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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, FAAD, is a highly sought after board-certified dermatologist in NYC who specializes in medical and cosmetic dermatology. She is also a clinical instructor of dermatology at Weill Medical College of Cornell University.

Skin Benefits of Green Tea

Whether you want to keep your complexion looking youthful or you suffer from redness and irritation, green tea has benefits for you. “[Green tea is for] anyone looking to soothe the skin, reduce photoaging, and reduce sebum and acne,” says dermatologist Hadley King, MD, FAAD. The good news is that the miracle worker is suitable for all skin types and works even better when combined with other antioxidant treatments. Here’s what green tea can do for your skin:

Green Tea Is Anti-Aging:

Green tea is loaded with antioxidants that fight free radical damage. “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. On your skin, this free radical damage can show up as premature signs of aging (aka fine lines and wrinkles), inflammation, and even cancer, adds Dr. King.

The antioxidants in green tea not only help fight free radical damage, but they also help combat environmental aggressors (like UV rays and 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. 

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.

It Helps Fight Acne:

If you have oily skin or are prone to bad breakouts, green tea can help control your sebum production and deliver a clearer complexion. The star acne-fighting ingredient in green tea is a catechin called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG for short—which we’ll definitely be using!). “EGCG is a polyphenol that studies have shown can help reduce sebum production and acne,” says Dr. King. 

If you have high levels of androgen (a hormone produced by the body), it can quickly put your sebaceous glands into overdrive, leading to excess oil production. Excess oil can clog up your pores and lead to those pesky pimples, so by regulating the amount of oil your skin produces, it can eliminate acne flare-ups. “[Green tea] has anti-androgenic activity, which can lead to a reduction in sebum production,” adds Dr. King. It also has antibacterial properties that can kill acne-causing bacteria responsible for pimples.

Green Tea Helps Reduce Redness And Inflammation:

If you suffer from an inflammatory skin condition or scalp condition, green tea is a natural alternative that can soothe and calm your skin, 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.

It Helps Combat 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, place them in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes, then use the tea bags as compresses on the eyes for up to 30 minutes.” 

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, look for under-eye masks containing green tea (we listed our fave below!) for a quick and easy solution you can always have handy whenever you need to de-puff.

Drinking Green Tea vs. Applying Green Tea to Your 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 direct 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.

1. FENTY SKIN Flash Nap Instant Revival Priming Eye Gel-Cream

FENTY SKIN Flash Nap Instant Revival Priming Eye Gel-Cream

Name a better feeling than applying a cooling under-eye cream…we’ll wait. This lightweight, fast-absorbing eye gel-cream does just that—plus, it instantly helps brighten and wake up tired-looking eyes. Ingredients like horse chestnut, green tea, and hyaluronic acid work to help reduce the look of puffiness and dark circles and plump the look of fine lines, wrinkles, and crow’s feet.

2. INNISFREE Green Tea Seed Hyaluronic Cream

INNISFREE Green Tea Seed Hyaluronic Cream

This barrier-boosting moisturizer delivers lasting hydration and keeps your skin looking glowy and fresh. It’s formulated with green tea and five (!) different types of hyaluronic acid for your skin’s daily dose of amino acids, antioxidants, and hydration.

3. JAYJUN COSMETICS Green Tea Eye Gel Patch

JAYJUN COSMETICS Green Tea Eye Gel Patch

Your delicate under-eye skin is the first place to show signs of fatigue and aging. Combat both with these moisture-drenched hydrogel eye patches. Each set is infused with antioxidant-rich green tea to soothe, depuff, and help strengthen your skin. Like a quick pick-me-up for your eye area, the cooling gel texture refreshes tired skin in minutes to leave you looking and feeling more awake.

4. APTO SKINCARE Balancing Mask with Chlorella and Green Tea

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.

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

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.

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Article Last Updated April 25, 2024 12:00 AM