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Tea for Skincare - Benefits for your skin

Tea a rich source of skin friendly antioxidants

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First published: 20.Aug.2023


Tea (Camellia sinensis) is the world's most consumed drink after water. It is also effective as a topical lotion for treating many skin conditions and promoting skin health.
It contains many antioxidants making tea extract a common ingredient in cosmetic formulations to prevent redness, inflammation, irritation, heal wounds and act as an antifungical agent.

Tea has been used to treat wounds, acne and other skin conditions. Here we describe its skincare uses and its cosmetic properties; we also include nine different diy skincare recipes and mention its potential side effects.

In this Article (Index)

The skincare properties and benefits of Tea

Tea's skin-treating properties and uses

Human beings have been using natural ingredients since the dawn of time. Botanicals and phytochemicals (chemicals produced by plants), clays, and animal fats have been tested by trial and error over thousands of generations.

basket with freshly picked green tea leaves
Green tea leaves

Duke and Wain (1981) reported its traditional folk use for conditions such as " bruises,burns, bite, ...eruptions, ...sores, ...and wounds." (2).

Traditional medicines have accumulated empirical knowledge about their effectiveness and more recently science has taken interest in them.

The complexity of natural biochemicals and their potential uses in medicine and cosmetology has led scientists to study them with more interest over the past 30 years, conducting clinical trials, laboratory trials, and tests.

Several botanical ingredients have been found effective for skincare, or for treating skin conditions, and one of them is tea, as a treatment for acne, and for its antioxidant properties in lotions and creams as well as a potential hyperpigmentation aid (1).

Among other dermatological uses of tea reportd in clinical trials are: acne, hair loss, skin aging, UV protection, potential effectiveness against atopic dermatitis, rosacea, keloids, genital warts, and candidiosis (9).

What is Tea

Tea is a herbal product obtained from the the leaves of the plant Camellia sinensis that originally grew in eastern Asia and now can be found across the subtropical regions of the globe. It is an evergreen plant that can grow up to a height of 27 ft. (9 m).

The leaves are picked and processed to produce four different varieties of tea: white, green, black, and Oolong.

Roughly 2.5 million tons of tea leaves are harvested each year, and around 20% become green tea (78% is black tea, and 2% are white and Oolong tea).

Types of tea

White Tea

White tea is a rare variety. It is only produced in China from new growth buds and fresh unopened tea leaves covered with soft white "hair" that gives it its name. After bein harvested, they are left to wither without oxidizing, and then they are steamed dry. They are the least processed tea leaf variety and for this reason they have the highest content of antioxidants (3)(4).

Green Tea

To make green tea, fresh leaves are immediately steamed or pan dried after being harvested. This process inactivates the enzymes that degrade the leaf and preserves most of its antioxidants. This process keeps them from turning brown due to oxidation -just like an apple turns brown, so does tea. That is why green tea keeps its characteristic green color during the subsequent rolling and drying processes (4) (5).


Matcha is a type of green tea used in Japan. It is made from tea leaves that are left to grow in the shade before they are picked, this slows their growth and increases the levels of chlorophyll giving the leaves deeper green color. It also stimulates the production of theanine. The leaves are dried, they stems and veins removed and they are slowly ground with stones in a mill to produce a fine green colored powder known as matcha.

Oxidation can degrade the product and changes its color from green to a dull brownish-green hue. The aroma also changes, becoming hay-like.

Antioxidant potency. Coming from green tea, it has a very high content of antioxidants.

twirl of fine green matcha powder against white background
Matcha powder. Source

Black Tea

The leaves are allowed to wither; then they are crushed so that the enzymes oxidize them in a process known as "fermentation". This oxidizes the antioxidant catechins and creates theaflavins and thearubigins.

Oolong Tea

Oolong is an intermediate step between green and black teas: it is partially fermented and therefore contains more antioxidants (catechins) than black tea, but less than green tea.

