Cream Containing Crocus Sativus Extracts Health And Social Care Essay

Abstract: The present study is about to prepare water-in-oil emulsion containing extracts of Crocus sativus against its base (with no extracts) taking as control, to determine formulation stability on different storage conditions and effects on skin moisture contents and transepidermal water loss.

Material and Methods: The formulation contains 3% Crocus sativus (Saffron) concentrated extracts, and the base containing no extract, were formulated. Different stability tests were done on sample which placed at 8°C, 25°C, 40°C and 40°C with 75% relative humidity, for 4 week period. These formulations (Creams) were applied on the cheeks of human volunteers for 8 week period. To evaluate any effect produced by these formulations different skin parameters were monitored every week.

Result: It resulted that water-in-oil emulsion topical cream of saffron formulated from Crocus sativus extract has absolute physical stability at different storage conditions. The increase in skin moisture contents and changes in transepidermal water loss were significant (p0.05) with respect to base and formulation respectively. Conclusion: Topical cream of Crocus sativus showed significant moisturizing effects on human skin.

Key words: Crocus sativus, Oil in water emulsion, Physical Stability, Skin moisture, Transepidermal water loss.


An emulsion is a thermodynamically unstable system which contains at least 2 immiscible liquid phases one is dis­persed as globules in the other liquid phase and this system is stabilized by an emulsifying agent. These are widely used by the phar­maceutical, food and cosmetic industry. Their advantages include: complete protection of the incorporated drug, in­creased therapeutic characteristics and spread ability of its con­stituents, more controlled drug absorption and penetration, prolonged action and greater emollient effects compared to other preparations, and use of water as an inexpensive diluent and good solvent for many drugs and flavors (Akhtar et al., 2012). Both O/W and W/O type emulsion are used to prepare effective creams and lotions for topical use. Topical emulsions possess more patient acceptance due to high degree of elegance, and are easy to wash. Topical emulsions are more effective if are thixotropic in nature. Microemulsions and multiple emulsions are of prime importance in the field of cosmetics and dermatology. Microemulsion of different steroids and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs showed prolonged action as compare to conventional method (Mestress and Nielloud, 2002). Crocus sativus is a valuable herb due to its traditional uses in folk medicine. It has been used as spice, food colorant, perfume and as textile dye (Cavusoglu et al., 2009; Abdullaev and Espinosa, 2004; Hadizadeh et al., 2003; Mofleh et al., 2006; Moghaddasi MS, 2010; Soeda et al., 2007; Golmohammadzadeh et al., 2009). Crocus sativus exhibit strong antioxidant activity. It is due to the carotenoids and flavonoids constituents. Crocin of saffron has many pharmacological uses (Arasteh A et al., 2010; Li et al., 2004; Li and Wu, 2002; Hadizadeh et al., 2003; Chen et al., 2008). It increases the skin moisture contents due to phenolic compounds quercetin and kaempherol present in it (Halvarsson and Loden, 2007).

Material and method:

Plant Material:

The plant material was dried stigmas of Crocus sativus linnus. The identification of dried stigmas was done at Department of Pharmacy, Khawaja Freed Campus, The Islamia University of Bahawalpur, Bahawalpur, Pakistan.


For emulsion preparation extracts of dried stigma of Crocus sativus were used. The emulsifying agent; ABIL-EM90 from Franken Chemical (Germany), Paraffin Oil from Merk KgaA Darmstadt (Germany), Ethanol from Merk KgaA Darmstadt (Germany), was purchased. Distilled water was taken from the Department of pharmacy, IUB, Pakistan.


Cutometer MPA 580 (Courage and Khazaka, Germany), Conductivity meter WTW COND- 197i (Germany). Centrifuge machine EBA 20 by Hettich (Germany), Digital humidity meter TES Electronic Corp. (Taiwan), Cold incubator MIR-153 by Sanyo (Japan), WTW 197i PH-Meter (Germany), and SPSS 15.0 is used for the analysis of results.

Formulation development:

In this study, Water-in-oil emulsion was prepared by adding the aqueous phase to the non-aqueous phase under continuous agitation. (Naveed et al., 2011).

Product evaluation on skin:

10 volunteers with the age limit of 25 to 40 years were selected for this study. The temperature conditions of Patch tests were 25°C and 40% relative humidity and the formulation is applied on the forearms of each volunteer, on the first day of sampling. On the second day, two creams were provided to each volunteer, one of the creams was base and the other was formulation containing the active ingredients. Each cream was marked with "right" or "left" which indicate the application of that cream to the respective cheek. Every volunteer applied these creams for a period of 8 weeks.

Study design:

A single-blind study was used for comparison of these two creams. The creams were named as A (Active formulation) and B (Base) and given to the volunteers with complete knowledge of their application.

