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The Major Skin Care Benefits Of Blood Orange Extract* 

Alexandra Engler
Author: Expert reviewer:
June 13, 2024
Alexandra Engler
mbg Beauty Director
By Alexandra Engler
mbg Beauty Director
Alexandra Engler is the beauty director at mindbodygreen and host of the beauty podcast Clean Beauty School. Previously, she's held beauty roles at Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, SELF, and Cosmopolitan; her byline has appeared in Esquire, Sports Illustrated, and Allure.com.
Emma Engler, M.S.
Expert review by
Emma Engler, M.S.
mbg Nutrition Research Scientist
Emma Engler, M.S., is a Nutrition Research Scientist at mindbodygreen supporting nutrition product research, development, and innovation, as well as science education and communications.
June 13, 2024

The beauty industry is regularly turning to the botanical world for solutions, both internal and external. From the classic and quenching aloe vera plant that gets slathered on post-sun skin to the buzzy and unique fruit extract that finds its way into supplements, serums, and more—plants have always served as the foundation for the beauty world. 

And as someone who has been reporting on beauty trends for the better part of a decade, sometimes it can feel like we're running out of new ingredients to get excited about.

So when I dug into the emerging research behind the skin care benefits of blood orange extract supplements, my interests were piqued. 

Here's everything you need to know. 

5 skin care benefits of blood orange extract supplementation 

Through supplementation, blood orange extract has been shown to improve skin hydration, optimize antioxidant capacity, protect skin from photoaging, combat oxidative stress, and improve inflammatory balance.*

Through these mechanisms, folks may experience a reduction in wrinkles and dark spots.*

Here's a breakdown of the science:

1. Heightened antioxidant properties 

Blood orange extract contains powerful antioxidants1 such as flavonoids (anthocyanins and flavanones), non-flavonoid phenols (hydroxycinnamic acids), and vitamin C (ascorbic acid). 

According to a randomized, double-blind, controlled study, supplementing with the extract (as Red Orange Complex™) led to a statistically significant increase in antioxidant capacity1 of the skin.* Study participants experienced an increase of 8.6% in 14 days and 22.3% in 56 days.* 

2. Combats oxidative stress & improves inflammatory balance

Inflammatory status in the body and oxidative stress are the root cause of aging skin in many ways.

The skin is bombarded with free radicals and environmental stressors daily—from harsh topicals and pollution to UV radiation. When your body isn't able to adequately deal with free radicals in the body, the result is something called oxidative stress. Oxidative stress then leads to suboptimal inflammatory balance. 

A prolonged state or accumulation of oxidative stress directly contributes to the skin aging process2. Specifically, it contributes to the loss of collagen and elastin fibers, resulting in fine wrinkles. Oxidative stress is also involved in reduced skin barrier function, decreased moisture, and increased risk for DNA mutations in our skin cells.

The good news is that the body has natural protection mechanisms to deal with this onslaught: antioxidants. While the body can produce some antioxidants naturally, it really relies on our consumption of antioxidants through our diet to help deal with the free radical burden.

Research shows that taking 100 mg per day of blood orange extract is effective at combating oxidative stress3 and decreasing levels of the pro-inflammatory cytokine TNF-a in the body.*

Another study done on athletes found that supplementing with the extract leads to ​​lower levels of oxidative stress4 in the body within two months.* 

3. Protects skin against photoaging 

Previous research has shown that UV exposure accounts for up to 90%5 of the visible signs of aging. So as you can imagine, protecting the skin from UV exposure is paramount for skin health and appearance long term. 

First and foremost, folks should wear sunscreen. It's not just sunscreen that's important, however. Utilizing a robust, holistic approach to sun care can far more effectively protect your skin from the effects of UV rays. A 360-degree sun care protocol means wearing protective clothing and accessories, being smart about your time in the sun, and even being smart about what you eat. 

More and more research has shown that there are certain antioxidants that have been shown to have photoprotective qualities by both absorbing UV rays and helping neutralize UV-induced free radical damage6.* Blood orange extract is one of them.

