What is Tea?
Tea is the common name for the Camellia sinensis plant. It is the agricultural product of the leaves, leaf buds, and internodes (the portion of a plant stem between nodes) of the plant that are prepared and cured by various methods. “Tea” also refers to the aromatic beverage prepared from the cured leaves by combination with hot or boiling water.
Tea is known for its stimulant qualities largely attributed to caffeine. Today, herbal teas are known to have many health benefits, preventing a variety of conditions, from heart disease and cancer, to gum disease, skin aging and weight loss. The major types of tea include black, green, oolong and white, differing by the method of harvesting and processing.
The beneficial properties of tea are attributed to polyphenols. The polyphenols found in tea mainly belong to the subtype called catechins. Polyphenols or catechins are better known as antioxidants that fight free radicals. Free radicals are damaging to skin and body by attacking healthy cells. Green tea has more catechins than black tea; white tea is almost as rich in catechins as green tea but is different in composition and less well studied.
So How Is Green Tea Good For My Skin?
There have been number studies of skin benefits of green tea. One of these studies show protection from skin cancer by demonstrating topical green tea formulations can reduce sun damage.(1) Another fascinating study in 2003 was conducted by Dr. Stephen Hsu of the Medical College of Georgia Department of Oral Biology. His findings determined green tea was able to rejuvenate old skin cells at the end of their life cycle.
A quote from Dr. Hsu’s paper explained, “…we report here for the first time, that at certain concentrations, EGCG or a mixture of the major green tea polyphenols stimulated aged keratinocytes to generate biological energy and to synthesize DNA, possibly for renewed cell division.
Therefore, green tea constituents may be useful topically for promoting skin regeneration, wound healing, or treatment of certain epithelial conditions such as aphthous ulcers, psoriasis, rosacea, and actinic keratoses.” (2) Dr. Hsu went on to comment he was “so surprised” to discover EGCG actually reactivated cells that had migrated toward the surface of the skin to ‘die’.
Green tea appears to manipulate sun damage protection by fighting free radicals and reducing inflammation rather than by blocking UV rays. Therefore, green tea enhances sun protection when used in addition to a sunscreen. To boost sun protection, apply a green tea formula under your sunscreen to elevate the level of sun protection. It is best to combine green tea with zinc oxide-based sunscreens because zinc oxide is chemically inert and should not react with green tea (which some chemical sunscreens might do, especially in sunlight). You can also look for green tea in natural soaps, and other facial cleansers.
Topical green tea is also very beneficial for sensitive skin types by reducing inflammation and irritation in the skin. Wrinkles, skin sag and other signs of aging have been shown to benefit from Green tea. The tea’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory polyphenols slow down signs of premature of aging
Use green tea at home to boost your skins health, appearance and reduce signs of aging by freezing freshly brewed green tea as ice cubes and use them as a toner. Let them start thawing first before applying directly to the face to avoid irritation. You can also drink green tea or take green tea extract in capsules to benefit from the anti oxidant properties. The polyphenols will reach your skin via the bloodstream in sufficient amounts.
Using green tea in your skincare routine has definite proven benefits to slow skin aging, reduce acne and protect your skin from cancer among many others. Just be aware of the products you choose. Like most antioxidants, green tea polyphenols are oxidized and can lose their active constituents when exposed to air.
By Tiffany Oney and Rachelle Dupree
(1) Green Tea Polyphenol Treatment to Human Skin Prevents Formation of Ultraviolet Light B-induced Pyrimidine Dimers in DNA (2000). Santosh K. Katiyar, Anaibelith Perez and Hasan Mukhtar. Clinical Cancer Research Vol. 6, 3864-3869, October 2000.
(2) Green Tea Polyphenols Induce Differentiation and Proliferation in Epidermal Keratinocytes (2003). Stephen Hsu, Wendy B. Bollag, Jill Lewis, Qin Huang,Baldev Singh, Mohamed Sharawy, Tetsuya Yamamoto, and George Schuster. Journal of Pharmacology And Experimental Therapeutics. First published on March 27, 2003; DOI: 10.1124/jpet.103.049734
Zinc Sun Care and Summer Skin
To protect the skin from harmful sun exposure it is important to use a sunscreen that has both UVA and UVB protection. These sunscreens are commonly known as dual spectrum sunscreens. It is also important to check for ingredients that absorb and block sunrays. Ingredients such as oxybenzo absorb sunrays while zinc oxide actually blocks the rays. It is also important to look for sunscreens that are non comedogenic and non acnegenic which means that the sunscreen will not clog pores or promote acne. A SPF or sun protection factor of 15 or higher is recommended. A generous application is needed in order to attain protection; most people do not apply sunscreen liberally enough.
The SPF indicates how long you can be exposed to the sun before burning. For example, if your skin will burn within 10 minutes of sun exposure with no sun protection you can be exposed to the sun for 150 minutes with a sun protection factor of 15 before burning.
To estimate how long you can be exposed to the sun before burning, multiply the probable time you can be exposed to the sun with no sun protection before burning and multiply it by the SPF on the label of the sunscreen. Multiple applications throughout the day are necessary in order to be protected, and it is recommended to reapply every two hours, as sweating and water activities may rub off the sun screen. Sunscreens do more than just protect skin from burning, so reapplication is necessary to shield the skin from other harmful damage like premature age spots, wrinkles and fine lines.
Regular sunscreen use will protect the skin from burning, premature aging and possible skin cancer. It is important to make sunscreen use as much a part of your daily routine as brushing your teeth. As summer is approaching it is even more important to wear sunscreen as the sunrays are stronger and more harmful during this time of year.