Cosmetic companies are always looking for a new natural extract that promises to fight wrinkles, moisturize skin, banish dark circles, reduce hyperpigmentation and a pletora of other things, to incorporate in their products. However, very often the “miraculous” properties of these extracts aren’t supported by any scientific study or proof that’s not anecdotal.
But one ingredient that may actually do what it promises is Grape Seed Extract. While it is true that studies on this extract are limited and more work needs to be done to ascertain how well it works, what we know so far is very promising.
What is Grape Seed Extract?
Grape Seed, also known as Vitis Vinifera, is an extract derived from the whole seeds of grapes. Grape Seed Extract contains proanthocyanidins, polyphenols, flavonoids, and anthocyanins, all of which are powerful antioxidants that can reduce the damage done by free radicals and the sun rays, which are the main causes of premature aging.
Grape Seed Extract is a powerful antioxidant
Grape Seed Extract is a powerful antioxidant that can fight free radicals and stabilize collagen and elastin, thus enhancing skin’s elasticity and improving its appearance. A 2000 study has compared Grape Seed Extract to other antioxidants and has found out that “GSPE provides significantly greater protection against free radicals and DNA damage than vitamins C, E and β-carotene”.
Grape Seed Extract can enhance sun protection
The same study has also discovered that “topical application of GSPE enhances sun protection factor in human volunteers”. This is again due to the high content of antioxidants in this extract. However, antioxidants like polyphenols, according to Smartskincare.org “exert sun damage protection by quenching free radicals and reducing inflammation rather than by blocking UV rays”. This means that Grape Seed Extract enhances the effectiveness of sunscreen, but should never be used as a substitute for it.
Grape Seed Extract has wound-healing properties
In addition, Grape Seed Extract can also help heal wounds. A 2001 study has found out that “natural extracts such as grape seed proanthocyanidin extract containing 5000 ppm resveratrol facilitates” wound healing. A 2002 study has confirmed that it is the proanthocyanidins compounds found in Grape Seed Extract, especially when coupled with the antioxidant resveratrol, that have this healing effect on wounds.
Grape Seed Extract is NOT a good preservative
The unfair and undeserved bad reputation parabens, the most effective, safe and least expensive preservatives available today, have gained has led many consumers and brands to look for more natural ways of preserving products. One of the most popular natural preservatives at the moment is Grape Seed Extract, but unfortunately it isn’t a very good one. It may not actually be a preservative at all, according to a 1999 study conducted by the Institute of Pharmacy, Ernst Moritz Arndt University, Greifswald, Germany. The study examined “the antimicrobial efficacy as well as the content of preservative agents of six commercially grapefruit seed extracts”.
“Five of the six extracts showed a high growth-inhibiting activity against the test germs. In all of the antimicrobial active grapefruit seed extracts, the preservative benzethonium chloride was detected by thin layer chromatography. Additionally, three extracts contained the preserving substances triclosan and methyl paraben. In only one of the grapefruit seed extracts tested no preservative agent was found. However, with this extract as well as with several self-made extracts from seed and juiceless pulp of grapefruits (Citrus paradisi), no antimicrobial activity could be detected. Thus, it is concluded that the potent as well as nearly universal antimicrobial activity being attributed to grapefruit seed extract is merely due to the synthetic preservative agents contained within. Natural products with antimicrobial activity do not appear to be present.”
The Bottom Line
Although more research needs to be done, studies so far have shown that Grape Seed Extract is a powerful antioxidant that can fight free radical damage, enhance the effectiveness of sunscreen, and help promote wound healing. Unfortunately, contrary to popular opinion, it’s not a good natural preservative.
Do you use products with Grape Seed Extract?