Saffron: the world’s most expensive spice works just wonders for the skin! But so does the oil extracted from it. Saffron oil for skin has been used for centuries, just like the spice itself. Nicknamed red gold, Cleopatra also put about a quarter-cup of saffron in her milk-infused baths and was impressed by its beautifying and coloring properties. It’s believed that she took these saffron baths, especially before meeting her suitor as that made the lovemaking more pleasurable. Well, she wasn’t wrong as research has backed saffron’s benefits in increasing testosterone, preventing premature ejaculation, and improving lubrication and arousal in both males and females. But that’s just one of the benefits of saffron, there are many! Find a detailed review of saffron oil for skin, it’s benefits, how to use it, etc. in our latest edit!
What Is Saffron?
Saffron is a reddish-brown or golden-yellow color spice that comes from the dried stigmas of Crocus Sativus flowers. One flower yields only about 2 to 3 strands of saffron and it can take about 150,000 Crocus Sativus flowers to produce 1 kg of saffron spice. Further, each flower has to be harvested manually and the saffron farming itself requires extensive caring like adding just the right amount of water as any excess can cause the flowers to rot, planting the bulbs to a certain depth in the soil, carefully removing the stigmas, and storing them in a cool, dark, and airtight container to maintain the color and smell makes it a labor-intensive crop and the most expensive of all the spices grown in the world.
Saffron also requires well-drained soil with a pH between 6 to 8 and a hot and dry and sunny climate with hot summers and cold winters to grow. Most of the crop is harvested in autumn, between October to November, during the early morning and dried in the Sun before storing. Only a few places in the world give such an atmosphere to cultivate the plan. Major producers of saffron are Iran (accounting for 45% of the global production), followed by Afghanistan and Spain, and in minority by India, Morocco, Greece, and UAE. Afghanistan’s saffron farming has increased lately because the high cost of saffron has enabled farmers to substitute illicit opium farming with that of saffron, and Afghan’s red-gold saffron has also been termed the best over the years!
Saffron History & Significance:
Saffron’s history dates back to over 4000 years ago in the Bronze Age. Saffron harvest paintings are shown in the Knossos Palace frescoes of the ancient Minoan society, where the saffron was used to offer to the divine but also for therapeutic purposes. Accounts of saffron use were also found in Greek legends where the spice was used for many purposes – from mythology and medicine to beauty, and olfactory purposes. Egyptian healers deemed saffron effective for ulcers, eye infections, and wound healing. Saffron’s use for beauty purposes was first accounted for when Cleopatra used it in her popular milk baths and some wealthy Romans also started taking saffron baths. Since she was considered the most beautiful woman in history, saffron oil for skin must have some huge benefits too!
Saffron’s earliest accounts are also found in Persia, India, and China. In Persia (ancient Iran), saffron was used to offer as a gift to the deity, but also for medicinal purposes. Some historians believe it was the Persian rulers that brought saffron to India, but others disputed this and believed saffron has been harvested in Kashmir for more than two millennia. From Kashmir, the use of saffron spread to the entire Indian subcontinent where it’s used in food and fabric dyes. It’s unclear how saffron usage spread through China though – it could be through a Persian invasion or via a gift to the court of the Tang Dynasty from northern India.
Saffron slowly spread to other parts of the world like Britain, where it was given the name “red gold” for its strong value and potent medicinal benefits, France, where it found its way through usage in medieval French cooking, and the USA, where it was brought by Pennsylvania Dutch. Today, it’s used for various purposes and is popular in all parts of the world for its potent effects.
Besides, saffron’s color is also considered sacred in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. In Hinduism, the color Kesariya is associated with the color of sunset and agni representing sacrifice, purity, light, and the quest for salvation. The hue is worn by those who want to honor the religion and is often seen worn by pandits and normal people during religious ceremonies. Many Hindu dynasties and kingdoms also had saffron color flags to denote their dedication to Sanatana Dharma like the Maratha empire. Similarly, Buddhist monks also wear saffron robes as a symbol of their renunciation of worldly possessions, Sikhs wear the Kesariya-colored turbans as a symbol of faith and dedication to their culture and others, and Zoroastrianism uses the color in religious ceremonies and rituals, and in the preparation of sacred foods.
