Can I tell you a secret? I’ve never drunk alcohol in my life. I just never got into it. And yet, when my girlfriends down a glass of a wine on a night out, I’m wondering if I’m missing out on something. Not so much the taste (too strong for me) or the camaraderie (life’s more fun when you’re sober 😉 ). What I miss are the skincare benefits of resveratrol, a powerful antioxidant found in red grapes.
If you’re a wine aficionado, you may be familiar with it already. According to science, it slows down premature aging and can even help with a variety of medical conditions (although we won’t go into that here. I’m a skincare coach, not a doctor). Scientists think that resveratrol is the reason the French have low rates of coronary disease despite their wine, cheese, and sauces-rich diet.
Is drinking a glass of Malbec on a night time part of a healthy skincare routine? Or are there more effective, if less fun, ways to reap its benefits for your skin? Here’s all you need to know about resveratrol:
- What Is Reveratrol?
- Resveratrol Benefits For Skin: What Does It Do?
- Does Resveratrol Help Treat Acne?
- Who Should Use It And What Skin Conditions Are Best Treated With It?
- How Should You Use It?
- Can I Use Resveratrol With Retinol, AHAs/BHA, or Vitamin C?
- Resveratrol Side Effects: Is It Safe?
- Can You Use Resveratrol During Pregnancy?
- What Are the Best Skincare Products With Resveratrol?
- The Bottom Line
What Is Reveratrol?
Resveratrol is a naturally-occurring polyphenic bioflavonoid antioxidant found in more of 70 plant species and botanical sources, including the skin of red grapes, red wine, dark berries raw cocoa, and peanuts. These plants produce it to protect themselves from UV radiation and other natural enemies. This photo-protective action helps protect human skin from the sun damage that leads to premature aging, wrinkles, and dark spots.
Resveratrol isn’t the most used antioxidant in skincare. The reason is simple. It’s very unstable and tricky to formulate with. But if you know where to look, you can find some great buys. Opt for products packaged in dark, air-tight containers (no jars!). Like all antioxidants, resveratrol loses a bit of its effectiveness when exposed to light and air. Packaging that don’t allow them to enter inside keeps resveratrol working for longer.
Struggling to put together a skincare routine that minimises wrinkles, prevents premature aging, and gives your complexion a youthful glow? Download your FREE “Best Anti-Aging Skincare Routine” to get started (it features product recommendations + right application order):
Resveratrol Benefits For Skin: What Does It Do?
Resveratrol is an antioxidant on steroids. Like all antioxidants, it helps your skin stay younger for longer. But what separates it from other antioxidants? What makes it so special that Caudalie singled it out for special use in its skincare line? Here are all the resveratrol benefits for skin, according to science:
1. It Helps Prevent Wrinkles
Most ingredients work wonders when ingested, but terribly fail at doing anything when used in skincare. Not resveratrol. According to a 2008 study, resveratrol prevents UVB-induced damaged – even when topically applied to the skin. How?
Nikki of Future Derm explains: “resveratrol inhibited the inflammatory NFkB pathway and decreased the skin cells’ production of hydrogen peroxide. With reduced levels of inflammation, less damage accrued in the cells.”
Dr Rabach further explains: “In addition, resveratrol can form soluble, complex molecules with certain metal ions, inactivating them so they cannot produce free radical formation. This action, in combination with its powerful antioxidant capability, makes resveratrol highly effective in combating the damaging effect of free radicals that leads to skin aging.” she explains.
In plain English, here’s what it means for you:
- It protects skin from damage: Your skin’s main job is to act as the first line of defence between you and environmental aggressors, including UV rays, pollution, and harmful microorganisms. Resveratrol boosts your skin’s natural barriers, so that your skin can better withstand their assault and look healthier and smoother.
- It fights free radicals: Like all antioxidants, resveratrol has the ability to spot the free radicals that are roaming around your skin ready to destroy collagen, elastin, and cellular DNA. By neutralising them before they can wreak their damage, resveratrol prevents the formation of fine lines and wrinkles.
This means resveratrol helps prevent serous skin damage, including wrinkles and cancer.
Related: Treatment VS Prevention: What Really Works Against Wrinkles
2. It Soothes Skin
Polyphenol, the antioxidant family resveratrol belongs to, has powerful anti-inflammatory properties that calm down UV-induced inflammation and redness. This is good for your skin for two reasons. One: it minimises redness and blotchiness, making you look fresher. Two: UV-induced inflammation is a main cause of premature acne, and other inflammatory skin conditions. By adding resveratrol to your skincare routine, you can soothe inflammatory skin conditions.
3. It Helps Fade Away Dark Spots
Resveratrol also inhibits the activity of tyrosinase, the key enzyme that regulates the production of melanin (the pigment that gives your skin its beautiful natural colour). When your skin produces too much melanin, you develop dark spots in that specific area. By inhibiting its protection, resveratol helps to fade away dark spots. FYI, it’s not the most effective treatment for hyperpigmentation (especially in the low doses used in skincare), but hey, every little bit helps.
4. It Has Anti-Microbial Properties
Resveratrol also protects you from nasty little things that want to hurt your skin. In a 2002 study, resveratrol inhibited the growth of bacteria and fungi that cause skin infections such as Staphylococcus aureus, Enterococcus faecalis, and Trichophyton mentagrophytes.
Dermatologist Dr Viseslav Tonkovic-Capin, M.D. explains: “Resveratrol has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antifungal properties, which calm down the skin, reduce skin-aging and may keep [the skin] free of infections.”
