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This Magical Middle Eastern Skin Oil Is Finally Gaining Recognition

black cumin seed

 Renata Dobranska / Stocksy

Skincare experts agree that millennials are more informed about skincare ingredients and how they function than ever before. Instead of blindly purchasing mystery jars of department store creams like past generations, consumers today want to know exactly what's in their products so they can avoid harmful chemicals in favor of simple, active ingredients. Demand for natural, effective skincare and the discovery of formulas that fit those needs naturally go hand-in-hand. So when we catch wind of a new ingredient—or better yet, an oldie but a goodie that simply hasn't made it mainstream yet—our antennas perk right up.

A few weeks ago, a conversation with a makeup artist named Aneela Zaman had us intrigued. Zaman recently founded an eponymous skincare line that harnesses the natural, versatile powers of an ingredient called black cumin seed oil. If you're into chemical-free skincare, you probably already own a stash of oils—maybe argan, coconut, avocado, or jojoba. But without a doubt, this ancient ingredient, which has been used in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia for centuries, deserves a spot in your collection.

Meet the Expert

Aneela Zaman is a celebrity makeup artist and founder of Zaman Skincare. With over 20 years of experience, Zaman believes that healthy skin is the most important component of any makeup regime.

"Black cumin seed oil is a legendary secret of the goddesses like Cleopatra and Nefertiti, who used it as part of their daily beauty regimen," explains Zaman, who is of Southeast Asian descent herself, and has used the ingredient regularly her whole life. "It is also known that the pharaoh Tutankhamun was found buried alongside black cumin seed oil almost 3300 years ago." Completely different from the orange cumin you cook with, this product comes from a plant called Nigella sativa, sometimes also called black caraway or fennel flower. Though precious in the East, black cumin seed oil is hardly at the tip of most American tongues. However, as the Western beauty industry increasingly turns toward natural and organic skincare methods, black cumin seed oil is catching many brands' eyes. "This is where black cumin seed oil finds its niche in the beauty industry today," says Zaman.

So what specifically is so great about this exotic black elixir? "I like to refer to the three A's: antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-aging," summarizes Andrea Lopez, an esthetician and founder of facial oil brand Bonum Vitae. "I'd suggest acneic or aging skin for this specific oil." (Though, the ingredient is safe for all skin types.)

Meet the Expert

Andrea Lopez is an esthetician and founder of facial oil brand Bonum Vitae. Lopez started her brand out of a need to treat her own skin insecurities and has been practicing for over seven years.

Curious to learn more about the benefits of black cumin seed oil? Then keep on reading.

Skin Oil

1. It naturally fights acne, clogged pores, and inflammation

Zaman and Lopez agree that one of the most appealing benefits of black cumin seed oil is its antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties, which work to reduce clogged pores and control oil, as well as tame redness and soothe irritation, including eczema. Simply massage a few drops of the product into the face, and you can expect to see results quickly (as in, a couple days). 

2. It effectively fills fine lines and wrinkles

You'll be hard-pressed to find an oil more nourishing than black cumin seed, which contains over 100 vitamins and minerals. These include vitamins A, B, and C, which help the skin retain moisture, maintain elasticity, and fight the damaging free radicals that age you faster. Plus, the product boasts gobs of fatty acids, which reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

3. It fades dark spots and discoloration

Use the product every day consistently and Zaman promises it can fade dark spots caused by aging, hormones, and sun damage. This is thanks to the vitamin A, amino acids, and fatty acids, which collaborate to regenerate skin cells, reducing the appearance of that discoloration over time. 

The beauty industry is slowly getting wise to black cumin seed's benefits—shop some natural products containing black cumin seed below!

Puristry Restorative Facial Oil $55

This facial oil (aside from having very chic packaging) combines black currant and black cumin seed oils for a double dose of restorative, elasticity-promoting ingredients. 

Zaman Sleeping Beauty Serum
Zaman Skincare Sleeping Beauty Serum $80

Zaman's nighttime serum has two star ingredients—black cumin seed and organic vitamin C—which encourage the skin's regeneration and radiance overnight.

BARE: Ultra Soothing Botanical Serum for Sensitive Skin
Root Science Bare Facial Serum $120

If acne and redness are your issue, you won't find a botanical serum more effective than this one, which contains 17 organic plant oils, all of which stimulate the repair of hypersensitive skin.

Osmia Organics Balance Facial Serum $50

Another natural serum formulated with acne-prone skin in mind, this black cumin seed oil-packed product helps your face balance its own sebum production.

Mountain Rose Herbs Black Cumin Seed Oil $16

Want to make your own DIY treatment? Pick up a bottle of certified organic black cumin seed oil, and mix it with some coconut and rose-hip oils.

Black Cumin Seed Oil
Michela Buttignol 

Next up: Don't miss the best face oils for dry skin.

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