Take-home point

The way tea is processed affects its content of healthy antioxidants. Not all teas are the same

Tea's antioxidants

Green tea is a complex mixture of chemicals, below is its typical composition expressed as dry weight (6):

  • 36%. Antioxidants such as polyphenols (flavonols, flavanols, flavandiols, flavonoids, and phenolic acids).
  • 30%. Carbohydrates (mono and polysaccharides and lignin. Cellulose, glucose, fructose, sucrose, and pectins).
  • 15%. Proteins
  • 4%. Amino acids (theanine, tryptophan, glycine, glutamic acid, serine, tyrosine, leucine, lysine, arginine, threonine, valine, and aspartic acid).
  • 3%. Caffeine.
  • 3%. Lipids, oils- such as linoleic and a-linolenic acids and sterols (stigmasterol).
  • 5%. Minerals: calcium, magnesium, chromium, manganese, iron, sodium, zinc, copper, molybdenum, phosphorous, selenium, cobalt, strontium, nickel, potassium, fluorine, and aluminum (this last metal can cause some health issues).
  • 5% Others Theobromine, organic acids, Vitamins (B, C, E), pigments (carotenoids and chlorophyll), and some volatile compounds (aldehydes, alcohols, esters, etc.).

As you can see tea has a high content of antioxidants. The type and content of antioxidants is different when comparing different types of teas.

Green tea has the highest content of catechins: 27% (dry leaf weight), followed by Oolong tea (23%) and black tea (4%).

Drink tea to help your skin

Drinking ice tea is an excellent way to hydrate your skin. Drinking it without sugar (or milk) will promote its antioxidant properties (a). Antioxidants have the ability to block the free radicals that damage the body's cells and are a key element in delaying aging; in this sense ice tea is ideal to maintain and promote your skin's health (b).

Ice Tea and its benefits

> > Why is ice tea healthy?

How many antioxidants are in your cup of Green Tea?

Obtaining green tea antioxidants at home

Brewing tea extracts the catechins from the tea leaves making them available in the green tea infusion that can be used in facial toning masks. Depending on the brewing conditions (temperature and steep time), more or fewer catechins will be available.

A group of Turkish scientists (7) determined the optimal brewing conditions for green tea: water at 185°F (85°C) and a 3-minute brewing time.

These conditions maximized catechin content, especially that of the epistructured catechins (EGCG, EGC, ECG, and EC).

One cup of green tea brewed under those conditions, contained (one US legal cup = 240 ml):

Also, the best taste, aroma, color, and caffeine content were obtained under these conditions.

  • 121.7 mg of EGCG
  • 64.5 mg of EGC
  • 9.2 mg of ECG
  • 16.18 mg of EC
  • 234.5 mg of total catechins*

* Note: total catechins also includes non-epistructured catechins such as C, GC, GCG.

Tea epicatechins are very stable when exposed to heat especially if the water is slightly acidic (a few drops of lemon juice can help) (4).

Skin benefits of tea antioxidants

The key to tea's skin benefits are the antioxidant properties of the polyphenols found in tea and at higher concentrations in green tea. These "relieve skin damage and promote wound healing." Some examples (8):

  • Prevents damage skin from ultraviolet sunburn and photo-ageing as EGCG reduces the oxidative stress provoked by UVB radiation.
  • Green tea extracts on the skin inhibits redness (erythema)
  • Green tea ethanol extract "is effective in the healing process of surgical wounds, as it decreases the healing duration

There are many more uses for tea in cosmetic applications, below we list them and include some easy recipes you can try out at home.

Tea Skincare DIY recipes

Below are nine different do-it-yourself formulations for cosmetics using tea that you can prepare at home:

  1. Green Tea Detoxyfing Night Cream
  2. Facial Toning Mask
  3. Oily Matcha mask for dry skin
  4. Matcha Moisturizer
  5. Soothing Compresses
  6. Matcha and Lavender Toner
  7. Green Tea Toner
  8. Matcha Exfoliator
  9. Lotion for treating Acne

Test before using

Remember to test any kind of skincare product on a small area of skin before you apply it to your face.

Learn about sensitive skin and how to test the safety of cosmetics before using them.

1. Green Tea Detoxyfing Night Cream

It contains botanical ingredients and beeswax, and no mineral oil or preservatives (10).


Tablespoon: tbs, teaspoon:tsp.

1 tbs beeswax
1 tbs almond oil
1 tbs aloe vera gel
1 tsp green tea extract
1 tbs rose water
1 tsp essential oil


Mix the beeswax and almont oil in a stainless steel double boiler (a bowl or pot placed over a larger pot containing simmering water) and melt them together.
Remove from heat and stir in the aloe vera, while still soft but cooler (so as to avoid evaporation of essential oils and fragrance), add the green tea extract, rose water and essential oil.

