Understanding the Benefits of Tea for Your Skin
Author.
Liam Sardea
Beyond steeping for three minutes in hot water, the leaves of the tea plant are used abundantly as a core ingredient in skin care and shaving products. The reason for this is clear: in its unoxidised and unfermented state, where the leaves are fresh and young and aptly labeled ‘white’ or ‘green’ tea, they are rich with catechins, a series of polyphenolic compounds considerably high in antioxidant content. These stand opposed to the dried and fermented black tea variety, which in its production process strips away its antioxidants and are thus generally not used for skin care purposes. 

 

White or Green Tea?

The choice between utilising white or green tea extract in skin care products is largely a choice made by the skin care company. Whilst research indicates that white tea may have a larger concentration of catechins than green tea rendering the former to be more potent, and that each respective tea may contain a different set of antioxidants, both nevertheless work as powerful ingredients with largely isomorphic benefits. And in addition to their antioxidant content, both white and green teas have anti-inflammatory properties, rendering them useful for both skin care and shaving use.

 

Antioxidant Benefits

As an eminent skin care ingredient, white tea and green tea have excellent benefits for the skin. They work by way of protection and repair. When applied topically, the antioxidants present in tea extracts counteract the damage from free radicals by neutralising them. The source of free radicals stem from exposure to pollutants in the atmosphere such as cigarette smoke and UV radiation, and can also be attributed to an excessive diet of alcohol, fats, and sugars. These factors put the body under considerable oxidative stress, and consequently this results in skin cell damage which gives the appearance of aging and general inflammation and redness. Sunspots, fine lines, and wrinkles are all examples of free radical damage. Antioxidants, as the prefix anti- suggests, restore balance and work at the visible appearance of the skin by repairing it post-exposure, slowing down the visible signs of damage.

 

Moreover, as a preventative measure, tea products protect the skin cell matrix. Keeping it simple, the enzymes present in the skin’s composition function to rejuvenate damaged proteins in a process akin to recycling. A skin cell matrix that effectively performs this task will look firm and healthy, whereas one that does not will result in skin that looks aged via the presence of fine lines and wrinkles. Of note here is that overactive enzymatic activity is equally damaging to the condition of the skin, which naturally increases in production as age increases and is exacerbated by free-radicals - hence the association between age and wrinkles. Antioxidant-rich tea products benefit the skin by providing balance to enzyme production, inhibiting (over)production whilst sustaining the production of elastin and collagen in the skin, vital in skin appearance in the quest towards anti-aging.

 

In light of this, look out for skin care products that contain antioxidants derived from white and/or green tea extracts, and especially look out for these ingredients in anti-aging formulations. Urth’s Face Balm is the perfect product with a focus on preventing sun damage, utilising an SPF15 sunscreen with the addition of green tea, providing environmental protection and fighting free radical damage. Additionally, tea extracts stimulate microcirculation, promoting a skin tone that appears happy and healthy, because it is. Combine this with a high powered serum containing a cocktail of tea-derived antioxidants and peptides to be applied underneath a moisturiser. Like a concentrated shot of wheatgrass in your smoothie, Jack Black’s Protein Booster reverses free radical damage throughout the day, and gets to work while you sleep in the evening.

 

Anti-Inflammatory Benefits

The anti-inflammatory benefits of white and green tea makes it particularly effective when employed not only in skin care products, but also shaving products. Particularly desirable for those with skin of a sensitive disposition (that is, prone to irritation, redness and shave burn), botanically-derived antioxidants efficaciously intervene on inflammation reaction pathways, therefore reducing the overall appearance of inflammation as they ‘step in’ to protect the skin. For this reason, facial cleansers such as Urth’s Face Wash and The Groomed Man Company’s Face Fuel, which employ white and green tea respectively, are a positive step for those with sensitive skin type that suffer from inflammation and its ensuing redness. The same principle works on the aforementioned face serums and moisturisers, and can moreover bear the same effects in the domain of shaving. The cult collection of Proraso White, which includes pre-shave cream, shaving soap, and after shave balm all have the added benefit of green tea, making it perfect for sensitive skin. Inflammation prone skin should also look towards Jack Black’s Post-Shave Cooling Gel, which combines green tea with the equally calming, cooling, and hydrating botanical extracts of aloe vera and chamomile.

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