I know this isn’t the most exciting skincare benefit of resveratol, but hey, someone must do the job, right?
Related: The Truth About Natural Preservatives: Do They Really Work?
Does Resveratrol Help Treat Acne?
Its antibacterial properties may not be Resveratrol’s most popular feature, but they have an added advantage. Research shows that Resveratrol can inhibit the growth of P.Acnes, the bacteria that causes acne – and it’s less irritating than the most popular acne treatment Benzoyl Peroxide. Together, they may treat acne better while being gentler on the skin. The catch? So far, research on the anti-acne properties of resveratrol has only been done in vitro (in a petri dish). The jury’s still out there whether it works just as well on real skin.
Who Should Use It And What Skin Conditions Are Best Treated With It?
Everyone can use resveratrol, but it’s best used to prevent the signs of aging and soothe irritations. It helps with wrinkle-prevention, dullness, redness, and uneven texture. If you have acne or dark spots, there are other actives that work better and faster.
How Should You Use It?
You can use resveratrol either in the morning or in the evening – or even both. I recommend you use it in the morning under sunscreen to enhance its effectiveness. While resveratrol is NOT a sunscreen and should never be used as a replacement for it, its photo protective properties give it a helping hand in reducing sun damage. But, honestly, don’t overthink it. Just use it.
If you’re using resveratrol in a serum, then apply that either after cleansing or exfoliation (on exfoliating nights). If it’s in your moisturiser, use it before sunscreen in the morning or as the last step of your skincare routine at night.
Can I Use Resveratrol With Retinol, AHAs/BHA, or Vitamin C?
Skincare lesson for newbies: retinol is a form of Vitamin A that boosts collagen and reduces wrinkles; AHAs/BHA are exfoliants that make skin smoother and brighter; and Vitamin C is another powerful antioxidant that prevents premature wrinkles and brightens the complexion.
You can use resveratrol with retinol, AHAs/BHA, Vitamin C and pretty much any other skincare ingredients. It works particularly well when paired with other antioxidants. Why? Each antioxidant fights a specific type of free radicals. Using one antioxidant in your skincare routine is great, but has limitations. The more antioxidants you use, the more types of free radicals you’ll destroy, and the more slowly your skin will age.
Resveratrol Side Effects: Is It Safe?
Resveratrol is generally considered to be safe when topically applied to the skin. I’d only caution pregnant women against it (more on this in the next section). This article is about skincare products, not supplement. It goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway) that you need to consult a doctor before taking any supplements. In this case, this is particularly important if you take blood thinners of NSAID medication (think aspirin and ibuprofen), as it may interact negatively with them.
Can You Use Resveratrol During Pregnancy?
You’d think that because resveratrol is natural, everyone could use it. Wrong. Pregnant women should stay away from resveratrol until they’ve stopped breastfeeding.
A 2014 study found that, when taken orally during pregnancy, resvetrol has a number of benefits, including “30% maternal weight loss and improved glucose tolerance, increased uterine artery volume blood flow, and decreased placental inflammation and liver triglyceride deposition.”
BUT, all that doesn’t come without side effects. The researchers also discovered “an unexplained and concerning alteration in fetal pancreatic development, which strongly cautions against the use of resveratrol by pregnant women.”
Now it’s true that this study was done on pregnant animals on a diet supplemented with 0.37% resveratrol. This means the results may very well not apply to us. But we obviously can’t do studies like these on humans. That’s why scientists take the “better safe than sorry” approach. Just in case.
What Are the Best Skincare Products With Resveratrol?
- Caudalie Resveratrol-Lift Lightweight Firming Cashmere Cream ($69.00): Let’s get one thing clear. This cream can’t firm skin. What it does it moisturise it, so that it looks firmer. The mix of hyaluronic acid and coconut-derived emollients plumps up skin and makes it softer to the touch. In the meantime, resveratrol and Vitamin E work together to prevent wrinkles. Available at Caudalie, Selfridges, and Sephora.
- Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair ntense Reset Concentrate ($88.00): A soothing serum enriched with probiotics to soothe skin, Hyaluronic Acid to hydrate, and a sprinkle of antioxidants to keep premature wrinkles at bay. Available at Estee Lauder and Sephora.
- Mad Hippie Face Cream ($26.99): One of my fave moisturisers for dry skin, it has an oily base that strengthens the skin’s protective barrier and makes skin softer and smoother. Plus, it’s enriched with antioxidants to prevent premature wrinkles. Available at iHerb and Ulta.
- Paula’s Choice Resist Ultra-Light Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum ($38.00): This lightweight, silicone-based serum is infused with a wide variety of antioxidants (including Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and Quercetin) to prevent premature wrinkles. Plus, Hyaluronic Acid to hydrate skin and skin-soothers to reduce irritations. Available at Dermstore, Paula’s Choice, Selfridges, and Sephora.
- The Ordinary Resveratrol 3% + Ferulic Acid 3% (£5.50): This simple serum contains two of the most powerful, yet underused, antioxidants in skincare. You already know what resveratrol does. Ferulic Acid destroys THREE types of free radicals and boosts the effectiveness of sunscreen. If they’re missing from your skincare routine, this is a good way to supplement. Available at Beauty Bay, Boots, Cult Beauty, Sephora, The Ordinary, and Ulta.
The Bottom Line
Resveratrol is a powerful ally in the fight against premature aging. It prevents UV harm, fights inflammation and even keeps you safe from bacteria. Just don’t use it when you’re pregnant.