Red Wine May Hold the Key to Creating More Effective Acne Treatments

Acne affects an estimated 40 million to 50 million Americans, regardless of age, health and other factors. For this reason, there are hundreds of acne treatment products and methods on the market today which promise to reveal smooth, healthy skin. However, new research shows that you may be more likely to find an effective cure for your acne in your glass of wine than in your local drugstore: an antioxidant found in red grapes, which are often used in the popular alcoholic beverage, has been shown to kill off the bacteria that causes breakouts.

Previous studies have found that resveratrol, the antioxidant in question, has been successful in preventing free radicals from forming and can also kill off the P. acnes bacteria, which causes pimples. However, scientists were unsure exactly how this happened. To gather data, a team at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles applied concentrations of resveratrol, benzoyl peroxide (a popular ingredient in many acne treatments), and combinations of both to colonies of P. acnes. The researchers also cultured human skin and blood cells from volunteers with and without acne.

The results were interesting: while benzoyl peroxide was able to effectively kill off the bacteria, the effects lasted no longer than 24 hours. In comparison, concentrations of at least 50 ug/mL of resveratrol were able to kill off P. acnes by weakening the outer membrane of the bacterial cells. These doses were also able to last for 48 hours. However, the most effective compound was the combined benzoyl peroxide and resveratrol: all concentrations killed the bacteria, and the results lasted longer than either product on its own.

One of the researchers, Dr. Emma Taylor, stated that the team was surprised by their findings: because benzoyl peroxide is an oxidant, they had initially hypothesized that the two opposing ingredients would cancel each other out. Instead, their data showed that benzoyl peroxide has a higher toxicity level, which may be why many patients report developing skin irritation and dryness when they use products with this ingredient. The resveratrol reportedly neutralized this toxicity, allowing the combination to treat acne more effectively with fewer side effects.

This finding has the potential to improve non-invasive acne treatments, creating better products that can be used by a greater number of patients. However, the research team is calling for further study, including tests on actual patients with acne, to see how the compounds actually work together before these ingredients can be paired in treatments.

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