Naturally-sourced oils are a go-to among eco-lovers looking for a radical beauty fix, and while we’re all familiar with coconut oil and argan oil, there is a new ingredient on our radar: black seed oil. “Black seed is a great anti-viral and anti-bacterial oil. It can be used internally or externally for its complexion-boosting benefits,” said Reem Al Khalifa, founder of Bahraini organic beauty company Green Bar (2006). Al Khalifa organically sources “indigenous and native ingredients to the Middle East that have more or less been forgotten,” including maca root, quinoa and black seed oil.
Also known as cumin or caraway seeds, black seed oil is extracted from the Nigella Sativa flower native to the Middle East and Southwest Asia. The earliest medicinal usage of black seed oil can be traced back to Ancient Egypt (a bottle of it was found in King Tut’s tomb,) where the Ancient Egyptians used it to treat skin inflammations.
“There are three natural phytochemicals that have tremendous health benefits. They are thymoquinone, thymohydroquinone and thymol, and they are all found in cumin oil,” says celebrity doctor and dermatologist, Dr. Ruby Tandon, MD, explaining the science behind the benefits of black seed oil. In non-scientific words, black seed oil boasts potent levels of health-boosting compounds that help treat a number of ailments including digestive disorders, asthma and a weak immune system.
The dermatologist, who admits to using black seed oil in her daily beauty routine, reveals its benefits don’t stop there. “It helps in treating severe psoriasis, dry skin and hair loss. It also promotes smooth skin and helps turn back the clock on your complexion.” With its ability to quickly absorb into the dermis, black seed oil help erase wrinkles and brightens a lackluster complexion when topically applied.
The Kardashian Klan are among some of the A-listers who slick themselves with the oil, and have an entire haircare line of serums, shampoos and hair masks infused with potent levels of black cumin oil, (which Kim Kardashian credits for her shiny, smooth locks, in case you were wondering). Other brands to harness the power of black seed include Japanese cosmetics line shu uemura, which features shampoos, conditioners and masks spiked with cumin to tame unmanageable, unruly strands, and Sunday Riley— a cult skincare line that utilizes natural, “green” ingredients to supercharge your complexion.
Looking to incorporate the nourishing ingredient into your beauty routine? We’ve done the work for you and compiled a shopping list of the best black seed-infused products.