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Turmeric: What is it composed of?

Turmeric is a natural ingredient used to color and enhance the flavor of dishes, but it is also found in various cosmetic products. Indeed, it contains several active compounds with interesting properties. Discover here which active molecules are present in turmeric.

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

Turmeric: What is it?

The turmeric is a perennial plant belonging to the Zingiberaceae family and thrives particularly in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Madagascar. The mechanical grinding of its roots produces a fine yellow-orange powder. This powder has a spicy scent and is rich in benefits for the skin.

Turmeric has been used for centuries for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory propertiesparticularly in traditional Chinese and Indian medicines. In the West, however, its uses were only discovered from the 17th century onwards. The various properties of turmeric powder come from its biochemical composition, which we invite you to discover.

What is the biochemical composition of turmeric?

Turmeric contains numerous active ingredients, some of which are only present in trace amounts. The composition of this ingredient remains the same, whether it is used in culinary or cosmetic fields.

Turmeric contains carbohydrates.

Turmeric is predominantly composed of carbohydrates, at nearly 65%. The carbohydrates present are mainly simple sugars, such as glucose, fructose, and sucrose. Ukonan A is also found in turmeric powder.

Turmeric is rich in lipids.

Approximately 10% of lipids are found in turmeric. These include oleic acid, an omega-9, linoleic acid, an omega-6, and steroids (cholesterol, stigmasterol, and campesterol). The campesterol is a phytosterol with anti-inflammatory properties. It is indeed capable of blocking the synthesis of certain pro-inflammatory cytokines. The oleic acid is naturally present in the hydrolipidic film of the skin. This is found on the surface of the epidermis and acts as a shield to keep the skin hydrated and protected from external aggressions (wind, cold, pollution...).

Thelinoleic acid is an essential fatty acid, so-called because it cannot be produced by the body. It plays a significant role in the synthesis process of ceramides, lipids that ensure good cohesion between the cells of the stratum corneum, thereby limiting water loss. Ceramides result from an amidation reaction between a sphingoid base and a fatty acid. Those carrying linoleic acid are referred to as acylceramides.

Note : Although it contains oleic acid and linoleic acid, turmeric powder is not considered a nourishing or hydrating ingredient, due to its texture.

Turmeric powder is rich in curcuminoids.

The majority of turmeric's properties come from the curcuminoids it contains. This includes curcumin, desmethoxycurcumin, bisdesmethoxycurcumin, and dihydrocurcumin. Curcumin accounts for about 8 to 10% of the overall composition of turmeric. It is responsible for the spicy flavor and its yellow color. This molecule is involved in numerous biological processes, particularly in the inhibition of COX-2 induction, a membrane-bound inflammatory protein that releases prostaglandins, playing a pathological role.

The double bonds found in the chemical structure of curcumin also make it an excellent antioxidant. Indeed, this allows it to donate an electron to certain free radicals, thereby inhibiting the peroxidation of lipids in cell membranes. This effect helps to maintain the integrity of the skin barrier and protect skin cells from premature aging. Finally, curcumin inhibits the activity of the PhK protein, associated with psoriasis.

The turmeric powder contains a few minerals.

Just under 5% of turmeric powder is composed of minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, or zinc. Their content is too low to provide real benefits when applied topically, but they contribute to the nutritional value of turmeric when taken orally.

The turmeric powder contains traces of terpenes.

Turmeric also contains various terpenes, albeit in very small quantities (≈ 1%). These include curcumenone, curcumene, caryophyllene, bisacurone, camphene... In addition to contributing to the spicy nature of turmeric, caryophyllene also has anti-inflammatory properties and reduces the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines in the body. As for curcumenone, it is capable of activating fibroblasts at the molecular level. This notably promotes the healing of lesions.

The turmeric powder contains traces of vitamins.

Traces of vitamins are found in turmeric (< 1%), such as vitamins B1, B2, B3, B9, C, and E. However, their concentration is too low to induce real benefits, whether the turmeric powder is used in cosmetics or in the culinary field. Nevertheless, as part of a varied and balanced diet and when combined with other vitamin-rich foods, turmeric is beneficial for health as it enhances the absorption of certain nutrients, such as iron, in the body.

The Typology radiance mask, enriched with turmeric.

Affecting all skin types, the lack of radiance is often exacerbated by a lack of sleep, atmospheric pollution, or a deficient diet. However, this dull effect can be mitigated by an intake of antioxidants in skincare treatments.

Our radiance mask with yellow clay (INCI: Kaolin), turmeric (INCI: Curcuma Longa Root Extract), and lemon verbena floral water (INCI: Lippia Citriodora Leaf Water) is an essential ally for restoring the radiance of your complexion. The synergy of these ingredients revitalizes the epidermis and protects it from the effects of oxidative stress, by neutralizing free radicals. After application, the skin texture is refined and the complexion is luminous.


  • 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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