How Exactly Does Turmeric Benefit the Skin?

Plus, how to banish the stains from your towels.

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Turmeric is a staple in the cupboards of anyone who enjoys making a good yellow curry from scratch — and it should probably be a staple in your skincare routine, too.

According to dermatologist Dr. Mona Gohara, the well-known spice has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antioxidant properties, all of which can help with issues like acne and evening out skin tone.

The best part? You can find the ingredient in ready-made skincare products or create your own DIY masks.

Ahead, learn more about all the benefits of turmeric and how to incorporate it into your routine.

Health Benefits of Turmeric

"It has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antioxidant effects which have been used in eastern medicine for years, but just more recently incorporated into skincare," Dr. Gohara tells InStyle.

Aside from skin, some studies have shown turmeric to be effective in fighting certain forms of cancer. "When I was in medical school, I remember a scientist working on the effects of turmeric on cancer," says Dr. Gohara. "I was, of course, skeptical that a spice could possibly be the antidote to the evilest disease, but turns out this flavorful powder can pack a big punch."

How Turmeric Helps Your Skin

Turmeric is very beneficial to the skin. What's most beneficial, however, can be subjective, depending on your specific priorities when it comes to skincare.

"Anti-inflammatory [properties] can help with acne, eczema, and psoriasis, while antioxidants can help with sun damage, complexion evenness, and aging," Dr. Gohara shares. "Further, in a 2005 medical study, researchers found that curcumin, the yellow pigment found in turmeric, has anti-cancer properties as it inhibits melanoma cell growth and stimulates tumor cell death."

VIDEO: When You Apply Sunscreen in Your Skincare Routine Actually Matters A Lot

Turmeric Powder Versus Raw Turmeric Root

That's totally up to you, and how much work you're willing to put into incorporating turmeric into your routine — as well as how much laundry you'd like to do at the end of the week (don't worry, we'll get to a hack for turmeric stains in a minute).

"Most use the purified curcumin, as it is colorless," Dr. Gohara shares. "Kasturi turmeric is also non-staining. Since the beautiful yellow turmeric color can leave stains on the skin, it is important to find a cosmetically elegant, equally as effective variant. Because of this issue, I caution against DIY turmeric treatments."

However, if you're down to get a little messy, feel free to create your own masks using the spice in powder form, along with a few other ingredients.

Turmeric and Your Skincare Routine

According to Dr. Gohara, it's best to use turmeric in the morning, on clean, dry skin.

"Prior to applying it, I like to gently cleanse with a non-soap moisturizing cleanser such as the Dove White Beauty Bar," Dr. Gohara shares. "With its signature 1/4 moisturizing cream, Dove Beauty Bar has been proven to help preserve the skin barrier by replenishing skin identical nutrients back into the skin that are often lost during the cleansing process."

Here are some of our favorite skincare products with turmeric.

Shop Turmeric-Rich Skincare

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Sunday Riley C.E.O. Glow

 Sunday Riley C.E.O. Glow

"One of my favorites is Sunday Riley CEO Glow Vitamin C and Turmeric Face Oil as it's the perfect protector for the whole day," Dr. Gohara says. "It protects against sun damage and pollution as it actively improves the appearance of your skin."

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Aavrani Glow Activating Exfoliator

Aavrani Glow Activating Exfoliator

This exfoliating mask doubles as a cleanser and boasts anti-inflammatory ingredients such as organic turmeric, jojoba, and raw honey. With regular use, you'll notice hyperpigmentation start to decrease over time.

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Kora Organics Turmeric Glow Moisturizer

Kora Organics Turmeric Glow Moisturizer

Turmeric, desert date oil, and marine algae come together to even out skin tone, plump, hydrate, and soften skin for an unforgettable glow.

Removing Turmeric Stains

So you went the DIY route and now your towels are a yellow-stained mess. Now what?

According to Tide and Downy principal scientist Mary Johnson, turmeric stains aren't something you need to live with forever. You just need to know the right formula for removing these yellow marks, which includes throwing your towels or T-shirts into the wash ASAP.

"Turmeric contains a yellow-colored chemical called curcumin, which is often used to color foods and cosmetics," she explains. "If not removed immediately, it can permanently dye fabrics."

To get started, begin by brushing off any excess powder on the garment, then flip it inside out and rinse the spot with warm water. Next, pre-treat the stain with a product like Tide's Heavy Duty Hygienic Clean Liquid Laundry Detergent, which contains enzymes to help break down food stains. "Pour enough detergent on the garment to cover the stain and let set for 20 minutes," Johnson explains. "Once detergent is placed over the stain, use a soft-bristled toothbrush to help spread the detergent into the fibers of the garment."

Afterward, place the garment into the washer with other items without rinsing off the detergent. Then wash using the same detergent on a warm water cycle.

Once your clothes have been washed, avoid putting your turmeric-stained garment into the dryer, as this will set the stain. Instead, either hang dry or lay flat.

"If a visible stain remains, hang your garment outside in a sunny area to help fade the stain," Johnson suggests. "That's because curcumin is unstable in the presence of UV light and will break down."

From non-toxic makeup and skincare to sustainability practices, Clean Slate is an exploration of all things in the green beauty space.

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