I am a child of the sun.
I spent the majority of my childhood playing outdoors under the warm California sun. Whether we were at tennis practice, hiking Jack London State Park, jumping waves in Bodega Bay, or simply playing in the field (country living, right?), the sun’s rays were a constant comrade. Back then, the sun would leave tiny freckles across the bridge of my nose and lightly dust my cheeks — sun kisses or sun freckles we called them. Now, many years later, I am still drawn to the sun as ever. Any free moment I have is spent outside hiking, swimming, or kicking back in the patio with a book and cold drink. The only thing that has changed is the trace that the sun leaves on my skin. Sweet sun freckles have been replaced with dark sun spots.
Though I wear sunscreen everyday, I am prone to hyperpigmentation, a common skin condition that occurs as a result of excess melanin production in the body and can cause uneven skin color and dark patches. Prolonged sun exposure, inflammation, acne, or hormonal imbalance can trigger excess melanin. Though my sun spots are mostly on my face, hyperpigmentation can also occur anywhere else on the body. For several years, I have tried expensive creams and fancy oils to reduce the look of dark spots but nothing has worked — anyone who also has dark spots knows how frustrating this can be.
I recently came across an article about the benefits of turmeric, a spice that is native to Southern Asia from the ginger family of plants. The stems — or rhizomes — of the plant are harvested, dried, and usually pounded to create a fine, yellow-gold powder. It is commonly used in cooking but has also been used to treat inflammation, skin wounds, and even liver disorder in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine. It also has a wide variety of beauty benefits, including reducing the appearance of dark sun spots.
Acts as an antioxidant. Circumin, the yellow pigment and active ingredient in turmeric, is a powerful antioxidant that combats premature aging. An antioxidant protects cells from free radicals and environmental toxins that can damage cells over time, resulting in aging.
Reduces inflammation. Turmeric has potent anti-inflammatory properties. Some people add a pinch of turmeric to their daily regimen to help reduce inflammation.
Has antibacterial properties. Not only can you combat colds and sore throats with turmeric, the spice can be applied to cuts and wounds to prevent infection.
Some people believe that turmeric is an effective ingredient in treating acne and sun spots due to its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antioxidant properties. I wanted to put it to the test so I researched different ways to safely apply it to my skin in the form of a mask:
Turmeric Face Mask
Pinch of turmeric. I recommend starting with a small pinch and gradually adding more as you see fit. The turmeric will make your mask a yellow-to-orange color. Personally I use a small portion of turmeric so my mask is a lighter yellow.
2 Tbsp organic plain yogurt. Yogurt is a gentle ingredient that evens out skin complexion and brightens skin due to the lactic acid.
Juice from half of a lemon. Lemons contain citric acid which helps to lighten dark spots. They also act as a natural exfoliator. If you have sensitive skin, I recommend using much less lemon or skip the lemon altogether.
2 Tbsp cucumber juice. Cucumbers bind collagen and help firm skin. Cucumbers also have an incredible cooling effect.
1 Tbsp aloe vera gel. Aloe vera works on hyper-pigmented skin due to the mucilaginous polysaccharides in the gel. It removes dead skin cells and promotes regeneration of new skin cells. Aloe vera also has natural salicylic acid that keeps skin clear.
Add all ingredients to a bowl and mix well. Once it is mixed, it should be a little runny. You can either apply to the affected area or to your entire face. Because turmeric stains, and might leave your fingertips a shade of yellow, I recommend using the back of a spoon or a brush to apply. I also recommend wearing a shirt you wouldn’t mind staining if the mask accidentally drips onto it.
Keep the mask on for 15-20 minutes. If it dries and feels tight, try adding more yogurt next time. Rinse with warm water. And don’t forget to apply sunscreen after!
After the mask, my face feels soft and has a much brighter glow. I am anxious to see how my sun spots reduce in a few weeks!
There are many different turmeric face masks out there so I suggest researching a few to find one that is best suited for your specific skin type.
+ Is anyone currently using a spice-based face mask now? I’d love to know how it is going or if you have any tips to add!