Indian sandalwood (Santalum album) has been used as a cosmetic ingredient since antiquity. Cleopatra and Queen Elizabeth I are said to have used sandalwood for its skin healing properties, and over 2,000 years ago it was listed in the Charaka Samhita, an Ayurvedic Sanskrit text.
Today, science has confirmed what our ancestors already knew – that Indian sandalwood is a potent natural ingredient with multi-faceted benefits. It is the perfect ingredient for holistic cosmetic applications, proven to protect the skin and calm the mind.
Discover how both Indian sandalwood oil and extra fine Indian sandalwood powder can be utilised as active ingredients in your cosmetic products below.
Since ancient times Indian sandalwood (Santalum album) has been recognised as a skin healer and is now featuring in modern-day products as a natural active ingredient.
There are five key areas where research has shown Indian sandalwood oil demonstrates strong efficacy:
Indian sandalwood is proven to soothe the skin by acting as an anti-inflammatory agent. It inhibits prostaglandin production (PGE2) in a similar manner to aspirin and can suppress a broad range of pro-inflammatory cytokines and chemokines associated with numerous skin diseases such as acne, eczema and psoriasis.2 In a study looking at Indian sandalwood as a therapeutic option in the treatment of inflammatory skin disease, it was found that 75% of paediatric eczema/atopic dermatitis patients treated with topical Santalum album formulations saw a reduction in their Eczema Area and Severity Index score of 50%.3 Keratinocytes stimulated with lipopolysaccharides of cutiebacterium acnes showed increased IL-6 and IL-8 production simulating acne like inflammation, when these cell lines are treated with Indian sandalwood oil, it showed a dose-dependent reduction of the above inflammatory markers.8
Clinical research commissioned by Quintis has reinforced that Indian sandalwood oil is a powerful antioxidant and offers protection against blue light damage and ambient pollution, after 2021 cellular research found it to be more potent than lipophilic antioxidant vitamin E (alpha tocopherol). The study is the first clinical trial that has assessed the effect of Indian sandalwood oil on skin exposed to simulated blue light and pollution. Squalene moohydroperoxidase (SQOOH) levels of the epidermis were measured as the indication of oxidation. Sandalwood oil has shown a dose-dependent decrease in the levels of free radical damage, with a concentration of Quintis Indian sandalwood (1%) representing a 24% decrease in Squalene monohydroperoxide (SQOOH) compared to non-treated study areas.4
Indian sandalwood has been shown to inhibit and kill Staph (S. aureus, S. pyogenes and S. epidermidis) and Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes and P. granulosum) in invitro assays at concentrations as low as 0.001% - well below levels used in skincare products.2
Proven to brighten and soothe the skin, Indian sandalwood inhibits tyrosinase enzymes responsible for melanin production when the skin undergoes stress, which can cause a dull complexion or pigmentation to the skin.5 Studies were completed to probe Indian sandalwood’s anti-tyrosinase potential using TLC-bioautographic and colorimetric methods. Results obtained from colorimetric assays indicated that sandalwood oil is a potent inhibitor of tyrosinase (IC50=171 µg mL-1) in comparison to positive controls, which was supported by the TLC-bioautographic assays indicating α-santalol, the major constituent of Indian sandalwood oil, was the influencing factor.5
Matrix metallopolymerase (MMP) enzymes are responsible for breaking down collagen when exposed to stress or with natural and premature ageing, causing wrinkles. A study commissioned by Quintis has reported significant lowering of MMP levels of human skin explants treated with Indian sandalwood oil when exposed to ROS (ozone) and pollution stimulant.9
Indian sandalwood oil is a multifunctional cosmetic ingredient that provides multiple benefits to a cosmetic preparation. The distilled oil can be easily incorporated into products like creams, gels and face washes at different concentrations for deep penetrating action. With a pleasant aroma, sandalwood oil is a soothing agent and protects skin from external stressors, making it well suited for anti-aging and skin protection products.
Easily miscible with oily ingredients and bases (essential oils, vegetable oils, butters etc), Indian sandalwood oil is anhydrous and ideal for waterless formulations and can also be incorporated with powders when formulating dry powder and solid products.
This sustainably and ethically sourced product is also completely standardised, traceable, 100% biodegradable and renewable.
This fragrant powder is created by grinding pure Indian sandalwood heartwood. This process ‘unlocks’ the rich fragrance of the Indian sandalwood tree creating an aromatic powder. The powders contain around 3% pure sandalwood oil, which at this concentration is considered to have therapeutic benefits.
In cosmetics particularly, Indian sandalwood powder provides an excellent skin feel on application and a soft powdery non tacky feeling on dry down due to the spherical nature of the particles. Indian sandalwood powder acts as an emulsifier forming Pickering emulsions and modifies viscosity.
An excellent botanical substitute for mineral and plastic powders Indian sandalwood powder is a 100% biodegradable and renewable source.
This product is also hypoallergenic and brings psychochemical and microbial stability to formulations.
To showcase the power of Indian sandalwood oil as an alternative for CBD oil in cosmetics, Quintis Sandalwood recently conducted a review of existing scientific studies to assess the benefits of each. The findings revealed that Indian sandalwood oil has more scientifically proven benefits compared to CBD oil making it a good alternate in cosmetic applications, especially in skin care.
COSSMA Magazine has just published an interview with our Head of Research & Development, Andrew Brown where he discusses the many capabilities and benefits of Indian sandalwood oil based on recent published research. Read the full article here.