The Vicco Glow

If you are of Indian descent and as a child, watched either Indian programming on American television stations or in India, then tell me you're not smiling fondly at the memory of a fair-skinned, wavy-haired Indian women frolicking in a motorboat with her boyfriend, biting into a crunchy piece of fruit, and grinning enthusiastically (watch it here). If you're not, you probably never saw this hilarious and ubiquitous 80s commercial for Vicco Turmeric Toothpaste. It might be my most favorite work of Indian television art. Check out Youtube for other similarly awesome Vicco commercials.

I've always perceived the Vicco brand to be a questionable line of ayurvedic personal hygiene and skincare products based on the benefits of turmeric (although my uncle swears that the toothpaste cured all his dental woes). So imagine my surprise when I encountered positive reviews for Vicco Turmeric facial cream on MakeupAlley.com. I'm not kidding when I say I nearly jumped out of my chair. Beyond the instant brand recognition and flash of nostalgia, I was surprised that the brand had persisted through this generation, and that its products were still sold in the U.S. But I thought - why not? Who cares if some con artist of a yogi is perhaps manufacturing it in a makeshift factory in remote India? It is quite possible that I have used worse without knowing it. Since I use a lot of natural ingredients for face masks and such (turmeric, yogurt, honey, etc.), I wasn't opposed to trying Vicco. Clearly, someone out there (even if it is a gullible follower of the con artist-yogi) has kept this brand alive for a reason, right...?

The Vicco Turmeric facial cream is a multi-purpose treatment and not just a moisturizer. There are 2 versions of this cream - with and without sandalwood oil. I have the one with sandalwood oil, and in my opinion, it works just fine since this cream is on the dry side. Apparently, you can use it for healing purposes (one MUA review said it worked for mild burns), to fade scars/dark marks, and to generally brighten the complexion. At the time I became obsessed with finding it, I was doubtful that this is sold in the U.S. (turns out it is) and so asked a friend visiting India (who swears by its mosquito-bite healing properties) to pick up a tube for me.

A pale-yellow cream with a kind of pearly sheen, Vicco is a sort of "dry" cream - completely non-greasy, although it will appear to have the consistency of cold cream. Once you rub it into the skin, it has the light consistency and smoothing effect of a primer. I love how completely it disappears into my skin - it doesn't add a layer of cream/moisture/grease/oil which needs time to sink in.

Within 24 hours of using this, my skin was substantially clearer than usual. While I don't have raging acne, I usually have lots of tiny bumps and am prone to whiteheads. My forehead gets especially dotted with bumps and whiteheads year-round. I'm never really impressed with blemish-clearing or fighting skincare and treatments, but this is the only cream that dried up those blemishes without drying out the rest of my skin.

Due to cold weather in the Northeast at the time I first tried this, I used it sparingly (once a day or every other day), and mostly on oilier and problem-prone areas. Although the cream won't leave your skin peeling and dry, I just think too much of any good thing is a bad thing. It can leave a bit of a dry, tight feeling depending on your skin type and probably shouldn't be used with too many other drying products unless your skin is an oil rig. I would still highly recommend it for problem skin that isn't nearly bad enough for medication or stronger topical treatments but is blemish-prone and could use some improvement. I would also recommend this to people who prefer natural ingredients. The only thing to keep in mind is that the moisturizing factor of this cream depends on your skin's condition and weather at the time of use, and that you may not want to use it as your primary moisturizer.

Personally, I enjoy this cream more for its smoothing effect and because it really seems to even out my complexion. I want to attribute this to the magical powers of turmeric so I will, but who really knows. It definitely gives my skin more of a "glow" after repeated use, and I have yet to find a product that does anything similar without using harsh chemicals that are marketed as "lightening" or "brightening" or even the dreaded "whitening" commonly seen in Asia (to be fair, I never looked at the ingredients in this product, but I'm leaning towards a don't ask, don't tell policy on that right now).

Sensitive noses, beware - this cream has a strong smell to it (which my friend San couldn't stand). To me, it is no different from that very strong Noxema fragrance, or perhaps I've just gotten used to it.

In the current summer weather, this cream is perfect because it dries up oil without stripping your skin and is just moisturizing enough. It is definitely more of a summer staple, and works brilliantly with my Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen, SPF 55. In fact, the Vicco is kind of its own ultra sheer, dry-touch moisturizer.

Like every product out there though, Vicco may not work for everyone. So if it doesn't work for you, don't blame it on the con artist yogi. In case you don't have massive numbers of friends and family traveling between India and the U.S., Vicco turmeric facial cream can also be found online and at stores like Butala Emporium in New York City. If anyone out there has experienced the Vicco Glow (or not), do share.


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