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    From being a royal beauty secret to now a mainstream ingredient in prestige beauty products, saffron is fast becoming the magic ingredient in power beauty regimes. Credited with giving one the perfect glow, naturally, the spice is witnessing a renaissance of sorts within the skincare segment.

    Ohria Ayurveda Saffron & Geranium Butter, Rs 3,250Korres Golden Krocus (Ageless Saffron Elixir), Sisley’s Velvet Nourishing Cream with Saffron, Nuxe’s Nuxuriance Ultra Day Cream – all these popular products use the bi-floral cells of saffron flower to boost cell regeneration. The award-winning Mauli Radiance Exfoliant, a mix of fine botanicals with sandalwood, rose, and saffron, has been getting rave reviews for its skin polishing prowess. While the western world is stunned by the potency of saffron strands, a staple of the Middle-Eastern cuisine, for Indians it’s a bit like going back to their roots.

    Saffron magic ingredient
    Mantra Herbal Gold And Saffron Glowing Face Gel With 24 Carat Gold, Rs 2,499

    Saffron, one of the most expensive spices, is present not just in our festive cuisines but also in our pre-wedding beauty rituals. In India, there are tales of princesses sourcing these magical red strands and soaking them in cow’s milk or honey to brighten their complexion. In fact, in many parts of north India ingesting and applying saffron during pregnancy is supposed to add the glow to the mother and the baby. As much as it is effective, it is unfortunately not a part of everyday regimes thanks to its price.

    Saffron magic ingredient
    ENN Zaffranin’ Saffron & Walnut Face Scrub, Rs 1,050

    Mantra Herbal Gold And Saffron Glowing Face Gel With 24 Carat Gold, Rs 2,499“Saffron is a power-packed botanical. The blooming period for each flower is not more than a few weeks. Hence, it’s no surprise that 1g of pure high-grade saffron costs Rs 600,” says Shubhika Jain, founder Ras Luxury Oils. “High amount of potassium in saffron helps in tissue formation, accelerated cell turnover, and repair. If you look for a toner infused with saffron, it will help reduce skin inflammation and pore size. Saffron also works as a gentle skin polisher as it promotes micro-circulation and helps erase under-eye circles, fatigue lines, and wrinkles,” states Jain, who uses saffron in her blended facial oils – Radiance Beauty Boosting Day Face Elixir and Infinity Anti-Ageing Face elixir – and vouches for their efficacy despite the towering costs.

    Saffron magic ingredient
    Ohria Ayurveda Saffron & Geranium Butter, Rs 3,250

    ENN Zaffranin’ Saffron & Walnut Face Scrub, Rs 1,050But what really makes saffron a skin elixir? “The active ingredients present in the anthers of a saffron flower are enriched with Vitamin A (beneficial resource of retinol), Vitamin B2 (replenishes healthy cells), Vitamin B3 (hydrating and anti-inflammatory), and Vitamin C (brightens the skin),” says Dr Nikhita Shere, Ayurveda Expert at Forest Essentials. Besides working on dullness and dark spots, saffron beauty products also smoothen fine lines due to minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and zinc that are known to strengthen and repair skin cells. “Saffron is rich in antioxidants, which fight free radicals and repair the skin from oxidative stressors such as pollution, UV and infra rays,” adds Dr Shere. Saffron magic ingredientForest Essentials Night Treatment Cream Sandalwood & Saffron, Rs 2,695

    To increase its healing benefits, Dr Shere advises combining saffron with pure rosewater and sandalwood paste to make a face mask that effectively regulates sebum, soothes the skin, and reduces acne and scars. If you’re battling tan, soak 4-5 strands of pure saffron in a tbsp of milk and apply on your face and neck for few minutes and wash it off. It is also has a hand in wellness. “Saffron or kumkuma is believed to balance the Tridoshas (Vata, Pitta, Kapha) and increase body heat,” says Vivek Sahni, ceo and co-founder of Kama Ayurveda. Kama Ayurveda’s bestsellers Kumkumadi Miraculous Beauty Serum and Kumkumadi Brightening Ayurvedic Scrub use Kashmiri saffron to prepare their multitasking formulations.

    Saffron magic ingredient
    Kumkumadi Brightening Ayurvedic Scrub, Rs 1,450

    Apart from therapeutic properties, saffron in beauty products is also known to be anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory, making it an ideal ingredient to treat acne-prone skin, says Freny Jariwala, founder, The Secret Ingredient. How to know if it’s authentic? Jain shares an easy to follow trick, “On a regular white (not very smooth) paper, take one strand of saffron, put wet finger/a drop of water on it, and then rub it against the paper to make a line. If it’s pure, the strand won’t break (with normal pressure) and will give the colour and aroma. If it is fake, then it will disintegrate at the first contact with water.”
    Here are other saffron-infused products you need to invest in right now:

    Forest Essentials Night Treatment Cream Sandalwood & Saffron, Rs 2,695

    Ohria Ayurveda Saffron & Geranium Butter, Rs 3,250

    Mantra Herbal Gold And Saffron Glowing Face Gel With 24 Carat Gold, Rs 2,499

    ENN Zaffranin’ Saffron & Walnut Face Scrub, Rs 1,050

    Kumkumadi Brightening Ayurvedic Scrub, Rs 1,450

    All images: Courtesy brands

    Aparrna Gupta

    Gupta is a beauty enthusiast, always ready to unravel the journey behind the bottle. Drawing from her decade-long experience as a beauty editor at The Times of India and Verve magazine, this literature post graduate from Lady Shri Ram College for Women, Delhi University, continues her tryst with beauty as she consults with brands on content and product development. Her blog immerses her readers into the luxurious universe of fragrances, wellness and skincare. Her articles have been featured in Vogue India, Harper’s Bazaar India, Femina and L’Officiel India.