Black seed oil for acne: The complete guide

The black seed oil has been considered a miracle oil in the Middle East for centuries. It is currently gaining ground in the mainstream beauty industry as the ingredient for acne-free skin.

While other active ingredients like benzoyl peroxide and retinol are known as popular remedies for acne, these sometimes have side effects like dryness, stinging, itchiness, and burns.

Black seed oil is presented as a natural option that is less invasive yet provides the same result. But is this oil really good for acne-prone skin? In this guide, you will find everything you need to know about this wonder ingredient.

black seed oil

What is black seed oil?

Black seed oil is obtained from the cold press of the seeds of the Nigella sativa (fennel flower) plant. This plant grows in parts of the Middle East, Asia, Eastern Europe,  and North Africa.

It has been used for over 2000 years in Asian, Aruyvedic, and Arabic cultures for its medicinal properties.

The pure and natural black seed oil has a golden brown colour. It has a shelf life of 2 years and is non-comedogenic. Its scent can be described as mild, earthy, spicy, or woody. It is also referred to as black cumin seed oil, black caraway oil,  black onion seed, or kalonji oil.

This lightweight oil has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antifungal properties that make it suitable for combination and acne-prone skin. These are also the reasons why a lot of brands today are turning to this natural oil to formulate products for acne treatment. Below are some of the incredible benefits of black seed oil.

Benefits of black seed oil for acne-prone skin

Destroys acne-causing bacteria

The black seed oil contains the active compound thymoquinone, a strong antibacterial that helps treat acne vulgaris. This bacteria is responsible for the appearance of white and blackheads.   

It has an essential fatty acid profile made up of linoleic acid (50.2%), oleic acid (19.9%), and stearic acid (2.5%). Its linoleic acid content helps unclog pores and regulate sebum production in oily skin, while oleic acid provides hydration.

A 2010 clinical study on 62 patients suffering from mild to moderate acne revealed that a 20% black seed oil lotion was more effective in reducing the appearance of acne lesions compared to a 5% benzoyl peroxide lotion.  

Has strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effect

The black seed oil is packed with phenolic compounds (thymoquinone, thymol, carvacrol) and saponins (alpha-hederin) that give it antioxidant properties.  

When exposed to free radicals, skin cells are damaged, causing inflammation in acne-prone skin. The antioxidants present in black seed oil help prevent that by reducing the oxidative stress and neutralizing free radicals present on the skin.

This oil equally works to smooth out signs of ageing. Its has high concentrations of linoleic acid helps to boost ceramide production for a healthy lipid barrier.

Facilitates the absorption of other skincare products

The black seed oil has a high concentration of linoleic acid. That makes it capable of enhancing the absorption of other products into the skin. It goes a long way to render the other products in your skincare routine more effective as they will be able to reach deeper layers of the dermis.

Anti-fungal properties

A recent 2019 study revealed that black cumin seed essential oil treats pathogenic yeast and dermatophytes fungi (a group of fungi that cause skin disorders.). This includes skin conditions such as fungal acne, facial, hair, and body ringworm; athlete’s foot, jock itch, and onychomycosis.

Heals acne scars

This oil has been known over the years to speed up wound healing like acne scars. While it doesn’t boost the production of collagen, it is effective in scar reduction. By reducing inflammation caused by acne, it speeds up the skin healing process. Added to that, it helps inhibit the growth of bacteria that could lead to further pore infection.

Other benefits of black seed oil

Soothes eczema and psoriasis

When applied topically, black seed oil helps reduce inflammations and calms down itchiness caused by eczema flare-ups thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties. Tested on hand eczema it was proven to be more effective than Eucerin.

The black seed oil also helps treat psoriasis. It is proven to boost the immune system and inhibit the reproduction of infected skin cells. Its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and anti hostile effects all work together to prevent and treat psoriatic lesions on the skin.

Patients in this study who were treated with both the oil and oral doses recorded a complete cure.

