Saffron and UVB Protection (Research)

Saffron and UVB Protection: Can Saffron Be an Effective Sunscreen?

Saffron lovers and sceptics alike, listen up!. We already know about most of the health benefits that come with consuming saffron; improved mood, lowered oxidative stress, mental health relief, boosts of anti-inflammatories, appetite management and a really delicious flavour for meals and even more! 

Now, what if we told you saffron contains sun protection factors that can protect even sensitive skin from UVB radiation? A study conducted in 2010 by Shiva Golmohammadzadeh, Mahmoud Reza Jaafari and Hossein Hosseinzadeh for the Iranian Journal of Pharmaceutical Research has determined just that. 

The prevalence and threat of sun cancer in Australia is enormous. With the added threat of climate change and the potential damage chemical sunscreen can cause our environment it’s an exciting revelation that our favourite spice saffron can also be used as a sunscreen and a moisturising agent too! 

How Was Saffron Tested?

In order to test the effectiveness of saffron as an antisolar agent for sun protection, the saffron had to be turned into a lotion. To do this, the pollen of the Crocus sativus bulb was extracted in Ghaen Iran, Khorasan province who are the main producers of saffron in the world. Once extracted, the saffron threads were dried at room temperature before being turned into powder. Then three different lotions containing 2, 4 and 8% of saffron were prepared using the exact same method that goes into producing homosalate lotions. Homosalate is the main ingredient in most off the shelf broad spectrum sunscreens. Both the three saffron lotions and the homosalate lotions were prepared in house. 

As well as testing the effectiveness of saffron as an SPF protector, it was also tested for its moisturising skincare capabilities. The test was carried out on participants with normal skin aged between 20 and 35. Participants were not allowed to apply any moisturising for a week prior to the testing in order to not obstruct the results of the saffron lotion. Only the saffron lotion 8% potency was tested. 

The Results

 

(Source retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3862060/)

Saffron (4% saffron lotion) is an effective and completely natural UV absorbing agent that has an SPF value equivalent to that of regular sunscreen that contains 8% homosalate lotion (up to SPF 50). When used in equal concentration; 8% saffron against 8% homosalate, saffron is an equally effective antisolar sun protection agent without the artificial sources.

There was no difference in the moisturising capabilities of the 8% saffron lotion and the lotion it was compared against, determining that saffron lotion is just as effective as lotion without it, while only sun protection lotion both moisturisers and offers protection upon exposure to UV radiation while saffron lotion does both. 

The Verdict: Saffron Protects Your Skin From UV Radiation

 

This is pretty revolutionary stuff! Once again Mother Earth has provided us a natural solution to sun protection and skincare in one.

So why does saffron work well against a high UV index? Surprisingly, the answer is that the aromatic and flavonoid compounds of saffron- in other words the stuff that makes saffron taste and smell amazing, are also strong UVB absorbers, are photoprotective agents and due to their high antioxidant activity build excellent barriers of protection and restoration for the skin!

For these same reasons, saffron is moisturizing for all skin types. Using saffron for oily skin, dry skin and on skin damage is highly effective. Yes, we really meant all skin types! Much like shea butter, saffron has deeply nourishing properties that work to moisturise and build the integrity of the layers of your skin.

Our suggestion to you? Always be on the lookout for saffron skincare products as they are a natural yet effective solution to all of your sun protection, anti-aging and moisturising needs.