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From Acne-Fighting to Anti-Aging, Green Tea is the Skincare Overachiever You Never Knew You Needed

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You’ve probably seen laundry lists of reasons to incorporate green tea in your diet, but did you know the superfood can also work wonders in the skincare department? From acne-fighting to anti-aging, green tea just might be the ingredient your skin is missing.

If you’re wondering what makes green tea such a miracle worker for your complexion, it’s because it contains polyphenols (also known as catechins) that have major anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits. Green tea comes from the leaves of the tea plant Camellia sinensis, and is packed with nutrients that can improve both your overall health and your complexion—but before you try your first green tea-infused skincare product, we’re going to rewind and break down where green tea fits into your skincare routine.


About the Expert:

Hadley King, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist in NYC who specializes in medical and cosmetic dermatology. She is also a clinical instructor of dermatology at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University.

What can green tea do for your skin?

Whether you want to keep your complexion looking youthful or you suffer from redness and irritation, green tea has benefits for you. “Anyone looking to soothe the skin, reduce photoaging and reduce sebum and acne,” says Hadley King, MD, FAAD, board-certified dermatologist who specializes in cosmetic and medical dermatology. The good news is that the miracle worker is suitable for all skin types and works even better when combined with other antioxidant treatments.

Anti-Aging:

Green tea is loaded with antioxidants that fight free radical damage that can cause premature signs of aging (AKA fine lines and wrinkles), environmental aggressors (like UV rays, pollution), and even blue light from our computer screens, tablets, and phones. Considering how much time we’re spending at home in front of the screen these days, our skin can certainly use all the protection it can get.

“Unstable atoms with unpaired electrons are called free radicals,” explains Dr. King. “Electrons like to be in pairs, so these unstable atoms scavenge the body to seek out other electrons so they can become a pair.” By doing so, they cause damage to our skin cells, proteins, and DNA. “This damage can lead to inflammation, aging and even cancer,” says Dr. King.

By applying green tea topically in a cream or serum, you’re giving your complexion the armor it needs to stop free radical damage in its tracks. “Studies have shown that topical application of green tea extract can reduce sun damage and can help prevent photoaging as well as melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer,” says Dr. King, who credits the antioxidant benefits of the polyphenols in green tea for neutralizing free radicals and preventing oxidative damage. In addition to protecting your complexion from premature signs of aging, it also promotes your skin's elasticity to deliver a more youthful-looking glow.

Fights acne:

If you have oily skin or are prone to bad breakouts, green tea can help control your sebum production and deliver a clear complexion since with antioxidants known as catechins. The star ingredient, in particular, is a catechin called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG for short). “EGCG is a polyphenol that studies have shown can help reduce sebum production and acne,” says Dr. King. Androgens are hormones produced by the body. If you have high levels of androgen, it can quickly put your sebaceous glands into overdrive, leading to excess oil production. Excess oil clogs pores and leads to pimples, so by regulating the amount of oil your skin produces, it can eliminate acne flare-ups. “It has anti-androgenic activity, which can lead to a reduction in sebum production,” says Dr. King. It also has antibacterial properties that can kill acne-causing bacteria responsible for pimples.

Reduces redness and inflammation:

If you suffer from a skin condition or scalp condition, green tea is a natural alternative that can soothe and calm, all while eliminating redness and swelling. “Green tea has anti-inflammatory properties, due to the antioxidant properties of the polyphenols,” explains Dr. King. If you suffer from eczema, psoriasis, or rosacea, reach for a skincare product that contains green tea to find relief. If you have dandruff, green tea shampoo can also help fight bacteria responsible for a dry, flaking scalp, thanks to its antimicrobial and antifungal properties.

