinkles, stretch marks, and other signs of aging calls for equal parts turmeric, water, and besan (garbanzo bean flour). Traditionally, the preparation was also made with raw milk or yogurt instead of water.
Lastly, because of its antimicrobial and antiseptic properties, turmeric face masks can be used to treat a variety of skin conditions, including acne, eczema, psoriasis, and more.
Liver detoxification. When taken internally, turmeric also gives the skin a cleaner, clearer, more attractive appearance by detoxifying the liver—because when the liver is ailing under the burden of toxins, your skin often looks puffy, discolored, and otherwise unhealthy.
Hair removal and hair regrowth. That’s right: turmeric can be useful for both kinds of hair issues and inconveniences. To remove hair, simply mix turmeric powder with garbanzo bean flour and apply as a scrub (curcumin and other turmeric compounds inhibit hair growth by breaking down hair follicles over time). Interestingly, those who suffer hair loss due to alopecia have experienced hair regrowth by applying this same mixture (as well as turmeric extracts and essential oils), because new hair can regrow once the immune system is tricked into sensing the breakdown of old follicles.
Treatment of scalp conditions. Turmeric works wonders for dandruff and related scalp conditions, because it’s able to heal nearly all of the underlying causes, like psoriasis, dermatitis, eczema, alopecia, and fungal infections. Just mix turmeric with olive oil and rub it into the scalp fifteen minutes before showering. If you’re concerned about turmeric’s ability to remove hair, mix in honey, which helps attenuate this effect (hair loss only occurs after long-term daily use, though).
The sky’s the limit
This article covers just a small sampling of the nearly endless beauty care applications possible with turmeric. Its unparalleled anti-inflammatory activity makes it a welcome addition to nearly any homemade care product (for this reason, more and more holistic cosmetic companies are started to include it in their ingredient lists).
Turmeric’s outrageous versatility makes it really fun to work with. There’s something elegant and uniquely empowering about using turmeric paste as a skin moisturizer, adding some raw turmeric root to a smoothie, drinking a turmeric elixir for recovery after a trail run, and then applying turmeric and coconut oil to soothe and heal the feet after running. And I’m still discovering more ways to work it into my daily routine!
Experiment with your own applications and recipes, and see what works best for you—turmeric will improve not only the quality of your beauty care, but also your overall health and vitality.