The health benefits of drinking wine, especially red wine, have been heavily publicized for almost two decades. Wine also makes an interesting topical skin care treatment, since it contains such a wide range of substances that can be beneficial for troubled skin. Strong antioxidants, anti-inflammatory agents, and natural alpha hydroxy acids are all present in various types of wine to varying degrees.
Wine facials have become very popular in India, and exclusive spas like the Red Door offer Champagne and Roses manicures and other wine-based skin care treatments. The French have used cosmetic treatments containing wine for many years: Guerlain first produced a lip balm/skin salve containing Bordeaux in 1882. Other companies like Caudalie and UVAMIA Winetherapy also claim to offer the benefits of “vinotherapy,” but their products are fairly expensive. DIY skin care with wine is a cheaper alternative.
Wine Skin Care for Various Skin Types
Every wine has a slightly different composition, and different varieties are useful for particular skin types. Dry skin types may wish to choose a sweet wine with plenty of sugar and a small amount of AHAs for water-binding purposes. Acne-prone skin will do better with red wine, since its high concentration of the polyphenol resveratrol may act to reduce inflammation while reversing or preventing free radical damage. Those with extremely flaky skin should choose dry wine, which has a greater concentration of the natural AHAs called citric, tartaric, and malic acid.
Homemade Toners and Face Masks Containing Wine
For dry skin, mix 3 tablespoons sweet red wine with ½ tablespoon aloe vera gel and one tablespoon runny honey (place the honey container in hot water for a few minutes to obtain the right consistency, let it cool a bit, and blend with the other ingredients). Apply to face and neck, and rinse off after 10 minutes or so.
For oily skin and acne, blend 3 tablespoons red wine with some yogurt and use as a facial mask; yogurts containing active probiotic cultures will probably work best in this recipe. Thick Greek-style yogurt is the easiest to work with. For very oily skin without many blemishes, try substituting bentonite clay for the yogurt.
For sensitive skin, use white wine; the natural preservative tannin in red wines may prove too irritating to reddened facial skin. Boil a soothing herb like chamomile in the white wine for 10 minutes. Let the liquid cool down and then strain through a coffee filter into a dark bottle. Use as a toner after cleansing and prior to moisturizing.
Acne-prone skin may benefit from use of dry red wine straight from the bottle as a toner.
For dry, flaky body skin, mix 1 cup dry red wine with 1 cup of water. Pour into a spray bottle, and apply all over after a shower or bath. Leave on for 5 minutes, then rinse. Particularly flaky skin may benefit from mixing ¼ cup of dry white wine with 1 cup white vinegar and adding ¼ to ½ cup of this liquid to bathwater. Remember that adding vinegar to wine will lower its pH and make its hydroxy acids stronger; this makes them better exfoliants, but also increases the risk of irritation.
1 cup of bran soaked in 1 cup white wine or white wine vinegar for about 4 hours is said to make a good exfoliant when used as a body scrub or mask once a week. Natural beauty expert Sally Freedman recommends adding 1 raw egg yolk and 5 drops of your favorite essential oil to this treatment before using. ½ cup of dry red or white wine mixed with other exfoliants such as pulverized seeds or nuts can also help smooth body skin; if the grains are very finely ground, this may be used with gentle circular motions on the face.
Lastly, don’t discard leftover sparkling wine or champagne, even if it has gone flat. Instead of wasting it, mix it with 1 cup powdered milk, one-half cup Epsom salts, and 1 tablespoon microwave-warmed honey. Pour the beautifying blend into a full bath, and the skin should look brighter and seem firmer after a good soak.
Commercial Skin Care Products Containing Wine
These are mostly formulated for dry skin types, and contain specific ingredients found in wine or grapes instead of pure wine. Caudalie offers a richly emollient cream and mask with plentiful amounts of moisturizing, free radical scavenging grape seed oil, while a company called Arcona sells a nicely hydrating facial mask for parched, superficially wrinkled skin.