Is cranberry juice Good for clearing skin?


Cranberry juice has long been touted as a superfood, known for its ability to help prevent urinary tract infections, reduce the risk of heart disease, and provide other health benefits. In recent years, some have also suggested that cranberry juice could help clear up skin conditions like acne.

The claims about cranberry juice and skin health likely stem from the fact that cranberries contain a number of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. Research shows that ingredients like proanthocyanidins and vitamin C in cranberries can help protect skin cells from damage and reduce inflammation.

But is drinking cranberry juice an effective way to improve acne or achieve clear, glowing skin? Here’s a detailed look at the evidence.

The Antioxidant Benefits of Cranberries

Cranberries are packed with beneficial plant compounds that act as antioxidants in the body. Some of the main antioxidants found in cranberries include:

  • Proanthocyanidins: These compounds have anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor, antioxidant, and antimicrobial effects.
  • Anthocyanins: This group of flavonoids has strong antioxidant properties and may help protect cells from damage.
  • Vitamin C: Cranberries are an excellent source of vitamin C, which supports collagen production and protects against oxidative stress.
  • Vitamin E: Also a powerful antioxidant, vitamin E defends against inflammation and cellular damage.
  • Quercetin: This flavonoid has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer activities.

The rich antioxidant profile of cranberries is likely responsible for many of their purported health benefits. These antioxidants can help defend the skin against free radicals, inflammation, and signs of aging.

By scavenging free radicals and reducing oxidative damage, antioxidants like those found in cranberry juice may support skin health and a more youthful, radiant complexion.

Cranberry Juice Nutrition Facts

Here is an overview of the nutrition found in an 8-ounce (240 ml) serving of unsweetened cranberry juice:

Nutrient Amount
Calories 140
Protein 0.5 g
Carbs 33 g
Sugar 31 g
Fiber 0.5 g
Vitamin C 26% DV
Vitamin E 19% DV
Vitamin K 5% DV
Manganese 25% DV

As you can see, cranberry juice is high in carbs and natural sugar. It’s also low in fiber and protein.

However, it contains a decent amount of vitamin C, fulfilling 26% of the Daily Value (DV) in one cup. It’s also a good source of vitamin E, vitamin K, and manganese.

The key antioxidants in cranberry juice – like anthocyanins and proanthocyanidins – are not included in the standard nutrition label.

Potential Benefits for Acne

With its impressive antioxidant content and anti-inflammatory properties, some claim that cranberry juice could help fight breakouts and clear up acne-prone skin. Here’s a look at some of the potential benefits:

  • Reduces inflammation: The proanthocyanidins and other antioxidants in cranberries possess anti-inflammatory activities, which could help calm redness and swelling.
  • Protects from free radicals: Cranberry antioxidants like vitamin C, anthocyanins, and vitamin E help reduce cellular damage from reactive oxygen species.
  • Supports collagen production: Vitamin C is required for the synthesis of collagen, the structural protein that keeps skin firm and youthful.
  • Improves circulation: Better blood flow provides oxygen and nutrients to skin cells and helps remove waste products.
  • Fights bacteria: The proanthocyanidins in cranberries have antimicrobial effects against p. acnes bacteria, which contribute to acne.

Through these mechanisms, regular intake of cranberry juice could potentially help improve inflammatory acne and provide other anti-aging skin benefits.

However, there is limited research directly testing how drinking cranberry juice impacts acne. Most studies have focused on the effects of applying cranberry extracts or oils to the skin, rather than drinking the juice.

Research on Cranberries and Skin Health

While there are few studies looking specifically at cranberry juice, multiple studies have found beneficial effects on the skin from cranberries and cranberry extracts:

  • A study in Nutrition Journal showed that drinking low-calorie cranberry juice increased blood levels of vitamin C and antioxidants like quercetin. This helped improve measures of skin hydration, roughness, and oxidative stress.
  • An animal study in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology found that mice fed cranberry extract for 6 weeks had increased skin hydration, reduced wrinkling, and higher collagen levels compared to a control group.
  • Research in Phytotherapy Research showed that applying an oil with cranberry extract reduced skin inflammation and damage in mice. It also accelerated wound healing.
  • A test tube study in Archives of Dermatological Research found that cranberry extracts protected fibroblasts (collagen-producing cells) from damage caused by exposure to UV radiation.

While promising, most of these studies used concentrated cranberry extracts, rather than normal juice. More research is still needed on humans to determine how effective drinking cranberry juice may be for combating acne.

Potential Downsides of Drinking Cranberry Juice

Despite the potential skin benefits, there are some potential downsides to consider before drinking large amounts of cranberry juice:

  • High in sugar: Cranberries are very tart, so most commercial cranberry juice products have added sugar. The excess sugar can be problematic for some skin conditions.
  • May be irritating: The acidity of cranberry juice could worsen sensitive skin or inflammation.
  • Oxalates: Cranberries contain oxalates, which some speculate could worsen acne.
  • Diuretic effects: Compounds in cranberry may have mild diuretic effects, potentially causing dehydration.
  • Drug interactions: Cranberry juice can interact with certain medications like blood thinners.

For these reasons, cranberry juice is likely most beneficial for skin health when consumed in moderation as part of an overall healthy diet. Those with certain medical conditions should speak with their healthcare provider before adding it to their routine.

How to Use Cranberry Juice for Skin

Here are some tips for incorporating cranberry juice to maximize the benefits for your skin:

  • Choose unsweetened varieties or dilute sweetened juice with water. The less added sugar, the better.
  • Moderate your intake to 4-8 ounces (120-240 ml) per day to limit sugar and calories.
  • Drink it in the morning on an empty stomach when antioxidants are most effectively absorbed.
  • Combine it with other antioxidant-rich ingredients like ginger or green tea.
  • Apply it directly to the skin using cotton pads to soothe inflammation.
  • Mix with honey or aloe vera gel and use as a nourishing face mask 1-2 times per week.

Additionally, be sure to always cleanse, moisturize, and use sun protection for optimal skin health. Cranberry juice can complement your regimen but should not replace standard skin care.

The Bottom Line

Cranberry juice provides a concentrated dose of antioxidants, including proanthocyanidins, anthocyanins, vitamin C, and quercetin. Research shows that these compounds can help defend skin cells against damage, reduce inflammation, support collagen production, and improve overall skin quality.

Although promising, there is limited evidence directly tying drinking cranberry juice to acne benefits. Most studies showing positive skin effects have used concentrated cranberry extracts.

Drinking unsweetened cranberry juice in moderation could support skin health as part of a balanced, healthy diet. However, downing glasses of sugary cranberry juice is unlikely to be an effective strategy against acne on its own.

Cranberry juice should not replace standard skin care ingredients like retinoids or benzoyl peroxide prescribed by dermatologists. But it may provide additional anti-aging and anti-inflammatory benefits when used carefully as part of your regular skin care routine.


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