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Resveratrol Skincare: The Anti-Aging Hero Dermatologists Recommend

June 10, 2023
Resveratrol Skincare Face Serums
Resveratrol skincare products are proven to work on multiple pathways in cell aging. Resveratrol is an ingredient that benefits all aspects of human health. As a well-known cardio- and neuroprotective ingredient, it also has been found to display a wide range of positive effects on cell functioning. Resveratrol benefits are not just specific to the heart and brain, it extends to skin health as well.

Resveratrol for Skin

What you will learn:

  • What are the benefits of resveratrol?
  • What is resveratrol used for?

You feel like your skin is aging….too fast. If you are bothered by dark spots, uneven skin tone and dull skin, cosmeceuticals can help. I’m a board-certified dermatologist and author of multiple scientific papers on the skin microbiome published in top dermatology journals such as the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology and the International Journal of Dermatology.

My research includes that in the field of quasi-drugs and ethnobotany, which is the modern day scientific study of how traditionally cultivated herbs and plants impact human health. The field of functional dermatology encompasses the use of plant bioactives in skincare for treatment of skin diseases such as acne, rosacea, sensitive skin and photoaging. In this edition of Skincyclopedia, we unveil how resveratrol is a must-have ingredient in your skincare routine.  

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Resveratrol was isolated from white hellebore in 1940, and from polygonum cuspidatum roots in 1963. The latter, a commonly used herb in eastern medicine with anti-inflammatory properties. It is found in over 70 plant species and especially concentrated in grapes. In plants, resveratrol acts as a phytoalexin that is synthesised in response to physical injury, UV-radiation and fungal attacks. Synthetic resveratrol is engineered from yeast species known as saccharomyces cerevisiae. It is a phytochemically rich compound with over 92 new resveratrol derived compounds identified to date. In this article, we cover some of the most frequently asked questions about resveratrol.

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    Resveratrol Formulation Secrets
    Resveratrol skincare products can include natural or synthetic sources, but my preference is for natural sources which often contain other bioactives that act on skin holistically.

    Resveratrol and Aging: FAQ

    Is resveratrol anti-aging? Can resveratrol reverse aging?

    Yes. Resveratrol increases the lifespan of cells. Aging involves a process known as cell senescence, which is a key contributing factor to cell death and age-related diseases. Many people relate aging merely to physical changes such as the development of lines, wrinkles and spots. The truth is, the aging process is far more complex and involves damage to DNA, proteins and cell parts such as the mitochondria, also known as the energy factory of cells. In this sense, resveratrol can be considered truly anti-aging. 

    How does resveratrol reverse aging?

    • In lab models, resveratrol has been shown to increase the lifespan of organisms
    • Protects against age-related heart and brain degeneration
    • Reduces chronic inflammation, hence directly affects inflammaging processes which are key to aging cells 
    The Science Behind A Best Selling Serum
    Resveratrol skincare for anti aging: does resveratrol boost collagen? Yes! This is one ingredient that packs many different phytochemicals which all help to increase the body’s reserve of collagen. The Elixir-V serum contains a plant source of resveratrol– polygonum cuspidatum.
    Resveratrol Skincare derived from Japanese Knotweed
    Resveratrol skincare products derived from Japanese knotweed contain trans-resveratrol, a highly bioactive form of resveratrol.

    Does resveratrol make you look younger?

    A youthful appearance is usually attributed to the following

    • Plump, elastic skin 
    • Absence of photoaging signs such as wrinkles, spots and sagging

    Via the above molecular pathways described, application of resveratrol-based serums can reverse aging cellular processes. However, as photo damage and biological aging is an ongoing process, medium to long term use as part of a dermatologist-recommended cosmeceutical regimen is necessary before results are seen. 

    Resveratrol Cosmeceutical Science
    The benefits of resveratrol skincare include stimulation of collagen production as well as antioxidant activity that protects against cell damage.

    Does resveratrol increase collagen production?

     Yes. Resveratrol contains many phytochemicals that 

    • Stimulate skin cells known as fibroblasts to produce collagen 
    • Prevents breakdown of collagen by enzymes known as collagenases

    Overall, it exerts a positive effect on aging skin by improving skin texture and appearance by enhancing collagen synthesis in the deeper layers of skin. This results in a plump and elastic appearance associated with youthfulness. 

    Resveratrol Herbal Formula
    Trans resveratrol skincare benefits include potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity. Incorporated into serums, resveratrol is an efficient anti-aging ingredient.

