Turmeric (INCI: Curcuma longa) is an ancient powdered spice that is part of the ginger family. It has a wide range of therapeutic and cosmetic benefits. The active ingredient, curcumin, is a natural antiseptic with antibacterial/antimicrobial properties. It heals and prevents dry skin and is used to treat eczema and acne. Turmeric is traditionally used in daily face and hair care, as well as in Hindu celebrations. It has also been shown to slow the aging process and wrinkle formation.
In India, turmeric has been used for centuries as a natural cleanser; the powder is mixed with milk to bring a healthy glow to the skin. Kama Ayurveda Ubtan Soap-Free Body Cleanser offers a contemporary version of this concept. It contains a combination of finely powdered herbs, cereals, pulses and nuts, said to soften and smooth the skin. Traditionally used after ayurvedic treatments to clean the skin, it can also be used as an alternative to soap.
In France, Skeen + Vegeticals created another modern interpretation of this ancient cleanser. Vegetical Milk Infusion claims to cleanse and purify skin from pollution and makeup, even around the eyes. The product contains a high concentration of turmeric, enriched with rosemary floral water and sweet almond oil. Vegeticals is a new line of ECOCERT plant-based skin care made with plant roots from traditional medicine.
Turmeric’s therapeutic benefits are evident in recent eye care launches in India and Japan:
Khadi Sandal Herbal Face Pack for dry skin is said to remove fine lines, blackheads and dark circles under the eyes, while conditioning the under-nourished skin. Similar to the ayurvedic cleanser, this product should be mixed with fresh milk (honey or water) to make a paste. It can be applied to face, neck and hands.
In Japan, Clinique introduced Derma White Protect & Brighten Eye System. This two-step eye treatment contains separate day and night creams for the eye area. The brightening (night) cream claims to hydrate and lighten the appearance of dark spots over time. The protective (day) cream contains SPF 15/PA++ and helps seal in brightening benefits and prevent new darkening. Both products are allergy tested, 100% fragrance-free, ophthalmologist-tested and formulated for Asian skin.
Several Estée Lauder-owned brands feature turmeric. Earlier this year, Origins introduced Conditioning Lip Balm With Turmeric. This lip treatment highlights turmeric’s rejuvenating characteristics. The company's Cyber White EX range uses concentrated turmeric extract to help reduce the appearance of "barely visible dark spots just beneath the skin's surface.”
More recently, Dr. Andrew Weil for Origins introduced Mega-Mushroom Skin-Calming Face Mask. It contains a blend of mushroom extracts with ginger, holy basil and turmeric. The mask is designed to reduce redness and is recommended for use after exposure to stresses such as excessive sun, windburn and waxing in order to quickly calm dry and damaged skin. It also claims to revitalize and restore radiance to stressed skin and rebuild a protective barrier against future irritation.
Turmeric leaf oil and extract are also used in sunscreens as evidenced by these European launches:
Liérac’s sun care range contains turmeric for its antioxidant benefits. The Solaire Anti-Wrinkle Eye Contour Sun Cream features SPF 30 sunscreen to protect the eye area and prevent wrinkles from appearing. The formula also contains mineral sun filters, sweet almond extract and prickly pear.
Korres Natural Products Watermelon Lightweight Tinted Moisturizer is an oil-free, SPF 30, high protection, lightweight cream. It is formulated with watermelon extract, vanilla and Curcuma longa extracts. It claims to prevent photo-aging, decrease erythema and provide antioxidant protection. It is free from mineral oil, silicone, propylene glycol and ethanolamine.
Mintel expects turmeric to feature more prominently in Western cosmetic products as the benefits of ancient beauty traditions based on natural remedies become more widely accepted.
-Nica Lewis, Mintel