3 reasons to add grape seed extract to your skincare routine

Have you heard? The French swear a glass of red wine at dinner is the secret behind their youthful complexion. I don’t drink wine (boring teetotal here!), so I need to get my fix in another way. And that got me wondering… What if I add grape seed extract to my skincare routine?

You’ve heard that right, grape SEEDS. Everyone loves a glass of wine or eating grapes while complaining about the seeds. But did you know the seeds are the best part? Most of the antioxidants and goodies found in grapes are hidden in the seeds. Throw them away and you’ll miss out on some powerful wrinkle-preventing action.

Here’s what science says about grape seed extracts and why it’s a good idea to add it to your skincare routine, pronto!

What Is Grape Seed Extract?

The name gives it away. Grape Seed Extract is an extract derived from the whole seeds of grapes. These seed are loaded with polyphenols, flavonoids, and anthocyanins – all powerful antioxidants that can reduce sun damage and prevent premature wrinkles.

The most abundant polyphenols in Grape Seed Extract are proanthocyanidins, a family of polyphenols. You’ll find 60/70% of them in the seeds. In general, the darker the fruit, the more antioxidants it contains.

Fun fact: the proanthocyanidins in Grape Seed Extracts are all called GSP (grape seed proanthocyanidins). They’re even stronger than Vitamin C and Vitamin E! Like that weren’t enough, they also protect you from UV damage and help prevent cancer.

P.S. The scientific name of Grape Seed Extract is Vitis Vinifera. That’s how it’s listed on the label.

Struggling to put together an anti-aging skincare routine that works? Download the “Best Anti-Aging Skincare Routine” cheatsheet to find out what you really need. It features product recommendations + right application order:

Benefits Of Grape Seed Extract For Skin

Grape Seed Extract has multiple benefits for your skin: “Owing to the profound nutritional value, grape skins, the juice and the seeds offer incredible skincare benefits ranging from protection against environmental factors, brightening due to the high level of antioxidants, firming and nourishing due to the bounty of omega acids,” April Gargiulo, founder of Vintner’s Daughter, says. “There are also dozens of naturally occurring chemical compounds that aid in everything from skin repair and rejuvenation to cellular turnover, detoxification and evening of skin tone.”

Grape Seed Extract For Wrinkles: Does It Work?

Loaded with antioxidants, it’s no wonder Grape Seed Extract is such a skilled free radicals fighter. In case you’re not familiar with antioxidants, think of them like your skin’s police. It works like this: unprotected sun exposure, pollution, and even metabolic processes like breathing generate free radicals, nasty molecules that destroy collagen, elastin, cellular DNA and everything they find on their path. Cue wrinkles, dark spots, and saggy skin.

Antioxidants patrol your body looking for free radicals to destroy. When they spot one, they neutralise it before it can initiate its chain of destruction. The antioxidants in grape seed extracts go the extra mile. They destroy the free radicals that lead to wrinkles AND stabilises collagen and elastin to keep skin firm and elastic.

Grape seed extract does this better than most antioxidants too: a 2000 study compared Grape Seed Extract to other antioxidants and found out that it offers “significantly greater protection against free radicals and DNA damage than vitamins C, E and β-carotene”. Impressive, isn’t it?

Related: The Most Common Antioxidants Used In Skincare: Which Ones Are Best For You?

Grape Seed Extract For Sun Protection: Does It Work?

The same study mentioned above made another interesting discovery: “topical application of GSPE enhances sun protection factor in human volunteers”. Do you know what that means?Before you get too excited, Grape Seed Extract is NOT a sunscreen. Even if you use serums and moisturisers with grape seed extract, you need a separate sunscreen.

But, like all antioxidants, Grape Seed Extract can boost the effectiveness of your sunscreen when used together. How? Once again, you have antioxidants to thank for it. According to Smartskincare.org, Grape Seed Extract “exert sun damage protection by quenching free radicals and reducing inflammation rather than by blocking UV rays”.

Let me explain. Sunscreen only block between 97-99% of UV rays. That 1-3% that comes through generates free radicals that leads to wrinkles and saggy skin. By adding antioxidants like grape seed extracts to your skincare routine, you neutralise that small % of free radicals that hits your skin before it can create havoc.

Grape Seed Extract For Wounds: Does It Work?

