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Procédé d'obtention extrait de safran.

How is saffron extract obtained?

Saffron is a spice that has been utilized for millennia for its culinary and therapeutic properties. Today, saffron extract is used in cosmetics, particularly for its hydrating and illuminating virtues. Let's explore its extraction process together.

Summary
Published February 8, 2024, by Pauline, Head of Scientific Communication — 5 min read

In short, saffron extract.

The saffron is a spice derived from the flower of Crocus sativus, a perennial plant belonging to the Iridaceae family. Originating from certain regions of Asia and the Middle East, saffron is renowned for its numerous culinary and cosmetic virtues. It is a rare spice, the cost of which is almost as high as that of gold (≈ $30 to $35 per gram). It contains beneficial compounds for the skin and hair, such as crocin, crocetin, safranal, and picrocrocin, four active ingredients that give it its properties.

Saffron is particularly recognized for its antioxidant power , which provides significant protection against oxidative damage caused by free radicals. It also has a anti-inflammatory activity that is beneficial for acne-prone skin. Lastly, a recent study showed that the daily application of a cream enriched with 3% saffron extract was able to reduce transepidermal water loss (TEWL) and increase overall skin hydration .

Saffron Extract: How is it Obtained?

Saffron extract, whether intended for cosmetic or culinary use, is generally obtained by solvent extraction, also known as solid/liquid extraction. The principle involves soaking the flower in a liquid or semi-gaseous solvent, such as supercritical CO2. Regarding liquid solvents, the most commonly used are a mixture of water and methanol (50% - 50% or 20% - 80%) and a mixture of water and ethanol (20% - 80%). The extraction steps are as follows:

  1. Harvesting of Stigmas : Saffron comes from the dried stigmas of saffron flowers. The stigmas are the vivid red parts of the flower, which are hand-harvested during the short saffron flowering period, typically in the fall.

  2. Drying of the Stigmas : After harvesting, the saffron stigmas are carefully separated from the rest of the flower. They are then dried in open air or in special dryers, at a controlled temperature, between 95 and 113°F, to preserve the properties of the saffron.

  3. Extraction of Active Compounds : Once the saffron stigmas are dried, the extraction of active compounds begins. For this, the dried stigmas are ground and placed in a flask with a liquid or semi-gaseous solvent. They are then left to macerate for a few days so that the active ingredients can dissolve in the solvent.

  4. Purification and Concentration : The obtained extract undergoes various purification processes to remove impurities and yield a product more concentrated in active compounds. Steps such as filtration and decantation are particularly involved. The solvent is then evaporated via a rotary evaporator under reduced pressure. The temperature depends on the solvent used, for instance, it is 40°C in the case of ethanol.

Where can you find saffron extract at Typology?

Typology has incorporated saffron extract (INCI: Crocus Sativus Flower Extract), obtained through water/ethanol solvent extraction, into its antioxidant serum. Enriched with ferulic acid and Ashitaba extract (INCI: Angelica Keiskei Extract), antioxidant active ingredients, this skincare product protects the skin from daily aggressors (pollution, tobacco, UV, etc.). It also helps to slow down skin aging for a brighter and firmer skin. We recommend using this serum for at least four weeks to observe its effects.

Please note : this antioxidant treatment does not contain SPF and does not replace the use of a sunscreen that is suitable.

Sources

  • NAVEED A. & al. Moisturizing effect of stable cream containing Crocus sativus extracts. Pakistan Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences (2014).

  • SHOJAOSADATI S. & al. Evaluation of antioxidant activities of bioactive compounds and various extracts obtained from saffron (Crocus sativus L.): a review. Journal of Food Science and Technology (2015).

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