The One Ingredient Beauty Bloggers Are Obsessed With

Peek into my medicine cabinet and you'll see raw honey and ground cinnamon. Open my fridge and you'll find a bottle of Mother Dirt face mist. What can I say, I'm all for natural product and DIY beauty routines.

So when I started seeing turmeric being used everywhere — and for just about everything — well, I had to try it. Beauty bloggers were putting it on their faces, mixing it with buttermilk and brushing it under their eyes, and rubbing it all over their teeth.

Of course, none of this is new. Turmeric is a common ingredient in South Asian medicine and cooking, and with its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory benefits, it's considered an incredibly effective herb. (We've written about DIY turmeric masks and turmeric-infused beauty products, too).

But can turmeric really do all the things that those bloggers say it can? Ahead, I tried seven different turmeric beauty routines — on my face, legs, dark circles, hair, and feet — and recorded the results.
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Turmeric Honey Face Mask

According to many a beauty blogger, this mixture has the power to reveal flawless, glowing skin. It's purportedly a great soothing mask that also works wonders on pimples and burns.

To make the mask, I took a small swipe of honey on a butter knife (roughly 1/4 teaspoon) and mixed in a pinch of ground turmeric. I spread it over my face and let it do its work for a few minutes.
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The Results

Typically, I use a honey-cinnamon mask, which I love. So honey and turmeric can't be much different...right?

Wrong. Cinnamon is a fine, delicate exfoliator; turmeric is more coarse and felt slightly rougher than expected. This might explain why my skin wasn't exactly glowing afterwards. In fact, I was a little red — which might have been due in small part to turmeric's color, too.

So I consulted a dermatologist. "Well, trying turmeric couldn't hurt," Dr. Francesca Fusco told me. "We're learning more and more about how effective botanicals can be. But just because something is natural doesn't mean you can't get a reaction to it."

I decided to try the mask a few more times, hoping it might just help with a few persistent pimples on my chin. Unfortunately, they never disappeared and my skin still reacted every time.
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Turmeric Night Cream

Perhaps the mask was just too much. Another skin-brightening remedy I read about suggested putting a pinch of turmeric into your nightly moisturiser and letting the powder soak into your face for a glowing visage come morning.

It seemed like a much less aggressive version of the mask, with the added benefit of simultaneous moisture. I grabbed Origins Night Renewal Cream, mixed in a little turmeric, and slathered it on my face before bed. To be honest, I was more worried about my pillowcase than my skin this time.
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The Results

By morning, the turmeric had rubbed off, so I didn't have to go into work looking like an Oompa Loompa. Whew! I did wake up with brighter skin, it seemed (pimples still prevalent, sadly), but the difference wasn't major. And luckily, my pillows came out of it stain-free. Still, I'm not sure it was worth trying to sleep on my back all night.
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Coconut Oil & Turmeric Sugar Scrub

I love a good scrub. I consider it the ultimate "treat yourself" spa practice, so I was excited to try this concoction.

There are plenty of bloggers out there with complete recipes, but I simply grabbed two heaping spoonfuls of coconut oil, dumped in a spoonful of turmeric, and mixed in sugar until it formed the consistency of a scrub. It looked a bit like carrot soup, but smelled absolutely delicious.
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The Results

While the scrub smelled — and felt — great, most of the turmeric ended up being washed off. Great for my sheets, but honestly, I couldn't tell the difference between the turmeric-scrubbed leg versus the one I used as a control in terms of brightness. But when it comes to exfoliation, well, my legs felt softer and smoother than they had in months. I probably won't be doing this daily (it's tights season, after all), but if I ever need a little extra pampering, I'll pull this recipe out.
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Turmeric & Olive Oil Hair Mask

This hair mask is intended to moisturise your hair while treating scalp conditions like dandruff. As someone who typically washes her hair every other day and mostly wears all black, I was all in.

To make the mask, I poured 1/4 cup of olive oil into a mug, then sprinkled in turmeric until the liquid was bright orange. After getting my hair wet, I massaged the mixture onto my scalp and let it sit for a few minutes before rinsing.

