Could green tea be the secret to younger-looking, healthier skin?
Although it’s been around for thousands of years, green tea really seems to have gone mainstream in the last decade. And much of that popularity is deserved – green tea is a tasty drink with many proven health benefits.
Sure, it’s got antioxidant and cardio-protective properties. But green tea also has proven effects on acne, non-melanoma skin cancers, skin damage, and photoaging. It’s protective against sun damage, and it’s a solid moisturizer, to boot!
So read on – I’ll walk you through why the fountain of youth might actually be found at the bottom of your teacup.
What Makes Green Tea so Healthy?
Before we get into how green tea affects your skin health, it’s useful to take a look at some of the components in green tea.
Green tea is a complex chemical concoction, and the interaction of what’s inside is going to affect your skin (and the rest of your body, for that matter!).
- Polyphenols – organic chemicals that naturally occur in plants. In green tea, the most famous is the catechin epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). EGCG has the potential to aid human health and diseases – many of the beneficial effects of green tea seem to link to EGCG.
- Catechins – astringent polyphenol components in green tea. Catechins have been known to decrease blood cholesterol and inhibit high blood pressure. EGCG is the major catechin in green tea.
- Theanine – an amino acid closely related to glutamine which contributes flavor to green tea. It increases stamina, serves as a mild diuretic, and increases alertness.
- Vitamins – Vitamin C, B2, E, Folic Acid, and Beta Carotene are all inside green tea. Vitamins play a crucial role in healthy skin care.
- Minerals – Potassium, Calcium, Phosphorous, and Manganese are all included in green tea. They serve as biological regulators, and can also be helpful with skincare.
The Beauty Benefits of Green Tea for Skin
Green tea has been used and consumed for its overall health benefits for centuries. While native to India and China, green tea is now used globally for various purposes.
Green tea is among the least processed types of tea and is made from unoxidized leaves. Why is this important? Green tea contains the most antioxidants of all teas.
Research suggests that green tea has a wide range of therapeutic properties.
Those benefits extend, naturally, to your body’s largest organ – your skin.
The rich nutrients and antioxidants mentioned above make green tea an effective skincare ingredient, in various forms.
Green Tea Antioxidants Minimize Skin Damage
Let’s get back to antioxidants and free radicals.
Free radicals are, at their heart, unstable molecules that can cause damage to all of your cells. Lacking electrons, free radicals scavenge neighbor cells for them in a process called oxidation. Oxidation is a natural process, but out of control oxidation can lead to aging and disease.
Why is this harmful to your skin?
Free radicals don’t spare your skin cells, and their adverse effects can damage skin as quickly as they damage other parts of your body. This is where our heroes, antioxidants, come into play.
Green tea is loaded with natural antioxidants that help to prevent cell damage. Substances like EGCG and other catechins are major antioxidants in tea, and polyphenols, in general, often act as antioxidants.
Those components go a long way to neutralizing free radicals and preventing them from wreaking havoc on a cellular level.
Studies have shown that these substances are particularly good for your skin.
Skin is incredibly complex, but green tea extract especially has been proven to help with all manner of oxidative damage, from sunburn to wrinkles to photoaging (which you know as uneven pigmentation, loss of elasticity, and wrinkles).
Green Tea Ingredients Improve Acne
Acne is a skin condition that is often hard to treat and never fun to battle. Not only can it affect the appearance of your skin, but it can also be damaging to your self-esteem, as well.
The red bumps associated with acne are hard to banish. Good news – green tea may help with this dilemma. The active ingredients in green tea have been shown to help improve and diminish acne.
The primary catechin – EGCG – in green tea has anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, and antioxidant properties. These properties work well in treating both acne and oily skin.
Often, acne is the result of clogged pores and the overgrowth of bacteria. Your pores secrete an oily substance known as sebum, which can clog those pores and irritate your skin. Studies show that green tea can reduce the amount of sebum you produce, and EGCG on its own works wonders as well.
Green Tea has Anti-Aging Benefits
It seems a new anti-aging ingredient is found every day that claims to turn back the hands of time. But green tea is no passing fad or beauty-trend. It’s a natural product used for centuries that actually helps with aging.
Alas, all of us will age, but applying green tea to our skin may help fight the aging process. Green tea has been shown to improve skin elasticity when used both topically and orally.
Green Tea May Prevent Skin Cancer
Green tea used in topical skin products could have an anti-cancerous impact on your skin.
Researchers have found that green tea polyphenols may prevent non-melanoma skin cancer by enhancing DNA repair.
Of course, more research needs to be conducted here, and you should never substitute green tea for the opinion of a dermatologist. Additionally, its effects are inconclusive on melanoma, and only possibly helpful for non-melanoma skin cancers.
Still, green tea – especially topically applied – may play a role in the fight against skin cancer.
So, how do you get the biggest beauty benefits out of green tea?
How to Best Use Green Tea for its Beauty Benefits
Your skin is exposed to harmful air pollutants, materials, gases, and ultraviolet rays throughout the day. How can you use green tea to counteract these skin stressors and get healthy, glowing, and youthful skin?
Of course, you can brew up a cup of green tea and enjoy it as a tasty, health-promoting beverage.
But many of green tea’s benefits for skin health come from topical application, which is why so many topical beauty products now contain green tea extract, a concentrated form of green tea.
Studies have shown that applying green tea extract to your skin may help reduce skin damage caused by extensive sun exposure. Many of the studies linking green tea to skin health utilized the topical application of green tea.
Lastly, green tea supplements can also deliver all of the antioxidant benefits of green tea in a convenient capsule or powder form.
Whether you apply it directly to your skin, take it in capsule form, or simply drink a warm cup, you’ll still get the active anti-aging benefits of green tea.
Green Tea for Health, Beauty, and Wellness
Overall, green tea has many health benefits. And those benefits don’t stop in your body – they extend to your skin, affecting everything from dry skin to photodamage to acne.
Undoubtedly, green tea is an excellent option to help you look and feel young. If you drink it (or take it in a pill), you’ll benefit from the cognitive bonus provided by the theanine and caffeine, and get the whole-body antioxidant effects of the polyphenols and catechins. And if you apply green tea topically, you’ll have an even greater bonus for your skin health.
So, if you’ll excuse me, I have some more green tea to drink.