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Since I gave up coffee just over a year ago due to my anxiety, green tea—specifically matcha—has become my daily drink of choice. With all the proven benefits of the green goodness—its wealth of antioxidants and its ability to boost brain function and even promote heart health—I'm glad I made the switch. Aside from the benefits of drinking green tea, I hadn't given much thought about how it could also help topically, especially in haircare. If you do a YouTube or Google search, there are a wealth of how-to videos and stories that share how to make your own green tea rinse at home and why some people have found success with this DIY remedy.
Even certain brands are formulating products with green tea that claim to reveal healthier hair, which got me curious about what green tea can really do for the hair and scalp. To get the details, I reached out to a few experts: Isfahan Chambers-Harris MPH, PhD, trichologist and founder of Alodia Hair Care; Hadley King, MD, a board-certified dermatologist who specializes in medical and cosmetic dermatology; and Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology and associate professor of dermatology at the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.
With the help of these pros, we get details on why green tea has made its way into our favorite hair products, its benefits, and how you can include green tea in your routine.
Green Tea for Hair
- Type of ingredient: Anti-inflammatory
- Main benefits: Protects from free radicals and can promote hair growth
- Who should use it: In general, anyone can use green tea. However, the antioxidant-rich leaf can be especially beneficial for those with scalp conditions like alopecia.
- How often can you use it: It’s safe to use up to twice a week as a part of your weekly haircare routine.
- Works well with: Hydrators
Benefits of Green Tea for Hair
"Green tea is beneficial for hair growth," Isfahan Chambers-Harris, a PhD-level biomedical scientist, trichologist, and founder of Alodia Hair Care, tells Byrdie. "Studies have shown that after applying topical green tea extract to the scalps of participants with alopecia, participants experienced significant increases in hair growth activity." Hadley King, MD, a board-certified dermatologist, agrees: In addition to promoting hair growth, studies show green tea extract can reduce sun damage and help prevent photo-aging and melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer. "These effects are likely due to the antioxidant properties of the polyphenols in green tea. They help to neutralize free radicals and prevent oxidative damage," says King.
Like our skin, our hair and scalp can also be impacted by free radicals. If you've ever been curious about exactly how our body reacts to free radicals, King breaks it down for us. "Unstable atoms with unpaired electrons are called free radicals," she explains. "Electrons like to be in pairs, so these unstable atoms scavenge the body to seek out other electrons so they can become a pair. This causes damage to cells, proteins, and DNA. This damage can lead to inflammation, aging, and even cancer."
We know that UV radiation and pollution are often how we are exposed to free radicals, and antioxidants like those found in green tea help keep us protected. "Green tea has anti-inflammatory properties due to the antioxidant properties of the polyphenols," King explains. Chamber-Harris agrees and explains, "Polyphenol called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) have been shown to help with hair growth." And there is one more player at work in green tea that is not to be underestimated: caffeine. It, too, has its topical benefits. "The caffeine in green tea can [also] stimulate blood flow to the follicles, helping with healthy hair growth."
What Are Polyphenols?
Polyphenols are antioxidant micronutrients found in plant-based foods like berries, flaxseeds, olives, and tea.
How to Use Green Tea for Hair
Adding green tea to your wash day is fairly easy to do with the green tea–infused products hitting the shelves. But if you're a DIY-er, you can give a rinse a try even though the scientific jury is still out on the benefits of DIY treatments. "There are no studies that show that green tea rinses have the same effect as using green tea extract on the scalp," says Chambers-Harris. "However, because using tea rinses may have a beneficial effect (even though there's no scientific evidence), there’s no harm in trying them. You can add one or two green tea bags to boiling water, allowing them to steep for five minutes. Once cool, apply the liquid to your hair at the end of your shower."
If you're not going the DIY route and are thinking about adding green tea to your routine, Joshua Zeichner, MD, says a matcha-infused product can also be an ideal addition. "Matcha is beneficial in two ways," he tells us. "First, it helps to reduce inflammation in the scalp and protect the skin against free radical damage. Second, it can help prevent UV light from harming the hair shaft itself. [Lastly], radicals from the sun can damage the hair and contribute to brittleness." And free radicals can also alter hair color.
With all of this information, we're ready to try adding green tea to our next wash day. Keep scrolling for a few of our green tea-infused favorites.
Best Products With Green Tea
This blend of matcha green tea and wild apple blossom deeply nourishes the hair and scalp, helping to restore damaged hair.
This green tea–infused leave-in conditioner is packed with hydrating ingredients like shea butter and argan oil to add moisture while the antioxidants protect, revealing healthier, hydrated hair.
This sulfate-free, color-safe shampoo is formulated with strengthening keratin amino acids and antioxidant-packed green tea antioxidants for added strength and environmental protection.
On days when your hair needs a refresh instead of a full-on wash, try this shea butter, moringa, avocado, kale, matcha, and green algae rinse for soft, shiny hair.