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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 17 November 2018

Face value: The magical properties of turmeric

Turmeric has healing, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and is easily available in the UAE, so it could be time to add it to your skincare regime

Harness the beautifying powers of turmeric at home Getty
Harness the beautifying powers of turmeric at home Getty

I scoffed the first time I read that turmeric lattes were a thing. The hipster version of the “haldi doodh” that most Indian children (and adults) are forced to gulp down when they are sick has gone mainstream, and it is perplexing to me that anyone would want to drink one voluntarily. But that’s the trend now, isn’t it? Adopt a superfood from a particular culture and call it the next big thing – we’ve done it with avocados, kale, quinoa, coconut oil, and now the golden spice.

However, while I baulk at the thought of drinking turmeric, I am a huge proponent of its use in skincare regimes. So what makes this spice so special? It has healing, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, as well as a component called curcumin, which helps treat spots and minimise damage caused by UV rays.

Indian brands such as Kama Ayurveda and Forest Essentials already offer soaps, face packs and scrubs featuring this elixir. I recently tried Kama Ayurveda’s latest release, the Suvarna Haldi Chandan Brightening Face Pack, and can confirm that it does exactly what it says on the box. It also has a very calming sandalwood-infused fragrance and, unlike some turmeric-based products, doesn’t leave the skin with a yellowish tint.

A number of international and indie brands are now also jumping on the turmeric bandwagon. Kiehl’s offers a turmeric and cranberry seed “energising, radiant and exfoliating” mask; Verso claims its Turmeric Booster Serum fights free radicals; Aveda’s Tulsara Wedding mask promises soft and supple skin; and even the famed Double Serum by Clarins lists turmeric as one of its ingredients. An indie brand called Alaffia has brought the goodness of this spice into its haircare range, while SW Basics offers a turmeric oil serum.

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I find it odd that turmeric is only just gaining traction in the skincare industry, since I grew up hearing about the many beautifying powers of this spice. One of the most popular jingles in the 1980s and ’90s in India was for a cream called Vicco Turmeric, which claims to offer the goodness of turmeric to not only moisturise, but prevent acne, even skin tone, fade acne scars and rejuvenate the skin. It is still around and available in supermarkets in the UAE, if you fancy giving it a shot. Unfortunately, this cream didn’t do much for my teenage skin, but a self-mixed turmeric and sandalwood paste certainly helped in healing my acne. I used to apply a paste made from these two ingredients, mixed with a teaspoon of rose water, on a daily basis, and saw results within a couple of months.

One of the most popular ubtans – an ayurvedic term for a mix of natural ingredients used as a face and body mask – is a mix of turmeric with chickpea flour, honey and cream, which helps lighten, brighten, nourish and exfoliate. In fact, one of the ceremonies of a Hindu wedding involves friends and family applying turmeric onto the bride’s face and body, so she glows on her wedding day. The London-based Indian influencer, Kaushal Beauty, gave this ritual a bit of a modern makeover when she got married in Mexico earlier this year, and instead of using the traditional ubtan (which can tint the skin slightly) during her haldi ceremony, she had her guests smear some Kiehl’s Turmeric & Cranberry Seed Energising Radiance Mask on her instead.

The great news is you don’t really need to invest in expensive turmeric-laden creams in the UAE, since we have so much access to both organic powders and raw turmeric here. Mix a pinch in a bowl with some chilled yoghurt, honey and chickpea flour – ingredients you probably already have in your pantry. A word of warning, though: don’t overdo it. An extra pinch and your skin tone will go from golden glow to ridiculously yellow.