Safflower Benefits

Latin Name

Carthamus tinctorius

Also Known As

Thistle Oil, American Saffron, Benibana Oil, Benibana Flower, Dyer's Saffron, Fake Saffron, False Saffron, Safflower Nut Oil, Safflower Seed Oil


India, Africa

Parts Used


Traditional Use and Health Benefits

With a long and rich history, the Safflower is said to have originated in the Nile River Valley of Egypt, where it was widely used for crimson in cosmetics.

Traditionally, Safflower was grown for its seeds. It was used for colouring and flavouring foods, in medicines, and making red (carthamin) and yellow dyes. For the last fifty years or so, the plant has been cultivated mainly for the oil extracted from its seeds.

Safflower Benefits

Skin Health

When used on the skin, Safflower Oil is an emollient, softening and lubricating the skin and reducing moisture loss.

Cold pressed Safflower Seed Oil is rich in fatty acids, primarily linolenic acid, which is necessary for the endogenous production of ceramides, key components of the epidermal layer that play a crucial role in barrier function and help the skin retain water.

Linolenic acid is used to make ceramide 1 linoleate, a vital component of the skin barrier. Studies have shown that linoleate levels drop dramatically in the winter and as the skin ages, causing dry flaky skin. Oils that contain linolenic acids (such as Safflower) are able to replenish linoleate levels, by helping to restore barrier function, thus keeping the skin hydrated.


People who suffer from eczema typically lose water much faster through the skin barrier. This is caused by low ceramide levels in the skin, which are significantly increased through the regular use of Safflower Oil.

It is also rich in the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant vitamin E, which provides relief from itching, dryness and flaking. This anti-inflammatory action also makes it beneficial for psoriasis.


Whilst it might sound counterproductive to apply oil to acne prone skin, Safflower Oil does not clog the pores. It drives out bacteria, dirt and impurities from the skin by blending with and breaking down dead skin cells and excess sebum that is trapped.

The anti-inflammatory properties help to calm and heal the skin and Safflower Oil boosts skin regeneration, allowing spots, pimples and scars to heal much faster.

Hair Care

Safflower Oil nourishes and penetrates the hair follicles whilst protecting it from free radical damage. It is also rich in oleic acid which is a potent scalp stimulator, massaging Safflower Oil into the scalp increases circulation which strengthens the hair follicles and encourages strong, healthy hair growth. It also eliminates dandruff and provides relief for a dry, itchy scalp.

Safflower Oil is readily absorbed by the hair, penetrating each individual shaft of hair and gently penetrating the cuticle, providing an intense injection of hydration and nutrition where it’s needed most. It also prevents protein loss from hair, allowing for stronger, longer hair.

The aforementioned ceramides are also extremely important to hair – they are like the glue that holds your hair together. Because Safflower Oil encourages the production of ceramides, it promotes smooth, strong hair and is excellent at helping hair recover from the after effects of colouring with chemical based hair dyes.

It can be used as a conditioner by applying to washed and combed hair and massaging it with the fingertips into the scalp. A comb can be used to help evenly distribute the oil from the roots to the tips. This conditioner can be left in the hair for 45-60 minutes before it is thoroughly washed out with a natural shampoo. Following this procedure at least once a week will leave hair feeling soft, shiny, nourished and healthy.

Typical Use

Safflower Oil

Can be used as a light, non-greasy carrier oil for an aromatherapy massage or bath. Just choose your favourite essential oils, dilute and use for a regenerating and replenishing massage or relaxing and nurturing bath. Safflower Oil can also be applied directly to the skin or hair as a moisturiser. 

Safflower Oil can also be used in homemade, natural skin and hair preparations.

Folklore and History

One of the oldest plants to ever be used, the Safflower was commonly cultivated as a dye plant, making it a key component in red and yellow dyes that were applied to ancient Egyptian textiles. Safflower garlands were reportedly discovered in the Pharaoh Tutankhamen's tomb and mummies were often wrapped in linens that were dyed with Safflower.

Also a popular herb among the Native Americans, the Hopi tribe were known to colour their bread with Safflower. In other gastronomic applications, Safflower blossoms were used in tea infusions intended to facilitate the expulsion of phlegm and to soothe symptoms of fever and jaundice. It was believed that drinking Safflower tea would also calm hysteria, panic attacks, pain, measles, and topical skin conditions characterised by eruptions.

Safflower made its way into Europe from Egypt in 1551. As an interesting aside, use of the phrase “red tape” to describe government function (or the hoops they make you jump through), has a connection to Safflower. In 16th century England, legal documents were tied together with red tape to discourage them being tampered with, and it was the humble Safflower that was used to dye those bindings red.


Constituents of Safflower Oil include; 6% palmitic acid, 12% oleic acid, 74% linoleic, and omega-6 linoleic acid, with two double bonds


Do a skin patch-test before using Safflower Oil.