Green Tea for Internal and External Care

green-tea[Image: Getty Images]Revered in Asia for thousands of years, these potent green leaves serve as an excellent skincare aid.

Prized in Ancient China and Japan, green tea is currently appreciated around the world for its high antioxidant count, moderate caffeine levels, and subtle yet soothing flavor. To produce green tea, leaves of the Camellia sinesis plant are slightly withered, then immediately dried to prevent oxidization and preserve the plant’s coloring. As a result, green tea contains a higher level of antioxidants and polyphenols than other tea varietals. Matcha, an even more potent form of tea, is made by grinding the Camellia sinesis leaves into a fine powder for consumption, as opposed to simply brewing the leaves as a tea.

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Whichever form, its strong antioxidant and antibiotic properties make green tea an ideal skincare and supplement ingredient. Read on to learn about the myriad of internal and external benefits that green tea boasts.

Why it’s a skincare all star:

Antioxidant-rich green tea contains four major flavonoids and metalloproteinases (MMPs), which work together to prevent the breakdown of collagen and elasticity in the skin. “Green tea helps stop signs of premature aging, meaning it’s great for addressing fine lines and wrinkles,” says Linda Nelson, Ph.D., R.N.D., founder and CEO of M’lis. It’s also anti-acneic and helps to flush toxins from and heal the skin—especially beneficial for clients with cystic, hormonal acne. “Green tea removes impurities from the pores but in doing that it also moisturizes the skin. When we formulate, we like to combine it with hyaluronic acid, which locks in moisture,” she explains.

For clients with dark under-eye circles or puffiness, green tea is an excellent solution. “It helps to reduce inflammation and increase circulation under the eye, and it also assuages broken blood vessels and even rosacea,” Nelson expounds.

In the treatment room:

At HQ Salon & Spa in Portage, Michigan, the green tea- and marigold-infused bath soak from FarmHouse Fresh is a favorite among guests and nail techs. It’s used in the spa’s Signature Pedicure (60 min./$55) and Ultimate Pedicure (75 min./$60); both include a cup of green tea with lemon for guests to sip while their feet are given the royal treatment.

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“We selected this soak for its aromatic appeal, but also because green tea is an excellent anti-inflammatory and has lasting effects on the feet,” says owner Melissa Brockelbank. During pretreatment consultations, techs enlighten patrons on its benefits. “We explain that this soak will give skin a natural glow and may even help fight off viruses, and let them know about the ingredients’ ability to prevent infections and foot odor,” she adds.

The Naturopathica Healing Arts Centers & Spas in New York City and East Hampton, New York, recently launched a Matcha Brightening Décolleté Treatment (30 min./$70). “Many clients who book this treatment are already familiar with matcha as a healing ingredient, as it’s often the star of their daily latte or smoothie,” points out Naturopathica’s founder and CEO Barbara Close. “They’re intrigued by the use of matcha for healthy, radiant skin and want to learn about the topical benefits in addition to its internal advantages.”

Close also reports that the spa’s clientele are increasingly aware of their constant exposure to environmental elements, and the effects that free radicals can have on the skin. “Skin in delicate areas needs special care and potent actives that can help prevent and even reverse visible signs of aging, such as wrinkles, loss of elasticity and hyperpigmentation,” she says. “Green tea is an ideal ingredient to address all of these concerns.”

–by Rachel Kossman

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