These days, it seems like there’s a new beauty oil being sworn in as the next big thing every few days (hello coconut oil, rosehip oil, and tea tree oil). The problem? It’s becoming increasingly difficult to decide which one you should welcome into the fold as your skin’s latest partner-in-crime.
This is where grapeseed oil, an oil that’s extracted from the seeds of wine grapes, sets itself apart from the competition. Unlike other oils that may only suit certain skin types or clog pores, grapeseed oil is a lightweight oil that’s noncomedogenic, making it suitable for most skin types-including sensitive and acne-prone.
And because it contains ingredients that can help to improve a variety of skin concerns, those with multiple issues to tackle may be able to streamline the number of products they’re currently using by making the switch to grapeseed oil. Here’s everything you need to know about this multitalented beauty product.
What is grapeseed oil, exactly?
Technically, grapeseed oil is a byproduct of winemaking-once the grapes are pressed, the seeds are left over, says Los Angeles-based board-certified dermatologist Tsippora Shainhouse, MD. There are different methods of extracting the oil from the seeds, but for cosmetic purposes, cold-pressed is best.
“Cold-pressed oils may have more active potential, since they haven’t been heated, distilled, or processed,” says Dr. Shainhouse. This helps to keep its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties intact.
Currently, there are no large-scale studies that prove the skin benefits of grapeseed oil, so the perks, for the moment, are considered theoretical. However, the individual ingredients that grapeseed oil contains-such as omega fatty acids and vitamin E-are well-studied, so the assumption is that grapeseed oil can provide similar benefits to the skin, says NYC-based board-certified dermatologist Susan Bard, MD.
How grapeseed oil benefits your skin
Grapeseed oil contains high levels of linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid that can help control acne by decreasing clogged pores. “Acne-prone skin has been found to be deficient in linoleic acid, making the sebum (oil) thick and sticky, leading to clogged pores,” says Dr. Bard.
It’s also anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial, making it an ideal sidekick in your fight against breakouts, and can be used as a carrier oil for tea tree oil, another potential acne fighter. Bonus: The vitamin E in grapeseed oil may help lessen the appearance of acne scarring, says Debra Jaliman, MD, author of Skin Rules.
Protects against free radicals
The antioxidants found in grapeseed oil, such as vitamin C, vitamin E, and proanthrocyanidin (phew), can help to prevent-and undo-pollution- and UV-induced free radical damage to the skin, says Dr. Shainhouse. The result? Skin that’s smooth and firm-and better protected against more serious issues too, such as skin cancer. (Remember: Free radicals are unstable molecules that can wreak havoc on your body’s cells.)
Moisturizes and balances the skin
Back to the fatty acids, which can help improve your skin’s moisture level by reducing transepidermal water loss (where the skin loses water to the surrounding environment via evaporation): “Linoleic acid integrates into the cell membranes to fortify the skin barrier and smooth and soften skin,” says Dr. Shainhouse.
Meanwhile, vitamin E replenishes lipids that have been lost (the skin’s natural fats that help to maintain a protective barrier and hold onto moisture). If your skin is on the oily side, this moisture boost will also help slow oil production, which tends to strike because your skin thinks it’s too dry.
Some studies show that linoleic acid also has anti-inflammatory properties, says Dr. Jaliman, and may reduce inflammation in the skin’s epidermal (top) and dermal (middle) layers. Plus, the phytosterols (a type of molecule found in plants) in grape seeds may help control the skin’s inflammatory response, according to a review published in the Molecular Journal of International Sciences. This may make it a handy oil to have around if you have an inflammatory disorder like eczema or rosacea.
Minimizes fine lines and wrinkles
Besides fatty acids, grapeseed oil contains polyphenols, which help fight premature aging. “Polyphenols have been known to not just slow the aging process, but reverse signs of aging, like sun spots, fine lines, and wrinkles,” says Dr. Jaliman. The oil contains natural astringent properties too, resulting in firmer-looking skin.
How to choose the best bottle of grapeseed oil
Dr. Shainhouse recommends going with a grapeseed oil that’s cold-pressed to ensure that the active ingredients-and the oil itself-haven’t been chemically altered. Experts also agree that the grapeseed oil you choose be certified organic. “This way, you know that it’s pure, without pesticide and herbicide residues that may be present in conventional oils,” says Anthony Youn, MD, anti-aging expert and author of The Age Fix.
When you’re ready to introduce your face to some stellar grapeseed oil, consider taking one of the following for a spin:
How to use grapeseed oil on your face
Because grapeseed oil absorbs easily, it makes for a convenient addition to your beauty routine. It’s also uber-versatile: Use it by itself, mix it into your go-to lotions or serums, or use it as a carrier oil. (Though you should do a spot test first to ensure you don’t have a reaction to the stuff.)
“Frequency of application depends on the issue you’re targeting and its severity,” says Dr. Bard, who recommends starting with a once-daily application and bumping up your application quota as needed. Start with a few drops on clean, pre-product skin or mixed into your moisturizer or night cream. If irritation strikes, nix grapeseed oil from your repertoire.
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