Originating from Crete, saffron is harvested from the stigmas of the Crocus sativus flower. Rich in benefits for the skin, saffron extract can also be used for hair application. Discover in this article the properties of this ingredient for hair and scalp.
Saffron: an ally for hair.
- An overview of saffron
- Saffron has soothing properties
- Saffron for hydrating hair and preventing breakage
- Saffron to slow down the appearance of white hair?
An overview of saffron.
The saffron is a spice extracted from the Crocus sativus, plants that have beautiful purple flowers and bloom from October to November. It is estimated that about 150 flowers are needed to obtain one gram of saffron. This is the most expensive spice in the world, with a price that is roughly equivalent to that of gold (≈ $40 per gram).
Beyond its culinary qualities, saffron is also valued for its cosmetic and therapeutic properties. It is generally incorporated into skin care products, due to its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and hydrating virtues, but these can also prove beneficial for hair.
Saffron has soothing properties.
The application of a saffron-based treatment can reduce scalp irritations and discomfort. Indeed, this ingredient contains several molecules with anti-inflammatory properties. Saffron extract is particularly rich in crocetin and crocins. Studies have suggested that these molecules can target the Toll-like receptors (TLR), which are involved in the regulation of various transcription factors, such as the nuclear factor (NF-κB), but also in triggering pro-inflammatory signaling pathways.
Furthermore, NF-κB plays a crucial role in the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines such as interleukins-1 and 2 (IL-1 and IL-2) and interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) in T lymphocytes. Researchers have shown that saffron is capable of suppressing the activity of NF-κB via the inhibition of IκB kinase phosphorylation. Thus, the application of saffron extract on the scalp can alleviate itching.
Saffron for hydrating hair and preventing breakage.
Providing daily adequate hydration to one's hair is necessary. Indeed, if not properly or sufficiently hydrated, hair tends to become dry and break easily. This increases the likelihood of split ends appearing.
Saffron extract is rich in polysaccharides (mannan, glucomannan, and galactomannan). These long-chain sugar molecules contain hydroxyl groups (-OH) that create a hydrophilic environment. They thus retain water molecules, limiting their natural evaporation. Furthermore, it has been shown that these molecules also act by forming a protective film on the surface of hair fibers to maintain hydration and combat dryness.
Take note : no study has been conducted on the moisturizing properties of saffron extract itself on hair. Only the effects of polysaccharides have been studied. By indirect evidence, we can assume that saffron extract also possesses this action since it contains polysaccharides.
Saffron to slow down the appearance of white hair?
The application of a treatment enriched with saffron extract on the hair fiber could potentially slow down the graying of hair. This assumption is due to the presence of crocins, crocetin, and safranal in its composition. These are recognized antioxidants capable of combating free radicals, reactive species that can weaken the hair bulb, and promote hair loss and split ends. Therefore, its application on hair can protect the hair from certain aggressions such as exposure to UV radiation or pollution.
Furthermore, antioxidants slow down the onset of gray hair, which a study has shown to be correlated with the presence of free radicals. Indeed, although the mechanism by which these operate at the level of hair fibers remains poorly understood, it seems that free radicals could trigger a chain reaction leading to the degradation of melanin, the pigment that gives hair its color.
Note : While the action of antioxidants in slowing down the appearance of white hair has been scientifically demonstrated, no study has been conducted on saffron extract itself. Therefore, we can only assume that this ingredient possesses this property, due to the antioxidants it contains.
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).
HOSSEINZADEH H. & al. Immunoregulatory and anti-inflammatory properties of Crocus sativus (Saffron) and its main active constituents: A review. Iranian Journal of Basic Medical Sciences (2019).