Green tea receives a lot of hype, mainly due to health benefits such as high antioxidants content, anti-inflammatory properties and reduced caffeine content. These properties also make green tea perfect for skin care, which is why we now see green tea, but also white and black tea, transcending into the industry of beauty products.
Tea derives from the plant Camellia Sinensis, which naturally contains polyphenols, a micro-nutrient found in plant matter than contains antioxidants. Antioxidants get mentioned a lot in the health and wellness industry, which is mainly because they have the ability to protect the body from naturally occurring free radicals, that cause damage and ageing to healthy cells.
Despite all tea containing these antioxidants, green tea contains one of the highest amounts, particularly in comparison to black tea. This is mainly due to the post picking process. Most black teas are dried and oxidised, whereas green tea is steamed, preventing oxidisation.
Studies, such as those conducted by Rhodes et al and Heinrich et al, have shown that green tea can aid protection from UV damage. Furthermore, topical green tea formulations can reduce sun damage by reducing free radicals that harm the skin when exposed to UV. However, it is important to note that green tea doesn't actually block UV rays from the skin in the way that sunscreen does, as shown in the picture below. Best stick to the Piz Buin...
Due to its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, green tea can help to reduce the appearance of acne by healing blemishes, reducing bacteria on the skin and reducing redness. Furthermore, puffiness and dark circles under the eyes can be reduced by the antioxidants and vitamins in green tea, which act to shrink blood vessels in delicate skin. Bonus!
Based on green teas high antioxidant content, which is thought to reduce free radicals, green tea is likely to slow down the development of some signs of aging. Evidence exists to suggest that green tea may hinder two key enzymes that contribute towards the skins ageing process: collagenase, which breaks bond in collagen (a structural protein in the skin) and elastase, which breaks down the elastic fibre, elastin. Basically, these enzymes cause skin to sag and wrinkle through the breakdown of protein and elastics in cell structure. Green tea could hinder this!
Green tea can to help block dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which reduces hair growth and causes hair to fall out. Thus, in theory, green tea should give you longer, thicker hair. Fingers crossed on this one! Furthermore, when applied topically, it is thought to help strengthen and soften hair, due to it's content of stimulating vitamins E and C.
The combination of caffeine and unique antioxidants, in paeticular epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), contained within green tea are believed to boost the bodies metabolic rate, increasing the rate at which the body burns fat, in particular visceral fat, which is the fat stored on the abdomen. Obviously this doesn’t mean we can eat more, although wouldn’t we all just love that! Although, after drinking green tea you may not even want to eat, as ECCG is thought to also be an appetite suppressant. Furthermore, green tea contains approximately 4 calories (as long as you don’t add sugars), in comparison to milky tea and coffee, which has on average around 20 calories and increases by 15 calories for every teaspoon of sugar!
Studies have also found drinking green tea in conjunction with exercise to be more effective that doing either alone. Meaning you may want to try and slip a green tea in before or after workouts.
Whilst caffeine can provide alertness throughout the mind and body, L-theanine, an amino acid found almost exclusively in tea, has calming properties. This produces a relaxation effect that can calm nerves and aid with anxiety. It also helps to slow down the release of caffeine, giving a slower and longer release of energy. This also helps to reduce the negatives effects of caffeine, such as increased heart rate and caffeine shakes.
As green tea has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, drinking it has great effects for your mouth, inhibiting the growth of bacteria, resulting in fresher breath and also reducing any inflammation. Studies have found that regular consumption of green tea is actually just as effective as many mouth washes.
How to use Green Tea
Drinking green tea is one of the easiest ways to incorporate it into your routine, but due to lack of direct long-term studies, opinions vary as to how much tea should be consumed for optimal health. However, most suggest drinking between three to ten cups per day. Whilst you can source green tea from supermarkets, the quality and freshness doesn’t usually compare to loose leaf tea. If you would rather tea bags, try going for a premium brand rather than own brand and big brands. You can see the difference!
Those avoiding caffeine or are not fans of the taste of green tea are able to get green tea extract in supplements of 100-150mg, but again the exact long term exact benefits are unknown.
There are many studies conducted on green tea and even more since it’s ever growing commercial success. However, the majority of these studies on the effects of green tea are either animal or test tube studies on tissue. The few human based studies are usually based on statistical correlations and links, meaning conclusions are more guess work than solid evidence.
Whilst some suggest that green tea should be drunk in plentiful amounts, there are some on the other side of the fence that state it is unhealthy to drink more than 5 cups of green tea a day. This is because, as a diuretic, you may expel more water and flush your system of minerals, such as calcium, causing deficiencies.
Despite the precise effects of green tea being unknown, it seems like it may be beneficial to incorporate it into your daily routine. Whether this is via consumption or skin care. Some articles suggests that green tea creams, toners and other such beauty products may not actually retain the benefits, as antioxidants lose their activity when exposed to air, also called oxidisation. Therefore, many products may significantly reduce the antioxidant content when going through the manufacturing process. Despite this I’ve tried and tested a few tea infused beauTEA products and enjoyed most of them, always worth a try eh!
1. Bembu - Benefits of Green Tea
2. Smart skincare - Green tea
3. 20 benefits of green tea you should definitely know
4. Green tea health benefits - Hair
5. Top 10 home remedies - Beauty Benefits of green tea for skin and hair
6. Amazing green tea - Antioxidants