Update on resveratrol



Also that year, Buonocore et al. conducted a placebo-controlled, double-blind study in 50 subjects that revealed the antiaging efficacy of a dietary nutraceutical blend of resveratrol and procyanidin. Specifically, skin moisturization and elasticity improved while wrinkle depth and skin roughness lessened after 60 days of treatment.30

In a 2013 in vitro study of the skin permeation kinetics of polyphenols using diffusion cells via ex vivo pig skin and a cellulose membrane, Zillich et al. showed that several polyphenols, including resveratrol, epigallocatechin gallate, quercetin, rutin, and protocatechuic acid formulated in oil-in-water emulsions could permeate the stratum corneum and were identified in the epidermis and dermis. The team concluded that their findings validate the use of polyphenols as active ingredients in antiaging products.31

In 2014, Farris et al. found that the topical application of resveratrol in a proprietary blend (1% resveratrol, 0.5% baicalin, 1% vitamin E) yielded a statistically significant amelioration of fine lines and wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, radiance, as well as skin roughness, firmness, elasticity, and laxity in a small study over 12 weeks.32

Skin lightening

Resveratrol has also been used as a promising topical treatment for hyperpigmentation disorders.33 The compound has been shown to work synergistically with 4-n-butylresorcinol (a derivative of resorcinol, one of the main phenols found in argan oil) to reduce tyrosinase levels and significantly diminish melanin synthesis, more effectively than either compound alone.34 In 2012, Franco et al. observed that resveratrol can inhibit tyrosinase but it does not sufficiently suppress melanin production to justify its use as a lone skin-whitening agent in pharmaceutical formulations, but warrants attention as a coadjuvant for treating hyperpigmentation.35 The skin-lightening capacity of resveratrol supported by a 2013 study in which 52 medicinal plants grown in Korea were tested for human tyrosinase activity and the dried stems of the grape tree V. vinifera were found to potently suppress human tyrosinase, and more effectively than arbutin.36 It is worth noting that resveratrol, through its antioxidant activity and possible inhibitory effect on cytochrome P450 2E1 expression, has been shown to protect mouse primary hepatocytes from hydroquinone-induced cytotoxicity.37 Also, J.M. Galgut and S.A. Ali, noted the gathering of pigment cells and resultant skin lightening from the effects of topical ethanolic extract of Arachis hypogaea (peanuts, which contain half the resveratrol of red wine) on the tail melanophores of tadpole Bufo melanostictus, concluding that resveratrol merits attention for potential clinical use as a nontoxic melanolytic agent to treat hyperpigmentation.38,34


Resveratrol is considered an emerging agent in the topical armamentarium for treating acne.39 In a single-blind pilot study in 2011, Fabbrocini et al. investigated the potential therapeutic impact of resveratrol on 20 patients with acne. A resveratrol-containing hydrogel was applied daily on the right side of the face for 60 days, with the left side receiving the hydrogel vehicle as control. No adverse effects were reported and all patients were satisfied with the treatment. Researchers reported a 53.75 % mean reduction in the Global Acne Grading System score on the resveratrol-treated sides and a 6.10 % decrease on the control sides. Histologic analysis revealed a statistically significant reduction of lesions in areas treated with resveratrol (66.7 % mean reduction in the average area of microcomedones on the resveratrol-treated sides vs. 9.7% reduction on the control sides).40

A 2015 comprehensive literature review of randomized clinical trials and controlled trials by Dall’oglio et al. found that cosmetics with antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory ingredients, including resveratrol, may accelerate acne resolution.41

Significantly, resveratrol is one of the novel acne treatments considered to have little potential for susceptibility to antibiotic resistance to Propionibacterium acnes.42


In a small 2013 study by Ferzli et al., 16 subjects with erythema applied a formulation containing resveratrol, green tea polyphenols, and caffeine twice daily to the whole face. Clinical photographs and spectrally enhanced images taken before treatment and every 2 weeks through 3 months were assessed. The investigators reported that improvement was seen in 16 of 16 clinical images and 13 of 16 spectrally enhanced images. Erythema reduction was observable by 6 weeks of treatment, and no adverse effects were observed.43


Resveratrol is emerging as a compound with the potential to deliver significant health benefits, particularly in terms of photoprotective, cancer preventive, and cardioprotective activity. While there are 2 strong decades of research, more is necessary to elucidate the full potential of resveratrol as a first-line dermatologic therapy. Preclinical data do support the use of resveratrol in various product types (e.g., emollients, patches, sunscreens, and additional skin care products) intended to prevent skin cancer or to prevent or treat other conditions caused or exacerbated by solar exposure, such as photoaging. I look forward to seeing clinical evidence of the efficacy of topically applied resveratrol.

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