Green Tea As a Skin Food
By now we all know that green tea is great for our health. It contains high concentrations of antioxidants that are good for us and scientific research has shown it to have potential health benefits in promoting heart and brain health. But while drinking green tea has powerful effects, did you know how great it can be for your skin?
An active ingredient in many skin care products found on the market today, green tea may just be one of the best kept secrets in skin food – but in recent years, it has found a place on store shelves in the Western mainstream! In this article, we’ll look at why that is by exploring just a few of the many ways green tea can improve and help maintain healthy, beautiful skin.
What Is Green Tea?
Green tea is a type of tea that is made from Camellia sinensis leaves that have not undergone the same withering and oxidation process used to make oolong teas and black teas. Several varieties of green tea exist, which differ significantly based on the variety of C. sinensis used, growing conditions, horticultural techniques, processing, and time of harvest. Green tea is typically light yellow or pale green in color and offers an earthy flavor and aroma. It is one of the least processed true teas, allowing it to retain the majority of its beneficial health compounds.
Green tea for skincare has emerged from the Asian market in the form of creams, lotions and essential oils (often used in other products, like our Green Tea & Agave Bar Soap). All of the popular forms are backed up by research demonstrating certain benefits for skin care and the treatment of skin issues.
Benefits of Green Tea As A Skin Food
Green tea has been shown to reduce dandruff.
Often considered a hair problem rather than a skin problem, dandruff is actually present when skin on the scalp is too dry or too oily. Dandruff causes itchiness, flaky skin, and irritation on the scalp and neck area. This can be caused by environmental factors like extreme weather or by bacterial and fungal growth in our hair follicles, which the antibacterial and antimicrobial nature of green tea helps to combat!
Green tea can help reduce the appearance of aging in the skin.
Green tea contains antioxidants which are excellent at fighting premature aging as a result of damage caused by free radicals [uncharged molecule (typically highly reactive and short-lived) having an unpaired valence electron]. Free radicals are often introduced by unhealthy diet, smoking and environmental issues like pollution. The antioxidants in green tea eliminate these damaging molecules that can cause fine lines and wrinkles – the classic traits of age in our skin.
Green tea also contains a special antioxidant called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). Studies have shown that this antioxidant found in tea leaves is effective at revitalising dying skin cells. EGCG works to reactivate the reproduction process of our skin cells, helping to give dull skin a healthy glow! It is also packed with vitamins B and E, compounds essential for healthy skin (and a large part of the reason we’ve chosen a hemp seed oil base for our skin food products). Vitamin B helps maintain collagen production, increasing our skin’s elasticity, and vitamin E helps promote cell regeneration, working to hydrate and nourish the skin. You’ll recognize collagen as one of the leading compounds in anti-aging products – but it’s better to give your skin the food it needs to bolster its own natural collagen production, rather than introducing chemically produced compounds and throwing off the natural balance!
Green tea treats oily skin.
Green tea is rich in tannins. Naturally astringent compounds, tannins are biomolecules that bind with the amino acids in our body. This means that they work directly as a skin toner, evening out the appearance of our skin. Tannins shrink pores, ensuring that they clog less frequently.
Tannins also regulate the production of sebum, the skin’s naturally generated oil. People with oily skin (including skin conditions such as dandruff or psoriasis) tend to produce too much sebum, resulting in clogged pores and breakouts. Most products designed to treat these problems remove excess oil on the skin’s surface, which can leave your skin dried out and less healthy. But green tea targets the root cause by minimizing the oil production of our skin cells, helping to restore a healthier, natural balance.
One study found in the Bosnian Journal of Medical Sciences watched 10 male volunteers with oily skin over a two month period. They used a 3% green tea extract formula every day. At the conclusion, 70% of the participants had demonstrated a marked decrease in sebum production!
Green tea clears clogged pores.
One of the most common skin diseases we face is acne; the unsightly pimples and red, inflamed skin can be difficult to clear up. Most physicians prescribe antibiotic pills or creams to target the stubborn disorder, but many of these medications have harmful side effects including dry, itchy skin and depression. Green tea can be an effective acne treatment, helping to reduce clogged pores and clear out blackheads and breakouts without serious side effects.
The Saudi Medical Journal published a study in 2006, examining the use of a 2% green tea lotion in the treatment of acne. The single blind study focused on 60 volunteers aged 14 to 22. Participants used a tea lotion twice daily for 8 weeks. Patients that used the lotion saw a 60% improvement in their skin’s condition, compared to 20% in the placebo group. A second study found that green tea lotion reduced papules and pimples and more than half of participants.
The research suggests that green tea’s efficacy in treating acne stems from its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Green tea removed bacteria that can clog pores and keeps swelling down to minimize the appearance of existing pimples. In addition, it’s more cost effective than expensive creams prescribed by dermatologists!
Green tea is a gentle exfoliant.
Green tea leaves can be used as a way to gently exfoliate the skin. Exfoliation helps remove dead skin cells that cause our skin to look dull and lifeless. The process also triggers the production of new skin cells, for that healthy glow. Dried green tea leaves have a slightly abrasive texture that softly removed dead cells and the antioxidants in the leaves also help to remove excess oil and dirt that causes breakouts.
Green tea reduces puffiness and redness.
Green tea also contains moderate amounts of caffeine. The tannins and caffeine both work to shrink blood vessels, which helps to reduce the look of puffiness and dark circles around the eyes. Caffeine also brightens skin, helping to give us that glowing, rejuvenated look!
Who knew that simple tea leaves had so much to offer us and our skin? Don’t forget to check out our Green Tea & Agave Bar Soap!