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Skin Aging: Effects of Saffron on Wrinkles?

Wrinkles gradually develop over time and are the result of the loss of firmness and elasticity in the skin due to the aging of certain cellular components. Once present, it is impossible to completely erase them, but certain active ingredients can slow their appearance and diminish their visibility. Let's explore the benefits of saffron against wrinkles.

Published June 2, 2023, updated on February 8, 2024, by Pauline, Head of Scientific Communication — 7 min read

Skin Aging: What Mechanisms are Involved?

Skin aging is a multifactorial process that manifests in several ways: wrinkles, dryness, skin sagging... Among the intrinsic causes, we find telomere shortening, the repetitive DNA sequences at the end of chromosomes. Each time a cell copies its DNA before dividing, it loses a piece of its telomere. The more the telomeres shorten, the more the cell ages.

We can also consider the natural decrease in the production of collagen, elastin, and hyaluronic acid over time. These molecules ensure the flexibility, elasticity, and hydration of the skin. The cellular renewal also tends to decline as the years go by.

Finally, skin aging is accelerated by certain external factors, such as pollution, UV rays and tobacco which generate oxidative stress in skin cells. This particularly damages DNA, and collagen and elastin fibers. It's worth noting that UV rays alone are responsible for about 80% of premature skin aging.

Saffron: Effects on Skin Aging?

The saffron is a spice extracted from the Crocus sativus. Unlike other Crocus species, the flowering of this plant takes place from October to November, while the dormancy period occurs during the summer months. It has beautiful purple to violet flowers, as well as stigmas from which the spice is obtained.

Beyond its culinary qualities, saffron is also valued for its cosmetic and therapeutic properties, particularly its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory virtues. Saffron is often incorporated into treatments targeting signs of aging. However, it does not directly combat wrinkles, but rather has a preventive action.

  • Saffron prevents the onset of fine dehydration lines and skin dryness.

    Originating from dehydration and a thinning of the hydrolipidic film, dehydration fine lines can be prevented by sufficient facial hydration. However, a study conducted on a dozen volunteers showed that the daily application of a moisturizing cream containing 3% saffron extract for 8 weeks resulted in a decrease in transepidermal water loss (TEWL) by 7% and an increase in overall skin hydration by 8%. Thus, saffron extract would help to reduce dehydration fine lines.

  • Saffron protects the skin from oxidative stress.

    Saffron contains several active ingredients with antioxidant properties, such as crocin, crocetin, and safranal. These molecules protect cells, proteins, and genetic material from oxidative damage. Crocin and crocetin, in particular, act against lipid peroxidation, a chain reaction leading to the damage of cell membranes and the disruption of the hydrolipidic film. These compounds inhibit peroxidation thanks to the double bonds present in their chemical structure. This allows them to rearrange their structure and donate an electron to free radicals, which neutralizes and stabilizes them before they can cause damage to cellular constituents.

    In addition to its ability to capture reactive oxygen species (ROS), safranal can stimulate the activity of certain endogenous antioxidant enzymes, such as superoxide dismutase (SOD) and glutathione peroxidase (GPx). These enzymes are essential components of the free radical elimination mechanism. Specifically, SOD catalyzes the dismutation of superoxide anions O2.- into oxygen O2 and hydrogen peroxide H2O2. GPx, on the other hand, facilitates the transformation of organic hydroperoxides before they can damage cells.

  • Saffron has photoprotective properties.

    Studies have shown that the safranal from saffron has an SPF (Sunburn Protection Factor) of 6.6. This index represents the level of protection provided by a sunscreen against sunburn induced by UVB rays. An index of 6.6 is quite low, considering that a product starts to be effective when its SPF reaches 15. Moreover, saffron is not among the 27 sun filters authorized in sunscreens by European regulations. However, it has been shown that adding saffron extract to a SPF 20 sunscreen based on chemical filters allows to increase the SPF by 43%. Saffron therefore presents a certain interest when it comes to protecting the skin from UV rays, which is essential to prevent wrinkles.

  • Saffron prevents the degradation of collagen and elastin.

    In vitro studies also suggest that safranal, a molecule found in saffron extract, is capable of blocking the activity of elastase, collagenase, and hyaluronidase. These three enzymes respectively catalyze the degradation of elastin, collagen, and hyaluronic acid , which promotes the appearance of wrinkles and skin sagging. By inhibiting these processes, saffron extract helps to delay skin aging.

The antioxidant serum from Typology to slow down skin aging.

The skin is constantly under attack from free radicals, which are formed as a result of UV exposure, stress, smoking, and pollution. These free radicals damage the skin's protective barrier, accelerate skin aging, and are responsible for a lack of radiance. To protect the skin, Typology has developed a antioxidant serum. In addition to saffron extract, this serum contains ferulic acid and Ashitaba extract (INCI: Angelica Keiskei Extract), powerful antioxidants that neutralize free radicals. After 4 weeks of daily application, the skin appears more radiant and firmer.


  • SAMARGHANDIAN S. & al. Safranal ameliorates antioxidant enzymes and suppresses lipid peroxidation and nitric oxide formation in aged male rat liver. Biogerontology (2013).

  • 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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