    Trans-resveratrol vs Resveratrol

    Trans-resveratrol is an active form of resveratrol which is naturally occurring in polygonum cuspidatum and the skin of red grapes. There are two forms found in nature, the cis- and the trans- resveratrol versions. It is the trans-resveratrol form that is considered bioactive as the cis-form is highly unstable and is converted to its trans-reseveratrol counterpart when exposed to standard environmental conditions such as UV light. Trans-resveratrol also shows estrogenic activity which is beneficial for improving the softness and smoothness of skin. 

    Resveratrol: Application in Dermatological Settings

    Does resveratrol get rid of wrinkles?

    Wrinkles are a result of collagen loss that occurs with aging. When we smile, frown or laugh, our facial expressions are formed when muscles contract. These muscles are connected to surface skin tissues known as the epidermis, dermis and subcutis (fatty layer). Aging causes the skin tissues to thin, a process known as atrophy. As a result, the same muscle movements involved in facial expressions are more visible—eventually leaving a “mark” on skin, known as wrinkles. Resveratrol works on multiple cellular pathways which actively blocks skin atrophy while promoting collagen growth. Including resveratrol in your cosmeceutical skincare regimen can slow down the development of wrinkles. 

    Sirtuin, the youth protein 

    The sirtuin family of proteins are an important target of antiaging and skin cancer research. Specifically, sirtuin 1 (SIRT1) is a NAD+ dependant acetylase which regulates multiple biological pathways involved in aging cells. By modifying SIRT1 activity, the lifespan of organisms can be prolonged. This is where the study of botanicals such as resveratrol becomes relevant—several plant compounds have been proven to directly impact SIRT1 expression. 

    Resveratrol Holistic Effects on Skin Physiology
    Resveratrol skincare benefits include skin lightening, evening out skin tone and improving the appearance of dark spots.

    Does resveratrol lighten skin?

    As a potent antioxidant, resveratrol engulfs damaging free radicals which attack the surface of skin, resulting in oxidative stress. This protects skin cells such as the melanocytes from injury, which means it prevents UV-induced hyperpigmentation and photoaging.  

    Is resveratrol good for dark spots? Does resveratrol lighten dark spots?

    Resveratrol can be combined with other potent antioxidants such as ferulic acid, vitamin C, vitamin E for an added advantage. This specifically targets dark spots such as age-related solar lentigenes as well as hormonally induced hyperpigmentation such as melasma.  

    How long does it take for resveratrol to work?

    Cosmeceutical regimens take about 27-28 days for full effects to be seen, which is about the length of 1 skin cycle. However, at-home skin devices utilising technology such as microdermabrasion and microcurrent can significantly increase transdermal delivery, i.e. absorption via the epidermis. This can significantly shorten the time taken for results to be seen. 

    The Case for Plant-Based Skincare
    Resveratrol skincare products are ideal for sensitive skin types who may not tolerate conventional anti-aging actives such as retinol or retinoids.

    Is resveratrol good for your face?

    Yes. Resveratrol is an excellent cosmeceutical that provides all-round benefits targeting common skin concerns such as

    • Photoaging (lines, spots, uneven skin tone)
    • Pigmentation i.e. post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, melasma 

    In addition, resveratrol is helpful for those suffering from oily, acne-prone skin as well. Excess sebum increases oxidative stress via lipid peroxidation, which worsens skin inflammation. Because of its antioxidant properties, it also helps to prevent and treat acne scars. 

    • Hyperseborrhea-related oxidative stress 
    • Acne scars

    Does resveratrol increase estrogen?

    Trans-resveratrol is known to have estrogenic properties. 

    What is the resveratrol lift?

    Certain skincare products containing resveratrol have been marketed as a form of face-lifting product. While not exactly a face lift, resveratrol’s skin-lifting effects are attributed to stimulation and growth of proteins in the deeper layers of skin, such as collagen and sirtuin, aka youth proteins. 

    Does resveratrol tighten skin?

    Yes. Skin sagging is due to tissue loss as aging occurs, due to increased breakdown of collagen molecules which form the bulk of the dermis. Resveratrol promotes the growth of new collagen and prevents the breakdown of existing collagen—which has skin tightening effects.

    Resveratrol Must-Know Skincare Tip

    • What is the best way to absorb resveratrol for maximum skin benefits and for skin lifting?

    Use a facial massage tool before application of serums. I recommend a mechanical jade roller which is gentle on all skin types including sensitive skin. The massaging action improves local blood circulation for enhanced skincare absorption. When performed correctly, the massaging action also stimulates collagen production which lifts and tightens the facial appearance of aging skin. 

    • Sources (Natural vs Synthetic)

    How can I get resveratrol naturally?

