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  5. Top 8 Benefits Of Saffron (Kesar) For Your Skin

Looking for a natural skin brightening solution? Try adding a few strands of saffron (kesar) to your skincare routine for long-term benefits.

When it comes to Ayurvedic ‘varnya’ or depigmenting herbs, saffron is often the most preferred ingredient for the skin. Read on to know the various benefits of saffron for your skin and how to use it for skin brightening.

Our Ayurvedic Doctor Speaks

“Kumkuma or saffron balances all the three doshas. It is highly valued for its Varnya or complexion-enhancing properties. It is also known to be Vyanga hara, one that corrects discolored patches on skin. Saffron enhances the glutathione levels in cells, thus exerting strong anti-oxidant and anti-melanogenic properties.”

Dr. Zeel Gandhi (Bachelor of Ayurveda, Medicine & Surgery), Chief Ayurvedic Doctor, Vedix

What Is Saffron?

There are quite a few varieties of saffron cultivated around the world, amongst which the Kashmir saffron (Padmagandhi) grown in India, is well known for its lotus-like aroma.

Saffron’s medicinal value can be linked to the over 150 phytonutrients identified in the herb. Amongst these are carotenoids, anthocyanins, flavonoids and terpenoids that give saffron its strong pharmacological abilities.

Apart from being an expensive spice decorating various Indian and South Asian delicacies, saffron is extensively used as an offering to the Gods in the Hindu culture.

The therapeutic properties of saffron according to the science of Ayurveda are listed below:

Rasa (Taste)

Katu and Tikta (Pungent and Bitter)

Guna (Quality)

Snigdha (Oily)

Vipaka (Taste after digestion)

Katu (Pungent)

Veerya (Potency)

Ushna (Hot)

Effect on Doshas

Tridoshahara (Balances all 3 doshas)

Is Saffron Good For Your Face?

Known by various names such as kumkuma, kesar and zafran, saffron’s skin whitening properties make it a valuable ingredient in many skincare products.

While the herb is mainly credited for being a natural depigmenting agent, Ayurveda mentions a list of other skin benefitting properties that can rejuvenate and transform your overall skin condition.

Some of these properties include:

  • Vrana Shodhana (wound-healing)
  • Shothahara (anti-inflammatory)
  • Doshatrayahara (balancer of all three doshas)
  • Kantida (brightens skin tone)

Modern research also attributes antioxidant, anti-acne, antidepressant, melanin inhibiting, analgesic, dermo-protective and antibacterial properties to saffron. Thus, both topical application and consumption of saffron can visibly improve your facial skin.

One of the main reasons why saffron is one of the most expensive Ayurvedic herbs is because 150 Crocus sativus flowers yield only about 1 gram [1] of dry saffron threads. Hence, to produce a quantity of 12 grams, one needs to cultivate a kilogram of flowers.

Benefits Of Saffron For Skin

Dr. Zeel Gandhi, Chief Ayurvedic Doctor at Vedix, says that “Kumkuma or Saffron balances all the three doshas. It is highly valued for its Varnya or complexion-enhancing properties. It is also known to be Vyanga hara, one that corrects discolored patches on skin.”

She further adds, “Saffron enhances the glutathione levels in cells, thus exerting strong anti-oxidant and anti-melanogenic properties. It also helps the metabolic conversion of Carotenoids to Retinoids (vitamin A). Retinoids also enhance complexion and are well researched for their anti-aging benefits.”

A few of its benefits are elaborated below.

1. For Skin Pigmentation

You may have probably noticed saffron illustrated or mentioned on the labels of various skin whitening creams. The famous Kumkumadi tailam of Ayurveda, celebrated for its rapid skin brightening abilities, is named after its key ingredient, kumkum (saffron).

According to a Critical review of Ayurvedic Varnya herbs and their tyrosinase inhibition effect, saffron shows excellent tyrosinase (enzyme responsible for melanin synthesis) inhibition activity, thus proving its ability to promote complexion.

This is because it is rich in over 150 types of carotenoids such as safranal, lycopene, alpha and beta-carotenes and zeaxanthin.

2. Treats Acne

woman's face before and after acne treatment

Acne vulgaris is an inflammatory condition of the skin occurring from blocked pores. Saffron’s powerful anti-inflammatory properties, owing to the presence of phyto-compounds like crocin and crocetin help treat inflammation of your acne lesions.