How To Use Saffron Oil For Skin?
When you’re using saffron for beauty purposes, many men and women prefer saffron oil for skin because saffron has to be used in something before being used as a whole anyway! Saffron oil, however, is extracted from the stigmas directly and makes sure you get the full usage of the spice – because when you’re using the whole, you can possibly waste some of it!
#1 Saffron Oil & Aloe Vera Gel Face Mask
- 2-3 Drops of Saffron Essential Oil
- 1 Tbsp Aloe Vera Gel
This multi-purpose mask is a great remedy for when you’re wondering how to use saffron oil for skin. Just mix 1 tablespoon of aloe vera gel with 2 to 3 drops of saffron essential oil. You can use it as an overnight mask or a normal hydrating mask for 10 to 15 minutes and wash it off!
If you’re wondering how to apply saffron oil on face for acne, then this is one of the best masks to try! Just apply the resulting mixture on the face and let it be! Saffron has strong anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties. Aloe vera gel, too, kills bacteria and has soothing effects on acne. This mask is best for those suffering from inflammatory acne conditions like rosacea, cystic acne, or fungal acne.
#2 Almond Oil & Saffron Oil For Skin Whitening
- 1 Tbsp Almond Oil
- 2-3 Drops of Saffron Essential Oil
Saffron-almond oil for skin is a popular Ayurvedic remedy from our dadi & nani’s kitchen! You can make the concoction by adding almond oil and saffron oil in the above-mentioned proportions and applying it on your face either as a face oil or massage oil. You can wipe the face with a warm cloth after massage and follow up with a moisturizer.
Both almond oil and saffron essential oil have been proven by research to reduce pigmentation. Almond oil is rich in Vitamin E, a known antioxidant that boosts collagen production and improves hyperpigmentation by increasing cell multiplication. Saffron, too, has depigmentation properties and evens out skin tone. The studies and sources are mentioned in the benefits section below.
#3 Saffron Oil As Toner
- 4 to 5 Drops Of Saffron Essential Oil
- 50 ml Of Rose Water
Mix the saffron essential oil in your rose water in the proportion mentioned above. You can use this mixture as a toner regularly before your serum and moisturizer. The spray can also be used as a spritz any time of the day.
This is one of our favorite ways to use saffron oil for the skin. It’s convenient, incorporates saffron into your daily routine, and doesn’t require much work. Rosewater is naturally soothing and has radical scavenging properties while saffron brightens the skin, prevents acne, and doubles up as a sunscreen. When you use it during the daytime, you’re giving your skin extra protection from UV radiation and all the detrimental effects it has on the skin!
#4 Saffron Oil & Sandalwood For Acne & Skin Brightening
- 2 to 3 Drops of Saffron Essential Oil
- 2 tsp Sandalwood Powder
Mix saffron essential oil with sandalwood powder and further with rosewater to liquefy it as per your convenience. Apply this mask on your face for 20 minutes and wash it off with normal water. Follow up with a moisturiser.
Saffron for skin pigmentation and skin brightening is popular. The spice’s active compounds are known to have antimicrobial properties that kill acne-causing bacteria and fungus whilst simultaneously increasing blood circulation for a flushed glow! Sandalwood, on the other hand, is characterized as “Varnya Gana” in Ayurveda which are a collection of herbs with complexion-enhancing qualities.
#5 Saffron Oil & Brown Sugar Scrub For Depigmentation
- 3 to 5 Drops of Saffron Essential Oil
- 1 Tbsp Brown Sugar
Mix saffron essential oil with brown sugar. If this mask for saffron oil for skin isn’t diluted enough, you can add some honey or any other oil like almond oil or olive oil to it! Apply on the face in gentle, circular directions. Let it sit for 15 minutes or so and then wash it off with cold water. Follow up with a moisturizer.
Saffron oil for skin lightening works wonders by reducing melanin while brown sugar exfoliates the dead cell to reveal a youthful, shiny glow from within! Instead of saffron oil, you can also use saffron-infused water for this mask. If brown sugar seems too harsh for your sensitive skin, you can mix the oil with gram flour instead!