2. Facial Toning Mask

Commercially available masks use tea extract an ingredient that you can buy and use in your homemade mask. Other options include using your homemade brew. The benefits according to a 2019 study are (10) a toning and antioxidant effect caused by the tannins and polyphenols in the tea extract that interact with the keratin in the skin's surface making it appear more tense and refreshed. This reduces redness, inflammation and irritation.

Tea masks also "soothe inflammation, accelerate the healing of wounds and skin eruptions, and also close skin pores by which they reduce their visibility."


Liquid (either a matcha and water infusion or your green tea antioxidant homemade brew

You can buy different types of clays (Kaolin, Bentonite Clay, French Green Clay, Fuller's Earth Clay, etc.) try the best option for your skin.


Additional ingredients that you can add to your mask include: ground oatmeal (store bought colloidal oatmeal or regular oatmeal ground at home with your kitchen blender or grinder). Oatmeal is effective as a treatment for psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, eruptions, it has an antifungal activity, and is a moisturizer (12).


Make a paste by mixing approximately 1 part of clay with 2 parts of liquid that can be either 1⁄4 tsp of matcha powder and water, or green tea brew. If you choose to include colloidal oatmeal, add the oatmeal powder to the liquid before mixing with the clay.


Apply the clay mask on your face or body, let it sit for 10 to 20 minutes or until the paste dries, and then rinse with lukewarm water.

3. Oily Matcha mask for dry skin


1⁄2 teaspoon (tsp) of matcha
1⁄2 tsp of Virgin Coconut Oil
1⁄2 tsp of warm water


Mix the coconut oil with the matcha in a bowl, add the water until a paste is formed stir well (as it has no emulsifier, the oil and water won't form an emulsion but you can blend them) you can add 1 drop of an essential oil to the mixture.


Apply to the skin, let it sit for 15–20 minutes. Wash it off with warm water.

4. Matcha Moisturizer

Mix 1 teaspoon (tsp) of matcha with 1 tsp of milk and 1 tsp of honey into a paste and apply it on your skin.
Leave it on for fifteen minutes and gently rinse off with lukewarm water. (11)

5. Soothing Compresses

You can also prepare compresses with your antioxidant rich homemade brew. Use it to wet a towel or washcloth, squeeze out excess liquid (tea can leave nasty brown or greenish stains so be careful), and apply on your eyelids either cold or tepid (be careful it isn't too warm as it may cause burns). It soothes the itching and burning around the eyes. Compresses can also be aplied after insect bites to soothe the irritation (10).

6. Matcha and Lavender Toner

Mix 1⁄4 tsp of matcha powder with 1⁄2 cup of tepid water (it will dissolve it quicker), stir. Add 2 drops of an essential oil of your choice. Lavender essential oil is a good choice (check that you are not sensitive or sensitized to it before using).
Pour the contents into a spary bottle for storage. Spray on your skin for tonification.

7. Green Tea Toner

As an alternative you can use your homemade brew and add some drops of essential oil to it and use it as a toner.

8. Matcha Exfoliator

Mix 1 part of matcha powder with 8 parts of Virgin Coconut Oil, if you warm the oil above 75°F (24°C) it will melt. Add 16 parts of parts of sugar.
You can use any kind of sugar: Brown sugar is the least abrasive as it is the finest, regular granulated sugar is next regarding particle size and organic sugar is the roughest as it is also the coarsest. You can mix differnt types to make your own combination (13).

Mix until all ingredients have blended and store in a jar or plastic container. Use the matcha-sugar scrub once a week for a smoother face (11).

9. Tea Lotion for Acne Treatment

Clinical trials have provided evidence that the topical use of tea tree polyphenols, like those present in green te extract or your homemade antioxidant brew, reduce sebum production in the sebaceous glands, and therefore beneficial for preventing and treating acne (15).

