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Skin ageing: the 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 ageing of certain cellular components. Once present, it is impossible to completely erase them, but certain active ingredients can slow their appearance and reduce their visibility. Let's explore the benefits of saffron against wrinkles.

Published February 8, 2024, by Pauline, Head of Scientific Communication — 7 min read

Skin ageing: what mechanisms are involved?

Skin ageing is a multifactorial process and can be visible 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 telomere. The more the telomeres shorten, the more the cell ages.

One can also consider the natural reduction 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 decrease as the years go by.

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

Saffron: Effects on Skin Ageing?

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 ageing. 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 a lack of hydration 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 moisturising 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 due to the double bonds present in their chemical structure. This allows them to rearrange their structure and donate an electron to free radicals, which neutralises and stabilises 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. SOD, in particular, catalyses the dismutation of superoxide anions O2.- into oxygen O2 and hydrogen peroxide H2O2. GPx, on the other hand, ensures the transformation of organic hydroperoxides before they can damage cells.

  • Saffron possesses photoprotective properties.

    Studies have shown that the safranal from saffron has an SPF (Sunburn Protection Factor) of 6.6. This rating represents the level of protection provided by a sunscreen against sunburn induced by UVB rays. A rating of 6.6 is quite low, considering that a product starts to be effective when its SPF reaches 15. Indeed, saffron is not among the 27 sun filters authorised 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 one's skin from UV rays, which is essential to prevent wrinkles.

  • Saffron prevents the degradation of collagen and elastin.

    Studies in vitro 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 catalyse the degradation of elastin, collagen, and hyaluronic acid, which promotes the appearance of wrinkles and skin sagging. By inhibiting these processes, saffron extract can delay skin ageing.

The antioxidant serum from Typology to slow down skin ageing.

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 ageing, 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 neutralise 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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