In most countries you would be offered tea as a greeting gesture. In fact, it is the most enjoyed drink worldwide, only second to water. Countries like India and China have grown and prepared tea for centuries.
I grew up in a British and Chinese household, so tea was always the drink of choice. It was more than just something to keep you warm: it was comfort in a cup. If family gathered, we made tea. If we were upset, we made tea. Even if it was 100 degrees outside (as it often is in Phoenix), we drank tea. My Mum has countless tea service sets that are dear to her. Some of them have been imported from England, some were inherited and others remind her of days together at market with my Nana. When we all go to dim sum as a family we sit around tins of steaming pork buns and pour each other jasmine tea into small ceramic cups. It is something share and is so much more than just a drink in my family.
My affinity for collecting information on natural ingredients lead me to look into this powerful gift from nature. It has been interesting learning about how this staple of my childhood can be used to change the condition of the skin. Although tea in general has been the tie that bound together memories throughout my life, green tea specifically has a wide range of benefits that extent to topical usage.
I believe that each natural ingredient has a theme that may appeal to a certain skin type, condition or goal; however, green tea has a generous range of enhancements to improve the skin. Each one of green tea’s amazing skin benefits seems to lead into the next. Here’s the top six ways this powerhouse ingredient can transform your skin.
Breakouts are not just something you deal with throughout your teenage years. Acne can plague us throughout times of stress, imbalance and diet changes. Another time we often see breakouts pick up are during hormonal shifts such as pregnancy, breastfeeding, our monthly cycle and menopause. Studies have shown that topical preparations of green tea help reduce breakouts quickly without the side effects that prescriptions topicals can cause (Fowler Jr. MD, 2010). Being a mom twice over, I have experienced that unfortunate cycle from pregnancy through postpartum where hormonal shifts trigger breakouts, scarring and hyper pigmentation. Pregnancy is such a sensitive time where we question the safety of what we put on our skin. This makes green tea a natural solution to something that causes discomfort for many people.
Often times, rosacea flare-ups can be stimulated by the sun. Green tea is a natural photo-protectant against this kind of UV trigger. Using green tea in your everyday skin care, along with a daily mineral sunscreen can relieve some of these flare-ups.
Hyper-pigmentation or dark spots are our skin’s natural way of protecting itself from damage. However, as I mentioned above green tea provides a certain level of sun protection that can aid your sunscreen and reverse the sun’s harmful effects. In this way, green tea is a super protector. Some of the damaging results of the sun includes cell damage that leads to inflammation and dark spots.
Being burned or tanning is often thought of as the sun’s strongest way of affecting our skin, however I believe that photo-aging should be our number one concern. Without antioxidants to reverse these imbalances, we can experience premature aging. Green tea contains antioxidant powers twenty times stronger than that of Vitamin E. This level of oxidative resistance can help even skin tone, reverse imbalances and protect against photo-aging.
Speaking of aging, green tea has found another amazing way to protect our skin. This ingredient actually protects collagen by inhibiting the production of collagenase enzymes. These enzymes destroy the bonds that provide our skin with good elasticity. That bounce back is essential to the look and resiliency of our skin. Strengthening the integrity of your skin is the best way to ensure the sun doesn’t add years onto your face.
6. Redness/ Irritation:
As if the above skin benefits weren’t enough, green tea provides strong anti-inflammatory properties. These calming properties help to soothe redness and irritation. This is another wonderful benefit for those of you that may be experiencing rosacea or breakouts. With relief from blotchiness the skin appears more even in complexion.
What about the caffeine?
If you are concerned about the caffeine in green tea I think it is important to add that a small amount of caffeine applied topically can offer some skin benefits. Caffeine can reduce puffiness, encourage good circulation and reduce redness. If you are pregnant and worried about how the caffeine will affect your baby you should know that the levels absorbed by green tea are low. The American Pregnancy Association suggests drinking less than 150mg of caffeine daily, and green tea levels are much lower (ranging from 23mg-70mg). Even less caffeine is absorbed when applied topically.
There are several types of tea that are used throughout skincare. Although their benefits may differ depending on the variety, you can generally expect many of the above listed uses to be included. Some of my favorites include Japanese green tea and white tea. Also, there are a great many internal benefits from consuming this drink as well.
Next time you’re offered a cup, remember all these lovely skin benefits and enjoy the warm comfort!
American Pregnancy Association. (2016, Sept 2). Caffeine Intake During Pregnancy . Retrieved from Americanpregnancy.org: http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/caffeine-during-pregnancy/
Fowler Jr. MD, J. F., Woolery-Lloyd MD, H., Waldorf MD, H., & Saini MD, R. (2010, June). Innovations in Natural Ingredients and Their Use in Skin Care. Journal of Drugs in Dermatology.
Gediya, S. K., Mistry, R. B., Patel, U. K., Blessy, M., & Jain, H. N. (2011). Scholars Research Library. Retrieved from http://scholarsresearchlibrary.com/archive.html
Packianathan, N., & Kandasamy, R. (2011). Skin Care with Herbal Exfoliants. Global Science Books.
SK, K. (2003, Sep). Skin photoprotection by green tea: antioxidant and immunomodulatory effects. Retrieved from PubMed.gov.
SK, K., N. , A., & H., M. (2000, Aug). Green tea and skin. Retrieved from PubMed.gov.
Tea Association of the U.S.A. Inc. (n.d.). Tea Fact Sheet – 2016-17. Retrieved from Tea Association of the U.S.A. Inc.: http://www.teausa.com/14655/tea-fact-sheet
University of Maryland Medical Center. (2015). Green tea. Retrieved from University of Maryland Medical Center: http://www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/green-tea