Its antimicrobial abilities heal the bacterial infection in your skin pores and its antioxidant properties promote skin healing.

Further, being a natural inhibitor of melanogenesis, saffron prevents post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation and reduces the chances of acne marks and scars.

Saffron is also known to be a detoxifier. When consumed, it purifies your blood and helps remove harmful toxins from the body which as per Ayurvedic belief is a major cause for acne.

3. Treats Skin Infections And Heals Wounds

Topical application of saffron creams or including the herb in your regular skincare routine can keep various skin infections at bay owing to saffron’s anti-microbial [2] properties.

Further, the presence of the rare apocarotenoid, crocetin [3] makes saffron an excellent wound healer. The application of saffron extracts on wounds and burns decreases the epithelization period and improves the strength of the repaired skin.

4. Delays Skin Aging

Various factors such as sun exposure, a stressful lifestyle, smoking and pollution can accelerate skin aging. These harmful factors can damage your skin through the production of free radicals and reactive oxygen species.

These eventually cause premature cell death, breakdown of collagen and depletion of essential lipids in your skin.

Thus, most anti-aging products contain antioxidants that restore the oxidant-antioxidant balance in your body, preventing oxidative stress-related skin aging. Saffron’s anti-aging [4] properties come from antioxidant compounds known as apocarotenoids [5].

These include kaempferol, safranal, crocin, crocetin, carotene, picrocrocin etc. These reduce oxidative stress, prevent the formation of wrinkles and fine lines and keep your skin looking ageless for years.

According to a study named Preparation and evaluation of anti-wrinkle cream containing saffron extract and avocado oil, an oil in water formula containing saffron was topically applied on 20 volunteers for a period of twelve weeks. Results showed improvement in skin elasticity and significant reduction of wrinkles, proving the formulation's efficacy as an anti-aging treatment.

5. Anti-Inflammatory

Saffron can safely be used in treating skin allergies, dermatitis or psoriasis due to its anti-inflammatory [6] properties owing to the presence of crocin. Apart from inhibiting skin edema, saffron’s analgesic properties reduce pain in the lesions and have an overall calming effect on the affected skin.

Further, being antipruritic, saffron also helps relieve itchiness, which is one of the main symptoms of eczema or psoriasis-affected skin.

In fact, saffron tea is part of an anti-psoriatic diet chalked as per Edgar Cayce’s readings. Studies show that along with other antioxidant-rich foods, drinking saffron tea [7] can improve psoriasis symptoms in patients.

6. Protects From Sun Damage

A research named Does Saffron Have Antisolar and Moisturizing Effects? studied the effects of saffron as a natural sunscreen. It reported that the herb can be used as a UV absorbing agent.

It also stated that saffron’s sun-protective abilities are due to the existence of flavonoids such as quercetin, kaempferol and phenolic acids like caffeic, ferulic, cinnamic and others.

Apart from protecting your skin from the detrimental effects of UV rays, topical application of saffron can also prevent a photosensitive reaction after a photo-dynamic skin treatment [8].

7. Prevents Skin Cancer

According to a medical article named Plants used to treat skin diseases, consumption of saffron prevented the formation of skin tumors (papillomas) and simultaneously decreased the size of existing ones in animal subjects. Early treatment with saffron also successfully inhibited skin cancer in mice.

8. Enhances All Skin Types

According to Ayurveda, each of the three doshas play a vital role in maintaining your skin health. Optimum moisture content is regulated by kapha, the pitta maintains metabolic mechanisms of the skin and the vata dosha promotes blood circulation and transportation of essential nutrients to your skin [9].

However, perfectly balanced skin (normal skin) is often hard to achieve. Therefore you have dry skin (vata-type), oily skin (kapha-type) or sensitive/ allergy-prone skin (pitta-type).

Saffron being a ‘tridoshahara’, balances your doshas and prevents aggravations. It can thus be added to all skin type regimens and be used to treat a variety of skin diseases.

Vedix Tip:

To get relief from stress, apply a paste of saffron on your forehead before going to bed.

How To Use Saffron For Skin Whitening?

