Turmeric (the rhizomes of Curcuma longa L., Zingiberacease) is widely used as a dietary pigment and spice, and has been traditionally used for the treatment of inflammation, skin wounds and hepatic disorders in Ayurvedic, Unani and Chinese medicine. Although the topical application or oral administration of turmeric is used to improve skin trouble, there is no evidence to support this effect. The aim of this study was to clarify whether turmeric prevents chronic ultraviolet B (UVB)-irradiated skin damage. We examined the effects of a turmeric extract on skin damage including changes in skin thickness and elasticity, pigmentation and wrinkling caused by long-term, low-dose ultraviolet B irradiation in melanin-possessing hairless mice. The extract (at 300 or 1000 mg/kg, twice daily) prevented an increase in skin thickness and a reduction in skin elasticity induced by chronic UVB exposure. It also prevented the formation of wrinkles and melanin (at 1000 mg/kg, twice daily) as well as increases in the diameter and length of skin blood vessels and in the expression of matrix metalloproteinase-2 (MMP-2). Prevention of UVB-induced skin aging by turmeric may be due to the inhibition of increases in MMP-2 expression caused by chronic irradiation.