Grapes are thought to have originated in Asia, near the Caspian Sea. Historically, grape leaves were used to stop bleeding, inflammation, and pain and the sap of grapevines was used to treat skin and eye diseases. Raisins were used to relieve constipation and quench thirst. Throughout history and in many cultures, grapes were thought to have healing power for all kinds of diseases.
The seeds inside grapes have a hard, woody external layer. Although there are many varieties of grapes with varying seeds, a single grape usually has four seeds because they are born from two ovaries, each with two ovules. Resveratrol is mostly found in the skin of the grape and not in the seed, but the seed does have wonderful health-promoting and age-fighting compounds, including linoleic acid (essential fatty acid), flavonoids, vitamin E, and oligomeric proanthocyanidins.
Fatty acids in the body are made from two acids: linoleic and oleic. These essential fatty acids are sometimes referred to as vitamin F, but they are really essential fatty acids. Essential means that a person must get them from food or supplementation because the body cannot make them. Some experts feel that only linoleic acid is essential since the body can make oleic acid from linoleic acid. Essential fatty acids are the building blocks for all of the other fats in the body. They are also the building blocks for cell membranes and many of the important hormones and other chemical messengers that tell the body what to do. Essential fatty acids become depleted as people age.
Linoleic acid is critical for maintaining the acid mantle, or the hydrolipidic film, as well as the skin’s barrier function. Linoleic acid contributes to the formation of ceramides on the skin’s surface, which are important for preventing transepidermal water loss. The correct balance of oil and hydration will help prevent and/or reverse dryness and flaking. Linoleic acid is needed for the synthesis of gamma-linolenic acid, which provides welcome relief from inflammatory skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and acne. It is very helpful for dry skin and can be converted to arachidonic acid, which acts to regulate inflammatory responses and has been shown to decrease tyrosinase activity to suppress melanin formation.
Using vitamin E topically is an effective mechanism for delivery to the skin and protection from ultraviolet radiation and other free radicals. Supplementation with oral vitamin E, however, may not provide adequate protection for the skin. Additional anti-inflammatory effects, as well as moisturizing benefits of topical vitamin E, have been seen in the skin. The vitamin E family consists of eight different tocopherols and tocotrienols and most researchers agree that naturally sourced vitamin E provides the most health benefits for
Flavonoids are a group of plant metabolites that have antioxidant properties and are thought to provide health benefits through cell-signaling pathways for the restoration of collagen at the cellular level.1 Grape seeds are rich in powerful antioxidants and natural plant compounds called oligomeric proanthocyanidin complexes (OPCs). OPCs are a set of bioflavonoid complexes that have 50 times more antioxidant properties than vitamins C and E. They perform as free radical scavengers in the human body. OPCs are not usually found in daily diets in sufficient quantities for therapeutic value, however, supplementation with OPC extracted from pine bark and from grape seeds has been shown to protect against cardiovascular and other degenerative diseases. OPC supplementation also has positive effects in regard to lowering LDL cholesterol levels, reducing platelet aggregation, increasing the strength and elasticity of blood vessels, helping collagen repair itself, reducing edema and inflammation, relieving functional problems associated with varicose veins, lessening the tendency toward diabetic retinopathy, and improving skin health. OPCs makes grapeseed oil excellent for minimizing and delaying skin aging caused by free radicals.
SKIN, NAIL, AND HAIR BENEFITS
Grapeseed oil is popular as an ingredient in topical skin care products because it glides well on the skin and is easily absorbed by the skin without leaving a greasy feeling. It also boosts the skin’s barrier repair and helps balance moisture levels. Grapeseed oil can be used to cleanse and moisturize the skin and improve its functions. It has anti-inflammatory properties for calming the skin and reducing edema and has been shown to be effective in fighting acne bacteria and staphylococcus aureus. Grapeseed oil is also beneficial for increasing circulation and helping to strengthen and repair damaged or broken capillaries. It is rich in polyphenols, or phytochemicals, which are chemicals from plants that possess beneficial antioxidant properties – along with vitamins, minerals, and essential oils.
Formulators love the viscosity and bendability of grapeseed oil, so is it often incorporated into blends of oils or used as a base for massage and aromatherapy purposes. Because it rarely causes skin irritation and has excellent skin healing properties, it is often used as an ingredient in high-end creams, serums, lip balms, and sunscreens – it is credited with being an ultraviolet-absorbing ingredient. There are many online testimonials that credit grapeseed oil for helping to clear acne, heal scars, diminish dark circles, and lighten pigmentation spots. Because grapeseed oil is emollient and moisturizing, it can be used on hair as a conditioner or as a mask for dry hair and scalps. It is believed to promote hair growth and make hair soft, smooth, and silky. It is also used to condition and nourish cuticles and nails.
NATURALLY EXTRACTED GRAPESEED OIL
The International Nomenclature of Cosmetics Ingredients requires grapeseed oil to be listed on the label as “Vitus Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil,” but the name does not indicate how the oil was extracted. Because each grape seed only yields a small amount of oil, the vast amount of grapeseed oil on the market is chemically extracted because it is cheaper and faster. Using a solvent to extract the oil from grape seeds will destroy many of the bioactive phytonutrients. Oils are highly concentrated natural ingredients and, if they are extracted in their purest form, they contain hundreds of bioactive compounds. Cold-pressed oils are the most beneficial for the skin because they have about 700 percent higher bioactive contents than oils produced using heat. When it is cold-pressed, grapeseed oil will appear as a pale yellow-to-green liquid and will have a faint odor.
GRAPESEED OIL PRECAUTIONS
People that are allergic to grapes may be allergic to grapeseed oil. Furthermore, people taking anticoagulant drugs and medications to lower cholesterol and blood pressure should check with their doctor before using grapeseed oil as it can increase circulation.
Oils are very popular because they are natural and there are countless varieties. It is important to use the right oil for the client’s skin type. The first thing to remember when using oils that is less is more. Only use about five drops on the face and another five drops for the neck. If the client’s skin is feeling dry, especially in the winter, suggest that they might try blending grapeseed oil into a night cream or daytime foundation for extra moisture. Since grapeseed oil is not soluble in water, it is best to add it to an oil-based product. If a client presents with extremely dry skin, they may want to add an oil with a little more weight, such as macadamia oil or coconut oil. Oftentimes, people with oily skin are afraid to use oils on their skin, but grapeseed oil is light and can be used to balance both dry and oily patches. Clients might be inclined to use oils in place of their moisturizers, but it is important to advise them that skin is a complex organ and no single product or ingredient will address all of their skin care concerns.
Grapeseed oil can be a brilliant inclusion into a balanced skin care program to help fight free radicals, retain hydration, and keep the skin looking fresh and radiant.
This article also appears on Dermascope.com