Turmeric is an effective skin brightener that is safe to use, inexpensive and widely available.

Turmeric and curcumin

Also known as yellow ginger, turmeric is a common, inexpensive and widely available root. In Indian cooking, turmeric is sometimes added to prolong the freshness of a cooked dish.

Curcumin is a polyphenol found in turmeric, and contributes to most of its yellow color.

About 20% of turmeric is curcumin.

Curcumin inhibits melanin production

Studies have shown that curcumin–a potent antioxidant–has the ability to significantly inhibit melanin and tyrosinase activity. On punch biopsy wounds, the topical application of curcumin led to faster wound healing.

This is why turmeric pastes and turmeric masks are effective in lightening dark marks and blemishes as well as healing acne.

How to brighten skin with turmeric in 30 days

There are many ways to use turmeric topically.

One simple and effective way is by mixing turmeric powder into a paste using a liquid base (e.g. water, milk, coconut oil, unsweetened natural yogurt), then applying this paste directly over your skin.

Leave it on for 30 minutes or soon after it dries, then wash it off with soap and water.

If you want to leave this turmeric paste on your skin for a longer period of time, then use an oil to mix the paste such as coconut oil, shea butter or Vitamin E oil. This is because an oil-based paste will not evaporate and flake off your skin, making a mess.

Depending on your complexion, a yellow tinge may be slightly or very obvious on your skin even after washing.

This is normal and will fade in a day if it’s on your face, and 1-3 days if it’s on your body. The lighter your complexion, the more obvious the yellow stain will be.

Repeat this daily for at least 30 days to see results.

Be prepared for stains

Be prepared as turmeric will stain fingers, clothes and surfaces yellow. To remove the yellow stain on clothes, dry it under strong sunlight.

Yellow stains left on the skin and fingernails cannot be washed off with soap, but they are temporary, and will fade in 1-3 days. You can speed up the fading of the yellow stain by exfoliating.

If the yellow stains bother you, then try other skin lightening home remedies such as lemon juice and vinegar.

Further Reading

Turmeric has been used medically for hundreds of years. Below are excerpts taken from ‘The Materia Medica of the Hindus’ — published in 1877 — that talked about turmeric (curcuma longa) and its common uses.

A section about turmeric (curcuma longa) in ‘The Materia Medica of the Hindus’ 1877. Page 255.
Turmeric in ‘The Materia Medica of the Hindus’ 1877. Page 256.