Indian sandalwood is potent antioxidant that may protect skin from environmental stressors, says recent study

Indian sandalwood shown to reduce oxidative stress in skin exposed to environmental stressors in recent study.

A recent study1 found that Indian sandalwood oil (from Quintis Sandalwood, based in Perth, Australia) has antioxidant effects against environmental stressors in vitro and ex vivo. In the study, these effects were investigated in HaCaT cells and in human skin explants exposed to blue light and cigarette smoke. Investigators treated HaCaT cells with three different concentrations of sandalwood oil (0.05%, 0.1% and 0.2%) or a positive control of alpha-tocopheral (vitamin E) and exposed the cells to blue light at 412 nm, blue light at 450 nm, and cigarette smoke. Results showed that all concentrations of sandalwood oil significantly reduced oxidative stress induced by the environmental stressors.

The cells exposed to blue light at 412 nm saw a 66%, 73%, and 76% decrease in reactive oxygen species (ROS) when treated with 0.05%, 0.1% and 0.2% of sandalwood oil, respectively. Cells exposed to blue light at 450 nm saw 60%, 68%, and 75% decrease in reactive oxygen species when treated with 0.05%, 0.1% and 0.2% of sandalwood oil, respectively. HaCaT cells exposed to cigarette smoke also saw significant though modest protection from ROS when treated with sandalwood oil. At the highest concentration of sandalwood oil (0.2%), cells saw a 28% decrease in the levels of ROS.

Using human skin explants, researchers also measured Matrix Metalloproteinase-1 (MMP-1) to assess Indian sandalwood oil’s ability to protect against environmental pollutants. MMP-1 digests collagen tissue. This would also demonstrate the potential anti-aging benefits of sandalwood oil. For example, untreated samples exposed to ozone and cigarette smoke had drastically higher levels of MMP-1 compared to samples treated with sandalwood oil. In samples exposed to ozone, Indian sandalwood inhibited the expression of MMP-1 by 88%, and for samples exposed to cigarette smoke, sandalwood oil inhibited MMP-1 expression by 70%.

“While sandalwood oil has demonstrated other beneficial effects including anti-inflammatory, anti-tyrosinase and antimicrobial activities, we are excited by these new research findings as they prove the power of Indian sandalwood oil in protecting the skin against environmental damage, and the multipurpose nature of this ingredient in cosmetics,” said Dhanushka Hettiarachchi, PhD, product manager for Quintis Sandalwood, in a press release.


  1. Francois-Newton V et al. “Antioxidant and anti-aging potential of Indian sandalwood oil against environmental stressors in vitro and ex vivo.” Cosmetics, vol. 8, no. 2 (2021): 53