Five amazing benefits of Saffron (Kesar) for glowing skin

Saffron is one of the oldest and most expensive spices in the world. The golden yellow/orange colour is due to the presence of  two main carotenoids, crocin and crocetin(1). Carotenoids provide antioxidant benefits to humans and some, such as the case with saffron are able to protect us from UV rays and can convert into Vitamin A.

In Ayurvedic medicine saffron (Kesar) is tri doshic, meaning it helps balance all three doshas. It has numerous uses both due to its chemical make-up and also for the rich red gold colour seen in Indian cooking and use as a dye.

 1. Protection from UV rays - Studies have shown Saffron to have photo protective qualities equivalent and better than Homosalate, an organic compound used in sunscreens(2). The study showed a lotion containing 4% saffron had equal photo protective SPF values to the 4% Homosalate lotion. At 8% the saffron was far more photo protective than the equivalent 8% homosalate lotion(2). *Please note, this doesn’t mean you can apply any saffron lotion and expect the same results! The quality of saffron and of course the percentage used is vital to performance as well as adequate testing for SPF values in a laboratory situation.

 2. Reduction of pigment - Saffron has been widely used in India and many other countries for its skin brightening benefits. Studies have shown after 8 weeks of use that there was significant reduction in melanin and erythema(4) in the skin. It is believed the antioxidant properties of saffron are responsible for the reduction in pigmentation and skin redness. Pigmentation is the result of melanin in our skin, exposure to UV rays causes more melanin to be produced as a form of protection for our cells. Melanin can also be produced due to inflammatory responses in the skin, certain drugs and hormones.

 3. Antioxidant - Carotenoids provide antioxidant benefits to humans. Other carotenoids found in saffron include lycopene, zeaxanthin and various ⍺ and β-carotenes.

Saffron possesses potent anti-tumour properties and has illustrated to be a safe and effective treatment in a variety of cancers, including leukaemia, skin cancer, prostate cancer, breast and lung cancer(3). These actions are believed to be due to the antioxidant attributes of saffron.

4Anti-inflammatory/wound healing - Saffron is known to reduce skin irritation and redness of the skin, due to anti-inflammatory properties. Its strong antioxidant components inhibit markers of inflammation such as tumour necrotic factor, TNF and interleukin. Other studies found saffron had anti-pruritic and skin promoting effects confirming the results compared to a placebo(5) .

 5. Perfumery - Safranal is a volatile compound found in saffron which is responsible for the specific aroma of saffron. Some liken it to a metallic honey, it has a woody, sweet aroma.

Saffron was used by royalty in ancient Greece both for its sweet aroma used for perfuming bathrooms, courts and theatres and its vivid colour was used as a dye.(6) In ancient Persia the flowers were dispersed in wedding celebrations.(6)

 You can find Saffron in:



Bolhassani A, Khavari A, Bathaie SZBiochim Biophys Acta. 2014 Jan ‘Saffron and natural carotenoids: Biochemical activities and anti-tumour effects’, 1845(1):20-30

Shiva Golmohammazadeh, Mahoumoud Reza Jaafari, Hossein Hosseinzadeh Spring 2010 ‘Does Saffron Have Antisolar and Moisturizing Effects?’ Iran J Pharm Res v.9(2).

Khorasanchi Z, Shafiee M, Kermanshahi F, et al. 2018 Apr Phytomedicine. ‘Crocus sativus a natural food colouring and flavouring has potent anti-tumour properties’, 1;43:21-27.

Naveed Akhtar, Haji Muhammad Shoaib Khan, et al, Nov 2014, ‘Skin Depigmentation Activity of Crocus sativus Extract Cream’, Tropical Journal of Pharmaceutical Research, 13(11): 1803-1808.

Moshiri M, Vahanzadeh M, et al. June 2015, ‘Clinical Applications of Saffron (Crocus sativus) and its Constituents: A Review’, Drug Re (Stuttg) 65(60): 287-95.

Seyedeh Zeinab Mousavi, Seyedeh Zahra Bathaie Aug 2011 ‘Historical uses of saffron: Identifying potential new avenues for modern research’, Avicenna Journal of Phytomedicne, Vol. 1, No.2, pp. 57-66.

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