Green Tea's Skin Care Benefits
By Cynthia Bailey MD. This page was updated on Tue, Oct 15, 2019
Topical green tea's skin care benefits are scientifically proven and profound. It is one of my favorite ingredients for skin care. I've been using a powerful green tea product in my dermatology practice for years and have seen the benefits on thousands of my patients. It's also a product that I use myself daily and never travel without. Green tea is one of my favorite skin care ingredients for almost every facial complexion.
What are the reasons why you should be putting green tea on your face?
Green tea antioxidants are soothing for inflamed skin, help reduce UV cell damage, help fight acne, can reduce sebum production, and more. Green tea antioxidants help get rid of harmful free radicals in your skin, protecting precious cells and molecules from damage. Basically, green tea's benefits are so far reaching that almost everyone will benefit from adding a high-quality green tea product to their facial skin care routine.
What kind of green tea antioxidants are good for your skin?
Green tea comes from a plant, the Latin botanical name for which is Camellia sinensis. Green tea is approximately 30 percent polyphenol antioxidants by weight. This includes a large amount of a natural catechin antioxidant called EGCG, or epigallocatechin-3-gallate. This is the antioxidant you want. It has the most beneficial health effects for your skin.
The best green tea antioxidants are the EGCG part of an antioxidant group called polyphenols.
What are green tea polyphenol antioxidants?
Polyphenol antioxidants 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.
What foods contain polyphenol antioxidants, like the ones in green tea?
Polyphenol antioxidants are found in many plant foods including fruits,
- berries (like blue berries),
- seeds like flax,
- and even in some barks.
Why are green tea polyphenols the best plant polyphenol antioxidant for skin care?
Many skin care products boast that they contain antioxidants. The possibilities for topical polyphenol antioxidant 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 is also very well studied, and the benefits of topical green tea are backed by scientific evidence.
My opinion as a practicing dermatologist is that that green tea is the best antioxidant for every skin care routine. I’ve seen thousands of patients with a variety of complexion problems benefit from it, and I wear it on my own face daily.
3 top proven benefits of topical green tea for your skin.
- Green tea antioxidants help fight skin cancer and UV radiation skin damage.
- Green tea fights skin aging and inflammation.
- It helps reduce acne and skin sebum production.
Green tea antioxidant polyphenols fight skin cancer.
Recent studies have shown that polyphenol antioxidants have antineoplastic (anti-cancer) benefit. They have also been shown to help protect skin from UV radiation damage. This 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 (3), 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..... 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...... and photocarcinogenesis (induced by UVB).”
The best study is one showing that topical application of green tea polyphenols reduced UV damage (such as sun damage) when human subjects allowed their buttocks skin to be studied. Authors of that study (4) 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), thus protecting against DNA damage in dermal cells as well.”
What this means is that topical green tea antioxidants have 2 key benefits,
- They fight UV damage, reaching all the way into the second living-layer of your skin called the dermis. This is also where wrinkles start.
- They help reduce the processes leading to carcinogenesis in the skin.
By scavenging free radicals that are produced from all sorts of skin stress, who knows what the next studied benefit will be. I'm a huge fan of adding a really good green tea skin care product to your facial skin care routine,
In my 30+ years practicing dermatology, I’ve never seen a non-sunscreen skin care product work better than my Green Tea Antioxidant Skin Therapy for helping patients reduce the number of precancerous and cancerous skin growths. I’ve documented in in chart note after chart note. In fact, it’s how I realized what a game changer green tea was for my cancer patients. I had been using it in my practice for rosacea and facial seborrhea and saw these additional benefits. This was well before any scientific studies were being done on green tea. - Cynthia Bailey, MD, Dermatologist
Green tea helps fight skin aging and inflammation.
In a scientific review article in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology (3), authors state,
“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.” (4)
This is science-speak for saying that green tea antioxidant polyphenols fight the degenerative aspects of skin aging. I recommend it for all of my adult patients who are on an anti-aging skin care routine, and a routine to control rosacea and facial seborrhea. I have worked the Green Tea Antioxidant Skin Therapy into many skin care routines over the years. In my observation, this one non-prescription skin care product both sooths facial inflammation and potentially slows skin aging better than any other.
Green tea creams help acne and oily skin.
In addition to the anti-inflammatory benefits of green tea creams, there is 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. EGCG in particular has been studied in the inflammatory cascade leading to acne and shown benefit.
My Green Tea Antioxidant Skin Therapy is a great choice for oily complexions. It has the equivalent of 500 cups of ECGC green tea polyphenols per ounce of cream, and thus well able to provide the sebum reducing benefits, but it is also rich in hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid is a powerful water binding ingredient. I find that the Green Tea Antioxidant Cream is often the perfect moisturizer for oily complexions. It helps to prevent skin dehydration with the hyaluronic acid, while at the same time it has the potential to reduce skin sebum production and fight inflammation from acne lesions or acne treating products.
What are the best green tea face products and creams?
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. My top 3 green tea products that have high concentration EGCG polyphenol antioxidants are,
Advanced Corrective Eye Cream
All of these professional products contain pharmaceutically pure and stable green tea ECGC antioxidants, the equivalent found in 500 cups of brewed tea per ounce of cream. They are dispensed in light protective and air tight containers so that you get the full benefit of this powerful ingredient. Use the Green Tea Antioxidant Skin Therapy twice a day after washing. If you use the Retinol Anti-Wrinkle Night Cream you can apply that at bedtime in place of the Green Tea. Use the Advanced Corrective Eye Cream twice a day in the delicate eye area.
Many of my other products contain lesser amounts of green tea mixed into formulations targeted with other key ingredients for a variety of skin conditions and goals. The green tea antioxidants in these products have benefit, but not nearly as dramatic as the 3 products I listed above. The amount of green tea in these 3 products make them unique, costly to produce, and there are no substitutes.
Mother Nature and skin care science has given us a powerhouse!
- 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 2005 Volume 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.