Just Drink It: Expert Weighs In on Resveratrol Skincare

As most women will enthuse, red wine and chocolate is good for you – at least in terms of anti-ageing benefits. A natural antioxidant that is found in red wine and cocoa, known as resveratrol, has been the focus of many beauty companies in recent years, which have seemingly developed products that work by soaking in through your skin. But is there madness in that method? Or can you get the same wellness benefits of resveratrol by slathering it on your skin?

According to Dr. Joseph Maroon, professor and vice chairman of the department of neurological surgery at the University of Pittsburgh (and author of The Longevity Factor: How Resveratrol and Red Wine Activate Genes for a longer and healthier life), you have to understand where resveratrol comes from in order to understand how it works. The polyphenols antioxidant is one of 600 antimicrobial compounds known as a phytoalexin, which plants produce for protection against adverse conditions, such as excessive ultraviolet light, infections and climactic changes.

Studies have found that this compound could aid your health and wellbeing, such as a 2012 study which found resveratrol helped mice with balance issues. Another July 2011 study found resveratrol countered the effects of inactivity in mice, and suggested that red wine could be “exercise in a bottle”. According to the Mayo Clinic, resveratrol might protect against obesity and diabetes, reduce the risk for blood clotting, or reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol. Maroon noted that this is because resveratrol has the ability to dilate blood vessels, increase nitric oxide and block the stickiness of platelets.

However, when it comes to resveratrol’s anti-aging benefits when applied externally on humans, the research is limited. Researchers of a 2005 study, published by the National Institutes of Health, applied resveratrol to the skin of laboratory animals, who were then subjected to high ultraviolet radiation. The compound protected the animals, and, as Maroon explained, ‘It was a very good sun block. It might be the ultimate sun block for both plants in animals. In animals, it was shown to prevent the development of skin cancer.’ However, he added that the best way to get resveratrol’s supposed benefits is probably through other methods. ‘That would be my opinion,’ he said. ‘I’d rather drink it than pour it on my skin.’

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