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What you need to know about safflower oil.

Used in various fields, safflower vegetable oil is particularly appreciated by cosmetics enthusiasts and provides numerous benefits to the skin and hair. Origin, biochemical composition, skin and hair properties, and usage precautions: this article gathers everything you need to know about safflower oil.

What is safflower oil?

Also known as dyer's safflower or dyer's saffron, safflower is a herbaceous dye and oil plant native to Turkey and Iran. Its name comes from the Greek "kurthum", meaning to dye. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), an American national institute for molecular biological information, there are two forms of safflower : the variety Carthamus tinctorius var. tinctorius, with thorns, and the variety Carthamus tinctorius var. inermis, without thorns.

Safflower, specifically the thorny variety, has long been used in the textile industry for dyeing purposes. Today, the thornless form is preferred and is primarily cultivated for the oil contained in its seeds. With its orange color and light texture, the safflower oil is appreciated in various fields . It can be used in cooking to add flavor to dishes, in painting where it brings brightness and shine to canvases, and in cosmetics due to its numerous benefits for skin and hair.

Biochemical Composition: What active ingredients are found in safflower oil?

If the safflower oil is so coveted in cosmetics, it's because of its very rich biochemical composition.

Bioactive CompoundPercentageProperty(ies)
Linoleic Acid70 - 75%Nourishing, hydrating, healing
Oleic Acid15 - 20%Moisturizer
Palmitic Acid6 - 8%Moisturizer
Stearic Acid2 - 3%Moisturizer
PhytosterolsLess than 5%Moisturizing, healing, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant
Vitamin KLess than 1%Healing, anti-inflammatory
Vitamin ELess than 1%Antioxidant

What benefits does safflower oil bring to the skin?

Several studies on the safflower oil have shown that this natural ingredient possesses several interesting properties for the skin.

  • Safflower oil has moisturizing and nourishing effects.

    Compounds found in the hydrolipidic film of the epidermis, the oleic, stearic, and palmitic acids of safflower oil strengthen this protective veil and shield the skin from cold, dehydration, and other external aggressions. Moreover, the fatty acids of safflower oil have the ability to influence the production of skin lipids such as ceramides. These will then be transferred to the keratinocytes and transported to be metabolized and used in the construction of a functional epidermal barrier for a more supple and less dry skin.

  • Safflower oil has antioxidant properties.

    Safflower oil can also counteract the effects of oxidative stress and protect cellular organelles and DNA from free radical attack. This protection helps to prevent skin aging and pigment disorders that oxidative stress can cause. Due to its content of phytosterols and vitamin E, safflower oil has real photoprotective potential and is an excellent ally for slowing the development of wrinkles.

  • Safflower oil to mitigate skin sagging?

    In addition to this preventive component, in vitro studies suggest that safflower oil could also directly act on established wrinkles. Indeed, it appears that this ingredient may inhibit the activity of collagenase and elastase, endogenous enzymes responsible for the degradation of collagen and elastin. However, caution should be exercised regarding the effects of safflower oil on wrinkles, as these have not been demonstrated in clinical trials.

  • Safflower oil is believed to have a brightening effect.

    Another sign of skin aging, brown spots gradually appear due to repeated exposure to the sun's UV rays. Several recognized active ingredients can help to diminish them, including alpha-arbutin, tranexamic acid, and niacinamide. It is possible that safflower oil also has anti-spot properties. A study showed its inhibitory effect on tyrosinase, an enzyme involved in melanogenesis, of the bacterium Streptomyces bikiniensis. Thus, safflower oil could potentially have brightening properties, however, this remains to be demonstrated in clinical trials once again.

  • Safflower oil accelerates the healing process.

    The application of safflower oil can also aid in ensuring efficient and rapid skin regeneration. Indeed, in addition to its essential moisturizing properties for healing, safflower oil promotes theepithelialization of tissues and the angiogenesis process, which is the formation of new blood vessels. In the case of a minor wound or persistent post-inflammatory mark, this vegetable oil proves to be an ally.

  • Safflower oil has anti-inflammatory and soothing properties.

    Finally, it has been demonstrated that safflower oil can provide relief for the skin in cases of itching or irritation. The phytosterols contained in this vegetable oil work to downregulate NF-κB and AP-1 proteins, which are pro-inflammatory transcription factors. Furthermore, safflower oil can also be used in cases of erythema or erythrosis to help reduce redness.

A closer look at the hair properties of safflower oil.

The safflower oil can also be used to protect and nourish hair fibers. Whether used as a hair oil treatment or incorporated into a hair care product, it makes the hair shiny and soft while preventing the appearance of split ends. A great ally for fine hair, safflower oil coats the hair fibers and strengthens the hydrolipidic film. It also contributes to the restoration and cohesion of the cuticle scales, the outer part of the hair fibers. This cohesion is essential to ensure the hair's impermeability and overall health.

Furthermore, safflower oil could also potentially affect hair growth. However, this is a hypothesis that requires further research to be confirmed. It seems that the linoleic acid and β-sitosterol in safflower oil could activate the Shh/Gli signaling pathway. By doing so, these active ingredients could speed up the transition from the telogen phase of the hair cycle, which is when hair falls out, to the anagen phase, also known as the growth phase.

Cosmetic Use of Safflower Oil: Are there Precautions to be Followed?

The safflower oil is a safe vegetable oil that can be used pure, including by those with sensitive skin. Easily absorbed by the epidermis, its light texture is suitable for all skin types, including oily or acne-prone skin. However, ensure that the safflower oil you wish to use is not oxidized as this can damage its compounds, alter its properties, or even make it comedogenic. An oxidized vegetable oil can be recognized by its change in texture, color, and smell. To avoid this phenomenon, store your safflower oil in a cool place and out of the light.

Even though safflower oil is a gentle vegetable oil, it is advisable to perform a tolerance test before using it.

In which Typology products can one find safflower oil?

At Typology, we have decided to incorporate safflower oil into our anti-redness cream due to its anti-inflammatory and soothing properties. Specifically designed for skin prone to rosacea and redness, this treatment reduces feelings of heat and softens the skin day after day. Formulated with 97% natural ingredients, our cream promotes hydration and comfort for skin prone to redness upon application.

In addition to safflower oil, the anti-redness cream contains azelaic acid, known for its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, niacinamide, an active ingredient that strengthens the skin's barrier and contributes to an even skin tone, and green algae extract, specifically targeting vascular imperfections.

Tip : To instantly fade redness, you can complement the action of the cream with the green anti-redness corrector enriched with niacinamide and green algae extract.

Sources

  • HWANG J. K. & others. Inhibitory Effects of Active Compounds Extracted from Safflower (Carthamus tinctorius L.) Seeds on Melanogenesis. Biological & Pharmaceutical Bulletin (2004).

  • CHAIYASUT C. & others. Inhibition of 5α-reductase and promotion of hair growth by certain Thai plants traditionally used for hair care. Journal of Ethnopharmacology (2012).

  • MERAH O. & al. Phenol Content and Antioxidant and Antiaging Activity of Safflower Seed Oil (Carthamus Tinctorius L.). Cosmetics (2019).

  • BITRI L. & al. Antioxidant and Antimicrobial Capabilities of Seed Oil from Carthamus tinctorius L. in the Treatment of Skin Wounds. Cellular and Molecular Mechanisms of Oxidative Stress in Wound Recovery (2020).

  • ERGONUL P. G. & OZBEK Z. A. Cold pressed safflower (Carthamus tinctorius L.) seed oil. Cold Pressed Oils (2020).

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