Resveratrol is an important polyphenol with numerous known health benefits. Working through multiple pathways this powerful antioxidant can improve the function of multiple organ systems including the skin. Resveratrol holds great promise as a topical ingredient for treating skin as it can both prevent and improve the clinical signs of aging. Many of its scientifically proven properties show great potential to ameliorate the aesthetic problems of skin aging. However, further innovation is required to overcome the challenges to effectively deliver resveratrol into the skin in order to transform this omnipotent extract into a proven therapeutic product.
Furthermore, the physico-chemical properties of resveratrol have restricted its use in topical formulations. One particular challenge is the stilbene’s relatively low water solubility, estimated around 0.05 mg/mL.56 This property prevents incorporation of high concentrations of pure resveratrol into topical products. This is supported by the fact that the leading topical resveratrol products often contain less that 1% of pure resveratrol in the final formulation. Various solvents are often employed to increase the hydro-solubility of solid ingredients. However, solubilizing agents may potentially introduce unknown and unwanted side effects. Furthermore, resveratrol’s protonation state is integral to understanding the complexity of its biological role. Studies have established that transport of resveratrol to the skin is limited by the type of vehicle used in the formulation.57 Proper formulation parameters are essential since the ingredient is required to both escape from its vehicle and penetrate the initial barrier to exert biologic action in the skin. Overcoming these impediments is an area of ongoing resveratrol research that is essential for the development of effective topical formulations.
Resveratrol is a botanical antioxidant with diverse biologic effects. In this paper we will review the unique antioxidant activity of resveratrol including its effects on mitochondrial function. The molecular signaling of resveratrol and cellular mechanisms that make this botanical active an important anti-aging ingredient for topical application will be discussed.