I want to address the issue of green tea in two different ways in this post. First I’ll explain how drinking green tea benefits your health, and secondly I’ll explain how the topical application of green tea helps your skin.
And as always please note that I am neither a nutritionist nor a doctor, but I am careful to pass along information from reputable sources. Please see the end of each section of this post for my sources.
The Health Benefits of Drinking Green Tea
So why do you want to drink green tea as opposed to black, oolong, or white tea? Or as opposed to coffee? In an article on WebMD Julie Edgar explains:
More than a decade’s worth of research about green tea’s health benefits — particularly its potential to fight cancer and heart disease — has been more than intriguing, as have limited studies about green tea’s role in lowering cholesterol, burning fat, preventing diabetes and stroke, and staving off dementia.
Green tea’s antioxidants, called catechins, scavenge for free radicals that can damage DNA and contribute to cancer, blood clots, and atherosclerosis.
Because of green tea’s minimal processing — its leaves are withered and steamed, not fermented like black and oolong teas — green tea’s unique catechins, especially epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), are more concentrated.
The EGCG in green tea is responsible for most of anti-cancer and antioxidant claims made about green tea. According the Dr. Amy Wechsler in her book The Mind-Beauty Connection:
EGCG can suppress the inflammatory chemicals that are directly involved in skin reactions, including acne. Green tea has more antioxidants than black, but both help squelch free radicals and subdue inflammation. Aim for four to six cups of tea per day.
While most of the studies about green tea and its anti-cancer benefits have been done on mice many doctors believe that it isn’t a huge stretch to think that green tea may help prevent cancer in humans. Furthermore, Dr. Fredric Brandt writes in his book Age-less drinking green tea can also offer the following health benefits:
- Restricts the increase of blood cholesterol
- Controls high blood pressure
- Lowers blood sugar
- Suppresses aging
- Deters food poisoning
- Fights viruses
- Reduces the effects of smoking cigarettes
Sources and Further Reading
The Mind-Beauty Connection by Amy Wechsler, MD – pages 101-102 and pages 182-183
Age-less by Fredric Brandt, MD – pages 60-65
One of my favorite brands of green tea is Mighty Leaf. It’s pricy but definitely worth trying.
Topical Green Tea Creams and Serums – What Do They Do?
Ok – so perhaps I’ve convinced you to start drinking green tea. Now why would you want to put a green tea product on your face? As already explained green tea contains powerful antioxidants so that is already one great benefit for your skin (see my early post about antioxidants for more information about why you want to use skincare products with antioxidants in them). Studies show that topical green tea may reduce the damage of UV rays on the skin. While the polyphenols (or antioxidants) in green tea don’t actually block sunlight themselves they do interfere with uncontrolled cell division which leads to cancer. When applied topically green tea protects both essential tissue elements and antioxidant reserves in the skin. So basically the bottom line is that when applied topically green tea helps to repair UV damage on the skin, is a strong antioxidant, is anti-inflammatory, and has anticarcinogenic benefits. Just remember though when applied topically green tea probably helps reduce UV damage to the skin you still need your sunscreen. A green tea serum is not a substitute for a sunscreen.
Dr. Ellen Marmur points out that if a skincare product contains the 5% green tea extract necessary for it to be effective topically the product should be brown. My favorite topical green tea products are Replenix® CF Cream and Serum .
Sources and Further Reading
Age-less by Fredric Brandt, MD – page 65
Simple Skin Beauty by Ellen Marmur, MD – pages 139 and 284
Complexion Perfection! by Kate Summerville – pages 52, 59, and 111