    Resveratrol was made prominent in 1992 as researchers unraveled the “French Paradox” which associated health benefits with moderate wine consumption. Turns out, grapes contain this key ingredient resveratrol which has potent physiological effects throughout the body. The key actives are known as polyphenols which belong to the stilbenoid group of compounds. Resveratrol exists in 2 forms, as the active trans-isomer and the inactive cis-isomer. Over 70 plant sources of resveratrol exist, the most prominent of which are grapes (found in the seeds/skin), red wine, peanuts and soy.

    Skincare Geeks, Have you heard of the French Paradox?
    Resveratrol skincare products are key in cosmeceutical regimens recommended by dermatologists.

    What foods are highest in resveratrol?

    Spanish red grapes are considered the richest source of resveratrol.

    How Resveratrol Works
    Resveratrol skincare science demystified

    Mechanism of Action / How it Works

    Resveratrol for Anti-Aging

    Resveratrol is a well-rounded skincare active that has holistic effects on skin. The “anti” effects are as follows: as an antioxidant which neutralises cell damaging free radicals, an anti-inflammatory agent that reduces inflammation in various skin diseases, and also as an anti-cancer agent which prevents the growth of abnormal mutant skin cells. There are other specific “pro” effects such as promoting wound healing (minimising scarring), cell repair which slows down photoaging and also promoting cell metabolism for healthy skin functioning. 

    Mechanism of How Resveratrol Works as an Antioxidant
    How resveratrol skincare products work

    Wound Healing 

    Wound healing involves a complex interplay of factors that requires sufficient blood vessel formation, antimicrobial activity that prevents skin infection and a balance of inflammatory responses that result in wound closure. Problems arise when the tissue is either too little or too much—leading to improper wound healing. 

    Mechanism of How Resveratrol Works in Wound Healing
    Why choose resveratrol skincare products

    How it works?

    Resveratrol exerts potent effects that contribute towards healthy skin repair and functioning. For instance, it promotes cell stability by protecting collagen, stabilises the deeper structure of skin known as the extracellular matrix and also exerts antibacterial effects superior to topical antibiotic creams when it is used on wounds. Additional skincare benefits include scar lightening, barrier repair and UV-protection. 

    4 'A's of Resveratrol Benefits
    Benefits of resveratrol skincare products

    Crucial to a solid grasp of this aspect of how reseveratrol works is the understanding of UV-related skin damage. You may have heard of oxidative stress, as well as the term antioxidant. These terms are meaningful only when you understand how UV-damage actually occurs.

    Here is a step-by-step explanation.

    How Free Radical Damage Occurs
    1. UV rays reach skin
    2. Free radicals are produced
    3. These highly unstable molecules cause oxidative stress at the skin surface 
    4. Skin produces antioxidants to neutralize free radicals
    Balance of Free Radicals and Antioxidants Determines Cell Damage

    The balance of free radicals and antioxidants is what determines if cell damage occurs:

    • Free radicals > antioxidant reserve → cell damage
    • Free radicals < antioxidant reserve → cell protected
    Resveratrol Skin Effects
    Clinically proven effects of resveratrol skincare products

    Dr.TWL’s Formulation Secrets

    Proanthocyanidins: Nature’s Anti-aging Fingerprint 

    @drteowanlin 7 steps to skincare perfection with me @drtwlderma #antiagingskincare #liftingserum #fyp #foryourpage #serumviral ♬ original sound – Dr. Teo Wan Lin – Dr.TWL Dermatologist

    The best-selling Elixir-V Serum contains Japanese Knotweed, also known as polygonum cuspidatum. It is a source of trans-resveratrol which is an active form of the compound. It is lesser known in western pharmacology but is well established in ethnobotanical applications. Biochemical analysis has shown it to be a rich source of proanthocyanidins, a potent antioxidant, specifically found in the roots of the plant. 

    Proanthocyanidin Bioactive Compounds

    Native to East Asia, Japanese knotweed is an invasive plant that also has medicinal properties. Chromatographic studies have isolated the following biologically active phytochemicals.

    Proanthocyanidin Holistic Effects on Skin Physiology

    By virtue of proanthocyanidins being a whole plant extract rather than a chemically synthesized copy, there are additional benefits such as holistic effects on skin physiology.

    Skincare & Cosmetic Ingredients Dictionary

    The Skincare & Cosmetic Ingredients Dictionary by Dr. Teo Wan Lin is a must-have skincare reference book created for skin experts. Master skincare actives and learn about the latest updates in bacterial ferment filtrates, aquaporin regulators, granactive retinoids and other cosmetic formulation secrets by the chief scientific officer of leading Asian clinical skincare brand Dr.TWL Dermaceuticals. 

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