By now, you’ve heard about antioxidants in skin care. You’ve heard that free radicals damage skin structures, cause skin aging and even skin cancer. You’ve also heard that antioxidants neutralize free radicals to help mitigate this cellular and molecular damage.
You also see products listed as containing antioxidants, but….
Are they all that good?
Which antioxidants are best?
How do you wisely pick from the many options available so that your time and money are well-focused?
Green tea antioxidants are part of an antioxidant group called polyphenols.
They come from plants and have conclusively been scientifically-proven to provide profound, beneficial effects on skin.
You can obtain polyphenol antioxidants by eating and drinking foods that contain these polyphenols – and you should eat and drink them in abundance. You can also super load your skin with them by applying high concentration polyphenol products to your skin. In fact, this is where state of the art is going in skin care – topical antioxidants to help reduce UV-induced skin damage, acne, sebum production, and more.
I follow the science which is why many of my skin care products contain pure, stable and pharmaceutical-grade polyphenol antioxidants extracted from green tea. The products with what I consider to be astronomically-high concentrations are "must-have" products for people who want to maximally benefit from ultra-high concentration green tea skin care. They include:
Retinol Night Creams, made with the same high concentration of green tea as the Green Tea Antioxidant Skin Therapy. Retinol Night Cream can be used at night and Green Tea during the day.
Advanced Corrective Eye Cream can be layered around the eye area during the day and night to gain additive benefits of arnica for dark circles and retinol for those not wanting to add total face retinol as an ingredient in their routine.
What are the essential facts that you need to know about polyphenol antioxidants?
Polyphenol antioxidants are found in many plant foods including fruits, veggies, chocolate, coffee, wine, tea, berries (like blue berries), turmeric, pomegranate, grapes, broccoli, soy, seeds like flax, and even in some barks. The possibilities for topical application are endless – and often limited by inherent pigment, antioxidant stability in a preparation, allergenicity or irritancy when applied to skin and overall cosmetic acceptability.
For example, who wants stainingly-bright pomegranate magenta, tomato red, or turmeric yellow skin cream?
Green tea is gently-colored, packed with the right polyphenol antioxidants and lends itself to purification and concentration. It also has a track record of excellent, scientific evidence outlining its benefits to your skin when applied topically. As antioxidants in skin care go, I feel that green tea is on the top. I wear it on my own face daily and I’m drinking a cup of hot green tea as I type this article.
Green Tea Skin Care FAQ 1:
Recent studies have shown that polyphenol antioxidants have antineoplastic (anti-cancer), anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial (including the bacteria P. acnes that plays a role in acne), anti-acne (in ways beyond P. acnes reduction), and sebum-reducing properties for skin. They have also been shown to help protect skin from UV radiation damage.
Green Tea Skin Care FAQ 2:
Of the different, green tea antioxidant polyphenol compounds, you want epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). This is the one shown to have the most beneficial health effects on skin.
EGCG in particular has been studied in the inflammatory cascade leading to acne and shown benefit.
The beneficial role of EGCG from green tea in reducing the incidence of skin cancer is well established. In a review article on green tea in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, the author states,
"There have been more than 150 reports of in vivo and in vitro studies on the effects of green tea on the skin (PubMed search; key words “green tea” and “skin”). The early focus of these studies was chemoprevention of chemical carcinogenesis or photocarcinogenesis in rodents. It was found that green tea extracts or an individual green tea polyphenol (GTPP), especially (−)-epigallocatechin (EGC)-3-gallate (EGCG), inhibited two-stage chemical carcinogenesis (eg, induced by 7,12-dimethylbenz(a)anthracene
and 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol 13-acetate ), and photocarcinogenesis (induced by UVB)."
The author went on to examine studies on anti-aging and inflammation as well stating,
"Recently, the properties of GTPPs (green tea polyphenols) for anti-inflammatory, antiaging, and wound-healing effects were also explored. Evidence generated from basic science laboratories indicated that GTPPs are not only a group of reactive oxygen species (ROS) scavengers that function as antioxidants in the epidermis, but also act as modulators of different gene groups and signal pathways."
That’s science-speak for "they work" to help fight the degenerative aspects of skin aging.
The best study is one showing that topical application of green tea polyphenols has been shown to reduce UV damage (a.k.a. sun damage) when human subjects allowed their buttocks skin to be studied. Authors of that study conclude,
"We found that treatment with GTP to human skin before UVexposure inhibits UV-induced DNA damage when detected by using immunohistochemistry. Our data also shows that GTP treatment inhibits (partially) the penetrating ability of UV radiation into the deeper dermis (Fig. 3A), thus protecting against DNA damage in dermal cells as well."
The bottom line about green tea antioxidant benefits for your skin are:
- They fight UV damage, reaching all the way into the second living-layer of your skin called the dermis, where wrinkles start.
- They help reduce the processes leading to carcinogenesis in the skin.
- They help reduce inflammation (think facial redness), acne and excess sebum production.
- By scavenging free radicals that are produced from all sorts of skin stress, who knows what the next studied benefit will be.
For now, find a good quality green tea product made by a company you know has a brilliant chemist formulating their products and get started. Mother Nature has given us a powerhouse!
What about benefits of using other teas?
Green tea is not just tea. The preparation of green tea differs from black tea in that it does not involve any fermentation, which can inactivate the antioxidants.
For preparation of green tea, freshly picked leaves are briefly heated to inactivate the enzyme polyphenol oxidase that would inactivate the polyphenols. Thus, two unique aspects are utilized that preserve polyphenol antioxidants and this is what makes green tea such a superhero antioxidant.
Suzana Saric, Manisha Notay, and Raja K. Sivamani, Green Tea and Other Tea Polyphenols: Effects on Sebum Production and Acne Vulgaris, Antioxidants (Basel). 2017 March; 6(1): 2.Published online 2016 December 29. doi: 10.3390/antiox6010002 PMCID: PMC5384166
Elsaie ML, Abdelhamid MF, Elsaaiee LT, Emam HM. The efficacy of topical 2% green tea lotion in mild-to-moderate acne vulgaris. J Drugs Dermatol. 2009 Apr;8(4):358-64.
Stephen Hsu, PhD, Green tea and the skin, JAAD, June 2005Volume 52, Issue 6, Pages 1049–1059
Santosh K. Katiyar, Anaibelith Perez, and Hasan Mukhtar, Green Tea Polyphenol Treatment to Human Skin Prevents Formation of Ultraviolet Light B-induced Pyrimidine Dimers in DNA1, Clinical Cancer Research, Vol. 6, 3864–3869, October 2000
Joi A. Nichols and Santosh K. Katiyar, Skin photoprotection by natural polyphenols: Anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and DNA repair mechanisms, Arch Dermatol Res. 2010 March ; 302(2): 71. doi:10.1007/s00403-009-1001-3.