One of my most precious herbs in my cupboard is saffron. I've often cringed over springing for a tiny vial of fresh herbs to make myself a flavorful dinner, but I'll hand over my money happily for a spice that doubles as a beauty product. The restorative benefits of saffron can be applied directly to ramp up your DIY beauty routine and your overall skin and hair health. The amount of labor and the amount of threads each flower yields makes saffron one of the most expensive spices — just five grams can cost you over 30 dollars. Still, it has a long history of promoting a healthy mind and body. Allegedly, Cleopatra would bathe in saffron before meeting her male suitors. Today, that kind of treatment would basically be a million dollar bath.
In personal care, there are two forms of pure saffron: the essential oil and the dried herb. Dried forms of saffron are anecdotally known for boosting immunity, healing wounds, and supporting tissue production. With a woodsy, spicy aroma, dried safflower yields reddish threads that have carotenoids with beauty benefits. According to sources at the Global Healing Center, studies show that carotenoids protect skin, tissue, and cells from external factors and disease. Both the essential oil and the dried form contain antioxidant, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties and both the oil and the spice are known to improve dull complexions and dry skin.
Honestly, playing in this beautiful spice in the name of beauty makes it well worth the money. Fear not: There are plenty of ways you can incorporate saffron into your personal care without breaking the bank. My favorite recipes below should get you started.
1. Herbal Infused Bath Salts
Bath salts are often overlooked when we think of home skin care remedies, but if you infuse your salts with the right ingredients, you can alleviate a variety of ailments. Taking a hot bath gives your pores the opportunity open up, making them more willing and able to receive treatment. This recipe can soften the skin and improve body acne. I used dried bay leaves and saffron, half a cup of dead sea salt, and black sesame seeds. Add fixed oils of your choosing to help your infusion congeal together and let sit for 48 hours.
2. Saffron & Lavender Facial Steam
Typically when we're having skin issues it means something is stuck (clogged pores for example), and saffron is great to get things moving in the skin. With the cleansing, stimulating effects of saffron and the calming, healing effects of lavender, you have a recipe for waking up your complexion while calming stressed out skin. This recipe is great for once a week use.
3. Herb Infused Body Oil
I mentioned that the cost of dried saffron can be pricey, but it's nothing compared to saffron oil. Making your own saffron oil allows you to choose your carrier oil, save cash, and take some pride in being a scientist for a day. In a mason jar, add dried arnica flowers and dried saffron. Fill up with sunflower oil, leaving a couple inches at the top of the jar to allow the herbs to expand. This oil is wonderful for not just retaining moisture: I use it during my period to get rid of aches and pains, since arnica and saffron are both natural pain relievers.
4. Sweet Saffron Facial
The tiny threads of saffron gently exfoliate skin without irritation and adding a banana and honey to the mix will certainly keep your skin balanced and calm. I've found honey helps with any potential irritation that spices can have on sensitive skin, so until you know you know how your face will react to a spice, I highly recommend adding raw honey — and doing plenty of spot tests, of course. Bananas are my go-to for acne, cysts, and blackheads. Blend together half a banana, a teaspoon of saffron and a tablespoon of raw honey, then apply on makeup free skin.
5. Using Saffron Essential Oil
If you're not one for whipping up recipes, just use the straight stuff. Using saffron essential oil is incredibly easy. Add a few drops to a carrier oil first and do a test patch before you increase the amount of drops per ounce. Once you've determined how your skin reacts, combine saffron otto and rose otto essential oils with baobab oil for a restorative night serum that is packed with anti-aging benefits.
Image: Kristin Collins Jackson (5), Amazon.com (1)