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Turmeric soap benefits: a traditional remedy for modern skin issues

This popular ingredient might be the skincare superhero your shower routine’s been looking for.

Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Jul 28, 2023 • 9 min read
Medically reviewed by Donna McIntyre, NP-BC
Blocks of Turmeric Soap
Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Jul 28, 2023 • 9 min read
Medically reviewed by Donna McIntyre, NP-BC
We’re here to share what we know — but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider if you have questions.

Turmeric, a cornerstone of traditional medicine and cosmetic regimens, is gaining popularity in the modern skincare world. This ingredient, which has a long history in Ayurvedic traditions, has regained popularity for thousands of years for good reason.

Here, we’ll explain what you should know about turmeric soap’s benefits, its potential downsides, and how you can add it to your cleansing routine. Whether your biggest skin concern is acne, signs of aging, or hyperpigmentation, turmeric soap might just be the missing piece of your skincare regimen.

What is turmeric? 

Turmeric is a vibrant yellow/orange-colored spice deeply rooted in the rich history of Asian traditional medicine and spiritual practices for over 6000 years. As a perennial plant, turmeric (or Curcuma longa in scientific terms) continues to grow year after year.¹

This spice was also one of the earliest known cosmetics. Women have used turmeric for 6000 years for ancient medicinal and religious purposes, traditionally incorporating it into their beauty regimens. It is used to reduce facial hair, combat acne, and enhance skin complexion.² The term for turmeric in Sanskrit, “Varna datri,” means to give color and enhance body complexion, highlighting its prominent role in enriching and improving skin health.³

The key to turmeric's skin health benefits is curcumin, its most biologically active compound.⁴ Curcumin accounts for about 5% of turmeric and is believed to be the primary force behind turmeric’s numerous health advantages.⁵ It’s been the subject of extensive scientific research, investigating its potential role in various health conditions and wellness practices.⁶

As we continue to study and understand turmeric, specifically its active compound curcumin, we’re continually discovering its impressive range of uses and benefits, which allows us to harness the wisdom of ancient practices in our modern routines.

Turmeric soap benefits

Turmeric soap offers a range of potential benefits for your skin, much of which stems from curcumin, as previously mentioned.⁷

Managing skin conditions

One of the significant benefits of turmeric soap lies in its potential for managing various skin conditions. Studies have demonstrated that curcumin may be effective against psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, skin infections, and even skin cancer.⁸

Further, a study in India reported successful treatment of chronic ulcers and scabies using a topical paste of neem and turmeric, hinting at the potential use of turmeric soap in managing such conditions.⁹

Minimizing signs of aging

Curcumin has been shown to combat skin aging, especially photoaging, which is skin damage from prolonged sun exposure. The potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects of curcumin help mitigate the damaging effects of free radicals generated by UV radiation, thereby preventing premature skin aging.¹⁰ The strong antioxidant properties of curcumin further fortify the skin against environmental stressors. Curcumin acts as a powerful radical scavenger, neutralizing harmful free radicals that contribute to skin aging and damage.¹¹

Encouraging wound healing

Turmeric soap might be an ally in promoting wound healing and collagen formation. Curcumin is believed to accelerate the healing process and enhance collagen production, which is crucial for skin elasticity and strength.¹² This capability, coupled with turmeric’s antimicrobial and astringent properties, helps heal wounds faster and reduces scarring, leading to healthier, more vibrant skin.¹³

Fighting acne

Turmeric soap could also be beneficial in managing acne. Two common culprits behind acne vulgarisStaphylococcus epidermidis and Propionibacterium acnes, are sensitive to curcumin.¹⁴ This means turmeric soap might help reduce acne breakouts and maintain clear skin.

Reducing hyperpigmentation

Turmeric is known to decrease hyperpigmentation¹⁵—patches of skin with too much of a pigment called melanin—thus promoting a more balanced and glowing complexion.

Are there any downsides to turmeric soap?

