New Evidence Shows Drinking Green Tea Has Direct Skin Benefits

By Seppo | Diet

Drinking green tea is one of the easiest and the most effective ways to hack acne out of your life. Getting over acne comes down to managing inflammatory damage in the skin. Inflammatory damage to the fatty acids in sebum triggers the acne formation process, as explained here. Consequently, reducing inflammatory damage to the skin massively improves acne, and there’s good evidence to show this is true.

Earlier I’ve written how drinking green tea can reduce systemic inflammation and thus indirectly help the skin (by sparing antioxidants that can be used to protect the skin). Now there’s new evidence to show antioxidants in tea actually make it to the skin and provide direct protection against acne-causing inflammatory damage.

So go grab a cup of green tea that’s been hacked for maximum antioxidant content and bioavailability and sit back as I explain how it’s going to protect your skin.

Green tea supplements reduce UV-induced skin damage

Rhodes et al. showed that 12 week supplementation with green tea catechins (catechins are the antioxidants found in tea) provided significant protection against UV-induced inflammatory damage. This study included 12 Caucasian participants in the UK. For each participant the researchers measured what’s known as minimum erythema dose (MED), which is the minimum dose of UV radiation ‘producing visually discernible reddening of the skin’. Then the researchers ‘nuked’ each participant’s skin with 3 times the MED dose to measure the inflammatory damage to the skin. This was done on a small part of the buttocks.

Once these baseline measurements were done, the participants were given a daily supplement that contained 450 mg green tea extract and 50 mg vitamin C. The supplements were taken for 12 weeks, after which the above measurements were repeated.

This graph shows the difference in erythema (reddening of skin) pre and post supplementation. The D30 is the MED dose and 68 mJ/cm2 represents the maximum UV dose.

Green tea reduces UV-induced erythema

Source: Oral green tea catechin metabolites are incorporated into human skin and protect against UV radiation-induced cutaneous inflammation in association with reduced production of pro-inflammatory eicosanoid 12-hydroxyeicosatetraenoic acid.

Post supplementation reddening of the skin was about 20% lighter with the same UV exposure. These aren’t exactly mind-blowing results, and you certainly shouldn’t rely on green tea for sun protection, but this does show green tea can protect against acne-causing inflammatory damage.

Here’s another graph that shows levels of 12-hydroxyeicosatetraenoic acid (12-HETE) in the skin. 12-HETE is an eicosanoid, a molecule that signals inflammatory damage. The higher the 12-HETE levels are the more inflammatory damage the UV exposure caused, in a nutshell.

UV-induced oxidative damage pre and post supplementation

Source: Oral green tea catechin metabolites are incorporated into human skin and protect against UV radiation-induced cutaneous inflammation in association with reduced production of pro-inflammatory eicosanoid 12-hydroxyeicosatetraenoic acid.

Pre supplementation 3 x MED dose caused almost 5-fold increase in 12-HETE concentration in the skin, as compared to non-exposed skin. Post supplementation the same increase was only 2.7-fold. Eyeballing from the graph (the paper didn’t give exact figures), post supplementation there’s almost 40% reduction in 12-HETE as compared to pre supplementation.

Green tea beverage reduces skin sensitivity to UV

Heinrich et al. did a similar study with light-skinned German women. In this study the participants received either a green tea beverage containing 1402 mg catechins (with 960 mg of EGCG) or a placebo beverage with no catechins. They drank the beverages daily for 12 weeks.

This graph shows sensitivity of skin to UV radiation for the green tea and control groups. Higher bars indicate more skin reddening in response to 1.25 x MED dose.

Skin sensitivity to UV radiation in green tea and control groups

Source: Green Tea Polyphenols Provide Photoprotection, Increase Microcirculation, and Modulate Skin Properties of Women.

There was 16% and 25% less reddening in the green tea group after 6 and 12 weeks, with no change in the control group. The results also showed general improvements in skin health, with 17% increase in hydration and 12% improvement in the skin barrier function for the green tea group and no change in the control group.

Conclusion

These studies provide direct evidence that green tea antioxidants are able to enter the skin and affect the molecular mechanisms behind acne. Given how antioxidant supplements , topical antioxidants and topical green tea have been shown to reduce acne, I’d say it’s very likely these findings translate into improvements in acne.

Feature photo Credit: kirainet

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About the Author

Seppo Puusa, a.k.a. AcneEinstein shares rational advice about natural and alternative acne treatments. Read more about me and my acne struggles at the page.

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