Grape vine may be one of the first plants domesticated by humans.
Back when rye and wheat were still wild, people had already known not only to grow grape vine, but also to make wine out of it. Recently molecular biologists created grape gene map & conducted research together with archaeologists. They ended up discovering that all sorts of grapes known to man have the same origin.
It looks like grape vine was first domesticated by Transcaucasian people — ancient ceramic wine jugs, found in Georgia, still contain traces of wine from 8,000 years ago.
Europe got grape thanks to ancient Greeks and Romans making Egyptian grape an important part of their respective cultures — wine, fresh grapes and raisins, grape sauces, juice and marinades were essential in Greek and Roman cooking. Apparently, around the same era people first extracted oil from grape seeds.
Grape seed oil resembles sunflower oil in its composition.
It belongs to the light oil category, because most of its fatty acids are unsaturated. Grape seed oil also contains omega-6 (linoleic) and omega-9 (oleic) acids, approximately 70% and 15% respectively. This means that grape seed oil contains more linoleic acid than any other vegetable oil, comparable only to safflower, cedar-wood and evening primrose oil, all containing roughly the same amount of linoleic acid. This acid is present in human body too, but no so much in fat cells as in cell membranes. It is crucial for skin cells to preserve the membranes intact, and oils with high contents of linoleic acid have the most powerful protective and restorative effect. Besides softening and nourishing, grape seed oil normalises and improves the general health of dry skin. With regular use skin care products, containing grape seed oil, noticeably tighten pores, even out the skin tone, reduce the skin’s sensitivity and irritability. Linoleic acid has anti-inflammatory and immunostimulating properties too, which is always good for inflammation-prone and oily skin.
Like many other vegetable oils, grape seed oil contains vitamins, particularly A and E. Even though their contents is not very high, compared to other oils, they still give grape seed oil some extra antioxidant properties.
Grape seed oil contains some rare and unusual agents.
First of them is chlorophyll, giving pure oil its greenish tint or even bright green colour. Chlorophyll, along with natural phytoncides and tannins, has bactericidal effect, activates healing process in damaged skin and suppresses inflammation. Grape seed oil contains 1% beta-sitosterol, a substance that belongs to the class of sterols and is very similar to cholesterol in its structure and effect. Cholesterol is also found in the composition of phospholipids (lecithin, phosphatidyl serine, phosphatidyl inositol, and others), making up of the oil’s fractions. With age the quantities of cholesterol and phospholipids in the keratinous layer decrease, making the skin dry and flaky. Grape seed oil helps compensate for this age-related problem.
Two more compounds unique to grape seed oil are procyanidin and resveratrol.
Procyanidin is a very powerful antioxidant, belonging to the class of flavonoids. Its precursor is epicatechin, the primary antioxidant of green and white tea. Like epicatechin, procyanidin can effectively suppress the activity of the most dangerous free radicals, enhance the activity of vitamins A and E in the cosmetic formulae, normalise metabolic processes, and help remove toxins from the skin.
Resveratrol is another antioxidant, unique in a way and found in the grape skin as well as in seeds. Resveratrol is likely to be the source of grape’s and wine’s vascular strengthening effect — it is a known fact that in the countries with strong traditions of moderate wine drinking (France, Italy, Spain), cardiac and vascular diseases are relatively rare. However, this is not all resveratrol can do — it has an antiviral effect, helps restore the nerve tissue and is even used in some cancer treatments, particularly to reduce the severity of anti-cancer therapy side effects.
Grape seed oil, like few other vegetable oils, has such a wide range of properties, that it can be considered a universal ingredient. Easily absorbed, it softens and moisturises the skin, protects it from drying, enhances the skin’s elasticity and resilience (mostly thanks to resveratrol, that has a stimulating effect on the dermal cells, fibroblasts), accelerates its regeneration and restoration. And on top of it all grape seed oil has a light brightening effect, prevents age-related pigment spots, helps restore the skin’s protective functions, strengthens hypodermic capillaries. Thanks to its ability to remove toxins and drain excessive liquid, grape seed oil normalises the blood circulation, including that in the fatty tissue, which is why it’s used in body care and anti-cellulite solutions. Finally, anti-inflammatory and bactericidal properties of grape seed oil make it suitable for oily and problem skin.