We’ll forgive you for thinking of an aromatic drink at the mention of green tea; humans have been drinking beverages steeped with leaves from the camellia sinesis plant for 4,000 years. Its health benefits have been studied accordingly, but today we’re focused specifically on how green tea can be good for your skin. For the low down on the many skincare benefits of green tea — as well as information on what products you’ll usually find it in and which skin types it’s best for — we asked a few experts to weigh in.
The 3 Primary Benefits of Green Tea for Skin
When we talk about green tea as a skincare ingredient, we’re typically referring to an extract that’s derived green tea leaves (as opposed to green tea oil, also called camellia oil, which actually comes from green tea seeds). This extract is highly concentrated, which in turn means your skin reaps more of the rewards. But what does green tea do for your skin, exactly? Turns out, a lot.
1. It’s a Powerful Antioxidant
“Green tea extract is a highly effective ingredient found in many skincare products,” says Sarah Akram, a celebrity esthetician. “In particular, clinical studies have found green tea extract to be full of powerful antioxidant called polyphenols. This means the ingredient scavenges for free radicals in your skin [to protect it from damage]. It’s one of the main reasons why green tea extract is found in so many anti-aging products.”
The most noteworthy polyphenol found in green tea is epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG. “Other polyphenols that are extracted from green tea are beneficial for treating acne and unclogging pores since they’re a powerful antibacterial agent for the skin,” adds Dr. Michele Green, a board-certified cosmetic dermatologist.
2. It’s Super Moisturizing
In addition to warding off free radical damage and keeping skin clear, green tea is good for your skin because it’s highly moisturizing. How, precisely? Dr. Green says the ingredient improves your skin’s ability to actually retain moisture.
3. It Depuffs Like a Pro
Another benefit of green tea for your skin is that it contains caffeine. This makes it a very popular ingredient in eye products since it can help depuff and tighten bags or swelling. The caffeine and tannins also help by shrinking blood vessels around the eyes, notes Dr. Green.
Green Tea Beauty Products
For all the reasons outlined above, green tea is a super popular ingredient in anti-aging products (as Akram mentioned), and especially so in eye products. Case in point: bareMinerals GEN NUDE Eyeshadow + Primer, an ultra-creamy skincare-makeup hybrid. Available in eight neutral shades ranging light peach to soft beige to warm brown— can also serve as an eyeshadow in and of itself, or as a base for any eye look. In addition to containing antioxidant powerhouse green tea extract, it’s also made with mango seed butter and sunflower seed oil to seriously hydrate, and vitamin E to further nourish.
We’ve also used green tea extract (along with willow bark extract) to formulate our limited-edition SKINLONGEVITY Green Tea Herbal Eye Mask, vegan hydra-gel eye masks that instantly refresh and nourish skin, reducing the appearance of puffiness.
While green tea isn’t always given a top-name billing, you may find this humble superhero listed quietly in the product ingredient lineup (look for camellia sinensis, camellia oleifera and epigallocatechin gallate). It’s commonly found in eye creams and gels, facial toners (especially those that target acne and oily prone skin types), soothing face masks, and a variety of serums and creams. You may even find it in your SPF!
Best of all, Akram and Dr. Green both confirm green tea extract is approved for all skin types. Everyone appreciates a little help in the moisturizing, anti-aging and de-puffing departments, right?
The Bottom Line on Green Tea in Skincare
Green tea has many skincare benefits that are backed by concrete clinical data, and its longtime presence in skincare products is also a testament to its goodness. The ingredient is great for numerous skin types, including oily, dry, combo and acne-prone, and you can wear it every day should your heart (and skin) so desire.