Red or green? Regardless of color, grapes make a great low-calorie snack, packed with several vitamins and minerals. Pleasing to the palate, this fruit is said to contain antioxidants that slow the aging process and contribute to better health.
Self-Care for Skin
In addition to the fruit, grape products, including extract and oil, might provide some advantages for skin conditions.
Rebecca Lee, R.N., founder of RemediesForMe, a site that “sheds light on natural remedies for various health concerns,” says that grape seed oil for massage therapist self-care.
An anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, grape seed oil “cleans pores and soothes irritated skin,” she says. “Grape seed oil is great for clearing acne. It contains linoleic acid, which strengthens and improves the quality of the skin. Due to its astringent properties, grape seed oil can tone and tighten the
skin, which is great for oily-prone skin.”
Lee points out that most people with acne and oily skin tend to avoid products that contain oil, but she encourages them to try grape seed oil, which can work with the body to balance out natural oils.
“This oil is great for people with sensitive or aging skin, and does not lead to any type of allergic reaction,” she adds. “Grape seed oil has the ability to improve blood circulation, decreases swelling, speeds up the process of wound healing and repairs damaged capillaries and blood vessels.”
Alexis Rae, owner of HealingMassage by Alexis Rae in Los Angeles, California, has been blending her own massage products using oil extracts and essentials for many years. “My go-to and client favorite blend has a base of grape seed oil. It is blended with other pure oils of vitamin E and jojoba, and incorporates some essential oils,” she says.
Rae has found the blend to be effective and client-friendly. “Even clients with the most sensitive skin have never had any reaction to my grape seed-based massage oil blend, which is approximately 80 to 85 percent grape seed.
“The oil is not too greasy and is not a common allergen like those oils coming from some nuts or even fruit like avocado,” says Rae. “The oil is very gentle and knowing exactly what you’re using without all the usual chemical by-products and preservatives added to retail massage lotions and oils is reassuring.”
She points out that grape seed oil is particularly good for summer skin, which might be damaged or dry from overexposure to the elements. “During the summer, when some clients have minor sunburn, the grape seed-based oils are soothing and leave my clients’ skin with a glow, without leftover [residue].”
Additionally, Rae finds that these blended oils have a moisturizing yet gentle effect, while also providing proper traction necessary for the therapist to effectively move tissue during massage.
Scarcity of Clinical Data
When choosing products with grape seed extract, massage and polarity therapist and Reiki practitioner Sheila LaSella, owner of Stillpoint Healing Therapies, LLC, in Fairfield, Connecticut, emphasizes the importance of selecting “…an organic, cold-pressed oil. Otherwise the oil is extracted in an industrial process using high heat, which kills the vitamins and antioxidants.”
She adds, “The industrial method may also use a toxic solvent called hexane, which is petroleum-based and may make products more flammable. This can be a serious problem because the sheets used by massage therapists can catch on fire in the dryer if oil still remains. I’ve also found that grape seed oil stains sheets much more than other oils.”
However, LaSella points out that claims regarding high antioxidant content, particularly Vitamin E, in grape seed oil have not been verified by studies on human skin. “Most of the studies on grape seed oil benefits are conducted in regard to its use as a supplement. Oral ingestion benefits are different than receiving therapeutic benefits via skin absorption,” she says.
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) reaffirms LaSella’s claim. According to the website, “There are a few well-controlled studies of people using grape seed extract for health conditions.” However, grape seed extract is more often “…used as a dietary supplement for various conditions, including venous insufficiency…” and also as an anti-inflammatory and wound healing agent.
However, some current studies are evaluating the medical benefits of grape seed oil. One study found that grape seed extract helped to reduce the risk of cardiovascular events in patients with type 2 diabetes.
The NCCIH is currently supporting research into possible benefits of grape seed extract as a treatment option for Alzheimer’s disease and excessive iron levels.
Benefits of Grape Seed Oil Favored by Therapists
In spite of the scarcity of clinical data, LaSella has used grape seed oil for massage therapy for about three years and finds it easily absorbed by the skin. She notes that the oil also provides a nice glide. And, like Rae, she cites the absence of odor, “which is important to many clients with allergies or sensitivities to scents, and I never had a client report an adverse reaction to the oil,” she says.
Jean Shea, founder and president of BIOTONE, agrees that there could be several benefits of grape seed that could help clients. “Since grape seeds are rich in powerful antioxidants and natural plant compounds, they are well known for their antioxidant activity, which means that they work very well not only for overall health, but also in massage oil formulations. They act as an anti-oxidant in the formula and therefore extend the shelf life of natural oils being used in the product,” she says.
“Grape seed extract can also act as a booster when combined with other anti-oxidants allowing for a lesser amount to guard against oxidation,” Shea continues. “They also have many benefits for the body, which may explain why grape seed extract appears to help so many different health conditions while exerting its effects body-wide.”
About the Author
Phyllis Hanlon has written nonfiction articles and book reviews as well as human-interest stories, profiles and award-winning essays. Her specialty areas include health and medicine, religion, education and business. She regularly delights in the joys of massage. She has written many articles for MASSAGE Magazine, including “Create a Brand and Gain Clients with Private-Label Products” and “Peppermint Oil Puts the Holiday in Massage.”