Like all this weren’t enough, Grape Seed Extract helps heal wounds, too. A 2001 study has found out that “natural extracts such as grape seed proanthocyanidin extract containing 5000 ppm resveratrol facilitates” wound healing. A 2002 study  says it does it even better when coupled with resveratrol, another powerful antioxidant derived from grapes. If you have some skin wounds to heal, I definitely recommend adding Grape Seed Extract to your daily skincare routine.

Related: The Best Skincare Products With Resveratrol

Grape Seed Extract As A Preservative: A Safe Alternative To Parabens?

Now parabens have been unfairly maligned, everyone’s dropping them like a hot potato and looking for natural alternatives instead. Like Grape Seed Extract. Is this a good idea? NO. A 1999 study tested the preservation properties of six commercially grapefruit seed extracts. Here’s what it discovered:

“Five of the six extracts showed a high growth-inhibiting activity against the test germs. In all of the antimicrobial active grapefruit seed extracts, the preservative benzethonium chloride was detected by thin layer chromatography. Additionally, three extracts contained the preserving substances triclosan and methyl paraben.

“In only one of the grapefruit seed extracts tested no preservative agent was found. However, with this extract as well as with several self-made extracts from seed and juiceless pulp of grapefruits (Citrus paradisi), no antimicrobial activity could be detected.

“Thus, it is concluded that the potent as well as nearly universal antimicrobial activity being attributed to grapefruit seed extract is merely due to the synthetic preservative agents contained within. Natural products with antimicrobial activity do not appear to be present.”

Translation: Grape Seed Extract is NOT a preservative. It only works as one when it’s contaminated with other preservatives, such as benzethonium chloride or methyl paraben. Bummer, huh?

Related: Are Parabens Dangerous?: Here’s What Science Says

How To Use It

Grape Seed Extract is used in a wide range of serums, moisturisers, sunscreens and other skincare products. Always use the product as recommended on the label. It’s safe to use grape seed up to twice a day, morning and night.

Who Should Use Grape Seed Extract?

Unless you’re allergic to it, anyone can use Grape Seed Extract. It works for all skin types, including sensitive. But it’s more suitable for women who are concerned about preventing the signs of aging.

Grape Seed Extract Side Effects

Grape Seed Extract is generally considered to be safe, even for sensitive skin and pregnant women. Said that, if you’re allergic to it, you should stay away. If your skin is very sensitive, do a patch test before using Grape Seed Extract – just in case.

What Are The Best Skincare Products With Grape Seed Extract?

  • Arcona Wine Oil™ ($60.00): This oil harnesses the power of resveratrol (an antioxidant found in grapes) in all its forms (grape seed oil, grape seed extract, and even resveratrol itself). It takes a while to absorb, but it’s super moisturising. Available at Dermstore and Nordstrom.
  • Jordan Samuel Antioxidant Serum (£29.05): If your skin doesn’t tolerate Vitamin C well, this is a great alternative. Packaged with antioxidants like green tea and grape seed extracts, it fights free radicals before they give you wrinkles. Available at Cult Beauty.
  • Juice Beauty Stem Cellular Supergrape Youth Renew Serum ($65.00): Stem cells don’t do much in skincare, but this serum is loaded with antioxidants, including grape seed extract and grape seed juice extract, to fight premature aging. Plus, it has a hydrating base too. Available at Juice Beauty, Sephora, and Ulta.
  • Mad Hippie Antioxidant Facial Oil ($25.99): Hydration in a bottle, this product contains a bunch of natural oils to strengthen your skin’s protective barrier and heal even the driest of skin types. Plus, it’s enriched with antioxidants to fight premature aging. Available at iHerb and Ulta.
  • MaeLove Stargaze Enhancer Retinal Serum ($29.95): Retinal is a gentle, yet more effective, alternative to retinol to fight wrinkles and boost collagen. This serum also contains niacinamide and hyaluronic acid to hydrate skin and antioxidants to help retinal fight premature aging. Available at MaeLove.
  • Paula’s Choice Earth Sourced Purely Natural Refreshing Toner ($25.00): This hydrating toner contains every antioxidant and soothing ingredient you can think of to make skin softer, prevent premature aging, and calm down irritations. Available at Paula’s Choice.

The Bottom Line

Yes to Grape Seed Extract as an antioxidant, no as a preservative. This extract is great at preventing wrinkles, but don’t even think of adding it to your DIY skincare lotions as a preservative. That’s a job it can’t do.