It’s almost inconceivable now that there was once a time when the oil most commonly found in beauty cabinets was of the Johnson & Johnson baby variety. These days, skin care is slicker than ever imaginable, all thanks to a collective obsession with natural versions of the slippery stuff. Coconut oil was the first to gain renown for its multitude of uses in the beauty realm, but other, less marquee varietals have been slowing growing in popularity. Among them is grape-seed oil, which is found tucked away in a surprising number of beauty products for the same reasons it’s a skin-care savior all on its own.
For the uninitiated, grape-seed oil is extracted from its namesake fruit, and it’s often a byproduct of the first-best use for a juicy bunch: wine (after the juice is pressed from the grapes, the seeds are left over). And while it won’t give your skin a buzz, dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, MD, tells me the resultant product is “a no-brainer for beauty.” Specifically cold-pressed versions, adds Eileen Nunes Koo, co-founder of Allpa Botanicals, because oils created in this way are the most concentrated and nutrient-dense.
Pure grape-seed oil can be used as both an overall moisturizer and a spot treatment, or you can find doses mixed into products from Herbivore, Juice Beauty, Jao, and more. Keep reading for the 411 on the skin-care concerns best addressed by being as infatuated with this oil as a 1970s sunbather was with the baby stuff—but in a way that will benefit rather than burn your ‘derm.
1. Grape-seed oil is an effective hydrator for every skin type
All oils are moisturizing, and grape seed oil is no exception; Dr. Zeichner tells me that this is in part due to the fatty acids it contains, which play an essential role in softening and hydrating the skin’s outer layer. Koo adds that the vitamin E found in grape seed oil is also key, because it locks moisture into the skin.
If you’re among those thinking, “Cool, but oils always make me break out,” Koo has some potentially welcome news. Grape seed oil, she says, is non-comedogenic, which means it won’t clog pores or leave a greasy residue.
2. It offers natural protection from harsh environmental elements
Vitamin E, says Dr. Zeichner, is also a potent antioxidant that helps to neutralize free radical damage from UV rays and pollution. “Vitamin E and linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid found in grape-seed oil, work together to prevent and undo damage by free radicals by fortifying the skin barrier,” Koo says. Antioxidant polyphenols found in grape seeds may also have protective effects against skin cancer.
Due to its ability to run defense for your skin, dermatologist Mona Gohara, MD, calls grape-seed oil “a good overall protector to be used in the a.m.”
3. It can help reduce inflammation
The powerhouse duo of vitamin E and linoleic acid has also been shown to reduce inflammation, says Desiree Pais, Beauty Editor at Herbivore Botanicals. Phytosterols, naturally occurring plant compounds that have been shown to help reduce cholesterol when consumed, serve this purpose, too. Grape-seed oil is therefore particularly useful for those who struggle with inflammatory skin conditions such as rosacea or eczema, or who simply have sensitive skin.
4. It banishes blemishes
Skin that’s deficient in linoleic acid has been shown to be more acne-prone. So, adding more of this fatty acid to your skin via grape-seed oil can help to cut back on breakouts. Grape-seed oil also has antimicrobial properties, which may assist in these efforts.
5. It can help color correct uneven skin tones
According to Koo, the combination of vitamin E and linoleic acid serves yet another purpose, too. “It lightens skin discolorations such as acne scars and sunspots,” Koo says. Research backs this up—at least in a study performed with guinea pigs.
6. It has wound-healing properties
Grape-seed oil can also help expedite the healing process, says Koo, who adds that vitamin E and linoleic acid are once again to thank for this benefit. The polyphenol resveratrol—the main reason for wine’s health benefits—plays a role, too.
7. It keeps skin youthful
Antioxidants found in grape-seed oil also help to stimulate collagen production, Koo says. “This makes it a great anti-aging solution for wrinkles and skin-tightening,” she says.
P.S. It does *all the things* for hair, too
Grape-seed oil isn’t just a superhero for skin: It’s healthful properties can benefit hair, too. According to Koo, it’s great for hair hydration thanks to its vitamin E, which also promotes hair growth and protects against damage. Plus, she says, linoleic acid blocks the production of the dihydrotestosterone (DHT) hormone, which is one of the main causes of hair loss.
Okay, so you’re officially in love with oils. What next? Slather on some jojoba oil, which is as sustainable as it is slick. Plus, find out how coconut oil can actually sub in for makeup.
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