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Nutmeg is often overshadowed by its flashier fall-spice counterpart, cinnamon. But we're here to say justice for nutmeg. In addition to being a cozy ingredient in your latte (seriously, a PSL would not taste the same without the flavor profile it brings), nutmeg is also a powerhouse skincare ingredient. It's got anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and astringent properties, which may help brighten dull skin and even treat acne.
Intrigued? So were we. We spoke with celebrity aesthetician Joshua Ross of SkinLab and board certified dermatologist, Dr. Corey L. Hartman, founder of Skin Wellness Dermatology in Birmingham, AL to learn more about the magical benefits of nutmeg for skin. Here is how to incorporate this spice into your skincare routine, whether you prefer to DIY or get your products from Sephora.
Meet the Expert
Type of ingredient: Anti-inflammatory
Main benefits: Decreases hyperpigmentation, balances oily skin, calms irritation
Who should use it: Suitable for all skin types, but especially for those with sensitive, oily skin
How often can you use it: Weekly in masks, daily in creams and serums
Works well with: Most other anti-inflammatory ingredients like aloe vera, green tea, and mugwort
Don't use with: Generally, nutmeg is safe to use with most, if not all other skincare ingredients
What is Nutmeg?
Like I said earlier, nutmeg is a spice that is typically used for cooking, but is also beneficial for the skin as an anti-inflammatory ingredient. Dr. Hartman told me, "Nutmeg has been an anti-inflammatory agent used for centuries in the Caribbean, especially on the island of Grenada which produces 20% of the world’s nutmeg despite its small size."
And speaking of anti-inflammatory properties, nutmeg is a superstar. Studies have shown that nutmeg is a strong antioxidant that can help fight pesky free radicals—you know the stuff that causes premature wrinkles, sun spots, sagging skin and collagen loss.
Nutmeg is found in a variety of skincare products, including, but not limited to serums, facial creams, body lotions, and both hydrating and exfoliating masks.
Benefits of Nutmeg for Skin
- Reduces hyperpigmentation: According to Dr. Hartman, "Nutmeg's anti-inflammatory quality helps to reduce redness and pigmentation, improving scars and providing a more even complexion."
- Helps balance oil production: This anti-inflammatory ingredient also helps balance oily skin "by tightening pores and exfoliating," says Dr. Hartman.
- Decreases redness and irritation: Nutmeg's anti-inflammatory properties can help improve redness and irritation, making it perfect for those with sensitive skin.
- Antibacterial: Studies show that nutmeg seeds have strong antibacterial activity. Dr. Hartman also told me, "It also has mild antibacterial properties that fight acne and the bacteria responsible for acne flares."
- Improves scars: Nutmeg is traditionally used in Ayurvedic medicine in masks to improve acne scars and hyperpigmentation.
- Evens skin tone: Many people use masks made from nutmeg to treat uneven skin tones.
- Treats acne: Nutmeg has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antifungal properties, so naturally it's a powerhouse ingredient for combating acne. "A major benefit of nutmeg is that it's super anti-inflammatory and antibacterial, making it a great natural ingredient for treating acne," Ross says.
Side Effects of Nutmeg
In general, nutmeg shouldn't cause any skin irritation or problems. For most people, nutmeg is incredibly beneficial, especially for people with sensitive to normal skin. But like all new skincare products, it's super important to do a patch test—preferably behind your ear along your jawline.
If you're planning on using it straight up (like in a mask, for instance), Ross recommends says to, "Be sure to only use a tiny amount or it can make skin red."
How to Use It
One of the biggest benefits of nutmeg for skin is that it can help even out pigmentation, according to Ross. He recommends whipping up a DIY mask consisting of a teaspoon of lemon juice, a tablespoon of yogurt, a tablespoon of raw honey, and a pinch of nutmeg to help even out your skin tone. Mix all the ingredients together, apply in a thick layer to your skin, and leave on for 10 minutes for best results.
Or of course, if you're not into DIY, you can always search ingredient lists to find nutmeg in your skincare.
The Best Products with Nutmeg
Ready to add nutmeg into your skincare arsenal? Here are our favorite nutmeg-containing products.
This warming mask combines the powerful effects of nutmeg with other spices, like cayenne, meant to help stimulate circulation and douse skin in antioxidants. The result: clearer, more glowing skin.
Really lean into the pumpkin-spice trend this fall with this exfoliating mask. It's formulated with pumpkin, along with skin-loving spices like cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg.
This moisturizer combines five super-powerful herbs—citrus peel, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, and corydalis—with hydrating shea butter and ceramide to make skin more luminous and hydrated.
This cleansing powder follows the principles of Ayurveda to exfoliate and cleanse skin. The list of ingredients is simple, powerful, and 100% organic: rose flower, calendula, marigold, chamomile, hibiscus, peppermint, orange peel, nutmeg, oats and walnuts, and bentonite clay.
This exfoliator ups the ante on Molton Brown's signature hand lotions with truffle extract and nutmeg.
Matulyte I, Jekabsone A, Jankauskaite L, et al. The essential oil and hydrolats from myristica fragrans seeds with magnesium aluminometasilicate as excipient: antioxidant, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory activity. Foods. 2020;9(1):37. doi:10.3390/foods9010037