Learn about Green Tea Extract Benefits & How it Can Protect Your Skin
Green tea is made from the buds and leaves of the tea plant (Camellia sinensis), although it doesn’t undergo the oxidation process that oolong and black tea does. The lack of oxidation means that green tea has a higher concentration of volatile organic compounds, many of which scientists are studying for their health benefits. Green tea has been consumed as a beverage and herbal medicine for thousands of years in China, but it has also become popular in Western countries during the last few decades. Researchers are currently investigating many benefits for drinking green tea, including skin health.
Green Tea Extract (GTE) is commercially available in a variety of forms such as capsules, powders and tablets, which have much higher concentrations of active ingredients than green tea. GTE is also an ingredient in many cosmetics, especially skincare products. Scientific studies have found multiple benefits for topical applications of GTE.
Polyphenols are a class of chemicals that are receiving a good deal of attention by medical researchers. The green tea polyphenols (GTPPs) of greatest interest to researchers include catechins and flavonoids, which are subclasses of polyphenols. Catechins include epicatechin (EC), epicatechin gallate (ECG), epigallocatechin (EGC) and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). They comprise about 25 percent of green tea by weight as compared to only four percent for black tea. The flavonoids in green tea that are currently under study include kaempferol, myricetin and quercetin.
Topical applications of EGCG provide the skin with direct pharmacological intervention while minimizing the risk of systemic toxicity as compared to oral consumption. The most promising studies on topical applications of GTE deal with its protective effects from the sun. Human studies show that GTE formulations reduce the damage caused by ultraviolet radiation (UVR), including skin cancer.
Human studies of topically applied GTPPs have shown a reduction in sunburn damage. A 2001 study in Journal of American Academy of Dermatology treated the subjects’ skin with GTE or one of its constituents and exposed the site to a dose of UVR. Clinicians then examined the treated area for signs of sunburn, including erythema, Langerhans cell damage and DNA damage.
The results showed a reduction in sun damage that correlated closely with the dosage of GTPPs. ECG and EGCG were the most effective at inhibiting sun damage, whereas EC and EGC demonstrated little effect. Researchers in this study concluded that GTPPs are effective photoprotective agents for many of the sun’s adverse effects on human skin.
A 2009 human study in Experimental Dermatology showed that the antioxidant properties of GTPPs provided benefits for the skin. This study exposed the skin of volunteers to UVR and treated the area with extracts from green and white tea. Another group in this study was exposed to dinitrochlorobenzene before being treated with tea extracts to serve as the control group.
The results showed that both types of tea protected the skin from UVR, with no significant differences between the two types. Researchers noted that these benefits were due to chemical effects rather than physical effects such as the direct absorption or blockage of UVR. They also concluded that tea extracts could provide additional protection from UVR with established photoproctective methods like sunscreen.
Researchers have proposed several mechanisms of actions to explain the benefits of GTE for the skin. One such mechanism is that the antioxidants in GTE bind to free radicals (we previously wrote about anti-aging & free radicals here), thus reducing the inflammation they would otherwise cause. This explanation could mean that GTE formulations provide a synergistic effect against UVR when combined with sunscreen.
The photoprotective effects of GTPPs may also be due to their interaction with Interleukin 12 (IL-12), a cytokine that plays a key role in inflammatory signaling. An ability to suppress inflammatory reactions would mean that a topical application of EGCG could perform DNA repairs to the skin. Researchers have also suggested that GTPPs decrease carcinogenesis by suppressing tumor initiators and promoters.
Summary of Benefits of Green Tea Extract for Skincare Protection
The strongest evidence of GTE’s benefits for the skin relate to sun protection. It makes sense to apply one of Belli’s Skincare products such as our anti-blemish facial wash (you can buy here) or eye brightening cream (great anti-aging benefits too) before applying sunscreen. In this case, it’s best to use a physical sunscreen such as zinc oxide that won’t react with components of GTE. Other active ingredients in sunscreen provide chemical protection, so they could cause GTE to degrade.
You could also incorporate products like our Pure & Pampered Body Wash into your skin maintenance routine, since GTE has antioxidant properties that can slow down skin aging. Our body wash also contains cucumber, which is rich in antioxidants. The lavender oil helps make your skincare routine a relaxing experience.
Belli’s Fresh Start Pre-treatment Scrub is a scrub with micro beads that removes dead cells from the surface of your skin. It benefits from GTE’s antioxidant properties, which can help brighten your skin and give it a healthier complexion. Our pre-treatment scrub also contains peppermint oil to invigorate your skin and provide aromatherapy.