WebMD Medical News
Laura J. Martin, MD
March 9, 2010 (Miami Beach, Fla.) -- A moisturizing cream whose active
ingredient is the extract that gives Indian curry its distinctive flavor,
scent, and deep orange color may help fade fine facial lines, wrinkles, and
aging spots, studies suggest.
The ingredient is turmeric, which has a long history of use in Indian
Ayurvedic medicine to treat conditions ranging from indigestion to cancer
because of its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, says Cheri
Swanson, PhD. She's a senior scientist at Procter and Gamble Beauty and
Grooming, which makes the cream and funded the research.
Those same properties may help to fight some of the signs of aging, she
Aging is accompanied by the formation of particles known as free radicals,
which can damage cell membranes, tamper with DNA, and cause cells to die
Antioxidants can neutralize these free radicals, reducing some of their
collateral damage, which includes fine lines, wrinkles, and dark age spots on
the skin, Swanson says.
As for its anti-inflammatory properties, turmeric may calm down swelling in
the skin, such as from pimples, says Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic
and clinical research at Mt. Sinai Medical Center in New York City. He was not
involved with the research.
Until recently, turmeric's intense color and strong odor prohibited its use
in skin creams and ointments, Swanson says.
"We were able to purify it into a nearly colorless, odorless product," she
One new study involved 89 white women, aged 40 to 60. They applied either
moisturizing cream containing turmeric and niacinamide or cream containing
niacinamide alone twice a day for eight weeks.
Niacinamide, a form of vitamin B, is used in many skin creams. "It's
effective at clearing facial spots although it doesn't do much for fine lines
and wrinkles," Swanson says.
Before-and-after facial pictures, as judged by expert readers, showed that
the turmeric plus niacinamide cream was 15% better at reducing fine lines and
The findings were presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of
A second study involved 105 Asian women aged 25 to 55. It showed a
moisturizing cream containing turmeric alone reduced the appearance of
hyperpigmented dark aging spots by an average of 15% after eight weeks of
"A 10% change is really noticeable," Swanson says.
In this study, before-and-after images were fed into a computer, where
software highlighted and circled pigmented, or darkened, spots. Then the images
were compared for changes in size and appearance.
"These early studies suggest creams containing turmeric may be a promising
addition to antiaging products on the market," Zeichner tells WebMD.
The cream is part of the Doctor's Dermatologic Formula line.
SOURCES:68th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology, Miami Beach,
Fla. March 5-9, 2010.Cheri Swanson, PhD, senior scientist, Procter and Gamble Beauty and
Grooming, Cincinnati, Ohio.Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research, Mt. Sinai
Medical Center, New York City.
The Health News section does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. See additional information.