Evidence of Turmeric's Skin-Lightening Benefit

Research suggests turmeric compounds can help reduce age spots and other types of hyperpigmentation.

Turmeric compounds such as curcumin can help resolve some of the underlying conditions that can cause hyperpigmentation. These include: (xi.5975-78)

Curcumin suppresses excess ACTH hormone caused by all three conditions. ACTH is secreted by the pituitary gland, and is a precursor of alpha melanocyte-stimulating hormone (α-MSH). The hormone also promotes MC1R, one of the primary proteins that stimulate melanin production(xi.5962)

Clinical Studies Show Turmeric's Skin-Lightening Effects

Research shows that turmeric compounds are effective skin lighteners:

Clinical Trial
Clinical Evidence of Turmeric's Skin Lightening Effects


Type of Study Results
  • Clinical trial; double blind and placebo controlled
  • 25% concentrate topical ointment
  • 4 weeks
  • 50 melasma patients
  • Significantly lightened skin color.
  • Comparable results to 4% hydroquinone, but without adverse side effects.


Type of Study Results
  • Open clinical study
  • Skin cream with curcuminoid nanoparticles
  • 33 participants aged 30-55
  • Significantly reduced levels of melanin in skin.
  • Although researchers noted some of this could have been due to the way the curcuminoids fit on the skin surface and the UV light absorbed by the molecules, the melanin level continued to go down through the duration of the study.


Type of Study Results
  • Skin cream with turmeric oil (containing mostly turmerones)
  • 15 participants used the cream twice a day for 8 weeks.

Made spotted, uneven skin tone more uniform and even in color.

Turmeric Phytonutrients that May Help Lighten Dark Skin Spots

Turmeric contains individual phytonutrients that have skin lightening properties. These include:

Turmeric Plant Compounds & Nutrients that Protect the Skin

Ar-turmerone (xi.1213)

Caffeic acid (xi.12)

Curcuminoids (xi.69)

Ferulic acid (xi.22)

Linoleic acid (xi.18)

  • Exfoliates outer layer of discolored skin cells. (xi.70)
  • Interferes with tyrosinase activity. (xi.70)

Myricetin (xi.49)

Quercetin (xi.49)

Resveratrol (xi.51-52)

Rho-coumaric acid (xi.12)

  • Neutralizes free radicals, which prevents activation of tyrosinase(xi.71)

Vanillic acid (xi.12)

Vitamin C (xi13)

Vitamin E (xi.54)

Hydrogenated form of curcumin. (xi.68)

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