Hubert Burda Media

Complexion Cocktails

Not just for imbibing, wine and rice wine have become skincare's latest craze.

Complexion Cocktails

It has long been proven that certain alcoholic beverages, such as red wine, have health benefits when drunk in moderation. What is lesser known — but gradually gaining traction among beauty junkies — are skincare products and spa treatments that tout the anti-ageing effects of alcohol-derived ingredients, particularly from wine and sake.
For example, Spa Luna at Amara Sanctuary Resort Sentosa offers a Vintage Red Wine Body Wrap made from wine by-products, extracts of vintage red wine and grapes among others. This treatment is said to stimulate collagen synthesis for younger-looking skin.
Luxury skincare brands have also drawn on the science of viticulture in formulating rejuvenating potions. Dior's L'Or de Vie range features sap from grape vines as a key ingredient, while French cult beauty brand Caudalie derives its active ingredients from various parts of the grape plant.
In Japan, indie brand Maastequi uses the by-product of sake fermentation, called sakekasu, which is said to have high concentrations of skin-nourishing ferulic acid and albumin, in its bars of soap.
There is also SK-II's bestselling Facial Treatment Essence, one of the earliest brands to market the benefits of alcohol-derived ingredients. This classic potion contains Pitera, a yeast extract derived from sake fermentation. A strain of yeast discovered and trademarked by the beauty brand, it can only be obtained through a very specific fermentation process to get the right balance of skin-friendly ingredients for maximum results.
“The fermentation process is very organic, like producing refined sakes and wines. It is not a matter of adding chemicals together and mixing them, according to a standard manufacturing process,” explains Taro Yamaguchi, SK-II's global scientific communications manager.
There is a similar theory behind the use of wine grape extract, as many parts of the vine are purported to contain beneficial complexes for the skin. The seeds contain polyphenols, which are powerful antioxidants that protect the skin against harmful free radicals, while the skins of grapes contain resveratrol, a popular antioxidant found in many skincare products.
Even the sap of the grape vine contains skincare benefits. Dior scientists, in particular, have isolated a specific molecule unique to Bordeaux's famed Château d'Yquem vines that the brand says helps to reactivate the production of youth factors in the skin. This extract is found in Dior's L'Or de Vie range of products that includes a serum, two creams and an eye and lip cream.
Those who want it all should try Caudalie's Premier Cru La Crème and complementary eye cream. This range contains all three key ingredients from the grape vine: Resveratrol from the skin, polyphenols from the seed and viniferine (the name of the brand's extract) from the vine sap. This antioxidant-rich formulation is said to hydrate the skin while boosting its regenerative powers to reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles and firm up the skin.
But before you start dabbing red wine or sake directly onto your skin, it is worth getting your facts straight.
Dr S K Tan of IDS Clinic points out that these extracts come from the key ingredients used in the making of the alcohols and not from the spirits directly. For example, resveratrol is found in many other sources such as Japanese knotweed and has nothing to do with alcohol.
Still, whatever the marketing stories behind these products are, these active ingredients do offer skin benefits, he acknowledges. “They are efficacious in their own way and affect the skin differently. A judicious combination of these compounds and ingredients would probably give desired results,” he says.
As any good doctor would advice, Dr Tan emphasises: “Any skincare programme has to be used consistently to give the best results. Sun-protection is mandatory, otherwise all one's efforts would go to waste.”
We'll drink to that.