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Effets safran acné.

Saffron to combat acne?

Acne is a skin condition that is the primary reason for consultation with a dermatologist. In addition to the treatments prescribed by the healthcare professional, it is common to use natural ingredients to soothe inflammation, such as saffron. But does this latter truly have an effect on acne?

Published February 8, 2024, by Pauline, Head of Scientific Communication — 4 min read

The causes of acne.

Acne affects approximately 6 million people in France and is often the cause of discomfort. It is a inflammatory disease of the hair follicle and sebaceous gland , often caused by an overproduction of sebum by the sebaceous glands. This normally flows along the hair follicle and sebaceous gland through the pores, and protects the skin from drying out and external aggressions. However, certain hormonal changes, during adolescence or pregnancy for example, lead to an overactivity of the sebaceous glands. The sebum can then no longer drain properly and blocks the pores, which is conducive to the appearance of imperfections.

Furthermore, an environment rich in sebum promotes the proliferation of the bacteria Cutibacterium acnes, which is naturally present in the hair follicles of the skin. This microorganism thrives in oily environments as it digests the triglycerides found in sebum. This, in turn, leads to the production of free fatty acids that exacerbate the inflammation of the sebaceous glands.

Finally, the desquamation process of the epidermis in acne-prone skin is not as efficient as it should be, leading to an accumulation of dead cells on the skin's surface, which can also block the pores. This follicular hyperkeratosis indeed forms a keratinous plug that hinders the normal flow of sebum.

How does saffron act on acne?

Saffron is a spice derived from the stigmas of Crocus sativus flowers. The cultivation and use of saffron dates back over 3,500 years. Ancient Greek legends mention soldiers embarking on perilous journeys to acquire what was then considered the most precious commodity: saffron. In addition to its culinary qualities, this spice is renowned for its cosmetic properties. Antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, healing... it is thus included in the formulation of many skincare products, some of which are intended for acne-prone skin.

The anti-inflammatory virtues of saffron extract make this ingredient a valuable ally in the fight against acne. These are primarily attributed to the crocetin and crocins it contains. Studies have suggested that these molecules could 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 signalling 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 demonstrated that saffron is capable of suppressing the activity of NF-κB via the inhibition of IκB kinase phosphorylation.

Thus, saffron extract can help to alleviate certain symptoms of acne, such as redness and blemishes, and prevent the onset of future scars. Indeed, by reducing inflammation, saffron can help to minimise tissue damage, which prevents scarring.

Please note : the anti-inflammatory properties of saffron extract have not been demonstrated on acne-prone skin, which encourages caution regarding the effectiveness of this ingredient on acne. Furthermore, if you suffer from severe acne, it is necessary to consult a dermatologist who can prescribe a suitable treatment, as cosmetic care products containing saffron extract are merely supplements.


  • 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).


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