One in vivo study showed that consuming the extract for 15 days brought a significant reduction in the UV-induced skin erythema degree7 (aka burning).*

4. Improves moisturization 

Hydrated skin is healthy skin. Of course, you can focus on skin hydration using creams and lotions, but internal hydration can help significantly. 

One way to promote improved skin moisturization is through blood orange extract, research shows.* 

A randomized, double-blind, controlled study found that when taking 100 mg/day of the extract, participants' skin moisturization increased by 5.3% in 14 days and 12.3% in 56 days.*

In addition, that study also found that transepidermal water loss decreased8. This basically just means that the skin was more efficient at retaining water in the skin.* In 14 days, TEWL decreased by 2.7%, and in 56 days, it decreased by 14.5%.   

5. Reduces wrinkles & dark spots

Now, this is the benefit most folks are probably most intrigued by: the visible results the extract offers. I mean, it's important to cover how the extract is working internally, but external results are usually what folks are paying attention to. 

Thanks to the protective effects explained above, blood orange extract has been shown to reduce wrinkle severity, increase elasticity, decrease pigmentation, and improve brightness.*

For example, in the study that examined the photoprotective qualities of the antioxidant found that participants' dark spots decreased from 27% to 7%7.* 

A randomized, double-blind, controlled study8 found that participants who took 100 mg daily saw a statistically significant increase in skin radiance—9.2% after 14 days and 18.5% after 56 days.*

That same study also found the extract was able to help with wrinkle depth severity—after measuring the participants' mean deepest wrinkle before, during, and after supplementation, they found that the wrinkle depth decreased by 6.9% by the end of the study.*

Finally, that study also looked at skin elasticity, or the skin's ability to bounce back. They found that participants saw an increase in elasticity by 5.9% in 14 days and 13.9% in 56 days.* Interestingly, the researchers suspect this benefit could be attributed to the vitamin C in the extract, as vitamin C plays a key role in the elastin and collagen synthesis process. 

How to know the correct dosage of blood orange extract

Blood orange extract is not an essential nutrient, and thus there is no official daily recommended intake from the National Academies. And given research is still growing, there's no clinical consensus at this time. 

In place of a standardized recommended dosage, we can look to the existing research and one's specific goals to determine the correct dosage. 

If you're looking for skin benefits like those discussed in this article, clinical data shows that 100 mg per day is an appropriate dosage to achieve those results. 

As always, discuss with your health care practitioner if you have more specific dosage questions about blood orange extract—or any other supplement, for that matter. 

What to look for in a supplement with blood orange extract

 Finding a quality supplement, in general, isn't always easy. There are just so many on the market that seem to promise the moon and back.

Not to mention, a majority are less than transparent about what actually goes into the formula, you may have sustainability concerns, the brand doesn't offer specifics to back up claims, and so on.

Understandably, this can become quite the headache, fast. 

Here's a good list of what to keep your eye on when shopping for a blood orange extract:

  • Potency: Find an option with your relevant dose for your goals (100 milligrams for skin care results).
  • Sourcing: Prioritize the traceability of the extract. Look to see if the brand explains where the blood oranges come from, a la orchard to supplement. 
  • Clean: Look for a pomegranate extract that's non-irradiated, GMO-free, and food-allergen-free. This botanical extract should contain no added sugars, acids, colors, preservatives, or flavors.
  • Additional ingredients: While not necessary if you just want to supplement with pure blood orange extract, you may consider finding a supplement that utilizes the extract alongside other ingredients for more robust benefits. 

Potential side effects of blood orange extract

Blood orange extract is generally considered to be safe and effective for most individuals. 

In fact, one specific brand of blood orange extract, Red Orange Complex™, is shown in clinical trials to be safe and effective at the dose studied (100 mg/day). In addition, the extract is derived from juices that are common in the human diet, and the components of the extract have a strong safety profile. 

Of course, avoid it if you have a known allergy to the plant. And if you have any specific concerns regarding your unique health circumstances, it's always best to discuss with your practitioner beforehand. They'll be better able to guide you and your individualized needs. 

The takeaway 

Blood orange extract might not be the buzziest botanical skin care ingredient at the moment—but thanks to mounting research, that may change as studies begin to show the extract's valuable protective properties for skin health.*

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