Mathematical Analysis

The percentage changes of different parameters in all individuals were taken each week and were calculated by using following formula;

A – B

Percentage Change = _______ X 100


In this formula;

A = Individual value of any parameter for 8 week study period.

B = Zero hour value for that parameter.

Results and Discussion:

Emulsion Stability:

The product is stable at different storage conditions i.e. 8°C, 25°C, 40°C and 40°C with relative humidity of 75%. No change in color, Liquefaction and phase separation were shown by formulation until 28 days. Centrifugation test was done for both creams (base and formulation) placed at different storage conditions. Optimum stirring speed is essential as because over-emulsification can happened due to high speed stirring. Homogenizers with stirrer, stripper and rotor-star are more productive with ABIL®EM90 (Evonik 2008). In this study careful stirring with varying stirring speed (2500, 1000 and 500 rpm) was performed to avoid over-emulsification.

pH test:

Average changes in pH values of both creams from the time of preparation up to week 4 of the study period on different storage conditions were determined shown in table 1. The pH values were measured immediately after preparation, then after 12, 24, 36, 48 and 72 hrs, then up to 4 weeks on weekly basis.

Table no.1 pH value (mean ± standard error of mean) at different storage conditions.




400c±75% RH


6.777 ± 0.102

6.996 ± 0.517

6.869 ± 0.125

6.822 ± 0.51


6.274 ± 0.059

6.175 ± .081

6.170 ± .069

6.154 ± .032

RH= Relative Humidity.

The normal range of skin Ph is 4.5 to 6.0. Therefore topical creams must be in this range (Jennifer et al., 2003). In this study the base samples were placed at special storage conditions i.e. 80c, 250c, 400c and 400c ± 75% Relative Humidity shown minor decrease in pH in week 3rd and 4th. While samples of formulation shown decline in pH at all test conditions and time intervals. The statistical evaluation of creams showed that changes in pH of base samples were insignificant with respect to time but significant results obtained by the formulation.

Evaluation of skin moisture contents:

after application of base and formulation on 10 volunteers the percent change in measured skin hydration values has given in Table 2. The skin becomes dry with aging but it is normalized by moisturizers. In this study skin moisture contents were increased by formulation due to phenolic compounds quercetin, and kaempherol which proved to be potent moisturizers and antisolaragents [Golmohammadzadeh et al,. 2009]. It shows that base samples, increased the skin moisture contents irregularly but formulation gradually increased the skin moisture contents. According to ANOVA two way analyses for skin moisture contents, both base and formulation showed significant effects.

Table 2: Percentage of Change in Values of Skin Moisture after application of Base and Formulation (Mean ± standard error of mean) with Time.

1st Week

2nd Week

3rd Week

4th Week

6th Week

8th Week















Skin moisturizers enhanced the moisture contents of skin which leads to hydration of stratum corneum. Lipids are used mainly in formulation of moisturizers due to their hydrophobic nature [Akhtar et al., 2010].

Evaluation of transepidermal water loss:

The change in transepidermal water loss after application of base and formulation on 10 volunteers has shown in Table 3. Significant results were obtained by saffron formulation containing Crocus sativus extracts, due to phenolic compounds of saffron and due to terpenoids of saffron (Golmohammadzadeh et al., 2009). Exposure to UV rays results in loss of body water which is known as total epidermal water loss. Stratum corneum water affinity of skin controls this change. When there is excessive loss of water and water level of stratum corneum decreased then 10% it leads to drying of skin, reduction in flexibility of skin (Abdullaev and Espinosa, 2004).

Table 3: Percentage Changes in Values of Trans Epidermal Water Loss (TEWL) after Application of Base and Formulation. (Mean ± standard error of mean) with Time.

1st Week

2nd Week

3rd Week

4th Week

6th Week

8th Week















The outward transmission of water through the skin is known as Trans epidermal water loss. An increase in TEWL indicates an impaired water barrier. The anatomical site, sweating, temperature of skin surface, inter and intra-individual variations, air convection, ambient air humidity, and instrument related variables effect the TEWL measurements (Akhtar et al., 2012). During in-vivo study of 8 weeks with base and formulation samples, formulation decreased more promptly skin water loss as compared to the base.


It is concluded from above results that oil-in-water emulsion topical cream of saffron containing Crocus sativus extracts has significant effects on skin. The cream formulated from Crocus sativus extract is stable and good cosmetic appeal, absolute physical stability, complete absence of color changes and phase separation. Also it is concluded from the results that formulation reduces Transepidermal water loss, and enhanced the skin hydration level. It mainly exhibit depigmenting, antiaging and skin hydration effects. More research is needed on saffron and its constituents to explore it cosmetically.


The authors are thankful to the Vice Chancellor of The Islamia University of Bahawalpur and Chairman of the Department of Pharmacy, teachers and colleagues for their moral support, technical assistance and providing me financial support to accomplish this task.