By Ek Ongkar Khalsa

One of my first experiences with turmeric masks was at a relative’s wedding many years ago. It was the night before the big event, and the bride’s house was buzzing with excitement. There was chai on the stove, endless platters of food, aunties chatting, and a line of hands waiting for traditional bridal henna tattoos. Later in the evening, the bride sat in simple clothes while her family sat around her to perform a few wedding traditions, including putting turmeric paste on her arms and face.

While wedding traditions and festivities vary depending on region, religion, family preferences, etc., the use of turmeric pastes as a prenuptial preparation is fairly common in Northern Indian traditions. Physically, it is known to naturally beautify the skin. Symbolically, it’s a way for the bride and groom’s family and friends to show their love and support while preparing them for the big day ahead.


You don’t have to be getting married to enjoy a turmeric face mask, and many people use homemade turmeric masks on a routine basis. Some have found that the simple mixture of natural ingredients helps create a subtle facial glow and a more even tone in the skin. Turmeric is prized for its many healthful qualities, and in this mask, the milk or yogurt helps to keep moisture in the skin after removing the mask, while the chickpea flour is wonderful for exfoliation. Of course, everyone’s skin is different, and it’s important to do what feels best to you. If you love exploring the golden opportunities of turmeric, give this recipe a go.


This simple recipe uses traditional ingredients as well as one unique ingredient: organic turmeric hydrosol. I love how the hydrosol adds a wonderful freshness to the dried powders used in the mask. However, it can be omitted if desired, and the other ingredients can also be adjusted to your liking (see the variations below).


  • 2 tablespoons organic chickpea flour
  • 4 teaspoons organic milk or yogurt (or enough to make a paste)
  • 1 teaspoon organic turmeric hydrosol*
  • 1 teaspoon organic turmeric powder*


Whisk ingredients together to form a thick paste (there should be no lumps, and it should feel soft and sticky). Apply to face with hands or a thick brush and let dry 5 to 10 minutes. Wash off with warm water. Pat face dry with a dark-colored towel and re-hydrate face with facial toner or facial oil.


Because of turmeric’s popularity and versatility, there are a wide variety of turmeric mask recipes used by natural beauty enthusiasts. Honey, oatmeal, and sandalwood powder are a few of the natural ingredients often used. As with most DIY beauty trends, a simple web search will give you many more ideas, but before you start mixing in your own unique ingredients, it’s best to do some research. Here are a few expert variations:

  • Registered Nutrition Specialist Julie Gabriel uses fine sea salt in the turmeric mask recipe from her book Green Beauty Recipes.*
  • JJ Purcell uses aloe vera gel* and honey in her turmeric face mask recipe, which can be found in her book The Woman’s Herbal Apothecary.*
  • Renowned herbalist Rosemary Gladstar likes turmeric, too! In the recipe for a healthful skin paste from her book Medicinal Herbs,* she uses organic goldenseal root powder* alongside turmeric powder.

Pro Tips

  • If you’ve never used turmeric powder on your skin before, it’s recommended that you first do a “patch test.” After mixing the ingredients, apply a small amount of the paste to your arm (or somewhere else with less sensitivity than your face). Follow the rest of the directions for application and removal above. Once you determine that you won’t have any sensitivities, you can try the mask on your face.
  • If you’re worried that turmeric powder will leave a stain on your skin, I suggest doing a “patch test” as described above, and also decreasing the proportion of turmeric powder used in the recipe. For example, in the recipe above, you could start with a quarter teaspoon of turmeric powder, and if you are satisfied with the results, you can increase the proportion to a full teaspoon. In this recipe, mixing the turmeric with chickpea flour and yogurt reduces potential stain. I suggest being cautious of other recipes that include turmeric without other dry ingredients.

*These ingredients and items can be found at the Mountain Rose Herbs Mercantile.

Mountain Rose Herbs, 152 W 5thAve., #3, 541/868-8420,