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Curcuma et cernes.

Curcuma, a method for lightening dark circles?

Dark circles are typically defined as a change in the pigmentation or texture of the lower eyelid. This alteration around the eye contour darkens the gaze and gives a tired appearance. Discover if turmeric can have an effect on dark circles.

Published February 19, 2024, by Pauline, Head of Scientific Communication — 6 min read

How are dark circles formed?

Dark circles under the eyes are among the most common cosmetic concerns, giving the gaze a sad appearance. There are several types of dark circles, whose appearance is linked to various factors.

  • Poor blood or lymphatic circulation: This dysfunction can be due to fatigue or lifestyle habits, such as tobacco or alcohol consumption, an unbalanced diet, or a lack of water. It leads to the stagnation of blood or lymph in the thin skin around the eye. Consequently, vascular dark circles appear, manifesting as a blue-violet discoloration. The microcirculation in the eyelid also becomes less efficient with age, thus promoting venous stasis.

  • An excess of melanin: this natural pigment is synthesized to protect the skin from UV rays. However, during a prolonged exposure to the sun, melanocytes produce a significant amount, thus leading to an excess of melanin. Pigmented dark circles, yellow or brown in color, then form under the eyes. These can also have a genetic origin.

  • A loss of structure : This is a more specific case, not resulting in a color change of the lower eyelid but a structural modification. The hollow dark circles can be hereditary or gradually develop over time or after massive weight loss. As we age, the adipocytes in the hypodermis of the face tend to empty, leading to the sagging of the skin.

Curcumin, a solution for dark circles?

Turmeric or Indian saffron is a perennial plant native to Southeast Asia. Generally, the part used in cosmetics or cooking is the rhizome. This underground stem indeed contains several active principles with interesting virtues. Numerous studies have focused on turmeric and have shown that it provides the skin with many benefits. As for dark circles, this ingredient is capable of acting on two particular types of dark circles: vascular and pigmented dark circles. Turmeric thus enters the formulation of several eye contour care products, such as creams or masks. It is recommended to use an eye contour based on turmeric for at least four weeks to observe results.

Note : The studies mentioned below were not conducted directly on the eye contour area. Therefore, caution should be exercised regarding the effects of turmeric on dark circles.

Turmeric to diminish bluish dark circles.

Turmeric contains curcumin, a curcuminoid capable of influencing numerous biological processes. One study has shown that this molecule stimulates microcirculation of the blood, a property that is beneficial for combating the stagnation of blood pigments which are responsible for the formation of vascular dark circles. The mechanism of action of curcumin on blood circulation has not yet been identified and further research is still needed. However, the effect of curcumin is confirmed. No threshold concentration has been communicated yet.

Turmeric powder to diminish the appearance of brown under-eye circles.

While turmeric is capable of combating vascular dark circles, it is particularly effective on pigmented dark circles. Indeed, the active ingredients it contains act at different levels of the melanin synthesis process, the pigment responsible for the dark color of this type of dark circles. A study conducted in vitro on skin cells showed that curcumin had a inhibitory effect on tyrosinase activity. This effect was dose-dependent, meaning it varied linearly with the amount of curcumin used. For example, a concentration of 3.8 µg/mL of curcuminoid can reduce tyrosinase activity by almost 20%. Furthermore, the same study showed that curcumin induced a decrease in the expression of the gene coding for tyrosinase.

We should also note that curcumin has properties antioxidant, allowing it to neutralize the excess free radicals generated in the body due to exposure to UV rays. These reactive oxygen species cause several damages in the skin cells and stimulate the production of melanin. Therefore, curcumin has a both preventive and corrective effect on brown circles.

This molecule is not the only one to have an effect on melanogenesis. Alpha-turmerone, a sesquiterpene found in turmeric powder, has also demonstrated its ability to inhibit this phenomenon in tests conducted on mice. More specifically, this molecule prevents the synthesis of the hormone α-MSH (α-melanocyte-stimulating hormone), a hormone that activates certain melanocortin receptors. These receptors trigger the production of melanin. Alpha-turmerone can also inhibit the phosphorylation of the CREB protein (C-AMP Response Element-Binding Protein). This phosphorylation triggers a cascade of reactions leading to the stimulation of tyrosinase transcription.

Key Takeaway : By acting on various mechanisms of melanogenesis, turmeric limits the production of melanin, the pigment that gives brown circles their color.


  • WONGKAJORNSILP A. & al. Modulation of antioxidant defense by Alpinia galanga and Curcuma aromatica extracts correlates with their inhibition of UVA-induced melanogenesis. Cell Biology and Toxicology (2010).

  • LEE S. J. & al. Aromatic-turmerone inhibits α-MSH and IBMX-induced melanogenesis by inactivating CREB and MITF signaling pathways. Archives of Dermatological Research (2011).

  • CAO D. & al. Screening of active fractions from Curcuma longa Radix isolated by HPLC and GC-MS for promotion of blood circulation and relief of pain. Journal of Ethnopharmacology (2019).


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