7 Benefits of Saffron Oil For Skin:
#1 Reduces Acne & Acne Scars
You’d believe that anything with oil just wouldn’t be good for your acne and acne scars. Au contraire! While some oils are comedogenic (like olive oil and coconut oil), others are non-comedogenic like grapeseed, argan, rosehip, jojoba, and saffron, which helps to control acne and balance the sebum levels of the skin. One of the benefits of saffron oil for face is its ability to control acne. Two separate studies in 2011 and 2015 have proven that saffron extract can help in reducing the number and severity of acne lesions and also improve the overall appearance of facial skin.
This acne-controlling effect can be attributed to the presence of terpene and terpene alcohol in saffron, which has the ability to control sebum levels and also has a strong detoxifying and anti-inflammatory effect on skin! Other active compounds also have strong anti-inflammation properties which further help control acne and also reduce the severity of the scars which it leaves afterward!
#2 Reduces Pigmentation
Hyperpigmentation can be caused due to various reasons like aging, sun’s rays, hormonal changes, and acne scarring. When hyperpigmentation happens, the skin cells produce too much melanin which can damage the cells and cause them to appear darker. Saffron works for hyperpigmentation by reducing this melanin pigment of the skin and giving it an even, youthful look. A 2014 research study successfully demonstrated the topical application of a cream containing Crocus Sativus to have significant depigmentation effects after 8 weeks of continuous usage.
Besides many main constituents of saffron, like crocin, that helps in reducing the melanin content of the skin. Crocin has been proven to reduce melanin by reducing tyrosinase, an enzyme that plays an important role in melanin production. Other potent compounds of saffron are also effective in reducing melanogenesis and treating hyperpigmentation on the face and other parts of your body. Saffron oil for skin whitening also works because of its active compounds.
#3 Prevents From UV Rays
Saffron is one of the best natural remedies for protection against UV radiation. Your skin goes under oxidative stress when exposed to harmful UV rays for a long time and during the hours when the UV radiation is highest (10 AM to 3 PM). This can cause the breakdown of collagen and elastin fibers in the skin and can also lead to DNA damage, which is the major cause of skin cancers. Saffron has been shown to have potent antioxidant properties and offer protection against any oxidation caused by UV rays. The spice also boosts the antioxidant component of the surface level, as proven by a 2019 study.
In a 2010 study comparing 4% saffron lotion with 8% homosalate (an organic compound that’s a common component of sunscreens and offers protection against UV), the former showed to absorb more UV light and give better protection to the skin by a significant amount. Another research work proved creams containing saffron emulsions offer better natural protection against Sun’s rays than other normal moisturizers.
#4 Has Anti-Ageing Properties
Saffron has more than 300 active compounds ranging from different types of carotenoids, and flavonoids to terpenes and aromatic compounds. Many of them have been shown to have an anti-aging effect on the skin like crocin, quercetin, lycopene, zeaxanthin, and kaempferol. A 2019 research concluded that an anti-wrinkle topical cream containing saffron oil and avocado oil extract showed a significant increase in skin elasticity after 6 to 12 weeks of usage. Yet another systematic review showed safranal’s effectiveness in reducing photoaging and saffron’s topical application having better UV-protection qualities than homosalate – a common chemical added in sunscreens!
Another research study in 2018 also showed crocetin (found abundantly in saffron) protects against squalene degradation in our skin and reduces skin inflammation. Squalene is found in our skin and is a precursor to many compounds like squalane, a well-known skincare ingredient known for its strong moisturization and antioxidant properties. Inflammation, on the other hand, is a known cause of skin aging, and since saffron oil for skin works on protecting the hydrating pigments in our skin and reducing the causative effect of wrinkles, it can be a powerful ingredient to protect our skin from aging!
#5 Gives A Natural Pinkish Glow
One of the most coveted benefits of saffron oil for face is its ability to give the skin a lightening and brightening effect. But it does one more thing! – gives it a naturally flushed appearance. Saffron is known to add color to anything it’s added to! You can add a strand to a glass of milk, or your skincare ingredients, and the color is also used as a pigment for clothes. The hue is imparted by the active carotenoid compounds that also impart the same color to your skin and is one of the best saffron oil benefits for skin!