What I didn't realise until it was too late was that I also had to shampoo my hair, so I walked out of my apartment with very greasy hair that looked wet all day long. Truthfully, it wasn't awful (I finally realised how Kim K. kept her hair wet at the VMAs), but I was ready to jump in the shower the minute I got home from work.
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The Results

After the not-so-great experience with the face mask, I was sceptical about this home remedy. But after washing out the olive oil and letting my hair air-dry, my strands were softer than ever. Yes, my shower got a little slippery after application, but it was worth it. I'm now on day three of unwashed hair and not only have I seen a decrease in dandruff, my hair hasn't felt at all oily.
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Turmeric Toothpaste

Google "how to get white teeth" and inevitably, turmeric will come up as an answer. Some recommend making a thick paste with water; others simply advise dipping your toothbrush into turmeric powder and brushing as normal.

I opted for the latter — this experiment was getting a bit too messy for my taste. I dumped some turmeric into my hand, grabbed my toothbrush, and scrubbed the yellow powder onto my teeth. Folks, it was not pretty.

Per bloggers' instructions, I left the turmeric on for three to five minutes. It felt like being at the dentist and the taste wasn't great. Finally, I spat out the turmeric, brushed my teeth twice (once with a new brush, because my old one was so stained), and examined my smile.
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The Results

Did my teeth look whiter? Yes. But it might also be because two minutes before, they were covered with yellow gunk. But I did take before-and-after photos. In the after pics, my teeth do look just a smidge brighter. Was it worth the mess, waiting time, and extra toothbrush? Maybe — it was certainly more cost-effective than whitening strips. I'll be trying it again and scaling back on my coffee consumption.
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Undereye Cream

Beauty blogger Farah Dhukai caused a tizzy on Instagram when she posted a video of herself applying buttermilk and turmeric to her undereye area, promising that this concoction will "GET RID OF DARK CIRCLES FOREVERRRR."

A girl can dream. I took a small amount of buttermilk, mixed in some turmeric, and applied the paste under my eyes. I sat around and listened to podcasts until it dried, then washed it all off.
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The Results

The results were less than stellar. To be fair, I was trying this trick out after a week of not sleeping properly, so my dark circles were particularly noticeable. For those with less distinct undereye bags, it could work, since turmeric's yellow colour neutralises the purple colour. Still, that stain is temporary. Personally, I don't feel too great about putting buttermilk so close to my eyes.
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The Foot Soak

After a long summer spent in sandals, my feet were in need of some TLC. I decided to see if turmeric could help soften and brighten the skin on my callused heels. A quick internet search told me to mix turmeric with regular milk, slather it on my feet, and let it dry (much like the buttermilk undereye cream). As much as I hate the idea of putting milk on my feet, I tried it while perching gingerly over my bathtub to avoid staining my floors.
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The Results

This was the one beauty hack I didn't really care to try — and for me, it barely made a difference. Maybe it was because I prefer the active exfoliation of the scrub or because I'm just too damn lazy to carefully apply milk to my feet. In the end, I didn't see a distinct difference in the before and after. Instead, I just felt gross.
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Photographed by Erin Yamagata.
How effective is turmeric, really?

Let's be clear — plenty of people react to different ingredients in different ways, so this is only my personal experience.

When it comes to turmeric in my skin care — especially around my face — I give turmeric a hard pass. Plenty of dermatologists recommend that before you try a new product, you spot-test it on your arm to ensure that you aren't allergic to it. I highly recommend doing the same with turmeric.

While I didn't break out in hives or rashes, the powder did aggravate some pre-existing dryness and flakiness on my face. The promise of brighter skin just didn't pay off enough for me to try this again.

I'll likely be bringing the body scrub back in the next few months, however. Plus, I plan on making an olive oil and turmeric hair mask a weekly affair — stained yellow towels, be damned.

As for my teeth? I'll probably try it again the next time I'm home alone and have nothing better to do. But for now, I'm going to focus on getting all the turmeric powder out from underneath my nails.
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