What Is Resveratrol?

Everyone’s heard of antioxidants, the essential nutrients that protect skin from the damaging effects of environmental pollution, smog, excess drinking, UV light smoking, and pretty much anything that the outside world inflicts on our skin. Ultimately these all add up to free radical damage – caused when unstable molecules (free radicals) damage cells and cause them to mutate. 

You can eat your weight in antioxidant-rich foods like blueberries and goji berries, but if you want to see real results, you need to start incorporating antioxidants into your skincare routine. Popular options include vitamins A, C, and E, but new-kid-on-the-block resveratrol  is tipped to be the next big thing. 

Here’s everything you need to know. 

What is resveratrol?

Resveratrol is a natural (and incredibly potent) antioxidant found in grape skins (and, you guessed it, red wine!), berries, cacao beans, and peanuts. “It’s produced in response to stress in the plant,” Dr MJ Rowland-Warmann, a skincare expert at Liverpool’s Smileworks told me. “It does promise to have some pretty good properties…antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic… and would potentially be a real gamechanger.” Since it’s produced in response to stress in plants, it to some extent has the same effect on stressed skin: helping to prevent damage and repair skin from environmental aggressors. 

How does resveratrol work?

In skincare, resveratrol works on a cellular level to fight aging like most antioxidants. It protects cell’s DNA from the damage caused by free radicals, which reduces and slows down the early signs of skin aging. On top of this regular antioxidant function, resveratrol also helps to increase skin’s production of other antioxidants, so it helps to prevent free radical skin damage in the future. 

Why should I use resveratrol?

Studies have shown that resveratrol is particularly effective in protecting against damage cause by UV light and stress – so is a relevant ingredient for a modern-day skincare routine, particularly if you’re looking to both repair your skin and prevent further damage. As well as its long-term anti-aging effects, it can also help with improving skin tone texture. 

When should I use resveratrol?

Like most antioxidants, resveratrol can be applied day and/or night, but some formulas can be slightly unstable and light-sensitive, so to be safe, it’s best applied to clean, dry skin at nighttime. 

You’ll find resveratrol featured in lots of multi-ingredient serums, but if just-resveratrol is what you’re looking for, try The Ordinary’s offering. It combines the ingredient with only one other – the superstar antioxidant ferulic acid. The best thing about this serum is that it contains high concentrations of both – typically resveratrol is found at 1% or less and ferulic acid at 0.5% or less, but this formula has them both at 3%. Massage it in at night to reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and inflammation.