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Roots of Radiance: Exploring the Cultural and Historical Roots of Turmeric in Skincare

Our intern, Mariya, has introduced an exceptional concept for a captivating blog series titled "Roots of Radiance." This intriguing series delves deep into the historical roots of Gamanity's natural skincare ingredients, exploring their origins and tracing their usage in skincare throughout history. To begin this exciting journey, we couldn't think of a better choice than highlighting one of nature's most powerful skincare ingredients: Turmeric.

Turmeric and other spices

What if I told you that the key to unlocking your skin care needs lies hidden within the vibrant history and rich cultural heritage of a humble spice? This is the case for the popular skincare ingredient turmeric. Its many beneficial skin care properties tick many boxes when meeting skin care needs. Acne? Turmeric. Dull skin? Turmeric. Fine lines? Turmeric can facilitate with that too!

Amongst the many ingredients that have stood the test of time, turmeric emerges as a mass

favourite, celebrated for its rich cultural heritage deeply intertwined with skincare practices from around the world. With each bottle and jar, Gamanity showcases the fusion of nature, sustainability, science as well as cultural inspiration and appreciation. To delve into the cultural origins of our Gamanity Cosmetics Turmeric Face Mask, this blog will explore and understand turmeric’s origins in skincare from the sun-kissed lands of the Indian subcontinent to the vibrant tapestry of Southeast Asia.

This begins with its roots in ancient civilisations where beauty secrets were passed down through generations like precious heirlooms. This led to turmerics’ rapid popularity and spread in East Asian and African skincare traditions.

Ancient Civilizations and Ayurvedic Heritage

To truly appreciate the historical roots of turmeric in skincare, we must turn our gaze to the ancient civilisations of South Asia, where its use and reverence can be traced back over 6,000 years in the Ayurveda system of medicine. Ayurveda means “science of life” and revolves around holistic treatments to maintain bodily harmony and balance. In the realm of ancient Ayurveda, turmeric held a sacred place as a cornerstone of holistic wellbeing.

In Ayurvedic skincare, turmeric is often incorporated into face masks, pastes, and oils. Its

antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties made it an ideal remedy for various skin conditions, from acne and blemishes to eczema and psoriasis. Additionally, turmeric's natural antioxidant content helps combat free radicals, promoting youthful and glowing skin. These benefits of turmeric were also briefly listed in an Assyrian herbal circa 600 BC and ancient Chinese medicine.

Historical Global Recognition of the Spice

Turmeric Root

Millenniums later, Turmuric’s scope in skin care rapidly expanded worldwide. Even Marco Polo noted his interest in the spice on his expeditions. South Asian, Middle Eastern and European traders embarked on arduous journeys to procure valuable spices such as turmeric, which would eventually shape global commerce and cultural exchange. Turmeric's arrival in the Western world brought new dimensions to its use in skincare. Herbalists and apothecaries explored its therapeutic properties, incorporating it into ointments, creams, and tonics.

Cultural Significance and Ceremonial Uses of Turmeric Today

It’s been approximately 3 minutes since you’ve started reading this blog. In this brief flicker of time, just 3 minutes, approximately over 1000 metric tonnes of turmeric have been produced in South Asia. Mostly from a city called Erode in South India which is nicknamed “yellow city” purely because of its mass turmeric production. In fact, a 2015 study demonstrated that almost 100% of South Asian households have the ingredient.

This is perhaps because, beyond its reputation as a potent spice in culinary delights, turmeric has mass appeal for its skincare benefits in cultural and ceremonial practices. In India, it is considered an auspicious spice, symbolising purity, prosperity, and spiritual purification. It plays a vital role in traditional ceremonies, including weddings, festivals, and religious rituals.

During weddings in of India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, a traditional ceremony called “Haldi” takes place. This fun, lively and colourful ceremony involves guests applying a turmeric paste on the bride and groom's face and hands to bless their marriage and provide them with a radiant glow for their big day. Some even believe that because turmeric contains an antioxidant called curcumin, which has slight antidepressant and headache-relieving properties, the ceremony helps the soon-to-be-wed couple de-stress and relax. Even in day-to-day life, many women in Tamil Nadu still apply turmeric on their face daily. This time-honored tradition highlights the deep-rooted cultural significance of turmeric in celebrations and the pursuit of natural beauty.

Turmeric and other spices

Beauty Beyond Borders: Other Beautiful Traditional Skincare Uses of Turmeric

Beyond India, turmeric's influence extended to South Asia, where it became an integral part of traditional beauty rituals. In countries like Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia, turmeric-based skincare preparations have been treasured for generations.

For instance, in Bali, the “Lulur” tradition involves a body scrub primarily made from turmeric with some added rice and various herbs. This ritual is believed to cleanse and purify the skin, leaving it soft, supple, and glowing. Before Balinese weddings, everyday for 40 days (yes, 40 days!), the bride-to-be receives this 2-hour-long skin treatment. It would be given to the bride-to-be by village elders and her bridal party as a time for self-love and pampering as well as a time when elders would pass down their wisdom and sacred stories about love. Ample relaxation and skin benefits from turmeric in “Lulur” has also made it the most popular treatment among tourists currently.

Similarly, in traditional Somali beauty practices, turmeric is often used to create facial masks called “Qasil” , promoting a flawless complexion and even skin tone for centuries. Nomadic Somalis may also wear these face masks outdoors to protect their skin from the harsh sun.

Gamanity's natural turmeric face mask

Turmeric Contemporary Revival and Benefits in Modern-Day Skincare

While turmeric's historical and cultural significance in skincare has deep roots, its popularity has experienced a resurgence in recent years. The growing interest in natural and holistic beauty has brought turmeric back into the spotlight. Contemporary skincare brands like Gamanity, inspired by the wisdom of ancient traditions, have integrated turmeric into their formulations.

To build on what was mentioned previously, some of the skin benefits of turmeric in skincare


Anti-inflammatory properties: Turmeric contains a compound called curcumin, which

exhibits potent anti-inflammatory effects. This can help soothe skin conditions such as acne,eczema, and psoriasis, reducing redness and inflammation.

Antioxidant activity: Curcumin also functions as a powerful antioxidant, neutralizing free

radicals and protecting the skin against oxidative stress. By combating free radicals, turmeric can help prevent premature aging, such as wrinkles, fine lines, and age spots.

Brightens and evens skin tone: Turmeric has a natural skin-lightening effect, which can help fade dark spots and hyperpigmentation. It may also contribute to a more even skin tone and giving your complexion a healthy glow.

Acne treatment: Turmeric possesses antimicrobial properties that can combat the bacteria responsible for acne breakouts. Additionally, its anti-inflammatory nature can help reduce redness and swelling associated with acne lesions.

Exfoliation and skin renewal: The granular texture of turmeric powder can be used as a

gentle exfoliant, promoting the removal of dead skin cells and revealing smoother, brighter

skin. Regular exfoliation can also enhance the effectiveness of other skincare products by

allowing them to penetrate deeper into the skin.

Oil control: Turmeric has been known to help regulate sebum production, making it

beneficial for individuals with oily skin. By controlling excess oil, turmeric can potentially

prevent clogged pores and the formation of acne.

This blog exemplifies turmeric in skin care has well and truly stood the test of time, culturally and scientifically! Its vast benefits highlight how it should not just be a spice rack staple, but a definite skincare routine staple also.

For more details on how to ‘spice’ up your skincare routine with turmeric, find out more about Gamanity's turmeric face mask here.


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