Green tea is one of the most loved skincare ingredients on the market, and for good reason. It's thought to have first been discovered in China, where green tea leaves were used for medicinal purposes (including digestive issues, headaches, and inflammation, according to Dermascope).
Today, you'll find green tea in creams, lotions, serums, sunscreen, anti-acne regimens, and other products. If you're not already, consider adding green tea to your skincare regimen for benefits that are not only centuries-old, but are also totally in-step with a nontoxic, clean beauty routine. Top dermatologists and skincare experts agree that this list of green tea benefits is practically endless, including clearer, more even skin.
Green tea is chock-full of health benefits, from antioxidant vitamins to antibacterials and anti-inflammatories. Literature from the National Institutes of Health cite the chemical composition of green tea—and in particular the catechins found within—which make it such a powerful metabolic agent capable of cell rejuvenation. (Anything that can improve function on a cellular level is a goldmine when it comes to skincare.) Ahead, three dermatologists and an esthetician share the exact benefits of green tea for skin, plus top product recommendations.
Meet the Expert
- Dr. Katie Rodan and Dr. Kathy Fields are both board-certified dermatologists, as well as the founders of cult skincare brand Rodan + Fields.
- Dr. Amanda Doyle is a board-certified dermatologist and a Lycored Skin Expert.
- Heather Wilson is a licensed esthetician, as well as the Director of Brand Development at InstaNatural.
Green Tea Is a Powerful Anti-Bacterial
Bacteria lives on your face, but doesn't always lead to breakouts. The key to a clear complexion is managing this bacteria before it can clog pores.
Dr. Katie Rodan and Dr. Kathy Fields tell Byrdie green tea is a powerful anti-bacterial. "Due to its high content of polyphenols, green tea works as an anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial which in turn can aid in reducing inflammation, redness, and bacteria in the body." They recommend the Rodan + Fields Unblemish line, which contains green tea and addresses blemishes, oiliness, red and uneven skin tone. Step 2, the clarifying toner, "utilizes these properties to control the look of acne by minimizing redness and inflammation and targeting bacteria to unclog pores."
Green Tea Topically Attacks Free Radicals
Board Certified Dermatologist, Dr. Amanda Doyle, also a Lycored Skincare Expert suggests using green tea in your skincare regimen to protect skin's overall integrity. "Green tea contains potent anti-aging antioxidants called catechins, specifically epigallocatechin gallate, (EGCG) that scavenge free radicals, which if not removed can damage the skin." She loves Innisfree Hydrating Cleansing Foam with Green Tea to defend the skin from free-radicals.
Green Tea Provides a Topical Protective Barrier
Doyle also says using topical products with green tea can form a layer of protection against pollution and sun. "Green tea has also been shown to have a protective effect against pollution or fine dust particle induced skin aging and it has a photo protective role. With consistent use, this translates into clearer, more even and more youthful skin over time." Boscia Green Tea Oil-Free moisturizer is one of her lightweight faves.
Green Tea Contains Topical Anti-Aging Properties
Additionally, Doyle likes green tea for its anti-aging properties, as it can help maintain skin's elasticity. “Green tea is one of the best anti-aging secrets," she says. "It has been consumed for thousands of years and has more recently been used as a topical treatment given its anti-aging power.”
Green Tea Can Plump Skin to Even Out Lines
Heather Wilson, Director of Brand Development & Licensed Esthetician at InstaNatural also likes green tea for to repair the breakdown of skin tone from aging or exposure to the elements, two inescapable facts of life. By plumping up skin, you can nourish, hydrate, and even out your complexion. Products that contain green tea in addition to other active repair agents can really make a difference. "For more powerful anti-aging, InstaNatural’s Retinol Serum and Collagen Night Cream also contain green tea," says Wilson, "which provides calmness to the skin while improving the look of lines, wrinkles and discoloration."
Green Tea Is a Potent Topical Anti-Inflammatory
In addition to aging and exposure, inflammation can contribute to a troublesome complexion. Green tea's chemical properties make it a powerful anti-inflammatory, so Dr. Katie Rodan and Dr. Kathy Fields recommend adding it to your skincare regimen stat. "Rodan + Fields Soothe Step 4, a mineral sunscreen, includes green tea extracts in a lightweight formula to reduce visible redness over time and give the appearance of brighter skin," they tell Byrdie.
Mineral sunscreens can often trap heat, making them feel heavier, but are non-comedogenic (so they're better-suited for acne-prone skin). Meanwhile, chemical sunscreens contain ingredients that may be irritating to those who are allergic or sensitive. Keep this in mind when deciding on an SPF.
Wilson agrees adding that the polyphenols in green tea support the body’s response to inflammation. "Topically, the polyphenol benefits in green tea help to soothe and calm the appearance of irritation, redness, dryness and breakouts." In other words, green tea can help the skin heal, which is an added bonus if you're also treating it with harsher agents like salicylic acid, which can be drying to the skin.
Green Tea is an Ingestible Anti-Inflammatory
Drinking green tea can also bring down inflammation."Internally, green tea has historically been used to improve vitality in the body, and is claimed to support brain health, metabolism, and overall wellness," says Wilson.
However, it's unclear just how much green tea you would have to drink for targeted results. "While there are believed to be some benefits, it is not known how much green tea must be consumed to show dramatic skin benefits."
For years the western market has been hip to the beneficial effects of green tea on heart health and to treat diabetes, cancer, and obesity. These studies defer to "ancient times," when green tea was considered a health promoting elixir and beauty secret. Our verdict? In the quest for clearer, even skin, green tea is an ingredient worth adding to your skincare arsenal.