It’s very often the case that what’s good for your health is also good for your skin. Just look at green tea or broccoli. But in the case of grape seed oil, it seems to be more complicated.

Grapes, photo by Amos Bar-Zeev

Grapes in general are often called a superfood. You get healthy things like resveratrol and sinful things like wine (depending on the point of view). When you make wine, as a byproduct you get grape seed oil. And here the controversy starts.

It’s been touted both as a natural health wonder as well as a risk for various chronic diseases. A part of the controversy comes from how the oil is extracted. The other part is if polyunsaturated fatty acids are actually good or bad for your health.

As with everything, in the right doses, polyunsaturated fats, in the case of grape seed oil, omega-3s and omega-6s, are good for you – in the right doses. Without any ifs and buts, grape seed oil is just good when you apply it to your skin.

What is grape seed oil and how is it made?

Grapeseed oil is a by-product when wine is made. After the grapes are crushed and the juice extracted to be fermented later, you’re left with the grape seed. Until recently, wine producers were left with a great amount of grape seeds that they couldn’t further make use of.

With modern technology, and now we’re coming back to the first part of the controversy, the oils are extracted using heat and solvents like hexane. This chemical is an air pollutant and a neurotoxin. When oil is extracted using heat and a chemical solvent, it may alter the taste and degrade nutrients.

The oil can also be extracted using mechanical means. When the oil is cold pressed, which means no heat or chemical is used, then it retains more of its health-promoting components. But cold-pressing usually yields lower amounts. But if it’s not explicitly labelled on the packaging or bottle how it’s made, then you should assume it was extracted using solvents.

According to the US Department of Agriculture, 1 tablespoon of grape seed oil contains around

  • 120 calories
  • 14g fat
  • 8g vitamin E

That’s why the jury’s still out on the health benefits. But not all is bad: It’s really moisturising.

On your skin

Grape seed oil contains plenty of linoleic acids, an omega-6 fatty acid. It’s lightweight and non-comedogenic. This means it absorbs quickly into your skin, nourishing and leaving it soft and supple while not clogging up your pores. It also doesn’t leave your skin feeling oily.

The beauty benefit of grape seed oil may be contributed to the linoleic acid and vitamin E. Linoleic acid is key to strengthen the membranes of skin cells as well as for a well-functioning skin barrier.

The oil is moisturising, so it’s considered to be an emollient in that it forms a protective layer over your skin and so preventing transepidermal water loss. But it has more going for it: It not only seals in the moisture in your skin but also draws moisture to it too.

Since it’s lightweight as well as non-comedogenic people of all skin types can benefit from grape seed oil. And as it penetrates quickly into your skin, it makes it easier for other actives in your skincare to absorb quickly too.

This makes it interesting for acne-prone people. Research has shown that acne-prone skin lacks linoleic acid, so that the natural it produces is thick and sticky. This can quickly lead to blocked pores.

On the one hand, grape seed oil replenishes the levels of linoleic acid since one of it’s constituents is linoleic acid. On the other, the omega-6 fatty acid reduces inflammation as well as regulates healthy cell function. Both factors help with acne.

Although research is still inconclusive, it makes sense to keep bacteria at bay as bacteria can get into your pores and then cause zits. Even if there are no large-scale studies proving how this oil can prevent acne, it’s worth a try to replenish the missing omega-6 acids in your skin.

Some studies have found that grape seed oil can speed up the wound healing process. So, it may also reduce the appearance of scars and stretch marks.

Omega-6 fatty acids and vitamin E is a killer combination in terms of skin care because it offers natural protection against negative effects of environmental factors including sun damage.

Side effects and risks

Generally, grape seed oil is safe if you choose from certified organic sources and apply it to your skin. You also want it to be cold-pressed so that the oil retains as much as possible of its beneficial constituents.

So far, there aren’t any large-scale studies that point to side effects of grape seed oil when used on the skin. More research has to be done to show both the benefits as well as the side effects. But what the individual constituents of grape seed oil, linoleic acid and vitamin E, can do for your skin is well-researched. So, the assumption is that grape seed oil can do similarly well.

Besides not getting cold-pressed grape seed oil, you may be allergic to grapes and so also to the oil. If you’ve not tried it before, you may want to test it on a tiny patch of skin.

It’s probably OK to try using it on larger areas if you don’t get any reactions, such as itching or redness. Though if you ever had an allergic reaction to grapes, then it’s probably better to avoid it.

As is with skin care, everybody has different skin. So it might work wonderfully for some and for others results are mixed.

How to use it

You can use grape seed oil in a simple manner or as labor-intensive as you like. You can use it as is or as an ingredient in a skin care product. If you want to use it in its pure form, you can buy grape seed oil at your local health food stores. Then apply it as a serum on your face. Or you can mix a drop in your favourite moisturiser and body milk to enhance its moisturising effects.


If you’re not allergic to grapes, then grape seed oil is definitely something to check out. It’s absorbed quickly and doesn’t leave a greasy film behind while improving the texture and elasticity of your skin. If you are allergic, then you may want to check out jojoba oil instead.

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