While a glass or two of red wine may help you care a little less about acne, that’s not quite what we’re advocating when we say that red wine can help your skin condition. Instead, it seems that a particular constituent of red wine, resveratrol, may help reduce acne lesions by half, as well as protecting the skin against sun damage.
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What is Acne Vulgaris?
Acne vulgaris is a skin condition that has a complicated aetiology (origin/cause), with chronic inflammation and pathology caused by a range of factors. This common skin disorder can involve the rapid growth of certain kinds of skin cells (ductal hyperkeratinisation), over-activity of sebaceous glands causing excess oil in the skin (often due to hormonal imbalances), bacterial infection by Propionibacterium acnes (causing inflammation), and abnormal keratinisation of the infundibular epithelium.
Traditional Acne Treatments
Those with acne may resort to home remedies such as applying toothpaste to spots to dry them out, or even using crushed aspirin as a salicylic acid cleanser or mask – both of which can lead to dry and peeling skin. Now it seems that red wine may be added to the list of such remedies as a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Dermatology found that resveratrol-containing gel was effective for reducing acne compared to placebo treatment.
Resveratrol – What is it?
Resveratrol is a natural compound (a phytoalexin) produced by some plants such as grapes which has been found to have considerable antioxidant activity that may preferentially protect the skin from ultraviolet light damage and, thus, stave off sun-induced photo-aging and wrinkle development. This is not the first time, however, that anyone has looked into the potential for resveratrol as an acne treatment.
An earlier study, in 2007, found that resveratrol could reduce the growth of Propionibacterium acnes (a microbial cause of acne) and downgrade inflammation in the skin.
Resveratrol for Acne Treatment
In the study, the researchers used a carboxymethylcellulose-based gel as the placebo and as the carrier for resveratrol and then applied the resveratrol gel to twenty patients affected by acne vulgaris. The gel was used daily on the right side of the face for sixty days, while the gel without resveratrol was applied to the left side as a control.
Pictures were taken of the patients’ skin during the trial and the number of lesions were also recorded for each patient, along with scores on the Global Acne Grading System (GAGS). Some patients also had follicular biopsy and the average area of microcomedones was compared before and after treatment.
Acne Lesions Reduced by Half with Resveratrol
All of the patients reported satisfaction with the active treatment and no adverse effects of the resveratrol gel for acne were found. There was a 53.75% reduction in the GAGS score on average for the resveratrol-treated side of the face, compared to just a 6.10% reduction on the gel-only side. Histologic analysis confirmed these results with a 66.7% mean reduction in microcomedone area on the resveratrol side compared to a 9.7% reduction on the opposite side.
Using Resveratrol for Acne at Home
The concentrations of resveratrol used in these studies are quite high compared to the resveratrol-containing creams already on the market. The gel was also stored at a low temperature to maintain the stability of the active ingredient, while most skin creams are under the glare of bright lights on shelves at the drugstore.
In addition, it may be unwise to use currently available resveratrol creams for acne because many are designed for older people to help hydrate dry skin or counteract sun damage and ageing, which may make them unsuitable for those with oilier, younger skin.
Home Remedies for Acne, Using Grapes and Resveratrol
Although the effects of such a treatment have not been studied it may be helpful to make your own red grape (not red wine!) face mask for acne. Depending on your skin type, you may wish to calm down inflammation and tighten up the pores on your face by using a raw potato base or, if your skin is dry and sensitive, try using an oatmeal base instead.
Potato and Grape Acne Face Mask
- Blend a handful of red grapes in a food processor (or use unsweetened store-bought red grape juice).
- Using a vegetable peeler, slice potatoes very thinly and soak for an hour in red grape juice in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.
- Take each strip of potato and place it carefully over the affected areas of your face until all of the skin is covered. You can apply a cool, damp cloth over your face to reduce messiness.
- Leave for ten to fifteen minutes and then use a gentle cleanser to wipe away any grape juice.
Applied morning and night, the acids in the raw potato and the resveratrol in the red grapes may help soothe acne, tighten pores, and reduce visibility of acne scarring.
Oatmeal and Grape Acne Facial
- Set a small pot of water boiling on the stove. Meanwhile, grind up oats in a food processor and, separately, mash up fresh red grapes (if not using unsweetened red grape juice).
- Add the oats to the boiling water and cook for five minutes, stirring frequently.
- Remove the oats from the heat and allow to cool. Add in the grape solution once the oats have reached just above room temperature.
- Apply the oat and grape mixture to your face, carefully covering all areas affected by acne, dry skin and/or sun damage. Leave the mask on for fifteen minutes and then gently rinse away using an antibacterial soap or lukewarm water.
The polysaccharides in the oats may help your skin to retain moisture and reduce dryness and sensitivity, while the resveratrol in the grapes may help reduce the spread of bacteria that cause acne and provide antioxidant protection to the skin.
Find this recipe and other natural acne cures in Eat to Beat Acne!
Fabbrocini G, Staibano S, De Rosa G, Battimiello V, Fardella N, Ilardi G, La Rotonda MI, Longobardi A, Mazzella M, Siano M, Pastore F, De Vita V, Vecchione ML, Ayala F. Resveratrol-containing gel for the treatment of acne vulgaris: a single-blind, vehicle-controlled, pilot study.Am J Clin Dermatol. 2011 Apr 1;12(2):133-41. doi: 10.2165/11530630-000000000-00000.