A New Leaf: Why Green Tea Is So Great For Your Skin
Tea may be something that you take for granted.
But it’s not just a quaint dunk for crumpets and scones.
Now’s the time to discover what green tea can do for your skin — whether you sip it or apply it directly to your skin.
Where does green tea come from?
Tea has been enjoyed as a beverage for literally thousands of years, finding its roots in China as a medicinal drink during the Shang dynasty (circa 1700 to 1027 BC).
Portuguese and Dutch explorers brought tea to Europe as a luxury commodity in the 16thcentury, and camel-caravans were soon making the year-long trek from China to Russia to supply tea to the Czars.
Enterprising British colonialists later introduced tea-plantations in India in an attempt to break the Chinese monopoly on tea-growing, but today China is the world’s largest producer of the evergreen shrub from which all true teas are made.
For centuries across Asia, tea has been revered not only for its health benefits, but also as an integral part of Buddhist, Taoist, and Confucian spiritual practice.
According to these ancient writings, the benefits of green tea would generally be called anti-inflammatory, balancing the body’s elements, especially the element of “fire” or heat.
Today, we use green tea in much the same way as a beverage and as a skin treatment — to cool redness, irritation and swelling.
The extract of the green tea leaf is also considered the antioxidant gold standard for skin treatment, both for its immediate cooling effect on the skin, and long-term protective benefits against UV and other enemies of robust cell function.
How is green tea different from other teas?
All teas have a common ancestor, and are basically the same plant.
However, there are hundreds of varieties or cultivars, meaning forms of the same plant that have been hybridized.
White, green, and black tea simply represent different levels of processing of the same leaf.
White tea is the least processed, while black teas are fermented to yield an array of mysterious and earthy flavors.
Green tea has not undergone the withering and oxidation process used to make black teas.
Green tea is rich in a powerful type of antioxidant known as a tannin, making it a key ingredient in age-defying products of many kinds.
Tannins are produced by plants to prevent animals from eating them.
In their wild state, tannins are natural astringents which produce an instantly drying, puckering sting on the tongue and inside the mouth, and this makes them unappetizing to birds, rabbits, deer, and other nibblers.
The same astringent action makes tannins valuable in skincare products, where they are used to constrict capillaries and tighten pores.
What about caffeine? I heard that a pound of tea has way more caffeine than a pound of coffee!
It’s true that a pound of tea contains more caffeine than a pound of coffee. Yes, green tea contains caffeine.
But have you ever seen a pound of loose tea? Think: big, shaggy, fragrant haystack.
Tea experts say that you can typically brew 300 or so cups from one pound of tea, while coffee experts estimate that a pound of coffee will yield more like 47 cups, depending of course on the mug you sip from.
The point is: cup for cup, tea is far less caffeinated than coffee.
If you have a heart condition or other issue, discuss even minimal caffeine intake with your medical team to be safe.
Caffeine as a skincare ingredient, like tannins, calms inflammation, tightens up capillaries, and refines the look of pores.
What are the benefits of green tea?
Tea has been treasured as a restorer of youth for centuries, and now we have the science to know why.
For centuries, Asian scholars have studied and written about the effects of drinking tea as part of what is now called Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Modern health practitioners confirm that tea-drinking has broad-ranging health benefits, including the potential to help the body fight heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers.
This research is ongoing, but there’s no dispute that tea is healthy, especially if you drink it without the addition of sweetener or creamer.
These potential long-term benefits are being examined in the context of a lifetime habit of tea-drinking.
Here’s great news: applying green tea to your skin has immediate benefits—in some cases, visible within less than an hour.
That’s why it’s a key ingredient in Robin’s soon-to-be-released Super Cooling & Moisturizing Face Mask with Green Tea Extract (available August 15th). It calms and cools skin, so it’s especially refreshing after you’ve been out in the sun.
All tea contains antioxidants, and these help cells fend off damage from free radicals.
Green tea specifically is high in vitamin B2, which helps keep collagen firm and frisky.
It’s also high in vitamin E, the super-vitamin that supports new skin cell growth, keeping the skin surface clear, moist, and glowing.
Green tea is a proven antibacterial and acne-fighter when applied topically, and unclogs pores to prevent breakouts.
Natural caffeine in green tea, when the brewed leaves are applied directly to the skin, de-puffs and brightens—great for the delicate eye-area.
How can I use green tea to help my skin?
We recommend buying and enjoying organic green tea, regardless of whether you plan to drink it or use it on your skin.
If you’ve got a sunburn, thoroughly steep several organic green tea teabags in purified water, then let them cool.
Try them chilled in the fridge. Gently press out most of the liquid until they’re still wet (but not dripping), and use as a soothing compress wherever you’re feeling the sting of too much sun, or have itchy, hot skin from an allergy.
You can also make your own larger compresses with cheesecloth and loose green tea leaves.
If your eyes are puffy, brew and chill a pair of green tea bags, recline and place the tea bags over your closed lids.
The astringent tannins typically will take down swelling before the tea-bags even dry out!
When you’re not in a DIY space, try our NEW Super Cooling & Moisturizing Face Mask with Green Tea Extract (Available August 15th).
Just cleanse your face, unfold the mask, recline, and press the soothing sheet mask onto your skin for instant nirvana, and a cooled-out complexion.
Relax for 15-20 minutes, remove the mask, then pat in the remaining serum (Robin loves to smooth those extra drops over the tops of her hands).
Here are more of Robin’s tea-rrific favorites, to get more green tea benefits into your skincare routine:
Hydrated Skin = Youth Plump Perfecting Moisturizer to hydrate and plump skin.
50 Fierce Broad Spectrum SPF 50+ Moisturizer & Sunscreen for luxuriously hydrating SPF 50+ sunscreen protection.
Foaming Joy Purifying Facial Cleanser for a gentle wash twice a day.
Polish to Perfection Micro Polishing & Exfoliating Scrub to help skin shed dull, dry cells and refine texture.