Quickly combats puffy eyes:

Not only is green tea packed with antioxidants, it also contains caffeine which helps constrict blood vessels, making it a major savior if you have puffy eyes. “If you notice that puffiness is worse in the morning and better by evening, and worse some days than others, then your puffiness is probably from fluid,” says Dr. King. Instead of reaching for a variety of skincare products, skip over to your kitchen cabinet and take out two tea bags. “Steep two tea bags, squeeze out excess fluid and then place in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes, then use as compresses on the eyes for up to 30 minutes,” says Dr. King. Both the cold and the caffeine will help alleviate puffy under eye bags in under an hour. If you don’t have any tea bags handy to DIY a recipe, the JAYJUN COSMETICS Green Tea Eye Gel Patch will deliver the same results and comes in a three pack, making it a quick and easy solution you can always have handy whenever you need to de-puff.

Drinking green tea vs applying it to skin

Drinking cups of green tea can serve up a multitude of health benefits as it decreases your risk of heart disease and can even prevent cancer but when it comes to skin health, it's best to go straight to the source if you want to use green tea in your skincare routine. “Both can be beneficial for the skin, but applying it topically is a more directed way to benefit the skin,” says Dr. King.

Skincare products with green tea we love

The easiest way to reap the skincare benefits associated with green tea is by incorporating a product that already contains the ingredient into your daily routine. Check out some of our faves below.

PURLISSE BEAUTY Matcha Green Tea Antioxidant Priming Moisturizer

1. PURLISSE BEAUTY Matcha Green Tea Antioxidant Priming Moisturizer

If you’re looking for a lightweight moisturizer that will hydrate your skin without leaving behind any residue, this oil-free moisturizer is for you. The multitasking skin quencher serves up green tea, white tea, and vitamin E to soothe, nourish, and protect your complexion.

APTO SKINCARE Balancing Mask with Chlorella and Green Tea

2. APTO SKINCARE Balancing Mask with Chlorella and Green Tea

Hard day? Turn your bathroom into a spa with this clarifying mask that’s made specifically for stressed-out, acne-prone skin. Not only does it minimize pores and hydrate your skin, it also employs chlorella to draw out dirt and impurities. Bonus: It’s organic, cruelty-free, and vegan.

BUBBLE T COSMETICS Lemongrass & Green Tea Stimulating Body Lotion

3. BUBBLE T COSMETICS Lemongrass & Green Tea Stimulating Body Lotion

Treat your body to the benefits of green tea with this invigorating lotion that restores moisture thanks to a unique blend of lemongrass, goji berry extracts, and green tea.

INNISFREE Intensive Hydrating Serum with Green Tea Seed

4. INNISFREE Intensive Hydrating Serum with Green Tea Seed

This hydrating serum strengthens your skin’s protective barrier thanks to the amino acids, antioxidants, and minerals found in the green tea extract, which will leave you with a plumper, moisturized complexion.

TONYMOLY I'm Real Sheet Masks in Green Tea and Lotus

5. TONYMOLY I'm Real Sheet Masks in Green Tea and Lotus

Treat yourself to a spa day without leaving the house with this face mask that will reinvigorate your complexion, thanks to lotus flower extract and green tea, which work together to brighten, purify, and hydrate, leaving you feeling refreshed. Pro tip: Put it in the fridge for a cooling sensation.

YOUTH TO THE PEOPLE Age Prevention Cleanser

6. YOUTH TO THE PEOPLE Age Prevention Cleanser

Think of this cooling cleanser like a superfood smoothie for your skin, packed with spinach, kale, and green tea to wash away dirt, makeup, and toxins for fresh, clean, healthy skin.

Green tea helps with a variety of ailments, but it's just as beneficial when incorporated in your skincare routine. Let us know if you try any of our green tea skincare faves @IPSY.

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About the author
Katrina-Mitzeliotis-headshot
Katrina Mitzeliotis Lanza
Katrina is a freelance writer and on-air correspondent with over a decade of experience covering beauty, fashion, and entertainment. When she isn't freelancing, you can catch her on QVC or chasing after her two-year-old son.
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Article Last Updated February 2, 2021 12:00 AM