How does the type of vehicle influence the in vitro skin absorption and elimination kinetics of terpenes?

Arch Dermatol Res. 2006 Jan;297(7):311-5. doi: 10.1007/s00403-005-0622-4. Epub 2005 Nov 19.


Terpenes are widely used in the topical dermal preparations, cosmetics and toiletries and also in the experimental dermopharmacy, as penetration enhancers. Terpenes do not need to penetrate into viable skin tissue and this event is not even desired. The aim of this study was to investigate skin absorption and elimination kinetics of two terpenes, namely linalool and terpinen-4-ol, incorporated in three different dermatological vehicles: oily solution, hydrogel and o/w emulsion. The preparations were applied onto the human skin in vitro, and after 1-4 h the content of terpenes in the stratum corneum layers and in the epidermis/dermis was determined using GC. Similarly, the amounts of terpenes in the skin were analysed during 4 h elimination process following 1 h absorption. The highest skin absorption was observed when terpenes were applied in hydrogel--their total content in the skin after 4 h was 385 and 705 microg/cm2 for linalool and terpinen-4-ol, respectively. After 1 h of the elimination process about 10-20% drop of the total content of both terpenes in the skin was noted for all formulations. The skin penetration of both terpenes from the vehicles is increasing in the following order: emulsion < oily solution < hydrogel, while the elimination phase is relatively slower for terpenes applied in hydrogel.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acyclic Monoterpenes
  • Adult
  • Chemistry, Pharmaceutical
  • Chromatography, Gas
  • Emulsions / analysis
  • Epidermis / chemistry
  • Epidermis / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrogel, Polyethylene Glycol Dimethacrylate / analysis
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Lipids / analysis
  • Middle Aged
  • Monoterpenes / analysis
  • Monoterpenes / pharmacokinetics
  • Oils / analysis
  • Permeability
  • Pharmaceutical Vehicles
  • Skin Absorption*
  • Skin Physiological Phenomena
  • Terpenes / administration & dosage
  • Terpenes / analysis
  • Terpenes / pharmacokinetics*
  • Water / analysis


  • Acyclic Monoterpenes
  • Emulsions
  • Lipids
  • Monoterpenes
  • Oils
  • Pharmaceutical Vehicles
  • Terpenes
  • Water
  • Hydrogel, Polyethylene Glycol Dimethacrylate
  • terpinenol-4
  • linalool