Saffron is a spice that also works wonders on your mane. We checked in with Shiva Tavakoli, Founder of JOON Haircare on why she incorporated saffron into her product range, and what makes the ingredient so special.
Just like we’re used to hearing, “you are what you eat,” in Persian Culture, Shiva notes that “Food is your medicine!” is a common expression. Food has increased cultural significance to Persians, making it more than a meal. “Food is used to heal the body while expressing identity, community, values, status, power, artistry and creativity. That’s why Persian immigrants bring the food with them wherever they go, because cooking is a way of preserving a history and culture that has spanned thousands of years each time they move to new places,” says Shiva.
Saffron and rosewater have dominated Iranian cooking, and these are two of JOON’s staple ingredients. “The foods of the courts of ancient Persia included perfumed stews, herb-infused rice, tender roasted meats, and elaborately stuffed fruits and vegetables all flavored or garnished with saffron, pistachio, cinnamon, mint, rose and pomegranate — dishes that have influenced the cooking of countries all over the world. For centuries, Persian women have shared their cooking with the world while secretly including these very same ingredients in their beauty rituals, skincare, and medicine. These closely guarded “family secrets” were passed down from mother to daughter, secrets my grandmother shared with me in her kitchen. In honor of Persian women throughout history, JOON Haircare has decided to share those “family secrets” by taking those herbs and spices out of the kitchen, learning to extract their most powerful properties, and creating haircare products which heal the hair in the same ways that Persian cooking heals the body and the spirit,” she explains.
So, what exactly is saffron? Known as “red gold,” the spice is hailed as an almost magical ingredient in Persian culture. Saffron has been used historically in perfume, ritual offerings, dyes, medicines and even beauty rituals. “In ancient Persia, saffron was traded to Cleopatra who was said to bathe in saffron-infused mare’s milk before seeing a suitor. Persian monks found that mixing a primitive glue of egg whites and saffron created a yellow glaze that could stand in for gold in the production of their manuscripts. Saffron was also used by the ancient Persians as an offering to their gods. Saffron has been used historically to treat everything from heartache to hemorrhoids by traditional Persian healers. Modern studies have shown the high levels of antioxidants found in saffron may help ward off inflammation in the body and that it even may be helpful in treating sexual dysfunction and depression,” Shiva tells us.
Saffron is one of the most precious spices in the world due in part to how it’s harvested. “The threadlike red stigmas—and the yellow hue they impart—are legendary,” shares Shiva. “Each flower produces only three threads (stigmas) of saffron, and it blooms for only one week each year. The saffron must be harvested—by hand—in the morning, when the flowers are still closed, in order to protect the delicate stigmas inside.” Approximately 1,000 flowers are needed to produce just one ounce of saffron.
To determine the right amount of saffron to use in their products to reap the benefits, the JOON team has spent “thousands of hours of analysis and testing on hundreds of different hair types.”
Benefits of Saffron
Aside from being a cooking staple, thanks to its unmistakable flavor and scent, saffron is a haircare game-changer. Its antioxidant properties prevent hair loss, purify the scalp and pores, promote healthy hair growth, and repair damaged hair. “It is no wonder that Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world and worth more than its weight in gold. Fortunately, a little goes a long way,” notes Shiva. Likewise, JOON Saffron Hair Elixir is perfect for all hair types – adding just a few drops to your daily hair care regime will detangle, moisturize, repair, prevent heat/styling damage, defrizz, and add shine.