Thymol and the corresponding brominated derivatives constitute important biological active molecules as antibacterial, antioxidant, antifungal, and antiparasitic agents. However, their application is often limited, because their pronounced fragrance, their poor solubility in water, and their high volatility. The encapsulation of different thymol derivatives into biocompatible lignin-microcapsules is presented as a synergy-delivering remedy. The adoption of lignosulfonate as an encapsulating material possessing relevant antioxidant activity, as well as general biocompatibility allows for the development of new materials that are suitable for the application in various fields, especially cosmesis. To this purpose, lignin microcapsules containing thymol, 4-bromothymol, 2,4-dibromothymol, and the corresponding O-methylated derivatives have been efficiently prepared through a sustainable ultrasonication procedure. Actives could be efficiently encapsulated with efficiencies of up to 50%. To evaluate the applicability of such systems for topical purposes, controlled release experiments have been performed in acetate buffer at pH 5.4, to simulate skin pH: all of the capsules show a slow release of actives, which is strongly determined by their inherent lipophilicity.
Keywords: encapsulation efficiency; lignosulfonate; microcapsules; release kinetics; thymol; ultra-sonication.