Besides, saffron is also known to increase blood circulation and is one of the best-known remedies in Ayurveda and Chinese medicine to remove blood stasis. An increase in blood circulation helps to give skin a blushing glow and you can experience these benefits of saffron for skin both by topical application and by ingesting it orally.
#6 Calms Inflammation
Saffron oil for skin can do wonders to calm your inflammation and soothe your skin. Skin inflammation is a common and discomforting skin condition and all you need to do for finding relief is to apply saffron oil on the face. When applying saffron oil, you might want to choose the best saffron oil for skin from the market and mix it with ingredients that are soothing as well, like aloe vera gel! The strong anti-inflammatory properties will soothe the skin almost immediately and the anti-erythematic effect on the skin reduces the redness at the given site as well!
Further, if your skin inflammation is caused by conditions such as rosacea or dermatitis, which are caused by certain types of bacteria or viruses, saffron oil can be a great addition to your skincare routine too! It’s said that this spice has powerful anti-microbial activities and its active compounds can easily reach the contaminant micro-organism because of their volatility and contribute to microbial killing.
#7 Heals Wounds
One of the widely-acclaimed saffron benefits for the skin is its wound-healing properties. One study published in the journal BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine in 2007 found that saffron extract promoted faster wound healing in rats with induced skin wounds. The saffron-treated rats had higher levels of collagen and better wound closure rates than the control group. Another study published in the journal Wound Repair and Regeneration in 2011 demonstrated how saffron cream significantly improved wound healing and reduced inflammation in human subjects with diabetic foot ulcers.
It isn’t clear what exact properties of saffron facilitate wound healing but it can be a combination of many factors like an increase in cell multiplication (also backed by research), anti-oxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties which can contribute to the benefits of saffron oil for skin. Saffron has also been shown to increase blood flow to damaged tissue, which can accelerate healing as well!
How To Make Saffron Oil For Skin?
You can make saffron-infused oil for skin at home (not saffron essential oil, which is made commercially by the steam distillation process). To make saffron-infused oil at home, mix 4 to 5 strands of saffron in ½ cup of your favorite carrier oil like olive oil, coconut oil, almond oil, argan oil, or sesame oil. You can crush the saffron, add them to the oil, let the mixture sit for a day, and sieve it. Else, you can add the full strands to the oil and let them seep in for a day before using it. You don’t necessarily have to sieve the oil before using it though! This saffron-infused oil can be applied on your face and on your whole body.
Does Saffron Oil For Skin Whitening Work?
Yes, saffron oil for skin whitening works. Saffron has a compound called crocin which is known to decrease melanin production. Studies have shown that saffron has melanin-inhibiting properties. For example, a study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology found that a cream containing saffron extract and niacinamide (a form of vitamin B3) was effective in reducing hyperpigmentation and improving skin tone in Asian women with melasma, a common skin condition characterized by dark patches on the skin.
It also has quercetin which reduces the effects of harmful UV radiation. Given the high heat of summers and our love for tropical climates, we often expose ourselves to harmful UV radiation which darkens the skin by increasing the production of melanin. The pigment melanin actually protects our skin from harmful UV rays by preventing it from getting sunburnt and blocking the sun’s rays from damaging DNA, which causes skin cancer. But some natural ingredients like saffron already have natural properties to fight this harmful radiation and prevent your skin from darkening. Therefore, it’s recommended to apply saffron oil daily to enhance the skin’s natural mechanism of protection from UV rays.
What Does Ayurveda Say About Saffron?
Saffron, also known as Kesar in Hindi, is an important medicinal herb in Ayurveda and has been mentioned in ancient Ayurvedic texts as a valuable medicinal herb with a range of health benefits. In Ayurveda, saffron is classified under “Varnya Gana”, a group of herbs that improve skin complexion and naturally impart a glowing appearance. It’s also a “Tridoshic” herb in that balances all three doshas in the body: Pitta, Vata, and Kapha. Both purifying and strengthening, saffron has the power to flush out toxins whilst aiding the Dhatu formation (responsible for nutrient assimilation and tissue formation) in the body.
