Beauty Bacchanalia

Wine-based beauty products and spas find a new use for good fruit.



Lovers of all things wine rejoice: the next time the urge to bathe in Chardonnay strikes, instead of filling a tub with Chateau St. Jean 2002 Reserve, how about uncorking a bottle of Olavie Chardonnay 2007 Bubble Bath? It's a lavender-scented froth made with an extract of white grape seeds and just one of the current wave of wine-centric spa products and services on the market today.

The recent buzz on polyphenols—the antioxidant in grape seeds and the skin of red grapes—is powering a "vinotherapy" trend in spa and skin products. While most wine drinkers are familiar with polyphenols' work inside the body, the beauty industry maintains this compound also functions topically, forming a protective layer to fight the aging effects of free radicals on the skin.

Coast to coast, spas are offering beauty treatments utilizing wine products. At Napa's Spa Terra at Meritage Resort, the Vineyard Facial includes a grape mask and grape seed serum application; New York's Delluva Vinotherapy Day Spa has employed a staff of "Spa Sommeliers" to administer a Tasting Menu of treatments including a barrel bath in grape skins. The first all-vinotherapy spa on the east coast, Delluva carries products like d'Vine's Zinfandel Exfoliating Scrub-Mask and is the only U.S. outlet for TheraVINE, which uses indigenous South African Merlot, Chardonnay, Cabernet and Sauvignon Blanc grapes in its products.

Even all-purpose skin care companies are now using grapes, such as L'Occitane, whose "30-Day Grape Cure" is derived from a century-old French remedy. But some beat the trend, such as Les Sources de Caudalíe, which launched an entire vinotherapy line in 1993 from Château Smith-Haut-Lafite grapes in Bordeaux-Martillac. Caudalie has set the bar high with its creations, like the Crushed Cabernet Scrub, which is potted in a jam jar and redolent of herbal vineyard aromas.

That hasn't deterred smaller companies from dipping their toes in the barrel—numerous new beauty lines are being launched with grapes as the theme. An extract of white grape seeds from Burgundy is the signature ingredient for Olavie, whose Chardonnay bath salves (a facial line debuts this spring) such as the Sugar Body Scrub are popular at high-end spas like San Diego's L'Auberge Del Mar, where mini treatments are paired with wine tastings. The Willard InterContinental in Washington D.C. has also touted the products, and swaths clients in Chardonnay-soaked towels.

Other spas and products that will put a spring in vinophiles' step: California North, first developed for outdoorsmen, whose Appellation Spa therapeutic bath soak contains rosemary, sage and relaxing yarrow; Napa Valley Spa Products gather grape seeds from 42 Napa Valley wineries for their lavender rose-scented Grape Seed Bath Tea; and Défense from Fruits & Passion whose Chardonnay grape extract Purifying Mask uses green and white clay. Professional products available online include Burgundy-inspired delicacies from Janssen Cosmeceutical, such as Bordeaux-red Grape Body Gel, Stellar Spa's Resveratrol-rich Vita-C and Mega-C serums; and B. Kamins Chemist's Anti-Aging Moisturizer, which promises to lift fatigued complexions to a rosy glow.

Manufacturers claim that grape seed extracts are 50 times more powerful than Vitamin E and 20 times more powerful than Vitamin C, but after slipping into a steamy Chardonnay seed-infused bath, the last thing on our minds is statistical analysis. Still, we can warrant that no wine lovers were harmed while testing these products.

 

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