1. Saffron, Milk And Turmeric Pack

  • Take 1 tablespoon each of saffron and turmeric powders.
  • Add 2 to 2 ½ tablespoons of raw milk to it to make a paste.
  • Apply this saffron pack on your skin focusing more on the pigmented areas.
  • Leave it on for 40 minutes to an hour and wash off.
  • Use it 2 to 3 times a week for glowing skin.
  • If you are using saffron strands, then soak them in milk for 30 minutes to an hour before adding to the rest of the face pack.

2. Saffron, Raktha Chandanam, Yashtimadhu And Aloe Vera Gel Pack

  • Mix a tablespoon each of saffron, raktha chandanam and yashtimadhu.
  • To this add sufficient amounts of aloe vera gel to make a paste.
  • Apply on your face and hands covering all your dark spots, marks and sun-tanned areas.
  • Leave it on for an hour and wash off.
  • Using this pack 2 to 3 times a week can brighten your skin in a matter of weeks.

3. Saffron Oil

saffron essential oil

  • Saffron oil helps reduce pigmentation, delay skin aging, prevents sun damage and protects against various skin conditions like acne, dermatitis and psoriasis.
  • However, saffron essential oil must be diluted with a carrier oil (3-4 drops to 10 ml carrier oil) of your choice and not directly applied to the skin.
  • To make your own saffron oil, add 2 tablespoons of saffron powder or about 20-25 strands of saffron to mildly-heated 250 ml of almond/ jojoba/ olive/ coconut oil.
  • Store this in a bottle away from sunlight and let the saffron soak in the oil for about a week.
  • When the oil changes color, strain and use it to massage your skin.

4. Saffron Cream

Saffron and cosmetic cream

  • Pick a good Ayurvedic saffron cream or moisturizer and use it twice daily at the end of your skin routine.
  • Keep in mind your skin type and accordingly choose the cream base.
  • You can also add a few drops of saffron oil to your existing cream/ moisturizer for even-toned, problem-free skin.

5. Saffron And Ghee

  • Saffron and ghee together help balance the vata and pitta doshas and stimulate healthy kapha.
  • It also improves digestion and liver health and aids in the removal of harmful toxins that can give your skin a dull appearance.
  • Add a few strands of saffron to a tablespoon of uncooked ghee and consume daily, preferably before bedtime.

6. Saffron, Milk And Honey Drink

Turmeric milk with cinnamon, saffron

  • Consumption of saffron is also known to whiten skin tone and boost your body’s immune defenses.
  • Add ½ teaspoon of saffron to a glass of milk and soak it for an hour.
  • Add some honey for taste and consume.

7. Saffron Tea

  • Saffron tea is an antioxidant-rich drink often recommended by health specialists to prevent free radical skin damage, premature aging, dull skin and various skin diseases.
  • To make saffron tea, heat 1 ½ -2 cups of water and add ½ teaspoon of saffron to it.
  • Add a few mint leaves and some grated ginger.
  • Let the water boil for 2-3 minutes.
  • Cover the vessel and let the ingredients soak for another 2 minutes.
  • Strain into a cup. Squeeze in half a lemon and add some honey for taste.
  • Enjoy your saffron tea hot!

Precautions And Side Effects Of Saffron For Skin

There are no known side effects of saffron when applied topically. However, one must be careful while using saffron essential oil and never use it undiluted. It is also recommended that you do a patch test if using saffron or its oil for the first time.

As for consumption, consult your Ayurvedic doctor for correct doses of the herb as per your Prakriti or body constitution. It is also better to avoid saffron during your early pregnancy period and begin consumption only after you’ve consulted your doctor.

Frequently Asked Questions About Saffron On Skin

1. Can I Use Saffron On My Face Daily?

Yes, saffron can be used daily on the face for treating pigmentary disorders, acne and eczema. You can either add saffron to your oil/ face pack or simply soak it in milk and use it to cleanse your face.

2. How Long Does Saffron Take To Lighten Skin?

This will depend on how much your skin has tanned in the sun or how severe your acne marks and dark spots are. With regular usage, you should start seeing improvement in your skin tone within 3 to 4 weeks.

The Last Word

  • Saffron is prized for its miraculous antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-tyrosinase, analgesic and wound healing properties.
  • It is also known for brightening skin from within and adding a natural glow.
  • So go ahead and add a pinch of saffron to your daily skincare routine and notice your skin improve.
Know Your Dosha Now

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