What is Tea?
Tea is the common name for the Camellia sinensis plant. It is the agricultural product of the leaves, leaf buds, and internodes (the portion of a plant stem between nodes) of the plant that are prepared and cured by various methods. “Tea” also refers to the aromatic beverage prepared from the cured leaves by combination with hot or boiling water.
Tea is known for its stimulant qualities largely attributed to caffeine. Today, herbal teas are known to have many health benefits, preventing a variety of conditions, from heart disease and cancer, to gum disease, skin aging and weight loss. The major types of tea include black, green, oolong and white, differing by the method of harvesting and processing.
The beneficial properties of tea are attributed to polyphenols. The polyphenols found in tea mainly belong to the subtype called catechins. Polyphenols or catechins are better known as antioxidants that fight free radicals. Free radicals are damaging to skin and body by attacking healthy cells. Green tea has more catechins than black tea; white tea is almost as rich in catechins as green tea but is different in composition and less well studied.
So How Is Green Tea Good For My Skin?
There have been number studies of skin benefits of green tea. One of these studies show protection from skin cancer by demonstrating topical green tea formulations can reduce sun damage.(1) Another fascinating study in 2003 was conducted by Dr. Stephen Hsu of the Medical College of Georgia Department of Oral Biology. His findings determined green tea was able to rejuvenate old skin cells at the end of their life cycle.
A quote from Dr. Hsu’s paper explained, “…we report here for the first time, that at certain concentrations, EGCG or a mixture of the major green tea polyphenols stimulated aged keratinocytes to generate biological energy and to synthesize DNA, possibly for renewed cell division.
Therefore, green tea constituents may be useful topically for promoting skin regeneration, wound healing, or treatment of certain epithelial conditions such as aphthous ulcers, psoriasis, rosacea, and actinic keratoses.” (2) Dr. Hsu went on to comment he was “so surprised” to discover EGCG actually reactivated cells that had migrated toward the surface of the skin to ‘die’.
Green tea appears to manipulate sun damage protection by fighting free radicals and reducing inflammation rather than by blocking UV rays. Therefore, green tea enhances sun protection when used in addition to a sunscreen. To boost sun protection, apply a green tea formula under your sunscreen to elevate the level of sun protection. It is best to combine green tea with zinc oxide-based sunscreens because zinc oxide is chemically inert and should not react with green tea (which some chemical sunscreens might do, especially in sunlight). You can also look for green tea in natural soaps, and other facial cleansers.
Topical green tea is also very beneficial for sensitive skin types by reducing inflammation and irritation in the skin. Wrinkles, skin sag and other signs of aging have been shown to benefit from Green tea. The tea’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory polyphenols slow down signs of premature of aging
Green Tea and Pimples
A green tea and pimples study suggests it to be as good as benzoyl peroxide cream in treating acne conditions with fewer side effects. Scientific research has shown that green tea fights bacteria, inflammation and reduces stress. Perhaps it would be an excellent candidate for treating acne?
In the study, conducted by Dr. Jennifer Gan-Wong from the Memorial Medical Center in the Philippines, 108 participants were divided into two groups. One applied benzoyl peroxide cream and the other green tea extract cream twice daily for 12 weeks. Subjects were examined and photographed each week by dermatologists. The researchers noted the green tea cream seemed to lighten patients’ skin color and improve the overall appearance of their complexion.
The preliminary data suggests that green tea cream causes fewer side effects than benzoyl peroxide. Patients in the green tea group reported fewer cases of dry skin, itching and allergic responses.
Use green tea at home to boost your skins health, appearance and reduce signs of aging by freezing freshly brewed green tea as ice cubes and use them as a toner. Let them start thawing first before applying directly to the face to avoid irritation. You can also drink green tea or take green tea extract in capsules to benefit from the anti oxidant properties. The polyphenols will reach your skin via the bloodstream in sufficient amounts.
Using green tea in your skincare routine has definite proven benefits to slow skin aging, reduce acne and protect your skin from cancer among many others. Just be aware of the products you choose. Like most antioxidants, green tea polyphenols are oxidized and can lose their active constituents when exposed to air.
By Tiffany Oney and Rachelle Dupree
(1) Green Tea Polyphenol Treatment to Human Skin Prevents Formation of Ultraviolet Light B-induced Pyrimidine Dimers in DNA (2000). Santosh K. Katiyar, Anaibelith Perez and Hasan Mukhtar. Clinical Cancer Research Vol. 6, 3864-3869, October 2000.
(2) Green Tea Polyphenols Induce Differentiation and Proliferation in Epidermal Keratinocytes (2003). Stephen Hsu, Wendy B. Bollag, Jill Lewis, Qin Huang,Baldev Singh, Mohamed Sharawy, Tetsuya Yamamoto, and George Schuster. Journal of Pharmacology And Experimental Therapeutics. First published on March 27, 2003; DOI: 10.1124/jpet.103.049734