Why Do Green Tea and Skin Care Go Well Together?

green tea and skin care

Why does green tea and skin care go so well together that the combination is creating buzz?! Green tea skin care fans have found that this ingredient has transformed their facial complexion problems. It's the effectiveness of the green tea antioxidants that yields the benefit.

By now, you’ve heard about antioxidants in skin care. You’ve also heard about free radicals that damage skin structures; free radical skin damage plays a key role in skin aging, inflammation and skin cancer. You’ve also heard that antioxidants neutralize free radicals. Green tea antioxidants applied to your skin have been proven to stop free radical skin damage. For many people, this benefit is dramatically noticeable. I get comments like this one,

Since using (Green Tea Antioxidant Skin Therapy) my skin has done a 180. Less redness, facial dermatitis along the sides of my nose.    

But green tea skin care is still confusing because not all products with 'green tea' listed on the label contain enough or the right antioxidant fraction plus you also see products brag they contain other antioxidants and making similar free radical neutralizing claims.

  • 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? That's what I'm going to discuss in this article.

And, what about combining them with other skin care powerhouse ingredients like retinol? 

It's first important to understand what part of green tea is beneficial in skin care. The part you want to see are the polyphenol antioxidants called EGCG polyphenols. 

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: 

best green tea skin care product

Green Tea Antioxidant Skin Therapy, which can be applied twice daily after washing and before other thicker consistency skin care products are applied.

Green tea and retinol combination

The combination of green tea and retinol allows your skin to tolerate higher concentrations of retinol with less chance of skin irritation. This is huge! Retinol is powerful for fighting the signs of skin aging. Its use is limited by irritation and green tea's soothing effect can help.

green tea with retinol skin benefits

Retinol Night Cream, made with the same high concentration of green tea as the Green Tea Antioxidant Skin Therapy. My Retinol Night Cream is formulated with the highest allowed concentration of retinol which is 1%. It's a medical-grade product that gets results. 

The ideal way to use these products is to apply Retinol Night Cream at night and Green Tea during the day. 

green tea and retinol eye cream
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.

    Here’s why:

    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.

    Green tea and skin care go together

    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 UV exposure 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.
    • They combine well with other powerhouse ingredients such as retinol.

    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.