Q: Are there any health benefits to wine baths?—Eric, Phoenix, Ariz.
A: Some wellness groups and spas may tout the benefits of wine baths as an antioxidant-rich experience, but experts are quick to dismiss them. According to Dr. Gabriella Baki, University of Toledo assistant professor of pharmaceutics and director of the school's cosmetic science and formulation design program, wine baths can damage the lower layers of the skin and, while the promising wine polyphenol resveratrol is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent, it is most effective via topical application.
"Soaking the skin in red wine may not be the best idea," Dr. Baki says. "Red wine has many ingredients in much larger amounts than resveratrol, which can actually dry out the skin." She cites tannins and alcohol as the primary causes of dry sensations and dry skin that may be experienced after a wine bath.
Wine is also acidic, partly due to its alpha hydroxy content, which includes tartaric acid. Dr. Baki explains that these acids are commonly used as peeling agents, or exfoliants. They can cause photosensitivity and irritation, which is why she does not recommend wine baths. She instead recommends the use of skin creams that contain grape-derived ingredients and are specifically formulated for application to your skin, unlike wine