Treats hypopigmentation and vitiligo

Hypopigmentation occurs when your skin cells fail to produce enough melanin. Vitiligo is a skin condition caused by the loss of the skin’s pigment-producing cells, also called melanocytes. In both cases, the result is the appearance of lighter patches of skin all over the body.

According to a review posted in the Journal of Dermatology & Dermatologic Surgery, thymoquinone, the most active ingredient present in black seed oil, induces melanin production when exposed to melanocytes.

When tested on patients in this clinical study, the topical application of black seed oil resulted in a decrease of the vitiligo area after six months of daily application.

Drinking black seed oil for acne: Does it help?

When it comes to acne treatment, all the data available only highlight the topical use of black seed oil. It is, however, proven that the ingestion of black seeds or black seed oil capsules has pharmaceutical benefits. Particularly for medical conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, asthma, arthritis, skin cancer, cardiovascular disorders, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, etc.

How to use black seed oil for acne

There are a lot of products on the market that are formulated with this rich oil. From serums to facial oils to acne control and spot treatments, the list is endless, etc.

  • It is safe to apply black seed oil directly to the face. It is a lightweight and non-greasy oil with a comedogenic rating of 2. Meaning it won’t clog your pores.
  • You can also use it as a facial oil in combination with other natural oils that are great for acne-prone skin, such as rosehip oil, watermelon seed oil, or evening primrose oil.
  • Introduce it to your homemade face masks for special acne treatment. Just be mindful of how much you use so as not to waste the products.

Always do a patch test on your forearm 24 hours before to check for allergies. If you are taking medications, make sure to check with your doctor for possible contraindications before use.

How to buy good quality black seed oil for acne

So far, there is no standard procedure to verify the quality of all black seed oil on the beauty market. As such, the quality of products available on the market will vary from one supplier to the next.

How then is it possible to know you are buying quality black seed oil? Well, here are some pointers:

  1. Make sure the oil you buy is certified organic by the regulatory bodies of the country you purchase. Quality black seed oil should be sourced from trustworthy Certified Organic, vegan and non-GMO. These are always the best on the international market.
  2. Go for samples gotten through cold press extraction. This method of extraction guarantees less harm to the nutrients present in the oil. Oil sourced through heat-extraction or chemical extraction may be mixed with cheap carrier oils which could be harmful to your body.
  3. Choose oil stored in an amber bottle rather than a transparent one. It protects the oil from sunlight and heat damage.
  4. Finally, check for suppliers that sell nitrogen-flushed black seed oil for better preservation.


How long does it take for black seed oil to clear acne?

Based on this comparative study between acne treatment with black seed and benzoyl peroxide, it can be said that black seed oil takes anywhere from 6- 8 weeks for noticeable improvements.

Is black seed oil good for fungal acne?

Yes. Black seed oil is effective against fungal acne. Fungal acne occurs as a result of the infection of hair follicles in the skin by yeast. The black seed oil contains phenolic compounds such as thymoquinone and thymol that help eliminate yeast infections.

Does black seed oil work for cystic acne?

There is no data that suggest its efficacy against cystic acne.

Black seeds vs black seed oil vs black seed oil capsules: Which is best for acne?

Black seeds are the seeds of the Nigella sativa plant. They can be ingested for their nutritional benefits.

Black seed oil is the oil obtained from the cold press of black seeds. Black seed oil is proven to have dermatological benefits for the treatment of skin conditions like acne, eczema and psoriasis. Again, there is no scientific proof that ingesting this all contributes to the treatment of acne. But it is recommended for dietary purposes

Black seed oil capsules are capsules that contain black seed oil. This is a form of packing for easy consumption. Black seed oil and oil capsules are more concentrated than seeds. Therefore, better to include it in your diet.

Can black seed oil be taken during pregnancy?

There is not yet enough scientific data to assert that using black seed oil is advised for pregnant women. It is best to consult with your medical doctor before use.