Along with vitamin C, green tea is one of the OGs in the antioxidant world. And, just like vitamin C, green tea has proven, documented internal benefits (when you ingest it) and external ones (when you apply green tea topically). But while vitamin C is perennially front and center on lists of must-have ingredients in skincare, green tea can sometimes be overshadowed by other, newer antioxidants. Don’t make that mistake! There are so many reasons that green tea deserves a place in your daily skincare routine. Here are just a few:
What is green tea?
No great surprise, green tea comes primarily from the leaves of a tea plant. (All tea comes from one of two types of tea plants grown today. Whether you end up with green tea, oolong, black tea, or any other tea type depends on how the leaves and buds are processed — not on the plant itself.) Green tea is produced by steaming or roasting the leaves. Unlike black tea, green tea is oxidized very little, which helps account for its light color.
What are the benefits of green tea for skin?
Green tea skincare benefits:
- Antioxidant properties
- Protect against damaging free radicals
- Reduces puffiness
- Diminishes redness
Green tea, as a beverage, became the drink du jour once scientists discovered that one of its main components, epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), could potentially help prevent against cancer and heart disease. EGCG is a type of catechin. Catechins are a type of polyphenol. Polyphenols are a type of antioxidant. Antioxidants, as we all know, protect against free radical damage, whether it’s happening inside your body or out. Its antioxidant powers are green tea’s big benefit #1.
Catechins also possess anti-inflammatory properties. Your skin loves that (reducing inflammation helps keep skin clear and radiant), and so do your internal organs. And that makes soothing inflammation green tea’s big benefit #2.
Finally, green tea contains caffeine. If you tend toward insomnia, you could argue the naturally present caffeine is not a great aspect of green tea. However, we’re going to call caffeine green tea’s big benefit #3 because caffeine can give skin an assist (caffeine shrinks blood vessels temporarily, which reduces the look of puffiness) and help you on days when your energy level is dragging.
What’s the difference between drinking green tea and applying it topically?
Anything you ingest has a long and winding road ahead of it. As it passes through the digestive system, it’s broken down and absorbed into different areas of the body. If you’re drinking green tea for its overall health benefits, this scattershot delivery system is great news as it means the tea’s beneficial components, like EGCG, get dispersed throughout the body, touching every system.
However, if you’re picking up a mug of green tea because your goal is glowing skin, you’ll need to put the kettle on because you’re going to need to drink a lot of tea. Because the tea is traveling through your entire body, the actual percentage of EGCGs and other antioxidants making it specifically to your skin tissue is low. However, if you apply green tea directly to your skin, in the form of a topical product, you ensure green tea’s goodness goes exactly where you want it. (Also, doctors don’t recommend drinking more than eight cups of green tea a day.) If your eyes are puffy and red, for example, it makes more sense to put on an eye mask rich in green tea, so that you can start to bring down the inflammation immediately, as opposed to drinking a mug of green tea and waiting for the tea’s soothing abilities to make it to your eye area.
This isn’t to say you should abandon green tea as a beverage completely. Its benefits to general health are well documented and taking good care of your body on the inside helps improve your external appearance (i.e. your skin). So continue to drink green tea, if that’s your thing, and just add it to your skincare. That way, you’re taking a 360-degree approach to caring for your skin, treating it from the inside out and the outside in.
Who should use green tea in skincare?
Anyone who feels their skin would benefit from additional antioxidant protection should reach for green tea. (This was a trick question since we can all benefit from a mix of antioxidants in our skincare.) Since green tea doesn’t normally trigger irritation or skin sensitivity, you can apply your green tea topicals daily, starting on day one. It’s fine to apply green tea morning and night, and you can use more than one green tea-containing item during either routine.
Who should avoid green tea in skincare?
Unless you have a specific allergy or hypersensitivity to green tea, you’re totally A-OK to incorporate green tea into your regular skincare regimen.
Where can you find green tea in skincare?
There aren’t any skincare ingredients that are shown to react unfavorably with green tea or counteract its effects. Since dermatologists know that a mix of antioxidants provides a broader, more comprehensive barrier against free radicals (as opposed to relying on a single antioxidant to do all the work), it makes sense to look for serums and other leave-on products that already contain a blend of antioxidants, including green tea, so that your face is getting maximum protection whether you’re indoors or outside. Two of our recent favorites:
Dr. Dennis Gross DermInfusions Fill + Repair Serum: Our newest serum innovation is formulated with the antioxidants niacinamide and ectoin, in addition to green tea, to help reinforce the skin barrier and keep the complexion looking healthy and firm. It also boasts four molecular weights of hyaluronic acid and four types of peptides for additional skin plumping.
Dr. Dennis Gross DermInfusions Lift + Repair Eye Mask: Our other big breakthrough is this eye-area sheet mask. It’s saturated with antioxidant all-stars niacinamide, vitamin C, and green tea. They work together to help minimize discoloration, build collagen, and revitalize tired eyes.
Also don’t forget about green tea’s anti-inflammatory properties. They’re what help make our DermInfusions Lift + Repair Eye Mask such a refreshing pick-me-up. And because of this ability to calm and soothe almost on contact, green tea is an integral part of Step 2 in our beloved Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel and Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Extra Strength Daily Peel. As a component of the peel’s neutralizing step, green tea helps minimize the chance of any post-peel redness and also stave off any potential irritation that could result.
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