Do you really need green tea in your skincare?

We got experts to weigh in.

Harper's Bazaar India

With the rise in popularity of K-beauty and glass skin, one ingredient has taken the skincare world by storm—green tea and its Japanese counterpart, matcha. Known for its antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, green tea has become a must-have in many people’s skincare routines. Marketed as the holy grail for oily, acne-prone skin, it has become quite a phenomenon, with leading brands offering a whole range of products from toners, serums, eye creams, moisturisers, and more. But we wonder whether the ingredient is as good as the internet has made it out to be. 

“While the exact time of its entry into skincare is difficult to pinpoint, green tea has been used in traditional Chinese and Japanese medicine for centuries,” said Dr Priyanka Reddy, chief dermatologist, cosmetologist and founder of DNA Skin Clinic. “Green tea has been the subject of numerous studies in skincare and general health. However, while there is scientific evidence suggesting the efficacy of green tea in skincare, further research is still ongoing to establish the exact potency.” 

Thus, while users and brands are lauding the ingredient, it is yet to be backed by scientific proof. Sure, this ingredient is very versatile, but Dr Reddy reminds us: “Green tea is not an essential ingredient in skincare, one that must be prescribed to all. It is not an active that is result-oriented; it is more of a feel-good addition to skincare, given that there are so many actives that deliver much more than green tea does in today’s day and age.” 

But, before you reconsider investing in the green tea serum, you should know that green tea has long been a part of the Hanbang, the list of traditional Korean medicines. Reports also show its use in India, China, Thailand, and Japan, with a prescribed two to three cups a day. Many experts say that the ingredient has great soothing qualities and research proves that it also reduces sebum. It contains antioxidants, polyphenols, and other bioactive compounds that have been shown to have positive effects on the skin. “Green tea is extremely versatile with skin calming and brightening properties,” said Dr Reddy. 

So, let’s dive into it further and understand why it found its way into skincare. 

Antioxidant and anti-ageing effects
Rich in antioxidants such as epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), green tea helps protect the skin from free radicals and environmental damage. These antioxidants can help neutralise harmful molecules that can lead to premature aging and skin damage.

The antioxidants in green tea can help reduce the signs of ageing such as wrinkles, fine lines, and sagging. They can help promote collagen production, improve skin elasticity, and provide a more youthful appearance. 

Soothing and calming
Green tea has anti-inflammatory properties that help soothe and calm irritated or inflamed skin. It can benefit conditions such as acne, rosacea, and eczema, helping reduce redness and inflammation. It is also useful for conditions like sunburns or other forms of skin irritation. 

Acne treatment and skin brightening
The antibacterial and antimicrobial properties of green tea make it an effective ingredient for acne-prone skin. It can help kill acne-causing bacteria, reduce excess oil production, and prevent clogged pores. Green tea extracts can help brighten the complexion and even out skin tone. It can even inhibit the production of melanin, which can help reduce the appearance of dark spots and hyperpigmentation. 

UV Protection

Green tea has also been found to have some UV-protective properties. While it cannot replace sunscreen, using skincare products containing green tea can provide an additional layer of protection against the harmful effects of the sun. With so many properties that are said to help the skin, green tea is one of those ingredients that may stay in our daily routines forever! 

With all that said, and despite the complete research that is yet to come, Dr Reddy says that it is definitely considered safe for topical use in skincare products. “However, individuals may have varying sensitivities to specific ingredients, including green tea. Reactions like photosensitivity and skin irritation can be encountered. Hence doing a patch test before full use of the product is always advisable.” 

Before you jump onto the bandwagon of any popular product, knowing all the information on it is important. As far as green tea goes, it sure has its benefits, although, despite the marketed universality of the ingredient, it is advisable to not ignore testing before you buy a full bottle. The likelihood is that you might become one of its proud proponents like many of us, who now swear by the products below:

Shiseido Future Solution Lx Total Protective Cream, ₹16,000 

Innisfree Green Tea Seed Serum, ₹2,100

Cosrx Hydrium Green Tea Aqua Soothing Gel Cream, ₹1,660

The Ordinary Caffeine Solution, ₹700

Forest Essentials Luxury Sugar Soap Oudh & Green Tea, ₹550

 One thing Camillia Sinensis Leaf Extract, ₹1,050