Naturally beautiful skin starts, first and foremost, with diet, says Dr. John Diaz, board certified plastic surgeon. “Studies have shown that antioxidants, polyphenols, and anti-inflammatory agents improve and maintain the health of the skin,” he explains. “Tea is a rich source of all of these.”
Other beauty experts agree. “The antioxidants in tea go after free-radicals that are ultimately responsible for the break down of skin and hair, and help protect against damage caused by things like UV radiation and other environmental aggressors [like pollution],” says Lisa Silliker, aesthetician and director of management for the tea-infused skincare line Pai-Shau.
What it does: One of the most popular leaves, black tea is full of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals like magnesium, potassium, and zinc that together aid in reducing visible signs of aging, helping prevent skin cancer, as well as encouraging the regeneration of cells.
How to use it: Black tea can soothe the sting of a sunburn. Paula Simpson, RNCP, holistic skincare expert and co-founder of Zea Skin Solutions suggests steeping black tea bags in boiling water for 10 minutes then adding mint leaves and allowing to sit for another 45 minutes. After you’ve strained out the solids, you can dip a cloth into the elixir and gently apply to skin to reduce inflammation and discomfort.
If allergies are causing swelling under the eyes, or you’ve just had a good cry, Diaz notes that the caffeine in black tea can constrict blood vessels and help decrease puffiness when applied topically. “Try placing cooled black tea bags to the orbital rim [or under-eye area] for a couple minutes before applying eye cream for a natural boost,” he suggests.
What it does: The most brilliant herbal tea for annoying skin ailments like acne and dry, irritated skin, chamomile is made up of flavonoid and terpenoid compounds that help soothe and nourish.
How to use it: When applied topically to the skin, chamomile tea “helps moisturize skin and helps reduce redness and irritation,” says Diaz. “It even helps with the stings and bumps from the inevitable bug bites we all get during the summer.” Simple steep, cool, and apply chamomile tea to any area of your skin that needs a little love.
What it does: Due to their low oxidation period, white leaves are one of the purest forms of tea. They also contain more antioxidants than green tea (you heard that right!) and high levels of anti-bacterial compounds, which means that drinking it or applying it topically could result in reduced acne and a more youthful-looking complexion.
How to use it: Got toner? Well, you don’t need it anymore. Simply wipe a warm chamomile tea bag across your entire face and blot prior to makeup application. Additionally, white tea can help soothe scalp irritation by balancing pH and reducing inflammation, and it provides a natural UV filter for your hair, says Silliker. Consider making a white tea hair rinse by steeping white tea bags for about 15 minutes, then rinsing your hair with the tea (after you’ve rinsed your conditioner, that is).
What it does: This form of naturally decaffeinated tea is derived from a South African bush that, according to Simpson, provides two polyphenols that act as strong antioxidants in the body, aspalathin and nothofagi, and is traditionally used to unclog pores and help clear blemishes.
How to use it: Create your own miniature sauna right at home by soaking tea bags in a hot bowl, hovering your face over it, and containing the steam with a towel. Get fancy with flower petals, essential oils, or spices to amplify the aromatics.
What it does: Green tea, specifically matcha, is currently having a moment. Cosmetic brands are implementing the tea leaf into its formulas just as much the food industry, and we can’t get enough. Because you are ingesting the whole leaf, every sip has even more antioxidant benefits than steeped green tea, says Dorothy Strachura, a tea specialist at DAVIDsTEA. For example, catechins, a type of polyphenol, and powerful antioxidant, make up nearly 15-20% of the leaf and “help trap and inactivate free radicals in the skin, thus thwarting many of the signs of aging.”
“Drinking green tea daily,” Simpson adds, “may offer photo-protective benefits for the skin. These antioxidants appear to help fight off damaging free radicals caused by excessive sun exposure.” Of course, you should still use an SPF sunscreen, too.
How to use it: In addition to drinking green tea, you can also slather it on your face. DAVIDsTEA developed this DIY moisturizer with green tea leaves: First, steep two spoonfuls of loose green tea leaves in three tablespoons of hot water. Strain and set aside to cool while you double broil one cup of coconut oil until melted. Stir in tea leaves and a couple drops of an essential oil (your pick!) before turning down the heat and simmering 30 minutes. From there, strain out the tea leaves and place the coconut mixture in the fridge to cool for about 30 minutes. Then, whip in a blender or with a hand mixer for 3 to 5 minutes. The luxe, ultra hydrating moisturizer should last up to two weeks at room temperature.
What it does: Due to the many active constituents found in the this root, Simpson says that “ginger offers a soothing and calming effect to the skin due to its strong anti-inflammatory properties.”
How to use it: Simply ingesting the herbal brew boosts blood circulation, in turn promoting oxygen and nutrients to reach skin tissue. To make it, steep sliced or grated ginger in boiling water along with some fresh lemon juice and honey. Experts, including integrative medicine pioneer Andrew Weil, M.D, recommend consuming around 1 tablespoon of fresh grated ginger daily.
Source Rodale’s Organic Life