The New Skin Care Ingredient You Can't Afford to Miss

Skin Care

Turmeric Flower Maharashira

The skin care industry is currently worth $2 billion worldwide, and that amount is only expected to increase with the rapid industrialization of China and India through the next decade.  With that said, countless new skin care ingredients, formulations, and technologies are introduced each year – making it difficult to analyze them all, much less distinguish the next retinoid (gold standard in anti-aging) from the next laureth sulfate (known irritant).

Recently at the 22nd World Congress of Dermatology in Seoul, Procter & Gamble presented promising research on extracts from turmeric, a known anti-inflammatory agent used in India and Ayurvedic Medicine for 4,000 years.  I personally became interested in turmeric in 2009 when my mother was diagnosed with bladder cancer.  In my efforts to help improve her health, I read Dr. David Servan-Schrieber, M.D.Ph.D.’s much-acclaimed Anticancer: A New Way of Life, about treating cancer with improved nutrition and exercise.  In the studies cited within the book, turmeric was consistently at the top of the nutrient list in alleviating inflammation and eradicating cancer tumor formation of numerous types.  I immediately purchased turmeric supplements for my mother.  And while I am sure her recovery has had much to do with the world-class care she has received, including surgery and subsequent BCG treatments, I like to think that her use of turmeric aided somewhat as well.

Turmeric has not previously been included in skin care formulations because of its intense color, strong odor, and limited stability.  However, Procter & Gamble scientists announced that they have been able to use purification and enrichment methods to extract tetrahydrocurcumin, a solvent-extracted turmeric derivative, for use in their future skin care products.  The products, which will be released at the end of this year, are under the label of “-omics,” referring to the fact that the scientists have also studied how select genes affect specific skin proteins (see below for more information).

The Studies

In research presented at the conference,  two double-blind, well-controlled studies using turmeric were introduced.  In the first, 89 patients aged 40-60 were treated on one side of their face with a cream with 4% niacinamide (similar to Olay Regenerist) for 4 weeks, while the other half of their face was treated with a cream with 4% niacinamide and 0.5% tetrahydrocurcumin.  After 8 weeks, experts found a 50% decrease in the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles in patients who used 0.5% tetrahydrocurcumin plus niacinamide, compared to 20% with niacinamide alone.

In the second study, 186 women aged 40-65 were split into three groups.  The first group used a regimen consisting of a basic cleanser and one daytime moisturizer containing 0.5% turmeric and 6% niacinamide; the second used 0.5% turmeric, 6% niacinamide, and SPF 15; and the third were subjected to a control.  Over the course of 4 weeks, 72% of the women using the turmeric and niacinamide noticed a measurable improvement in the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, compared to negligible amounts of the controls.

Turmeric also has been proven to have potent antioxidant activity, as has been shown in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, amongst numerous other sources.  It has also been suggested by Dr. Nicholas Perricone, M.D., amongst others, that turmeric may boost the skin’s sun protection when applied under sunscreen, but this suggestion has not (to the best of my knowledge) yet been substantiated in any published, peer-reviewed research as of yet.  Still, given that other potent antioxidants have been shown to have this effect, like vitamins C & E and pomegranate, it is certainly possible turmeric can join this elite group.

Source Naturals Turmeric Extract

What You Can Do Now

Before Procter and Gamble releases its “-omics” products, there are several other products on the market today that contain turmeric.  These include:

  • Super by Nicholas Perricone SPF 15 Sun-Kissed Tinted Moisturizer ($42.00).  Does it contain turmeric?  Yes.  Is it likely to be in a 0.5% or more concentration?  Given its very low placement on the ingredients list, no.  But if you’re the impatient type who doesn’t want to wait for the Procter & Gamble line to premiere, this is one source.
  • Source Naturals Turmeric Supplement ($25.77 for 100 softgels).  Given that research has found eating an antioxidant ingredient is more effective than topically applying one, this is probably the best way to get turmeric right now.  Turmeric has been found to have numerous other effects when ingested, including the reversal of aflatoxin-induced liver damage in research published in Cancer Letters; anti-cancer activity, also through Cancer Letters; and to protect against DNA damage from free radical peroxidation, as shown in Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry.  It has also been suggested that turmeric may help patients lose weight, due to its stabilization of blood-sugar levels, keeping you feeling fuller somewhat longer.  I’ve taken the supplement in the past, and I would say it might decrease appetite 10-20%; nothing significant for me, but a definite effect. If you take the supplement with a full glass of water before you eat (or, even better, with a glass of water and a piece of fruit!), and you’ll eat far less and really feel full for hours.  With that said, be sure to check with your physician before beginning this or any other supplement or diet regimen!

Bottom Line

Turmeric is a can’t-miss new ingredient.  Of those I have read about coming out this year, only turmeric is a potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, wrinkle-fighting, wrinkle-preventing agent that may boost sun protection to boot.  (!)  Take it in supplement form and apply it topically, and it’s likely you’ll look and feel better – just be sure to check with your physician first!

Do you have a favorite skin care ingredient or supplement?  Let us know in Comments, or write to us on the Facebook page!  All fans’ comments and questions are currently getting a response, and we would love to hear from you!  🙂

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  • Debra

    I have read that the higher incidence of vitiligo in india may be related to the fact that they eat so much turmeric.
    what do you think? I do have a little hypopigmentation.

  • heff

    in the lauder creams, the new idealist illuminator is one. also their whitening line has turmeric to protect the skin form inlfammation which can cause blotchy skin….thier may be others but i cant think of any others off hand, I am not affiliated with Lauder at all, but i have to give them credit, they are tought to beat with skin care.

  • jc

    thank you for responding, i really was curious and wanted to make sure i knew what i was talking about! trust me, you are missed when you’re not posting, so the sudden appearances in my inbox make my day! of course you have a real life too, though! i apologize if my post implied you hadn’t responded previously, i didn’t mean it in an accusatory tone, i’ve seen you respond to others so i know you’re willing to share and communicate! after i posted, though, i did take note when you mentioned turmeric that they mentioned tetrahydrocurcumin in particular so it actually was there and i missed it before i asked!

  • @secret identity – Really? What is the name of the product? Please let me know, if you can, I think some of my other readers might be interested too!

    @jc – Which Estee Lauder creams? Do you know offhand?

    @jc – I will definitely be trying to make a more conscious effort to answer Comments promptly from now on. Blogging was more of a hobby before May 2011, but I’ve decided to start treating it like a job as of late! With that said, sorry if I haven’t answered any questions/comments before. Now, curcuminoids are also from turmeric, and commonly are incorporated into cosmetics because they have been found to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-carcinogenic properties. I should have mentioned them in the post – whoops on my part!

    Thanks also for the link and the extra info…fantastic.

  • jc

    i hope i hear an answer for this one..i thought curcuminoids were extracts from turmeric and they’ve been used in brands from paula’s choice to some avon products. one of paula’s products uses these: Tetrahydrodiferuloylmethane, Tetrahydrodemethoxydiferuloylmethane, Tetrahydrobisdemethoxydiferuloylmethane, as well there is just “plain old” turmeric extract in one of the serums. also, check if you want fantastic pricing on supplements like curcumin or turmeric…they’re store brand pills are pretty high quality for the price you pay, which is fair! nope, don’t work there, but when supps are mentioned i can’t help shilling for them! 🙂

  • jeff

    estee lauder already uses turmeric in some of thier creams and serums for that reason

  • secret identity

    but it’s so much more delicious in curry! actually proctor and gamble has released a turmeric centred product already under their DDF line, called restoring night serum, which is expensive but cheaper than Perricone (plus the turmeric is high up on the ingredients list so there’s a higher chance of efficacy).

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