Oh, the lifestyles of the rich and famous… they get to do all sorts of weird things in the name of “health” (like Jennifer Lopez and her anti-aging placenta face mask, or Demi Moore’s leech therapy). The newest hot trend, however is one that any wine lover can get behind — taking red wine baths. Sure, they may sound extravagant, but these luxurious soaks supposedly provide the bather with a number of health benefits.
Ever since New York Knicks star Amar’e Stoudemire Instagrammed a red wine bath selfie with the caption “Recovery Day! Red Wine Bath!!” the Internet has been abuzz discussing the actual benefits of soaking oneself in Cabernet Sauvignon. As it turns out, there's a lot to talk about.
The practice of combining spa activities with grape branches, vines, leaves, and skin is called vinotherapy, and according to New York Magazine, it's been around since the 1990s. It relies on polyphenols and resveratrol, a powerful compound found in grape seeds, branches, and vines that is thought to have age-defying properties that can improve circulation. But while the idea of a red wine bath may conjure up images of wealthy people emptying their wine cellars for their evening soak, there isn’t supposed to be any actual wine used in vinotherapy at all. The "red wine bath" is actually a combination of red vine leaf stock and water, because soaking in alcohol will dry out the skin.
But does it actually work? The answer to that remains unclear, although other studies have shown that the resveratrol found in red wine can act as a powerful anti-oxidant and may even clear up skin if used in combination with other over-the-counter acne medications.
Still, there are some professionals who have their doubts on whether sitting in a tub full of vino is actually effective. Dr. Richard Semba, who recently led a study on the benefits of red wine, told New York Magazine, “I don't know much about the cutaneous absorption of resveratrol…I’d imagine it is not very possible, and it sounds like a crazy idea.”
So crazy enough to work or just crazy? Probably the latter. At $65 for a 20-minute soak, wine baths are just another weird health trend for those who have money to throw around. For those of you itching to get yourself in a tub full of red grape stew, be my guest. I’ll stick to having my red wine in a glass.