Ask a Beauty Editor: Is Resveratrol Worth the Anti-Aging Hype?

Derived from some of the best things in life (i.e., wine), the ingredient is essentially a gold mine of anti-aging effects.

resveratrol-for-skin: blueberries in a jar

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Reader question: I've been seeing a lot of resveratrol in skincare products targeted for wrinkles. Does it really work or is it just marketing? — Ruth Kwak

At this point, you've probably witnessed a lot of strange ingredients out there for anti-aging. Maybe you've even tried them yourself—and regretted it promptly afterwards (me, referring to the time I smeared placental extract all over my face).

One of the (thankfully) less weird ingredients that have been gaining traction in the skincare community is resveratrol, a natural antioxidant that can be found in berries, peanuts, dark chocolate, and most commonly, red wine. You know how experts say a glass of red wine a day is good for you? That's all thanks to resveratrol.

So, is the ingredient legit? In short, yes, the wine juice does work. And though I'm more than happy to guzzle alcohol for the sake of good skin, resveratrol only occurs in low concentrations in wine, so you'd need to drink multiple bottles a day to reap any exterior anti-aging benefits. (Counterintuitively, this would probably destroy your insides.)

Enter: resveratrol skincare. Studies prove its worth: A 2010 study showed that resveratrol fights against the free radical molecules that create the effects of aging in skin. Another 2014 study put this notion into action and found that applying resveratrol topically significantly improved fine lines, wrinkles, and elasticity in just 12 weeks.

Here's everything you need to know.

What Is Resveratrol?

To recap, resveratrol is a naturally occurring substance most commonly found in the skin of red grapes, but to get more specific, it's part of a group of compounds called polyphenols. These polyphenols are chock-full of antioxidants and other benefits for your skin (more on that later). It can come in a powder, pill, or liquid form, but most recently has been infused in a variety of skincare products, such as serums, creams, and moisturizers.

Resveratrol Benefits

The environment (a broad word that refers to many unavoidable elements around us) is mainly bad for our skin. Resveratrol helps boost your skin's natural barrier so that it's better equipped to fight against those bad things (read: sunlight, pollution, etc.) How? It has the superpower of forming soluble, complex molecules with certain metal ions, inactivating them so they cannot produce free radical formation. Although this doesn't mean it can replace your SPF, it's certainly a great addition.

"As an antioxidant, resveratrol helps to prevent free radical damage, which we dermatologists now recognize as a leading cause of age spots and wrinkles," says Loretta Ciraldo, MD, FAAD, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Dr. Loretta skincare. "Since free radicals are the result of exposure to environmental aggressors, it helps to protect skin from these aggressors. In turn, this significantly improves the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and hyperpigmentation."

Resveratrol also has anti inflammatory, skin-soothing properties that help minimize redness and inflammation, making it a choice ingredient for people with rosacea, eczema, and other related skin conditions. And like all antioxidants, it will make your skin brighter and glowier over time.

Resveratrol Side Effects

Are there any side effects to using resveratrol? Not really, but there are two things to keep in mind. Like vitamin C, it is very light-sensitive, so products with it should be packaged in dark containers and stored away from windows.

There is also some evidence that it may mimic estrogen when ingested, so Dr. Ciraldo suggests that patients with breast cancer, which is often stimulated by estrogens, use other antioxidant products and avoid this ingredient entirely.

And of course, if you're taking it orally, it's always best to consult your doctor as it might interact with certain medications, such as blood thinners and NSAID medications.

Best Resveratrol Skincare Products

Although there are a lot of ways to get resveratrol into your system, Dr. Ciraldo recommends applying resveratrol as a part of your nighttime skin routine so that it gets fully absorbed into your cells where it's really needed. "When starting any new anti-aging regimen, use it as directed for three months. I often recommend that you use a new product only on one side of your face to be sure that you are getting visible improvement before you commit to using any product long term."

So the next time you stop to wind down with a glass of red wine, do it with some resveratrol on your face for good measure. Self-care doesn't get better than that.

01 of 05

Caudalie Resveratrol Lift Instant Firming Serum

resveratrol-for-skin-Caudalie Resveratrol Lift Instant Firming Serum

Dr. Ciraldo's top pick, this oil-free serum (from a brand that specializes in resveratrol) incorporates an exclusive patented alternative to retinol that visibly firms, lifts, and reduces the appearance of wrinkles. Resveratrol is combined with two forms of hyaluronic acid and vegan collagen to create an anti-aging powerhouse.

02 of 05

The Ordinary Resveratrol

resveratrol-for-skin-The Ordinary Resveratrol

This water-free formula combines two of the most powerful antioxidants in skincare (resveratrol and ferulic acid) for maximum anti-aging capacity. If you're looking to experiment, that price tag doesn't hurt, either.

03 of 05

SkinCeuticals Resveratrol B E

resveratrol-for-skin-SkinCeuticals Resveratrol B E

While a bit on the pricier side, this serum is made with 1 percent pure resveratrol derived from the knotweed plant, plus the most abundant, pure form of vitamin E to neutralize free radicals. Because the antioxidant cocktail is so strong, the brand recommends it as a nighttime treatment.

04 of 05

iS Clinical Hydra-Intensive Cooling Masque

resveratrol-for-skin-iS Clinical Hydra-Intensive Cooling Masque

Irritated and inflamed skin should check out this mask that imparts an instantly cooling sensation upon application. Satisfying feeling aside, there's a lot of ingredients at play: Hyaluronic acid provides deep hydration, rosemary leaf calms inflammation, and aloe vera speeds up the healing process.

05 of 05

Reserveage Resveratrol Chew

resveratrol reserveage chews

For resveratrol benefits you can swallow, these delicious chews feature powerful polyphenols from Japanese knotweed and the skins of red wine and muscadine grapes. The brand also recently expanded their offerings to skincare featuring microencapsulated copper peptides that boost your skin's natural ability to produce collagen; after trying the eye cream (a personal favorite) for just one month, my perennially dark circles were much less noticeable.

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