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The Antioxidant Powerhouse Known As Reservatrol

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The Violet Files

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Extracted from French grapevines, Caudalie’s lauded ingredient makes your skin age better (and slower) than a fine wine.

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The Antioxidant Powerhouse Known As Reservatrol

In cooking, your food is only as good as your ingredients. The same applies with beauty. In a new series, we single out cutting-edge and under-the-radar hero ingredients to find out why they work, how they were discovered and—most importantly—what they can do to make you look better. Here are the heavy-lifters who underpin the formulations of your favorite products.

It’s no wonder that Mathilde Thomas, the cofounder of Caudalie, credits resveratrol as the brand’s star ingredient. After all, and in keeping with the French theme, resveratrol is Caudalie’s raison d’être. The backstory: in 1993, Thomas met Joseph Vercauteren, a professor at Montpellier’s University of Pharmacy, at her family’s vineyard during harvest season. Vercauteren explained that, in the wine-making process, they were throwing away treasures—namely, grape vines and seeds that offer exceptional benefits to the skin. “Professor Vercauteren was the one who told us that grapeseed oil was one of the most powerful antioxidants,” says Thomas. “Then we took a patent with him on resveratrol.” After two years of meticulous research, Thomas registered for another patent to extract and stabilize grape seed polyphenols—et voila, Caudalie was born.

To put it simply, resveratrol is a substance that grapevines produce to protect themselves from environmental stressors. Think: cold temperatures, wind, and rain. The potent polyphenol neutralizes free radicals and has been cited as having a positive effect on all sorts of cellular function, ranging from metabolism to cardiac function.

Plus, a fun fact: One bottle of Smith Haut Lafitte wine (Caudalie’s family vineyard) contains approximately four miligrams of pure resveratrol. So, drink up.

Resveratrol is an anti-aging force of nature, quite literally, that firms, sculpts, and smooths wrinkles. As mentioned above, resveratrol is extracted from grapevine stalks, which, it’s relevant to note, is one of the rare plant species that can live up to 120 years. Thomas adds, “It has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant powers that helps to counter skin oxidation and protect against imperfections and UV damage.”

In 2012, Professor Vercauteren connected Thomas with Dr. David Sinclair of Harvard Medical School, who had just completed a study on resveratrol. “I wrote an email to Dr. Sinclair, and it took awhile, but we managed to have lunch thanks to his German wife, who was really using the products,” laughs Thomas. Together the duo has taken resveratrol a step further and revealed a surprising synergy between resveratrol and micro-hyaluronic acid. “We discovered that betaine, an amino acid-like molecule, is a potent activator of mitochondrial function, to boost energy in cells,” says Sinclair. “When combined with resveratrol, the effect is even greater.”

“In lab studies, resveratrol is highly effective at preventing skin cancer caused by carcinogens,” says Sinclair. Obviously, that’s one major reason you should incorporate resveratrol into your everyday regime. But, the powerful active also enhances elastin and collagen, increases the natural production of hyaluronic acid, and firms skin by stimulating proteins.