Can Turmeric Soap Remove Dark Spots?

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The #turmericsoap hashtag has quickly risen to over 31 thousand posts on TikTok. Beauty creators are  convincingly using the ingredient to treat acne, dark underarms, and hyperpigmentation. “Turmeric is renowned for its potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties,” holistic esthetician and founder of Klur Cosmetics, Lesley Thornton tells ESSENCE. “It can help reduce inflammation, promote overall skin health, and protect against environmental damage.” 

With deeper skin tones more prone to hyperpigmentation, due to “an overproduction of melanin,” says Thornton, the properties of this spice may be the unexpected solution. Below, two experts weigh in on the benefits of turmeric on our skin.

What are the benefits of turmeric?

“Turmeric is highly anti-inflammatory and contains antioxidants due to the compound curcumin,” holistic esthetician and founder of InGroov, Shani Hillian says. The root of a flowering plant and kin to the ginger family, “it can boost brain-derived neurotrophic factors, boost immunity, improve digestion, lower cholesterol, boost mood, and more.”

How can turmeric be used on the skin?

“Turmeric can be used on the skin to reduce inflammation in acne, brighten hyperpigmentation, reduce dark circles and redness,” Hillian says. Popularly used as a soap, either alone or with other ingredients like kojic acid, Thornton adds it can also be used in other ways. “It can be applied as a paste, mixed with other ingredients like honey or yogurt, or incorporated into skincare products such as masks, serums and creams.”

Can turmeric soap remove dark spots?

“Turmeric soap can be beneficial at unifying the skin tone and reducing dark spots over time, as turmeric works by suppressing the synthesis of melanin, the pigment responsible for the color of our skin,” Hillian says. While the soap may temporarily brighten the skin due to its anti-inflammatory properties, Thornton says it should not be the only ingredient you use. “It is not typically considered an effective treatment for removing dark spots or hyperpigmentation.”

How do you fit turmeric soap into a skincare routine?

Instead of using turmeric as a standalone step, using it to supplement other products is recommended. “Turmeric soap can be used as a supplemental step in a skincare routine, particularly for those looking to address inflammation or promote healthy-looking skin,” Thornton says. For example, you could use turmeric soap as the second cleanse in a double cleanse routine or as a face mask treatment. 

“I suggest using turmeric soap at night as your skin regenerates most while you sleep,” Hillian notes. “This allows the skin to replenish and heal optimally without interruption from free radicals and environmental stress.” According to Hillian, hyperpigmentation occurs when skin cells called keratinocytes that store melanin are released beneath the skin’s surface. “Darker skin also has larger melanocytes, which transfer more melanosomes to the epidermis,” she says. This is also why wearing sunscreen is important to help avoid hyperpigmentation when exposed to the sun.

Are there any risks to using turmeric soap?

If you haven’t used turmeric on your skin before, Hillian says you should start by patch testing the soap on your lower jaw. “There are a lot of turmeric soaps on the market,” she says. “Research the best brand that suits your particular skin care needs at that moment and always patch test before using over the entire face.”

She also advises that you avoid using soaps that contain lye, “as they can have a high pH and potentially strip the skin of its natural barrier, leading to dryness and increased susceptibility to hyperpigmentation,” Thornton says. In addition to sensitive skin and allergies, “one potential risk of using turmeric soap is that it may stain the skin, giving off a yellowish tint, particularly in higher concentrations or with prolonged use.”

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