Topical Curcumin (Turmeric) acne treatment

Curcumin is a natural yellowish compound also known as diferuloylmethane. It can be extracted from the rhizome of the Turmeric (Curcuma Longa) plant. Turmeric powder which contains Curcumin and other organic plant component is used as a food coloring additive and as a spice in curries. In Indian ayurvedic medicine, curcumin is used as an antiseptic for wounds and to hasten the healing of wounds. It is also reported to have anti-cancer and anti-arthritis properties. The National Institute of health is investigating the use of curcumin on adenocarcinoma, pancreatic cancer, myelodysplastic syndromes, colon cancer, precancerous gastrointestinal polyps, Alzheimer’s disease, psoriasis and depression.

II. How does topical Curcumin work on acne?

Curcumin provides anti-inflammatory action which basically reduces the inflammation and redness associated with acne. Acne sufferers report that overnight application of Turmeric powder mask significantly reduces the size of an inflammed pimple. Curcumin also helps acne damaged tissues to heal faster.


Very safe, natural and effective anti-inflammatory agent.


The characteristic yellow color of curcumin stains human skin and clothing. The staining effect of curcumin on human skin is very noticeable for persons with light skin complexion. Washing with soap and water may not be adequate to remove the yellow stain of Curcumin on the skin. It may take several days before the stain disappers.

It does not kill acne causing bacteria and it does not reduce sebum production.


Tetrahydrocurcumin which is a non-staining form of Curcumin is used as a skin lightening agent and may protect the skin from damage due to ultraviolet light coming from the sun.
( Source: Research Report, Sami Labs Ltd, 2002 and Research Report, Sabinsa Corporation, 2003)

Curcumin has been demonstrated to be safe in six human trials and has demonstrated anti-inflammatory activity. It may exert its anti-inflammatory activity by inhibition of a number of different molecules that play a role in inflammation.
( Source: Nita Chainani-Wu. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 2003, 9(1): 161-168.)

III. Forms, Dosage and Administration

Turmeric powder is available on the grocery store as spice. The topical curcumin powder can be formulated using turmeric powder, water, mineral oil, vitamin-E, glycerin and propylene glycol.

IV. Precautions

People with allergic reactions to curcumin

V. Side Effects

Skin discoloration caused by the staining action of curcumin on human skin. The mild yellow staining the of skin is harmless and can be removed by washing.

Brand Names

LEF Super Curcumin™,

References “Curcumin Update
New Research on the Multiple Benefits of this Potent Health-Promoting, Disease-Fighting Agent By Dale Kiefer last update Feb 2004) “absprtion and metabolism of curcumin by Sabinsa Corporation”

Phan TT, See P, Lee ST, Chan SY. Protective effects of curcumin against oxidative damage on skin cells in vitro: its implication for wound healing. J Trauma. 2001 Nov;51(5):927-31.

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