Safflower (Thistle) Carrier Oil
Safflower oil, also known as Thistle oil, is expeller pressed and refined from the seeds of the Safflower (Carthamus tinctorius). This thistle-like flower is related to the sunflower and daisy. It grows up to 150cm tall and has bright yellow, orange or red flowers, with each flower head containing 15-20 seeds. Originally cultivated as a dye plant, it is now grown commercially in many countries throughout the world to extract vegetable oil from the seeds. The oil is thought to possess notable health benefits when consumed through the diet and when applied topically to the skin.
Traditional uses of Safflower
Safflower is one of the oldest known crops. It is thought that the ancient Egyptians used Safflower to dye their textiles, including the linens that mummies were wrapped in. Safflower garlands were also reportedly found in the tomb of Tutankhamun.
Dried Safflower has traditionally been used as a cheaper alternative to saffron for colouring and flavouring food and thus became known as ‘False Saffron’.
The flowers and seeds were used medicinally in teas and ointments for a variety of problems including fever, jaundice, rheumatism, skin conditions, measles, constipation, panic attacks and hysteria. The plant was also thought to help expel phlegm, eliminate toxins from the body, promote menstruation and have aphrodisiac powers.
Benefits of Safflower carrier oil (for topical application)
Safflower oil is light to dark yellow in colour, odourless with a light, dry (non-greasy) texture. It is easily absorbed by the skin making it a good, cost effective carrier oil for massage. It is also excellent for skin and hair care and is commonly used in a variety of cosmetic, personal care and baby care products.
The oil contains high levels of essential fatty acids including linoleic acid (Omega 6), oleic acid (Omega 9) and palmitic acid. It is thought to be the richest source of linoleic acid, containing up to 85%. Essential fatty acids are the building blocks of healthy cell membranes and are essential for keeping the skin hydrated and maintaining its optimal structural integrity.
Safflower is also rich in antioxidant Vitamin E which helps fight free radical damage. Free radicals are molecules that exist in the air, in our bodies, in the materials around us and can also be triggered by external factors such as smoking, sunlight and pollution. Free radicals attack the skin at cellular level which damages the skin’s DNA and accelerates signs of ageing. Antioxidants such as Vitamin E can be vital in preventing cell damage and premature ageing.
Safflower is excellent for moisturising dry skin. It acts as an emollient to soften and soothe the skin and a mild occlusive, creating a barrier to prevent moisture loss. It can help to reduce signs of ageing and improve the appearance of uneven skin tone, age spots, scars and stretch marks. As a noncomedogenic (non-pore blocking) oil it is also suitable for use on oily and blemish prone skin – helping to balance sebum production and decongest the pores. Its high levels of linoleic acid and anti-inflammatory action is especially helpful for relieving irritated, inflamed skin conditions including acne. It is thought that acne sufferers are deficient in linoleic acid and a scientific study has shown that topical application of linoleic acid can help reduce the incidence of acne microcomedones by 25% when used for just 4 weeks.
When used for hair care, it helps promote healthy growth and condition, whilst stimulating, moisturising and soothing the scalp.
The oil is also thought to possess analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties that may be useful in massage blends for bruising, pain, stiffness and joint inflammation.
Recommended blends using Safflower oil
Facial oil for acne prone skin
30ml Safflower oil, 3 drops Lavender, 2 drops Lemongrass and 2 drops Niaouli.
Facial oil for sensitive skin
30ml Safflower oil, 3 drops Frankincense, 2 drops Geranium, 2 drops Rose and 1 drop Roman Chamomile.
Anti-inflammatory massage oil for muscles and joints
30ml Safflower oil, 3 drops Rosewood, 3 drops Plai, 2 drops Grapefruit and 2 drops Spearmint.
Immunity boosting massage oil
30ml Safflower oil, 4 drops Sweet Orange, 3 drops Cinnamon, 3 drops Clove.
Conditioning Hair Mask
Blend 30ml Safflower oil, 10ml Argan oil, 3 drops Sweet Orange, 2 drops Cedarwood, 2 drops Petitgrain and 2 drops Rosemary. Massage into the hair and scalp and leave for as long as possible or ideally overnight (use shower cap or towel to protect your bedclothes). To remove, apply shampoo to masked hair and gently massage in, then add water and lather/rinse/condition as usual.
Avoid or use with care if allergic to plants from the Asteraceae/Compositae family e.g. ragweed, marigolds and daisies.
Safflower supplements can be taken to regulate menstruation and it is not clear whether topical application has the same effect. We would therefore advise avoiding use during pregnancy and also while breast feeding.
Safflower may interfere with blood clotting and increase the risk of bleeding in people with certain conditions. Seek medical advice prior to use if you suffer with bleeding disorders, are taking medication to slow blood clotting or have forthcoming surgery.
Disclaimer & Safety Advice