A Rutgers researcher has found that thymoquinone, an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound of black seed oil, can effectively be delivered to the skin, which may offer a new option for skin care.

Natural skin care products with botanical ingredients are a popular part of people’s daily skin regimen, providing relief for skin redness or irritation – especially during these cold, dry, winter months.

“We found that thymoquinone can be delivered into the skin through topical applications made up of thin, natural, plastic sheets called polymer films,” said Professor Bozena Michniak-Kohn. “Delivery can be sped up by changing what chemical mixture thymoquinone is delivered in and by adding so-called permeation enhancers, which ‘open’ the structure of the fatty part of the skin surface. In low concentrations, thymoquinone could also potentially be used in cosmetic face creams, providing both therapeutic and cosmetic benefits.” 

While further research is needed, Michniak-Kohn said there are other compounds and ingredients currently used in a variety of products that can provide safe therapeutic relief and cosmetic benefits. For example, colloidal oats and/or oat extracts like those found in Aveeno are known to treat eczema, psoriasis and sunburn; avocado oil is good for nourishing and moisturizing the skin; and coconut oil is good for softening the skin.


“Patients and consumers are looking for effective, natural ingredients when choosing a skin product,” she said. “The best compounds or concentration needed depends on where on the body we want to apply the product and what we want the product to do (decrease redness, moisturize, etc.), which is why it is important to understand what ingredients we are applying to our skin and what they do.”

 Michniak-Kohn, a professor of pharmaceutics at Rutgers Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy and director of the Center for Dermal Research & Laboratory for Drug Delivery at Rutgers, can be reached at [email protected].