Resveratrol: The Skincare Ingredient's Benefits Broken Down By Our Dermatologist

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You've heard before that the nutrients you eat can impact the quality of your skin, but resveratrol, a skincare ingredient on the rise, takes that one step further. First, if the term sounds familiar, that's because it probably is — resveratrol is an antioxidant-like compound found in foods such as grapes (and wine), blueberries, cranberries, and peanuts. According to the Cleveland Clinic, the nutrient is thought to boost physical health in numerous ways, from slowing down aging to fighting inflammation. If that sounds like just the thing your skin needs, the good news is you might not have to munch on grapes all day to reap the benefits.


Resveratrol is now making its way into skincare products to deliver antioxidant protection directly to your complexion. Scan the label of your favorite anti-aging serum or eye cream, and you may already spot the ingredient listed. But how beneficial is resveratrol really? To find out, Dr. Elizabeth Geddes-Bruce, a board-certified dermatologist and dermatologic surgeon at Westlake Dermatology, exclusively spoke to Glam.

What is resveratrol and how does it work in skincare?

By now, you know that resveratrol is one of the components that gives red wine its purported health benefits, and according to Dr. Elizabeth Geddes-Bruce, it may work in similar ways when injected into skincare formulations. "In the skincare world, resveratrol is an ingredient used in topical formulations to combat oxidative damage from UV light, pollution, and stress," the dermatologist exclusively told us. There's research to back these benefits. A 2014 study published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology found that topical resveratrol treatments were associated with an improvement in fine lines and wrinkles, which are commonly caused by UV-related damage. Another study from 2013 published in the same journal found that redness — a sign of stressed, irritated skin — could be reduced by applying a solution that included resveratrol.


If spots and blemishes are your chief concern, the ingredient is still worth keeping on your radar. "It also acts a bit like estrogen to improve skin quality and can lighten dark spots from sun damage. There is also some data that it can help with acne," Dr. Geddes-Bruce added.

Is resveratrol safe for everyone?

When a skincare ingredient sounds too good to be true, it often is, and just around the corner are sneaky side effects that could wreck your skin — think of skin saviors such as retinol, as per Healthline, and isotretinoin, according to the NHS, both of which offer powerful benefits but may also cause dryness, redness, and other issues. Thankfully, resveratrol is mild and unlikely to trigger irritation, Dr. Elizabeth Geddes-Bruce exclusively told Glam. "Yes, resveratrol is safe for all skin types and usually easily tolerated," she revealed. "It can be finicky to package correctly so that it penetrates the skin and remains active, but, thankfully, our cosmetic chemists have created effective formulations."


However, the ingredient may not work in all skincare routines. Dr. Geddes-Bruce shared that resveratrol and certain peptides might not play nice together since the peptide bonds could be broken down by resveratrol's acidity. As for which ingredients pair well with the compound, the skin expert told us, "Resveratrol can be used in combination with other antioxidants, like C and E, hyaluronic acid, and even retinols." Just be sure to watch for any side effects or irritation and, to be safe, check with your dermatologist if you have questions about changing your skincare regimen.

How to use resveratrol for your skin

Eating foods rich in resveratrol and other antioxidants may boost the quality of your skin, but for the most potent effect, add a resveratrol-rich skincare formula to your cart (along with, not in place of, grapes and blueberries, of course). The ingredient stars in serums, moisturizers, and face masks promise refreshed and smoother skin. Where in your routine and how often you use it will depend on which product you choose. For instance, a resveratrol moisturizer will likely go last in your regimen to help seal in lighter products, while a face mask can be used a few times a week to give your face a jolt of hydration.


One of Dr. Elizabeth Geddes-Bruce's top picks is The Ordinary's Resveratrol 3% + Ferulic Acid 3%, a budget-friendly serum meant to be used twice a day. Another recommendation: Ultra-Light Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum by Paula's Choice, which blends resveratrol and other antioxidants to brighten and tone. If you're willing to splurge, Dr. Geddes-Bruce suggested SkinCeuticals' nighttime Resveratrol B E serum containing 1% pure, stable resveratrol.