The best things in life are usually killing us slowly. Such is the case with wine. We’ve read in lifestyle mags and blog posts that a glass or two of red wine a day can help our skin, but we’ve also read about the nasty side effects of alcohol in general on our angelic complexions. This mix of information left me feeling like Oprah:
Don’t worry, Internet friends, your humble wine servant is here to save the day with some cold, hard SCIENCE for ya. Let’s take a Bill Nye-style look into our favorite glass of pinot and see what it can do for our skin, shall we?
Most of the “good stuff” in red wine comes from one magical source: resveratrol. This antioxidant is found in grape skin and is naturally antimicrobial (ahem, a word which means “something that kills microorganisms or slows their roll when they’re trying to take over your face.”) It wanders around your body fighting free radicals, which are basically nefarious microscopic demons trying to wear down your cell barriers and give you all kinds of scary illnesses. Resveratrol also fights acne and inflammation in the long-term. It’s like that friend who’s always too busy to meet up more than a few times a year, but they’re a lovely person and were friends with you way back when you had braces and a headgear.
A 2014 study found that when combined with benzoyl peroxide (a common acne-fighting ingredient), resveratrol is particularly effective. This is because benzoyl peroxide is great at kicking acne’s booty in the short term, what professionals in lab coats call a “short-term bactericidal response.” Combine the BP and resveratrol and you’ve got a better “opposites attract” story than any Katherine Heigl rom-com.
The super-secret formula for red wine is grapes + grape skins + alcohol. The first two are skin rockstars, as we’ve discussed, but that last guy is no friend to your face. Alcohol is a diuretic, or something that…well, makes you pee more. That’s why when you’re wine tasting, the line for the restroom is a mile long. People aren’t just taking too long re-applying their lipstick, it’s science! Alcohol also suppresses the release of vasopressin, a hormone that helps you re-absorb water. Dehydrated skin looks dull, dry and lifeless. You can try to counter this by drinking a glass of water for every alcoholic beverage, but it’s impossible to cancel out all the effects.
Not only will your skin dry out, but excessive alcohol also decreases the amount of Vitamin A in your body. Vitamin A is an antioxidant, just like resveratrol. It’s one of the reasons why you should eat your carrots and leafy greens! So yeah, you might be getting resveratrol with one-too-many glasses, but you’re also whisking Vitamin A out of your system.
The Bottom Line
Like most good things in life, moderation is your best friend. A glass or two of wine a night gives you a host of benefits, one of which is potentially better skin. Remember to drink a glass of water with your wine, wear sunscreen every-single-day-literally-no-matter-what-I-don’t-care-what-the-weather-is-young-lady PUT IT ON, and apply a hydrating moisturizer each night. Limit the number of alcohol benders you go on, not only for your skin but also for the rest of your life! If you follow those steps, you should be receiving all the benefits of red wine without the sad side effects of alcohol.
What’s your skincare routine? Have you noticed a difference in your skin since drinking wine?