The skin is the largest bodily organ and protects internal organs by acting as a protective barrier against environmental pathogens.
Continued exposure to external stressors from the environment – ultraviolet radiation (UV-B), cigarette smoke, pollution, chemicals, or alcohol – can contribute to premature skin aging, immune system dysfunction, and carcinogenesis (cancer).
Collagen has become a popular natural supplement for combating skin aging and inflammation, both internally and externally. While collagen is most decidedly not vegan, there are several plant-derived compounds to boost and retain collagen production.
These are all included in our vegan collagen booster. Among these supportive nutraceuticals is grape seed extract.
We’ll touch more on how grape seed extract benefits not only the skin – but the entirety of your body, by reducing oxidation and pro-inflammatory cytokines. We’ll also discuss the difference between the commonly used grapefruit seed extract (natural antibiotic) and grape seed extract (natural antioxidant).
Why grape seed extract?
Grape seed extract is extraordinarily rich in countless antioxidants. Perhaps most importantly, polyphenols – proanthocyanidins (OPCs). Many studies have shown that these plant-based compounds exert potent biological activities, including cell repair and the prevention of skin aging (1).
Grapefruit Seed Extract vs. Grape Seed Extract
Commonly confused, grape seed extract and grapefruit seed extract are not the same. Specifically, our supplement contains grape seed extract, although both are used regularly in supplements and ‘natural’ skin care products.
Grapefruit seed extract
Grapefruit seed extract comes from the liquid extract from grapefruit seeds, membranes, and the pulp of grapefruit. Grapefruit seed extract is used as a natural antibiotic and is popular in natural Lyme treatment protocols, or those for Lyme co-infections like Bartonella.
This extract was shown to exhibit antibacterial activity even at the lowest possible concentrations. It was also shown to exhibit antibacterial activity against multi-drug resistant strains of S. aureus (MRSA) skin infections (2).
Grape seed extract
Grape seed extract, which is contained in our vegan collagen, is rich in antioxidants like flavonoids, anthocyanins, and polyphenols. Due to its high antioxidant content, GSE is used to protect against oxidative stress, inflammation, and tissue damage. It is used for cosmetic purposes, as it is found to improve collagen synthesis.
More specifically, GSE is high in proanthocyanidins (OPCs). These bioflavonoids “penetrate the skin” to help stabilize collagen and support elastin. GSE also reduces the degradation of collagen fibrils (3).
What are polyphenols?
Polyphenols represent a very large family of diverse and naturally occurring phytochemicals, which are contained in plants and possess biological activities beneficial to human health.
What are proanthocyanidins?
Proanthocyanidins are a type of polyphenol (4). They give many fruits and flowers their lush pigments – dark shades of purple, blue, red, or orange. Proanthocyanidins belong to the subclass of polyphenols known as “flavonoids.”
High-quality food sources of proanthocyanidins include:
- Grape seeds
- Red wine
- Pine bark extract
- Ginkgo biloba
- Apple peel
How do polyphenols and proanthocyanidins protect the skin?
These polyphenols – and by extension, proanthocyanidins, supplement the antioxidant capacity of the skin and reduce inflammation, oxidation, and free radicals. They reduce DNA damage. They modulate several signaling pathways to exert protective and preventive effects on damage to the skin and other organs (5).
Various polyphenols have even shown efficacy against skin and hair diseases, helping to combat skin infections, skin disorders, and hair loss.
While researchers are further investigating the benefit of nano-encapsulated polyphenols to be applied topically in cosmetic skin care products, oral supplementation still seems to confer the same benefits for the skin.
Skin aging is commonly associated with increased wrinkles, sagging, and reduced elasticity.
Collagen, elastin, metalloproteins (MMP), and elastic fibers are all essential for skin health, tendons, joints, and muscles. Degradation of these vital components through oxidative damage can lead to the formation of wrinkles, fine lines, and poor appearance.
Many synthetic skin care products, which are applied topically, can cause adverse reactions; contact dermatitis, allergic reactions, and skin irritation.
Plant-derived polyphenols from grape seed extract are beneficial as anti-aging ingredients, without the risk of contact dermatitis or allergic skin reaction.
Polyphenols like proanthocyanidin reduce ROS and wrinkle formation
Production or overproduction of reactive oxygen species (ROS) can damage RNA, DNA, membranes, lipids, and proteins. Oxidative stress, as such, plays a huge role in the progression of human disease and skin aging (6).
Proanthocyanidins can reduce the rate and intensity of wrinkle formation.
They decrease levels of free radicals and can be used as free radical scavengers.
They inhibit and eliminate the formation of free radicals, reducing inflammation and skin damage.
Plant foods, namely fruit, and vegetables, have consistently demonstrated themselves as an essential component of physical health. The vascular protective effects of fruits and veggies have largely been attributed to their high polyphenol content (7).
More than skin health
Grape seed extract, as a supplement and contained in Earth & Elle’s Vegan Collagen, is more than just a product to support skin health.
As a potent source of proanthocyanidins and antioxidants, grape seed extract has numerous studies reaffirming its benefit for heart health, brain health, and immune system function.
GSE is a liver protectant, reducing elevated liver enzymes (8).
GSE is anti-carcinogenic, reducing cancer-induced toxicity, and inhibiting breast cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer, and liver cancer cell lines in lab settings (9).
GSE displays antibacterial properties, much like grapefruit seed extract. GSE inhibits foodborne bacteria like E. coli and Campylobacter, and is often used as a natural remedy for candida overgrowth or oral thrush. Studies document vaginal candidiasis cured with GSE after 8 days (10).
GSE is generally considered quite safe, with few documented side effects reported in the medical literature. Doses of 500 mg have been used for up to 11 months in human studies, with no adverse effects reported (11).
Much like resveratrol, GSE may also have a thinning effect on the blood or increase blood flow. Caution is recommended for anyone taking blood thinning medication or blood pressure medication.
If you’re on any sort of prescription medication, always consult with your doctor before supplementing. That being said, the amount contained in our supplement is unlikely to cause drastic changes in blood pressure or the ability of blood to clot.