What Is Resveratrol And How Can It Upgrade Your Skincare Routine?

Ever heard of resveratrol? No? Well, that might not be quite as true as you think. We've probably all heard the theory that red wine can actually be good for us (in moderation) because of all its antioxidant properties. And, if you've heard that before, then you know a little something about resveratrol already. Resveratrol is a natural antioxidant that's found in the likes of grape skin (hence the red wine association), berries, and dark chocolate. And it's also now being found in some skincare products.

That's because the experts are learning more every day about how these antioxidants can help our skin look its best and fight off the signs of aging. The big benefits are mainly down to the fact that resveratrol is part of a compound group known as polyphenol. Polyphenol ingredients have antioxidant properties that can have a number of perks for our skin. "These polyphenols act as key antioxidants, which serve on the front line as the 'generals' gathering the troops to protect the cells against damage that leads to cellular aging," board-certified dermatologist and founder and owner of Ava MD, Dr. Ava Shamban, explained to Byrdie. But there's more than one reason you may want to give resveratrol — which can be applied topically or orally as a supplement — a try to upgrade your skincare routine.

Resveratrol is particularly good at fighting signs of aging

One of the biggest reasons so many people are trying resveratrol in their skincare routine is because of its anti-aging properties. "As we age, we lose our natural collagen and elastin. We begin to experience a thinning of the skin. Antioxidants are thought to help protect against the accelerated aging effect of free radical damage," board-certified dermatologist Dr. Tanya Kormeili told Healthline. But that's not all it can do to keep your skin looking young. "Resveratrol forms complex molecules with certain metal ions, inactivating their ability to form free radicals, and therefore improving cellular function and supporting fibroblasts," Dr. Michele Green, another board-certified dermatologist, explained to Byrdie. And it's the combination of these two big benefits that make it so powerful. "This combination one-two punch makes resveratrol highly effective in combating the damaging effect of free radicals that leads to skin aging," Dr. Green said. Those fine lines and wrinkles? They can be helped by resveratrol too, Dr. Geeta Yadav, a board-certified dermatologist, told Good Housekeeping.

Another way resveratrol can keep your skin looking younger? A 2011 study found that it can actually help to shield the skin from UV damage (but that doesn't mean you shouldn't still have your SPF on hand every day) and other daily damage, like pollution. "Using an antioxidant such as resveratrol helps boost your skin's natural barriers so that your skin looks and feels smoother and healthier," Dr. Green said.

But that's not all it can do for your skin

In addition to its anti-aging properties, Dr. Ava Shamban told Byrdie that resveratrol has been known to reduce redness on the skin because of its ability to calm the skin. Similarly, Dr. Geeta Yadav noted to Good Housekeeping that it can help to reduce inflammation, which makes it a good choice for people with sensitive skin who are in the market for products that promote a youthful appearance.

According to Dr. Michele Green, resveratrol can also help brighten the skin, give it more hydration, and improve its texture. In fact, a 2020 research review concluded that when used as a dietary supplement, resveratrol actually helped improve some skin conditions, including eczema and psoriasis. That's in addition to a 2012 study that found facial skin felt significantly smoother after 60 days of ingesting the ingredient in supplement form. Yet another plus? Dr. Yadav also explained that it can also help even out the skin tone in some cases by aiding things like hyperpigmentation and dark spots.

How to incorporate resveratrol into your skincare routine

One of the easiest ways to see if your skin can benefit from resveratrol is to apply it to your face via a serum. As Dr. Geeta Yadav put it to Good Housekeeping, "Antioxidant serums are always a great way to get this dose of protection into your regimen without adding too much weight."

Dr. Michele Green recommended to Byrdie applying your resveratrol skincare at nighttime to really kick-start the benefits. "With antioxidants, particularly resveratrol, we can capitalize on the heightened nighttime repair function to maximize or boost antioxidant production within the skin cells, and even more so, we're also able to trigger fibroblast cells to in fact make more collagen," she said. Dr. Green explained you can also make the most of the ingredient by applying your resveratrol-infused serum after cleansing and toning. But don't think it can't be applied in the morning. If you only have time to apply it once a day, night is the best option, but it's totally safe for most people to apply it in the morning too.

If you're looking to add resveratrol into your skincare routine alongside other products, Dr. Green suggested trying it alongside ferulic acid. "They can neutralize free radicals, which prevents the synthesis of collagen and elastin from being repressed," she shared. As for Dr. Yadav, she recommended coupling it with an SPF product to create a solid skin damage barrier. After all, SPF products and antioxidants are a great pairing.

But be aware that resveratrol can have some side effects for certain people

It's never a bad idea to check with your doctor or dermatologist before introducing new products into your routine, as any ingredient can potentially react with your skin. Particularly if you discover you're allergic or have an intolerance to it. A patch test is also never a bad idea, just to be on the safe side. In general, as board-certified dermatologist Dr. Tanya Kormeili told Healthline, resveratrol tends to be a pretty safe choice for most people regardless of their skin type.

However, there are some people who will still need to be extra careful, particularly if taking resveratrol as a supplement. "There is some evidence that resveratrol can interfere with blood thinners (Coumadin, aspirin, ibuprofen etc.) and should be used cautiously to avoid a chance of uncontrolled bleeding," Dr. Kormeili said. Dr. Geeta Yadav also told Good Housekeeping that anyone who is pregnant or breastfeeding will also need to check with their doctor before introducing it into their skincare routine. Equally, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Dr. Loretta Skincare, Dr. Loretta Ciraldo, told Real Simple that anyone with breast cancer is also recommended to stay away from the ingredient.