While turmeric soap comes with many potential benefits, as with any skincare product, it's important to remember that everyone's skin is unique, and reactions may vary. There are a few considerations to keep in mind when using turmeric soap.

The first is the potential for allergies or sensitivities. Some individuals may experience allergic contact dermatitis, a type of skin inflammation, as a reaction to turmeric or its active compound, curcumin.¹⁶ So it’s smart to do a patch test before applying turmeric soap to larger areas of your skin. 

While beautiful, turmeric's rich, vibrant yellow-orange hue is also a natural dye. This means it has the potential to stain your skin and clothing. While skin stains fade in a few days, turmeric stains on clothing can be exceptionally difficult to get out.¹⁷ This can typically be avoided by not leaving turmeric soap on your skin for more than a few minutes and thoroughly rinsing afterward. 

While these possible downsides exist, they shouldn't necessarily deter you from trying turmeric soap. It's all about understanding your skin and what it can tolerate, ensuring you reap the benefits of this natural wonder without unnecessary discomfort or inconvenience.

How to add turmeric soap to your skincare routine

Integrating turmeric soap into your skincare routine is an easy process, offering a simple way to harness this golden herb’s many benefits.

Turmeric soap bars are widely available at numerous online retailers and specialty skincare stores, making them easy to acquire. To incorporate turmeric soap into your routine, simply swap out your current soap with a turmeric option. You can use it just as you would regular soap for your face and body, helping cleanse, exfoliate, and nourish your skin with every wash.

One thing to keep in mind: check any new product for pore-clogging ingredients. Donna McIntyre, a nurse practitioner at Curology reminds us, “Turmeric may have some promising benefits for the skin, but please be sure to check any products you are thinking about purchasing for comedogenic ingredients. Some turmeric soaps contain coconut oil which can clog pores, so use caution.”

However, if you have sensitive skin or have previously experienced allergic reactions to skincare products, it’s wise to perform a patch test using turmeric soap all over. A patch test is a safe and easy way to gauge any new product’s impact on your skin. To perform a patch test:¹⁸

  1. Apply the product to a quarter-sized test spot twice daily for seven to 10 days. 

  2. Leave the product on your skin briefly, then wash it off (turmeric can stain when left on too long).

  3. If after 7 to 10 days, you don’t have a skin reaction, such as red, itchy, or swollen skin, it’s probably safe to add it to your routine.

  4. If you do have a skin reaction, don’t use it again.

Remember, every person's skin is unique, and consistency is key when incorporating new products into your skincare routine. Give your skin some time to adjust to the new product, and soon, you might start seeing the benefits of this ancient golden herb.

Curology is here to help

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Get your personalized skincare routine with Curology

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Turmeric soap offers a range of potential benefits like fighting acne, dark spots, and signs of aging. If you’re searching for a solution designed to target your specific skin concerns, we're excited to introduce you to Curology's personalized prescription formulas. Our team of licensed dermatology providers is ready to answer any questions you may have and help create a skincare solution tailored to your individual needs. Sign up for a 30-day trial* at Curology today for a one-on-one consultation, and take the first step on your personalized skincare journey.

FAQs

Is turmeric soap good for wrinkles?

Yes, turmeric soap could be beneficial for wrinkles. One study has demonstrated that turmeric, in combination with other herbs, was effective in decreasing wrinkles and improving skin elasticity.¹⁹ However, turmeric was not used alone in this study, so it may be most effective in combination with other beneficial ingredients. As always, individual results may vary.

Does turmeric remove dark spots?

Yes, turmeric has been traditionally used to enhance complexion,²⁰ and studies have shown it can decrease pigmentation.²¹ This means that turmeric-based products, such as turmeric soap, may help reduce the appearance of dark spots on the skin. With that said, the effect can vary from person to person, and consistent use over time is often necessary to see results.

How long to leave turmeric soap on skin?

