I talk a lot about how food is NOT skin care. That said, the newest skincare trend is the Teatox, in which tea bags are steeped in water, and then the brewed tea is applied to your skin. But does it work?
First, the Possible Benefits
Teas contain many natural antioxidants, vitamins, and nutrients. So it makes sense that many beauty experts would start to think there might be benefit from putting tea on the skin instead of ingesting it. Science shows there are a wide range of skin-friendly compounds in tea, like pycnogenol, resveratrol, phloretin, caffeic acid, ferulic acid to ginger, calendula, edelweiss and horse chestnut. Some teas themselves, like black tea, green tea, and white tea, have been found to be beneficial for the skin.
Second, Why I’m Not that Enthralled
Let’s look at green tea for a moment. Green tea is thought to be difficult to put into skin care products, simply because it has a high concentration of EGCG, which is hydrophilic and doesn’t penetrate the skin well. However, it has been established that expert formulators can incorporate green tea into products well if the time, temperature, and degree of oxidation is controlled well (Cosmeceuticals and Cosmetic Ingredients). That’s why I only certain brands of green tea-containing products, like Topix Replenix.
I also will say that’s why I’m not in favor of putting green tea directly on the skin: While your digestive tract can break down EGCG and extract out beneficial components from green tea, your skin cannot, meaning that the green tea mainly just lays there on your skin. The only exception is when green tea is formulated properly at the right temperature and with the right degree of oxidation.
These specifications aren’t limited to just green tea. For instance, turmeric has been lauded for its incredible antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity. But turmeric in tea has a very intense color, strong odor, and limited stability. It has been noted by many skin care scientists that turmeric can, and will, often stain the skin. However, expert scientists have found they can extract tetrahydrocurcumin, the most potent turmeric derivative, for use in skin care products (read more). But you don’t want to apply straight turmeric tea to your skin.
As I always say, the skin is not the digestive tract! Just because a food is good for you when ingested does NOT mean that it is beneficial to put on your face. The skin was made to protect; the digestive tract was made to absorb. Complete opposites!
With that said, while I do agree that ingesting certain types of tea can be beneficial for your skin, applying steeped tea or tea-based waters to your face is not going to do much in most cases. This is because the tea does not have its potent constituents introduced to the skin in the right form, and in some cases (like turmeric) may stain or harm your skin.
Be wise. I would not use tea waters on my skin!