The humble cuppa is a staple of Irish life. Any issues you have can be addressed with a hot cup of the good stuff, whether they be personal, professional or otherwise. On average, we drink 2.19kg per head annually going by statistics from 2016. We are tea connoisseurs, not just of the classic black but of all types of tea – I am a green tea hooman myself for the delightful antioxidants.
Although we know the benefits of getting it into us, ie. the warm, fuzzy feeling of comfort and patriotism, how many of you know that tea is actually an incredibly beneficial ingredient in skincare? In fact, it’s possibly already in your skincare routine.
You’ll find different types of tea extracts in skincare but by far the most common is green tea extract, listed as camellia sinensis leaf extract. As natural and clean skincare becomes more and more popular, we’re seeing more and more ingredients touted as the most efficient natural ingredient and perhaps this would lead you to believe that green tea extract is only added to skincare products for the sake of it. This ain’t true – green tea extract is well-researched and has proven benefits!
Green tea is full of polyphenols, naturally-occurring chemicals often found in food sources. Polyphenols are highly antioxidant, to the point that they are actually free radical scavengers. What’s a free radical, you ask? It’s a molecule that has an unpaired electron which makes it unstable. Free radicals want to attach that unpaired electron to ANYTHING, so it attaches to another molecule, causing a chain reaction of damage.
What does any of this have to do with MY skin, you ask? Pollution, UV rays and other lifestyle-related factors create an abundance of free radicals in the skin, which causes cellular damage and thus accelerated skin ageing. When we say skin ageing, we’re talking lax skin, wrinkles, fine lines, pigmentation (age spots/sun spots) and more.
For this reason, we need antioxidants to stabilise those anarchist free radicals and stop our skin from ageing far too quickly. Polyphenols are particularly good at this as they actively search out the free radicals.
Additionally, green tea polyphenols (catechins, for the super nerdie) have anti-inflammatory aka skin-soothing benefits, hence why you’ll see it in products geared towards redness, rosacea and sensitive skin, such as IMAGE’s Ormedic Range. I adore IMAGE Ormedic Balancing Antioxidant Serum (€67.00) as a main everyday serum, especially for those with inflamed spots or any redness, as it contains green tea extract and sodium hyaluronate, AKA hyaluronic acid with a very small molecular size to hydrate deep in the skin.
It also plays its anti-inflammatory role in Murad’s spot-busting Clarifying Cleanser (€24.99) alongside a massive 1.51% salicylic acid.
Why use one tea extract when you can use more than one? White tea extract, also seen as camellia sinensis leaf extract on ingredients lists as it is from the same bush as other tea extracts, has been found in certain studies to be 10% more effective than green tea. Yon-Ka Solar Care SPF 50 (€39.50) contains the polyphenols of three teas, specifically green tea, white tea and rooibos as antioxidant protection alongside high factor, broad spectrum light protection so that you’re getting nearly all of the protection your skin could need in just one product.
One thing to note is that you can’t simply start basting yourself with a wet green tea bag. The green tea you find in skincare has been stabilised within the formulation, meaning that it has been combined with ingredients that will stop it from becoming ineffective after being exposed to air or light. Additionally, most products featuring green tea will contain ingredients to help that very extract stay on your skin and be able to continuously provide you with antioxidant protection. You’re best off leaving the formulating to the professionals!