When using turmeric soap, avoid leaving it on your skin for too long due to its rich yellow-orange color, which is also used as a dye. While the soap works to cleanse and nourish your skin, it can potentially cause temporary staining if left on for extended periods.²² To prevent tinting your skin, rinse the turmeric soap off your skin thoroughly within a few minutes of application. This way, you can enjoy the benefits of turmeric soap while keeping your skin clear of any unwanted color changes.

• • •

PS, We did the homework, so you don’t have to:

  1. Gopinath H and Karthikeyan K. Turmeric: A condiment, cosmetic and cure. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol. (2018).

  2. Gopinath H and Karthikeyan K. Turmeric: A condiment, cosmetic and cure. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol. Ibid.

  3. Palatty PL, et al. Topical application of a sandal wood oil and turmeric based cream prevents radiodermatitis in head and neck cancer patients undergoing external beam radiotherapy: a pilot study. Br J Radiol. (June 2014).

  4. Gopinath H and Karthikeyan K. Turmeric: A condiment, cosmetic and cure. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol. Ibid.

  5. Shenefelt PD. Herbal Treatment for Dermatologic Disorders. Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition. (2011).

  6. Parham S, et al. Antioxidant, Antimicrobial and Antiviral Properties of Herbal Materials. Antioxidants (Basel). (2020, December 21). 

  7. Parham S, et al. Antioxidant, Antimicrobial and Antiviral Properties of Herbal Materials. Antioxidants (Basel). Ibid.

  8. Vollono L, et al. Potential of Curcumin in Skin Disorders. Nutrients. (2019, September 10).

  9. Shenefelt PD. Herbal Treatment for Dermatologic Disorders. Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition. Ibid.

  10. Vollono L, et al. Potential of Curcumin in Skin Disorders. Nutrients. Ibid.

  11. Parham S, et al. Antioxidant, Antimicrobial and Antiviral Properties of Herbal Materials. Antioxidants (Basel). Ibid.

  12. Vollono L, et al. Potential of Curcumin in Skin Disorders. Nutrients. Ibid.

  13. Shenefelt PD. Herbal Treatment for Dermatologic Disorders. Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition. Ibid.

  14. Vollono L, et al. Potential of Curcumin in Skin Disorders. Nutrients. Ibid.

  15. Im AR, et al. Wrinkle reduction using a Sasang constitutional medicine-based topical herbal cream in So-eum subjects: A split-face randomized double-blind placebo-controlled study. Integr Med Res. (March 2022).

  16. Gopinath H and Karthikeyan K. Turmeric: A condiment, cosmetic and cure. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol. Ibid.

  17. Bhowmik, Debjit et al. Turmeric: A Herbal and Traditional Medicine. Archives of Applied Science Research. (2009) 

  18. American Academy of Dermatology. How to Test Skin Care Products. (2021, August 10).

  19. Im AR, et al. Wrinkle reduction using a Sasang constitutional medicine-based topical herbal cream in So-eum subjects: A split-face randomized double-blind placebo-controlled study. Integr Med Res. Ibid.

  20. Gopinath H and Karthikeyan K. Turmeric: A condiment, cosmetic and cure. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol. Ibid.

  21. Im AR, et al. Wrinkle reduction using a Sasang constitutional medicine-based topical herbal cream in So-eum subjects: A split-face randomized double-blind placebo-controlled study. Integr Med Res. Ibid.

  22. Bhowmik, Debjit et al. Turmeric: A Herbal and Traditional Medicine. Archives of Applied Science Research. (Ibid)

Donna McIntyre is a board-certified nurse practitioner at Curology. She obtained her Master of Science in Nursing at MGH Institute of Health Professions in Boston, MA. 

*Cancel anytime. Subject to consultation. Results may vary.

• • •
Our medical review process:We’re here to tell you what we know. That’s why our information is evidence-based and fact-checked by medical experts. Still, everyone’s skin is unique—the best way to get advice is to talk to your healthcare provider.
Curology Team Avatar

Curology Team

Donna McIntyre, NP-BC

Donna McIntyre, NP-BC

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