Below is a reibpe for a topical lotion used to treat acne (Sharquie, 2006) (14). The lotion was prepared as follows:

  • 35 g (1.25 oz.) of tea with 100 ml (3.4 fl. oz) of boiling water. Steep for 30 minutes and cool.
  • Boil again until two-thirds of the water has evaporated. This results in a 3% tea extract concentration.
  • Dilute by adding 3 parts of this 3% extract to 1 part of ethanol 190 or 200 proof (alcohol acts as a preservative).

The study found that after 2 months of therapy, it was effective in 88% of those treated, with 64% showing "good results".

Tea: Risks and side effects

Some medicines containing C. sinensis (tea) extracts have been associated with several liver toxicity cases. It is a rare and unpredictable occurrence. Tea and tea based products should be used with caution during pregnancy despite as studies in animals have shown reproductive toxicity. The use of all medication in pregnancy should be avoided whenever possible; particularly in the first trimester. Non-drug treatments should also be considered.
Use camellia sinensis with caution in breastfeeding it is possible that tea metabolites could be excreted in human milk, and a risk to the lactating child cannot be excluded.

References and Further Reading

(1) Fowler JF Jr, Woolery-Lloyd H, Waldorf H, Saini R., (2010). Innovations in natural ingredients and their use in skin care. J Drugs Dermatol. 2010 Jun;9(6 Suppl):S72-81; quiz s82-3. PMID: 20626172

(2) European Medical Agency, Committee on Herbal Medicinal Products (HMPC), (2013). Committee on Herbal Medicinal Products (HMPC) Assessment report on Camellia sinensis (L.) Kuntze, non fermentatum folium. 12 November 2013 EMA/HMPC/283629/2012

(3) Kavita Singhal, Neerja Raj, Khushboo Gupta, and Saurabh Singh, (2017). Probable benefits of green tea with genetic implications. J Oral Maxillofac Pathol. 2017 Jan-Apr; 21(1): 107-114. doi: 10.4103/0973-029X.203758

(4) M.G. Sajilata, Poonam R. Bajaj, and R.S. Singhal, (2008). Tea Polyphenols as Nutraceuticals. Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and food safety. Institute of Food Technologists, Vol. 7:3 2008 229-254.

(5) Sabu M Chacko, Priya T Thambi, Ramadasan Kuttan, Ikuo Nishigaki, (2010). Beneficial effects of green tea: A literature review. Chin Med. 2010; 5: 13. doi: 10.1186/1749-8546-5-13

(6) Becker LC, Bergfeld WF, Belsito DV, et al., (2019). Safety Assessment of Camellia sinensis–Derived Ingredients As Used in Cosmetics. International Journal of Toxicology. 2019;38(3_suppl):48S-70S. doi:10.1177/1091581819889914

(7) Sena Saklar, Erdal Ertas, Ibrahim S. Ozdemir, and Bulent Karadeniz, (2015). Effects of different brewing conditions on catechin content and sensory acceptance in Turkish green tea infusions. J Food Sci Technol. 2015 Oct; 52(10): 6639-6646. doi: 10.1007/s13197-015-1746-y

(8) Ashour, M. Camellia sinensis. Encyclopedia. Available online: (accessed on 21 August 2023)

(9) Pazyar N, Feily A, Kazerouni A., (2012). Green tea in dermatology. Skinmed. 2012 Nov-Dec;10(6):352-5. PMID: 23346663

(10) Koch W, Zagórska J, Marzec Z, Kukula-Koch W, (2019). Applications of Tea (Camellia sinensis) and its Active Constituents in Cosmetics. Molecules. 2019 Nov 24;24(23):4277. doi: 10.3390/molecules24234277. PMID: 31771249; PMCID: PMC6930595

(14) Sharquie KE, Al-Turfi IA, Al-Shimary WM. (2006). Treatment of acne vulgaris with 2% topical tea lotion. Saudi Med J. 2006 Jan;27(1):83

(15) Suzana Saric, Manisha Notay and Raja K. Sivamani, (2017). Green Tea and Other Tea Polyphenols: Effects on Sebum Production and Acne Vulgaris. Antioxidants 2017, 6(1), 2;

About this Article

Tea for Skincare - Benefits for your skin, A. Whittall

©2023, 20 Aug. 2023. Update scheduled for 20 Aug. 2025.

Tags: tea extract, antioxidants, diy recipe cosmetics, acne, sunburn, tea and your skin

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