Saffron is traditionally used in Ayurveda to treat a variety of health conditions, including digestive issues, menstrual disorders, insomnia, and depression. It is also valued for its ability to enhance cognitive function and promote mental clarity and focus. When it comes to skincare, Ayurveda considers saffron to be a powerful herb with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that can help to soothe and nourish the skin. You will find this spice in many Ayurvedic skincare formulations (like the best Kumkumadi Tailam in India) to improve the complexion, reduce inflammation, and enhance overall skin health. Ancient science also recommends using the herb in small quantities (1 to 2 strands) for both skincare and oral consumption.
Can I Apply Saffron Essential Oil On Skin Directly?
No, it’s not recommended to use a saffron essential oil on the skin directly. You can instead add 2 to 3 drops to face masks, a carrier oil, or your moisturizer. Just like any essential oil, the saffron oil for the skin should also be mixed with something before applying it to your face. The oil can also be mixed with carrier oils and kept safely for usage when needed.
Best Saffron Oil or Saffron-Infused Oil For Skin In The Market:
#1 Deve Herbes Pure Saffron Essential Oil
Buy this 100% pure saffron essential oil made using a steam distillation process, which extracts the oil from plant extracts without any degradation. The Deve Herbes essential oil can be added directly to your masks, and other carrier oils, or mixed with other essential oil and then diluted for usage!
#2 Greenwood Pure Saffron Essential Oil
This is another pure saffron essential oil for those who want to build their own moisturizer or face oil at home with pure essential oil! It’s made by Greenwood Essentials, an Indian essential and carrier oil company that sells its products in over 100 countries.
#3 KORRES Golden Krocus Ageless Saffron Elixir
The KORRES Ageless Saffron Elixir is made using the best quality saffron from the Greek town of Kozani, where the conducive environment conditions pave way for the most gorgeous blooming flowers of Crocus Sativus. Korres is a Greek brand and after harvesting the locally-produces saffron, they mix it with other potent ingredients like beta-glucans, peptides, and amino acids to create this ageless elixir that gives a youthful glow to the face!
#4 iYURA Kesaradi Face Oil
Facial oils prevent moisture loss from the skin, make it plump, and when infused with potent ingredients can be beneficial for skin conditions like dryness, wrinkles, and inflammation. The iYURA Kesaradi face oil is made using a 5000-year-old Ayurvedic recipe and has ingredients like turmeric, saffron, and rose for brighter and smoother skin.
#5 Ranavat – Natural Radiant Rani Saffron Serum
Ranavat is a luxury skincare brand built on the powerful science of Ayurveda and curated with the finest botanical ingredients. This facial serum doubles as a moisturizer and contains 18 Ayurvedic herbs including blood-purifying Manjishta root, antioxidant-rich licorice root, and obviously, the ever-so-powerful saffron.
#6 Joon Saffron Hair Elixir
This is technically a haircare product but it had amazing reviews and uses saffron as the main ingredient, so we had to include it in the blog which mentions the beauty benefits of the spice. This multi-purpose product can be used as a leave-in serum, overnight treatment, and hair protectant to nourish your tresses and stimulate hair growth!
#7 Blue Sage Turmeric + Saffron Stem Cells Facial Mask
A brightening and hydrating mask with saffron stem cells. The plant stems cell extracts have a high concentration of antioxidants and can help the production of new collagen. It also has other powerful ingredients like sea buckthorn oil and turmeric for stimulating collagen and improving hydration.
In conclusion, saffron oil for skin can have remarkable benefits and because of the spice’s potent qualities, the benefits can show up within a few weeks of using the same. Some concerns about using saffron essential oil for skin can be sensitivity (especially for those who already have acne) and the price. For the former concern, you should know that saffron is an anti-inflammatory and can calm your sensitive skin without harming it. But everybody’s skin reacts differently to different skincare products and a few minorities might find saffron oil benefits just not working for them! For the latter concern, you should know that even a small amount of saffron oil is enough to give you remarkable results for saffron oil for face. Even the studies that prove saffron’s benefits for skin only use small amounts. So a tiny bottle of saffron oil will last for long. Saffron is surely a gift from Mother Nature and can have wondrous beautifying benefits when used consistently.