As you may know, green tea is absolutely chock-full of antioxidants. It boasts more than any other tea. In fact, by weight, green tea is approximately 45% polyphenol. And these polyphenols have tremendous anti-carcinogenic and anti-inflammatory benefits. Reducing inflammation is one of the best things you can do for your skin and your overall health.
Of course, we all know that quantity doesn’t necessarily equal quality. So just how good are these green tea antioxidants? Well, they’re good enough to potentially add years to your life. I challenge you to name another product in your skincare regimen that can claim that! Here’s how....
A researcher who conducted a review study on green tea, Dr. Hasan Mukhtar, noted, “Of all the antioxidants known to mankind, the components of green tea are the most potent.” In particular, green tea contains catechins. Research in mice has found that catechins can reduce the likelihood that the mice will develop skin cancer after exposure to sunlight.
Experiments with human skin have found that green tea has similar anti-cancer effects in us too. It’s easy to discount skin cancer as no big deal. After all, can’t you just have it removed? But if you don’t catch it right away, it can quickly become a big deal. Melanoma in particular is far more deadly than many people realize. So having an additional source of protection beyond sunscreen is a great idea—especially when it has many additional benefits.
Beyond potentially saving your life, green tea can help you feel and, yes, look better. One of the key antioxidants in green tea is epigallocatechin gallate (or EGCG for short). This antioxidant is powerful but rare. Green tea is one of the best places to find it. And EGCG’s ability to decimate free radicals means it helps ward off a number of age-related diseases, including Alzheimer’s. It can help you flush toxins out of your body and keep your blood pressure and cholesterol at healthy levels.
If you’re nowhere near your golden years, you may be more interested to know that green tea can also help fight acne – even if you don’t want to actually drink it. In fact, you can soak a cotton ball in steeped green tea, apply it to an area of your skin prone to breakouts for five minutes, and rinse or don’t if you are going to bed. It will help existing blemishes heal and prevent new ones from forming. I have patients who have told me that green tea has helped their acne as much as cortisone cream.
After you brew your tea, whether you drink it or just apply the tea topically, be sure to save the tea bags. Let them cool in the refrigerator. Then apply them under your eyes for up to 10 minutes. The caffeine in the tea and the cool temperature will work together to calm inflammation and help drain puffiness/accumulated fluids from this sensitive area. I, personally use green tea as matcha and leaves – depending on my mood – to keep my own inflammation at a low roar. The tea bags will also promote vasoconstriction, which will reduce swelling. Just be sure you rinse off the area when you’re done. Letting tea sit on this sensitive skin for hours can potentially cause irritation.
After you’ve soothed your eyes, you can still get additional benefit from those tea bags. Cut them open and mix the tea leaves into your favorite mask. You’ll get an extra boost of antioxidants, and the leaves will provide gentle exfoliation as you apply the concoction. If you’d prefer to go the DIY route entirely, you can mix the leaves with honey or yogurt to make your own mask. Again, just be sure to rinse after 15-20 minutes.
If you’d prefer for someone else to do the work for you, you can also look for green tea as an ingredient in various personal care products. For example, shampoos that include green tea can help reduce dandruff – it just must contain sufficient green tea. Yet another superpower of this plant is its ability to minimize the fungus that contributes to flakiness. Plus, the catechins and polyphenols promote hair growth. There are even green tea-based products to help you grow your eyebrows!
And given green tea’s effects on the skin, it’s no surprise that many products include it. Studies have actually found that EGCG can help reactivate dying cells in the top layer of the skin. This can help keep both wrinkles and age spots from forming. Plus, the tannins in tea can help shrink your pores and reduce excessive oil production. Less oil often translates to less acne.
But just how much less oil are we talking about? Green tea can produce truly dramatic results. In fact, a study of products that contained 3% green tea extract reduced sebum (skin oil) by a whopping 70%! That can go a long way toward reducing breakouts.
Indeed, another study found that topical products containing just 2% green tea extract can cut acne nearly in half. In addition to reducing oil and inflammation, green tea is also antibacterial. And bacteria on the skin’s surface are a major contributor to acne, especially when it mixes with oil. Green tea extract addresses both sides of the equation.
Beyond helping to repair DNA damaged by UV rays, green tea can even make your skin less sensitive to the sun. You can experience this benefit by applying lotion made with green tea, by drinking a cup or two every day, or by doing both to double up your protection. The anti-inflammatory compounds in the tea help keep the skin from overreacting.
Those compounds even stick around in the skin to help it heal. Researchers biopsied the skin of participants who consumed green tea supplements. They tested it both before and after exposure to UV rays. And they found that the catechins were still present after exposure. This suggests that these antioxidants are bioavailable in the skin even when you take green tea orally. And that means they can help stop free radical damage.
Finally, green tea can help you stay hydrated from the inside out. While it does contain some caffeine, the amounts are much lower than what you’d find in black coffee. So you can safely drink a few cups every morning if you like. And EGCG can help your skin retain moisture whether you’re drinking it or applying it topically.
Green tea is popping up everywhere these days. And that’s good news for your skin. You’ll find it in many restaurants and coffee shops, and it’s easy to spot on grocery store shelves as well. You’ll even see it as an ingredient in many baked goods. Just remember that sugar isn’t good for your skin, so even green tea won’t make a cupcake an anti-aging product. And of course, you’ll find green tea in many skincare products and shampoos.
There are a lot of skincare ingredients out there, including many of the Système 41
products, that can fight signs of aging, help reverse sun damage, and even give you a youthful glow. Green tea is one of the few fads that’s actually worth the hype.